PROVO, Utah — Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, apologized after posting comments on social media critical of a Utah elementary school’s COVID-19 precautions.
Provo’s Edgemont Elementary School posted a photo of kids in masks sitting at their plexiglass-shielded desks on Instagram.
The caption read, “Kids are ready to learn with their new power shields- ready to be superhero learners (with masks and shields).”
Many saw Lee’s response to the Instagram post as mocking their safety and precaution efforts. In a comment, he replied, “Power shields in Provo. Good idea? Or worst euphemism in history?”
The senator also tweeted about the Edgemont Elementary photo, writing, “‘Power shields’ in Provo. Does this look like a fun way to learn?”.
These comments and posts got the attention of many Edgemont Elementary parents, who decided to take action. One parent, Erin Goodsell, wrote a letter to Sen. Lee explaining her frustrations with the posts. The letter includes the following language:
I am writing to let you know that I, along with many other Edgemont parents I have spoken with, am deeply disappointed in your Facebook post belittling an Edgemont teacher’s efforts to create a safe learning environment. The impact of your post was to belittle that teacher and her efforts to create a safe environment for her students. That you would use your platform and position of power to bully a teacher you disagree with, and use her and her students as pawns in a larger political battle you are waging is dehumanizing and unethical. Please consider the impact of your post and the anger against the school that it has incited among your followers and remove it to protect those children and that school’s privacy and safety.”
After receiving Goodsell’s letter and others, Lee issued an apology Thursday, explaining his previous actions and removing his posts and comments.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) August 20, 2020
Lee apologized to the teacher and to any students, parents, and school officials he might have offended.
The original photo from Edgemont Elementary no longer appears on Instagram.