Republican Gov. Phil Scott is being lampooned nationwide and on social media for instructing school workers to get children in Vermont to snitch on their parents for having attended Thanksgiving events that violate his COVID rules.
Numerous and often hostile social media posts could be seen on Twitter and Facebook this week after Scott announced that schools will be asking children about their family Thanksgivings. If kids answer that they celebrated the federal holiday with anyone other than their immediate family, they will be forced into two weeks of remote learning or a one-week quarantine plus a COVID test.
The governor is also asking that businesses put the same questions to their workers, with the same threat of quarantine.
When asked by a reporter at Tuesday’s press conference if Vermonters could be expected to tell the truth under COVID-related interrogation, Scott said residents should simply cancel holiday gatherings.
“In the anticipation of that question, maybe you ought to cancel some of the plans you have made,” he said.
Another reporter asked if this constitutes asking children to tattle on their parents. Scott suggested it’s not.
“I’m not sure it’s ‘tattling’ on anyone,” he said.
Many responses on social media have been critical and even hostile. A tweet by the account “Robby Liberty” had harsh words for the governor.
@GovPhilScott wants his own little Gestapo from the looks of it. How about you stop with your fear mongering and bullshit, little phil? Stop scaring people over something you KNOW is blown far out of proportion. Stop LYING and obey your OATH OF OFFICE!#Vtpoli #Vtgop #traitorphil pic.twitter.com/sb5hCD9x0o
— ROBBY_shove your mask_LIBERTY (@ROBBY_LIBERTY) November 24, 2020
On Tuesday, Scott attempted to defend his actions on Facebook by posting about COVID-19-associated deaths. Vermonters responded with nearly 700 comments in just six hours. While some readers supported the governor, many took the opportunity to vent at his restrictions on their personal lives.
Kailee Mahoney, of Colchester, wrote: “So if our kids see their aunt on thanksgiving opposed to doing a 45 person holiday like normal, they have to quarantine for 2 weeks after? this is nuts. i can agree to restrictions but totally NO gathering is just unconstitutional esp when it comes to family and certain circumstances. what about divorced families?”
Jan Parker LaPerle, of Barre, compared Scott’s policies to nations with communist history: “This is absolutely beyond belief. Is this Russia? Seriously. Teachers interrogating children as to what relatives they interacted with at Thanksgiving. This is out of control. Bullying little children. What about divorced families. I am appalled it has come to this. I would love to elaborate but can’t even find the words. Going after little kids makes me sick to my stomach thinking how guilty they would feel. We had 87 deaths from the flu in 2018 and look at the drug overdoses and suicides. You are barking up the wrong tree. Let’s stop fear mongering at be realistic. They lost their minds in Montpelier.”
Aimee Lee, of Essex Center, notes that the governor’s request puts school children in a difficult position: “School is a place for education. It is not a babysitter, it is not a hang out and it is funded by the very families in attendance. It is wildly inappropriate for administration to ask children these types of questions. We NEED children to trust their educators. If kids get sent home for being honest about thanksgiving and their families struggle afterwords, IT WILL BE THE CHILDREN WHO FEEL RESPONSIBLE. We have put enough pressure on them.”
Dana Salter, of St. Albans, was more succinct: “People who think the government is going to save them are the ones who need the help the most!”
Suzanne Sargent Whiteaker compared Scott’s decisions to those made in Germany during World War II: “They used these tactics in Auschwitz too,” she said.