COVID-19 has permanently changed the way that we interact with each other. Shopping is different, so is taking public transportation, and school is beginning to look like something out of the movies based in the future. Online learning isn’t a new concept but it was never mandatory in the way that it is now. College and elementary students alike are having difficulty transitioning into a reality where they’re being taught through a computer. There are different ways that these students have been coping with the awkwardness of zoom school, like altering their backgrounds, little viral songs, and sometimes even small toys in their home. Although distractions like toys aren’t usually allowed in the classroom, in these times, children need all the comfortability they can get in order to acclimate. You would think that playing with your own toys in your home wouldn't be a problem but not for Isaiah Elliot, a 7th grader from Colorado Springs who was suspended after being accused of playing with a NERF gun during a virtual art class.
Elliot was suspended from his Colorado Springs school, Grand Mountain, for 5 days following the virtual incident. Not only did Grand Mountain suspend the 12 year old, they also had a state officer go to his home. Elliot was not formally charged but now has an entry on his disciplinary record stating that he brought a firearm to school. Elliot's parents, Curtis Elliott Jr and Dani Elliott were rightfully concerned due to the events occurring nationally. “With the cultural events going on right now, especially for young African Americans, you calling the police and telling them that he could have a gun, you put his life in jeopardy,” said mother Dani Elliot.
After reviewing the recording of the class, it was clear that Elliot was not waving the toy gun as the teacher claimed, but was simply moving it from one side of the couch to the other. Dani Elliot questioned why the school called the police before notifying the parents, while comparing Elliot to the late Tamir Rice who was shot and killed by police while playing with a BB gun in a park.
Grand Mountain school posted a statement on Facebook saying that while they can’t give any details on the incident they are renouncing any racial discrimination accusations. “We never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination...safety will always be number one for our students and staff. We follow board policies and safety protocols consistently, whether we are in-person or distance learning.”
The Elliots have made the decision to remove Isaiah from Grand Mountain in the hopes to find a school better adapted to working with students with Attention Deficit Disorder.