A 16-year-old student was arrested at her high school after refusing to wear a mask on school grounds, and the incident even led to a campus-wide lockdown.
Grace Smith returned to Laramie High School in Wyoming on Thursday after serving two consecutive two-day suspensions for not complying with the school’s mask mandate. Anyone inside a district building must have their face covered, the Laramie Boomerang reported.
The first time she was suspended, she told the Boomerang she ‘just left’. After talking with an attorney with her family, she decided to ‘push it,’ provoking the citation for $500.
Grace, a straight-A student involved in numerous extracurriculars, said she believes the mandate violates her constitutional rights and that she won’t wear a mask.
When she arrived in school on Thursday, she once again was ticketed for trespassing and slapped with another $500 fine. She was surprised when the incident escalated to a school-wide lockdown and her arrest.
“They told me they were going to do that,” she said. “I was surprised they followed through. They came up to me probably 20 minutes before I was arrested and said that if you continue to not leave, we will arrest you.”
According to her father Andy Smith, an earlier conversation with the Laramie Police Department did not foreshadow his daughter getting taken away in handcuffs.
Grace recorded and shared a video of herself being handcuffed, showing a polite interaction between herself and the police officers.
“They told us how this was going to play out before it happened,” Andy said. “They all said they were not going to arrest kids. But she was taken into custody, handcuffed and brought down to the detention center.”
Her arrest caused a ‘brief lockdown’, the school said in a statement, and was brought on to “prevent further interruptions to academic learning.”
The school district approved the mask mandate on September 8, making it mandatory for most students to wear masks in all buildings and on buses.
To consider lifting the mandate, Albany County will need to enter the Covid ‘Yellow Zone’ for three weeks, which would indicate moderate transmission, but as of Monday the county is currently in the ‘Red Zone’, indicating high transmission levels.
Vaccination rates would also need to hit at least 70% for officials to consider reversing the mandate. The rate for Albany County currently sits at 49%.
School officials will meet on Wednesday to revisit the plan.
The district would also not provide a comment on how many other students have faced suspension for not wearing masks, saying that they don’t ‘comment on student discipline matters’.
While the lockdown was put into effect to prevent any interruptions, Grace says she left the building without causing any sort of disturbance.
She has reportedly been bullied by people she once considered her friends.
“I get cussed out a lot,” she said. “People have called me mean names. Nobody has physically harmed me, but some of my best friends now won’t talk to me.”
Still she is sticking to her beliefs.
“I’m growing up in a country where I’m supposed to have my God-given rights to protect, and they’re being taken away,’ she said. ‘Everybody has the freedom to wear a mask if they choose, but I believe everybody also has the right to not wear a mask if they choose.”
The teen told her state senator that the whole experience has made her feel “unwanted by the school system.”