Letter: No matter opinion, don’t mock concerned teachers
Typically, staff and students return to school with a mix of excitement and nerves. This year, there are understandably more nerves. Seven Steamboat Springs School District staff spoke at the Aug. 17 Board of Education meeting to express concerns about the high school’s preparedness, which was reported by Steamboat Pilot & Today.
A global pandemic is a scary thing. It is natural to fear for your own safety and the safety of those you love. No matter your personal opinion, I think we can agree that it is unkind and disrespectful to publicly mock and ridicule someone for voicing their fears. It is especially unacceptable when such sentiments (as were expressed in article comments and on social media) are aimed at teachers who make a significant contribution to our community.
The pandemic has created a public health crisis with far reaching implications for individuals and entire industries including public education. In Colorado, since the pandemic began, the governor, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and Routt County have relied on public health professionals to guide their decisions related to schools. CDE and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have released extensive guidance for reopening schools and dealing with infection and outbreaks. As a district, we are able to follow this guidance and have been working closely with Routt County Public Health to understand local public health conditions.
Routt County Public Health officials have reviewed our plan for opening in Phase 3 and have not recommended eliminating in-person learning. Putting more than 2,500 students into fully remote education has widespread implications for our community; however, we will not hesitate if this is what Routt County Public Health recommends.
Every district staff member has a unique perspective on the issue of returning to school. I have personally heard from staff who are excited to return to work as well as some staff who are concerned for their own or family’s health and safety. While we respect the different opinions and feelings everyone has around going back to school this fall, we are relying on our public health partners (and their science-based, data-driven view) to determine when it is and isn’t safe to have our students and teachers learning in-person. I want to assure you that we are following the guidelines that have been provided and working closely with public health officials to make student and staff health and safety our priority this year.
Steamboat Springs School District superintendent
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