Arnold Ahlert / March 22, 2021

Surveillance State Schoolrooms

Los Angeles schools have a plan for detailed tracking of all students and teachers.

Just when one might think a union-controlled school system couldn’t get more arrogant and demanding — after keeping the overwhelming majority of students out of schools for over a year — the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) proves one wrong. As a condition of reopening its schools on April 9, each student will be required to have a COVID tracking app called Daily Pass, which will be scanned each day before students can enter the classroom.

This in a state that doesn’t require ID for voting.

“Sort of like the golden ticket in ‘Willy Wonka,’ everyone with this pass can easily get into a school building,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner stated during his weekly update on February 22.

Willy Wonka? Try George Orwell, as the level of intrusiveness is breathtaking. The app, developed with support from Microsoft, generates a unique quick response (QR) code for each student and staff member. When an individual arrives on campus, his or her QR code is scanned by a district school-site leader, who takes the individual’s temperature. Provided the individual tests negative for coronavirus, shows no symptoms, and has a temperature under 100 degrees, he or she is authorized to enter a specific LAUSD location — for that day only.

And since a section on the Daily Pass portal also pressures students and staffers to get vaccinated, it will be used to register and schedule appointments, track the stock of vaccines, perform check-in and data capture at the time of those appointments, identify and sort high-risk individuals, and offer waitlists to low-risk individuals along with dashboards to view data. Anonymous data from the app will also be shared by several Los Angeles Unified research and healthcare collaborators, including Anthem Blue Cross, Cedars Sinai, Healthnet, Stanford University, University of California, Los Angeles, and Johns Hopkins University, ostensibly as an effort to create the safest school environment possible.

“The Daily Pass sets the highest standard possible for school safety,” Beutner boasts. “MERV-13 upgraded air filters in every school, COVID testing for all students and staff at least every week and now the Daily Pass — Los Angeles Unified is proud to lead the nation in creating the safest possible school environment.”

Yet despite it all, students will still be required to wear masks, socially distance, undergo regular temperature checks, and endure additional screening and surveillance — because the Daily Pass will not catch people who are asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Nonetheless, these and other requirements developed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) were released by the district in a document titled “COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year.”

There is also a cartoon video promoting the app. It opens with a child character, Racquel Ramirez, who is fearful about returning to school. “Mom, I’m scared about going back to school,” she says. “I don’t wanna get sick and I don’t wanna get you and Dad sick.” The Daily Pass is then introduced as the solution for “safely going back to school,” and Racquel is shown happily scanning her QR code entrance ticket to enter.. At the end, viewers see Racquel completing her first day back at school and reuniting with her father. “Dad, I have to admit, I was scared at first but then I felt so safe,” she says. “It was so good to be back. Thanks for keeping me safe. I love you so much.”

Mary Holland, president of Children’s Health Defense, believes parents should be concerned. “If data is the new gold, then LAUSD’s new Daily Pass is providing a lot of gold to Microsoft and other institutions,” she said, adding that LAUSD is “compromising the students’ privacy and freedom of movement,” as well as segregating children based on unreliable testing. She warns, “Parents should be asking a million questions and demanding answers.”

They should, but they probably won’t. Whether it is fear of challenging authority, relief at no longer having to keep their children at home, or simply a willingness to travel the path of least resistance, it is far more likely parents will simply abide what amounts to grooming their own children for a totalitarian level of surveillance that government and its Big Tech collaborators are increasingly willing to impose.

“We are moving into a total surveillance state and an entire generation of young people are acquiescing to the police state,” asserts constitutional law attorney John Whitehead. “Privacy as we know it will be deleted and no one will be overlooked.”

He also believes parents should stand against this and demand separate accommodations for those who don’t want their children under constant surveillance. “The government can accomplish many things with a ‘compelling state interest and a pandemic is just that,” Whitehead explained. “But the school needs to provide an alternative for parents who do not want their children to participate in these measures — whether it’s a virtual learning option or a separate building.”

The bigger picture here is hard to miss. The European Union and United Kingdom plan to issue digital “green passes” to serve as vaccination certificates. Tech giants are, of course, seizing the opportunity to help.

If those become widespread, will Americans who are required to show up for work in person eventually be subjected to the same requirements? How about those wishing to go to sporting or entertainment events?

How about those simply shopping for food?

Does anyone still remember the progressive furor surrounding Arizona’s efforts to pass a law allowing local police to ask for the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally? The law was characterized as a “show me your papers” debacle that would ultimately lead to systematic racial profiling.

Nine years later, many of those same progressives are apparently OK with far more intrusive systemic data-mining of Americans, which in this particular case consists of all students 13 years of age and older and all LAUSD employees.

Unless something dramatic occurs, it’s becoming clear that the Baby Boomers will be the last American generation to experience genuine privacy. And while the Age of the Internet is laudable in many respects, the as-yet-unfathomable extrapolations arising from younger generations inured to the tragedy of losing it have yet to be fully realized. Already we are seeing rampant narcissism, historically unprecedented levels of fragility, and de facto addiction to electronic devices. For younger Americans, cyberspace is rapidly becoming more important than life in the real world, even as they leave a trail of social media digital breadcrumbs that enables a burgeoning Cancel Culture.

One capable of ruining the life of anyone who posted an “intemperate” comment, even if that comment is decades old.

For all intents and purposes, LAUSD students and employees are lab rats, with all the attendant scrutiny and data compilation fully intended, all based on keeping people safe from a virus. And when that virus is effectively eradicated?

As George Orwell put it in 1984, “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”

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