SIGN UP FOR FREE WEDNESDAY NEWSLETTER: Full name, please
I agree with the Terms and conditions

Your View

Your View is YourArlington's only blog. It is the site's place for opinion. To publish here, you must use your full name in most cases.
Font size: +
2 minutes reading time (483 words)

Government by press release leads to more questions than answers

Paul Schlichtman of Mystic Street, a member of the Arlington School Committee, submitted this letter addressing school reopening and vaccination of teachers:

Paul Schlichtman, School Committee candidate, 2020 photoSchlichtman

It’s difficult to craft sound public policy at the local level when the governor communicates his policy initiatives through press releases.

Gov. Charles D. Baker declared he wants to force schools to fully reopen in April. Which schools? We’re not sure, but we are certain he is talking about elementary schools, probably not high schools, and we know his effort is independent of current CDC recommendations. The latest recommendations, that opening school requires proper precautions and social distancing, are consistent with our current hybrid program. Bringing only half of our students into the building, and the subsequent reduced class size, is necessary to maintain six-foot social distancing

Government by press release leads to more questions than answers. Is the state looking to be a wonderful partner, helping us with the resources we need to fully open, or are they engaging in bullying?

One indicator of the state’s intent is the availability of vaccines. Many states are giving priority to prekindergarten-through-12th-grade teachers; Massachusetts is not. Massachusetts began its program by making vaccine available to the town, which administered doses to first responders. Though Arlington has the capacity of running an efficient clinic that could successfully vaccinate our teachers, the state is now sending its vaccine elsewhere.

If we are going to be directed to reduce social distancing to permit a classroom full of children, the employees working with our children deserve to have the opportunity to be vaccinated. Even if the state suddenly allows Massachusetts to vaccinate educators, the troublesome state appointment system would be a barrier to scheduling a vaccination, and travel to a vaccination site on a weekday would likely require taking a day off from work for each of two doses.

If the state provides us with enough first doses of Moderna by March 15, or Pfizer by March 22, our educators could be fully vaccinated in town, in time for the first day of school following April vacation. The governor controls the vaccine, so he could put us on a glide path to a substantial April reopening with a simple decree. That would be an offer of a wonderful partnership. If the governor insists on reopening without vaccine for our educators, that would be bullying.

Given that the increase in cases over the past month, among our youngest cohort (age 0-19, 24.6 percent), is more than twice the rate of increase for the entire town (12.2 percent), we must work harder to protect the educators who would serve them if we expanded daily contacts and reduced social-distancing requirements. I would love to move forward to bring more children into our schools, but we need more than a press release from the state to move forward.


This letter to the editor was published Monday, March 1, 2021.

 

×
Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

8th graders call for changes in town bylaw to boos...
 

Comments

Grant Cook on Monday, 01 March 2021 17:54
Return to In-person Learning

There's a good scene in the movie Walk the Line, where Sam Phillips tells Johnny Cash he won't record the gospel music he is singing. I think it applies to our long-serving SC leader, who has and will continue to be involved in the gospel of getting our kids back into classrooms.
Mr. Cash responds "Is it the gospel or the way I sing it?"
Sam Phillips: "Both"
Johnny Cash: "Well what's wrong with the way I sing it?"
Sam Phillips: "I don't believe you."
There's a lot hanging unsaid around the Governor's goal - that is very true. Rules from DESE around distancing. Possibly vaccinating of in-class teachers (if they are willing to consider that sufficient, being that their families wont be vaccinated, nor will the students be), continuation and increase in monitoring testing, etc. But its a goal that I think most profess to share, so lets take him at his word and build upon it, pointing out what is needed to help achieve it, not just cross our arms and go "That won't work."
Paul is quick to find a moment to criticize our Republican governor. Election season is not far away. But Paul was also a voice last summer, when we knew a lot about transmission, saying a return to school, even hybrid, was impossible, that we should let other districts lead, see what happens to them. I didn't consider that a profile in courage. I am glad the school committee saw a better path and voted 5-2 for some return to in person. It has proven to be invaluable to my kids' psyches, and I am impressed how the impossible become very possible with the hard work of the staff.
But he is right in that leadership by press releases is not that useful without additional concrete steps. I would extend that statement to include letters to the editor as well.

There's a good scene in the movie Walk the Line, where Sam Phillips tells Johnny Cash he won't record the gospel music he is singing. I think it applies to our long-serving SC leader, who has and will continue to be involved in the gospel of getting our kids back into classrooms. Mr. Cash responds "Is it the gospel or the way I sing it?" Sam Phillips: "Both" Johnny Cash: "Well what's wrong with the way I sing it?" Sam Phillips: "I don't believe you." There's a lot hanging unsaid around the Governor's goal - that is very true. Rules from DESE around distancing. Possibly vaccinating of in-class teachers (if they are willing to consider that sufficient, being that their families wont be vaccinated, nor will the students be), continuation and increase in monitoring testing, etc. But its a goal that I think most profess to share, so lets take him at his word and build upon it, pointing out what is needed to help achieve it, not just cross our arms and go "That won't work." Paul is quick to find a moment to criticize our Republican governor. Election season is not far away. But Paul was also a voice last summer, when we knew a lot about transmission, saying a return to school, even hybrid, was impossible, that we should let other districts lead, see what happens to them. I didn't consider that a profile in courage. I am glad the school committee saw a better path and voted 5-2 for some return to in person. It has proven to be invaluable to my kids' psyches, and I am impressed how the impossible become very possible with the hard work of the staff. But he is right in that leadership by press releases is not that useful without additional concrete steps. I would extend that statement to include letters to the editor as well.
Already Registered? Login Here
Saturday, 20 July 2024

Captcha Image

Your Business

Housing Authority