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Citation From the October 28, 2021, morning edition of Sinclair Broadcast Group's The National Desk

JAN JEFFCOAT (ANCHOR): He was named teacher of the year at a high school in Connecticut, and now he has been forced out of the classroom for not following the mandate to get vaccinated or tested weekly. Joining us right now Lyman Hall High School teacher Kahseim Outlaw. Kahseim, welcome to The National Desk.

JEFFCOAT: You were asked to leave October 4, right now you’re not getting paid, you’re in jeopardy of losing your job altogether. What are you hearing from the principal and, how are you holding up right now? 

KAHSEIM OUTLAW (TEACHER): I'm not hearing anything at the building level at this point, and I'm pretty sure that the matter is out of their hands. From central office is where I'm getting my information from, and as of right now we’re on a bit of hiatus. I think they're still trying to figure things out. 

JEFFCOAT: And I read that you believe the vaccine mandate is now causing people in general just to give up personal responsibility for their health, and they need to reclaim it, is what you say. What response have you received from the community since you took this stand? 

OUTLAW: Well I would say that people's decision to choose the vaccine right now is their personal choice. And I wouldn't, you know, try to take away from that at all. But I've received nothing but support, really, from the people around me -- the community, online people reaching out from far and wide telling me that they support my decision. There’s only a few people that really have something negative to say about it at this point.

JEFFCOAT: And what about weekly COVID testing, why are you against that? 

OUTLAW: The testing, in my opinion, is an unnecessary medical procedure. I'm a healthy individual, I don't have any symptoms, therefore I would not choose to get tested pretty much for anything right now. 

JEFFCOAT: And your state’s governor says -- this is what he says. “Getting vaccinated keeps yourself safe, keeps your community safe, and it will help beat back the ongoing spread of the virus.” So what do you say to those who have that side of the argument? 

OUTLAW: I have some real questions about that approach. We've seen time and time again that those who choose -- do choose to get inoculated, rather, can still transmit and spread the virus, which has actually happened to me. I was actually in close contact with someone who was vaccinated and still had to quarantine for 10 days from school because they tested positive. So, I'm really looking at the risk and reward of this whole process. 

JEFFCOAT: And what have you been doing since being placed on leave? Are you considering, perhaps, moving to a different state where there is no vaccine mandate for teachers? 

OUTLAW: That's definitely on the option, on the decision tree that we have here at home. We do want to get to warmer weather, so there are a couple of states that are in mind. And we might see ourselves there soon. 

JEFFCOAT: And Kahseim, you know more than anyone that good teachers are needed at all times. You were named teacher of the year last year for a reason. We know students miss you. What message do you have for them this morning? 

OUTLAW: That I really just want them to be able to stand in their truth, to be able to think about what it is that means the most to them, and have the courage and the strength to stand in that and speak truth to power. 

JEFFCOAT: And I understand in the meantime since you've been home you’ve been writing a children's book. Is that right? 

OUTLAW: Yes. Yes. I've been working over the last year, maybe year and a half on a book called “We Are Enough.” It's a guided meditation, illustrated meditation that I've actually partnered with a former student of mine, Amanda Doukas, to create. And hopefully we can get that in the hands of children and parents and grandparents all across the world very soon. 

JEFFCOAT: Kahseim Outlaw, teacher of the year 2020 there in Connecticut for Lyman Hall High School. We appreciate you joining us this morning. Thanks so much.