After months of unimaginable heartache, a grieving mother spoke before the Fairfax County Public School Board, blaming its COVID-19 policies for contributing to her son’s suicide.


Robert Walsh, 19, had struggled with autism throughout his life. According to his mother, Cynthia Walsh, Robert needed access to a counselor, and the virtual sessions provided by Chantilly High School weren’t good enough.

Moreover, instead of identifying students who needed extra help, like Robert, teachers during the 2020 school year (Robert’s high school graduation year) let “everyone pass” while allegedly failing to address the learning deficits and mental health crisis resulting from COVID restrictions.

Studies have shown that fallout from pandemic policies threatens to diminish students’ personal and professional prospects far into their adult years.

Meanwhile, Cynthia also faulted Fairfax County Public Schools for a reported focus on race and oppression.

She told the school board that Robert, who was white, had “triggers” and needed validation because of the sensitivity of his already isolating condition. Instead, she said, what he heard in every class was that he was an “oppressor” due to his skin color.

The Daily Wire’s Luke Rosiak reports:

Several months after the beginning of the pandemic, he graduated without fanfare. “His graduation was a drive-through graduation. No prom, no graduation. None of the events kids have. It was supposed to be six weeks to slow the spread. But he never got to say goodbye.”

“He was empathetic. He felt people’s emotions. He needed to hear over and over again that he was a good person,” she said.

Robert’s twin brother went off to college, but government policies left Robert behind, she said. He was going to have an internship with the Fairfax government, but the government closed its offices.

Then there were mask policies. His fallback plan was to work in retail, but “he had a speech impediment as it was, and when he wore a mask you just couldn’t understand him … he would have to talk to customers and they couldn’t understand him through the mask. And that was a trigger for him.”

After months of struggling to accomplish everyday tasks burdened by indescribable pain, Cynthia found the energy amid the depression, anger, despair and loneliness to confront the school board.