Shoes and notes left outside Spokane Public Schools building to protest the state’s vaccination mandate

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Fifty-one pairs of shoes and 59 notes calling for an end to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate in the name of medical freedom have been placed outside the Spokane public schools building in downtown Spokane Town Friday.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate includes K-12 and higher education staff. The deadline for getting a full vaccine is October 18. Medical or religious exemptions are allowed in place of the vaccine.

Natalie Poulson, who has worked at Spokane public schools for 18 years, said each shoe represents a person affected by the vaccination mandate. The silent protest is part of “Freedom Fridays,” in which people across Washington are encouraged to leave a note with years of service, a citation, why they are fired and why they support medical freedom outside of their home. job.

“I think anyone should have a choice whether or not to get the vaccine, but the mandate is really wrong,” said Heather Parish, who teaches sophomore students in her first year at Madison Elementary School.

Most of the notes were stuck on the sidewalk, surrounded by shoes and sandals.

Some messages said “stop the warrant” and “my body, my choice”.

Poulson said teachers and others left shoes and notes last Friday outside the SPS building, and that they plan to do so every Friday until October 15 – the Friday before the deadline October 18 to get vaccinated.

Poulson quoted George Washington and the Pledge of Allegiance in his message. The Old Navy American Flag sandals kept the paper from blowing off.

“I defend freedom! Poulson wrote.

She has said that Spokane Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in Washington, and she asks him to stand up for her employees.

“I don’t feel like the public schools in Spokane are standing up for us or our rights, and I think that’s one of the most frustrating things,” said Parish, who also left shoes and a note Friday.

Many notes left outside the building on Friday included educators and staff who have worked in Spokane public schools for several years and are now on the verge of losing their jobs.

“A DECADE of service with the Mead School District,” read one message. “I love these children and it breaks my heart to have to choose between them and my FREEDOM.”

The parish said there are amazing teachers and staff in Spokane public schools, and it is sad to think of the loss of excellent educators.

“They all really love kids,” she said.

The parish said it had COVID-19 last year and trusted its natural immunity.

She described the bullying of unvaccinated employees as “under the radar” and “passively aggressive”.

She said she was repeatedly asked by staff at her school if she was vaccinated or planning to be vaccinated. Parish said she could tell “the heat is cooling down a bit” when she responds by saying that she does not share this private information.

Jody Budge, a teacher at Balboa Elementary School who left shoes and a note on Friday, said she also felt harassed.

“It’s scary,” she said. ” People are scared. “

Budge said she is vaccinated and against the warrant. She said she wanted everyone to make the best choice for their body, their family and their values.

“Because I’m vaccinated, I feel like I can have a voice,” Budge said. “These people who are not vaccinated, I have the impression that they are harassed, they are intimidated.”

Budge said accommodations for unvaccinated employees appeared discriminatory and isolating.

Vicki DuCharme, a resident of Spokane, was reading the notes on Friday as she took her dog for a walk.

She said she had mixed feelings about the mandate, but that she advocates “freedom above all else” and that people’s rights should not be questioned.

“That’s what it’s all about in this country,” said DuCharme.


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