Every Student, Every Day
December 4, 2020
Dear Newark Families,
It is as discouraging for me as I am sure it is for you that my communications to you focus only on COVID-19. If it is not about positive tests or quarantining directions from the Health Department, then it pertains to the potential of yellow zones or orange zones or whatever may be our County’s fate as we move forward. The nature of Interim roles like mine that are so brief does not make it easy to build trust with stakeholders who have laser focus on the health and well-being of their children in yourschools. Now, I am reaching out to you to ask for your help and support even though you barely know me.
Please bear with me as I personalize my comments a bit just to help you understand that I have great compassion and sensitivity for many of your personal thoughts related to COVID-19 and its impact on your schools and community. During the Thanksgiving break my wife and I drove by the high school in our community (designated an orange zone) and I mentioned how I would have been at basketball practice at this time back in the days when I was a student. But COVID has taken that from us, as well as so many of the very important things that make schools such a special place for all of our children. I also have three adult children of my own, one who works daily in a hospital in Erie County, one who is a school administrator in the Saratoga region, and one who owns his own business in Erie County. All have been significantly impacted by COVID and are certainly not aided by the constant stops and starts of school for their children related to COVID reasons. Finally, I have seven grandchildren, four of them in “orange zone” schools. Two of them are first graders and with the frequency of moves from in-person to virtual instruction since last year, I do not think either fully understands yet what all-day, in-school instruction really means. Finally, like you, I worry about the health of my own family during COVID.
So, while I do not know you and you do not know me, I really do know what you are experiencing AND I DO KNOW WE NEED YOUR HELP. For the sake of your own families, and for the support of our school-aged children and all of the district staff that provides in-school services to our students, we ask you to please intensify your safety practices in the coming weeks. I don’t think any of us are going to cure COVID-19 but there are things we have been frequently told we can do that can help mitigate spread, especially during the holiday season. We ask that you not gather in large groups, wear face coverings, practice safe social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. Please help your children understand the importance of such measures. If you are asked to quarantine, we plead with you to do so appropriately. When experiencing any of the many published symptoms of COVID-19, please consult with your doctor to see if additional steps are needed. Contact your child’s school for next steps if any member of your family is diagnosed with COVID-19.
We know how important it is to families that schools remain open and safe. We need your help to accomplish that mission. I thank you in advance for that help. May you enjoy a safe and healthy holiday season.
Interim Superintendent of Schools