Opinion | Summit school board: We share your hardship
Summit School District Board of Education
The Summit School District Board of Education is proud of the district for 13 successful weeks of providing in-person, hybrid and remote learning options for our scholars.
We are grateful for the leadership and dedication provided by Superintendent Marion Smith Jr., our district and building leadership teams, and our teachers and staff who continue to work tirelessly on behalf of our scholars. Our school district is one of only 25% in the nation that has successfully welcomed scholars back into our school buildings, and for this, we are incredibly appreciative and grateful.
On Nov. 20, the district announced plans to pause in-person learning for the three weeks between the Thanksgiving and holiday breaks. This decision was not made lightly. We know that in-person learning is preferable. We know that our scholars are children who have strong ties to their friends and teachers and that they need connection. We understand that this decision has far-reaching effects on our families, local economy and our workforce.
That said, we also know that there is widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in Summit County. Despite what already seemed like extreme safety precautions in our schools, our scholars and staff are contracting the virus. This is resulting in staggering numbers of quarantines, frequent and abrupt changes to the district’s learning environment and staffing shortages.
The Board of Education unanimously supports the decision of our school district to temporarily pause in-person learning, and we praise our district community for being fluid and adaptable at a moment’s notice. We want parents, students and employers to know that our team of educators and support staff are prepared to continue remotely providing the quality education that our scholars deserve.
As board members, we’ve come to understand the tremendous complexity our district has navigated to keep our schools open. While other districts remained entirely remote this school year, our district leaders and school staff have been consistently responding to changing local health requirements. They’ve hired, retrained and reshuffled employee roles during the most difficult staffing and substitute teacher shortage we’ve ever seen. In the face of complex safety codes, they’ve troubleshooted daily logistical problems to keep staff and scholars safe from this virus. They did all of this because they understand that our community wants our students to be learning in-person as much as possible.
As a Board of Education, we see their efforts as deserving of this community’s appreciation and commendation.
For 13 weeks, our district team honored the community’s desire to have in-person learning by instituting a number of mitigation strategies to ensure the safety and health of our scholars and staff. It was a real challenge that few of the 83% who voted for in-person learning saw from the inside. We are proud of our commitment to the community and deem our return to in-person learning a time-limited success.
Now we’re asking for a commitment from you. We need your help to keep us healthy, to keep our school buildings open and to keep our economy going. We need you to practice the “six commitments to containment outlined by the Summit County Public Health Department: wear a face mask, wash your hands, stay 6 feet apart, stay home if sick, get tested and get the flu shot.
We all love our children, our community and our families, which is why we must support our schools, our neighbors and our livelihoods by putting the interests of the whole ahead of our own. This dedication is imperative, and the time to act is now.
We respect that closing in-person learning is an unpopular decision. But we are parents ourselves. We share your hardship, and that hardship will be unfathomably harder if we don’t work together to slow the virus now. Please do your part and encourage your friends, family and neighbors to do likewise.
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