A Fremont County, Colorado, bus driver admitted to slapping a 10-year-old girl in the face after she placed her mask beneath her nose.
Bertram Jaquez, who has since been terminated, said in a written statement about the April incident that “Out of reaction, I slapped her once,” according to local KKTV.
Video obtained by the outlet depicts Jaquez arguing with the girl and demanding she wear her mask correctly. When she resists, he slaps her.
The girl recounted the incident for herself in a handwritten statement to the school, explaining that she didn’t want to wear the mask because it made her feel sick. She explained that after she had been slapped, she demanded to be let off the bus, but Jaquez kept driving.
The Fremont County School District also issued a statement explaining that Jaquez was fired:
We believe it is never okay to lay a hand on a child. The District responded quickly to the situation by placing the driver on administrative leave so that we could fully investigate the incident. Local police were involved during the investigation as well as us being in contact with the child’s family. The driver’s action justified termination of employment, as it goes against District policy and our values.
We are very saddened by this incident. Our goal every day is to transport students safely to school and back home, but that can only happen when everyone, including students and staff, follows the rules. We are currently working to identify next steps to help our drivers with strategies designed to support a safe ride to and from school.
Jaquez is facing misdemeanor charges, including harassment, assault causing injury, and child abuse, according to KKTV.
Masks for children have proven controversial, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children aged 2 and older wear them. Several states, such as Florida and Texas, have gotten rid of face mask mandates, and other states are expected to do so this summer.
Another 10-year-old went viral earlier this month for raising questions about why children need to be wearing masks. As The Daily Wire reported:
A 10-year-old boy gave an impassioned speech to a Florida school board begging the council to end the district’s in-school mask mandate.
The fourth-grader told the Martin County School District in southeastern Florida that teachers often defy the mask mandate. He recalls one teacher who yells at students if they lower their masks to take a sip of water outdoors. The boy claims that he saw his teacher off school property and recognized her because she takes “mask breaks” at her desk, though she did not recognize him as the same privilege is not given to students.
In his impassioned speech, the young boy pleaded with the school board to remove the district’s mask mandate immediately.