Letter to Our Community
We are living in a time that is hard to define. Some call it the “New Normal” or “Trying Times” or just “Covid-19 Times.” All of these are certainly appropriate, but I would add the “If Times.” I use this term to indicate all of the unknowns that we are dealing with and if we make this decision then if this happens, we may need to rethink all our ifs again.
When deciding how to open schools, when to return to church, how to safely visit with friends, how to open businesses, we are faced with these questions: “What’s the end point of this? When might the threat of Covid-19 disappear, if ever? What if this is our new reality? What if the disease never truly goes away?”
Focusing on opening schools to provide an education for our students and provide a learning atmosphere that is safe and healthy for our students and teachers is a daunting task. There is no answer that will satisfy all questions or all concerns. Our Administrators and teachers have been working since March to develop a plan that will put us in a position to make the best decisions possible. Even so, there is no constant, and change is inevitable; therefore, taking all the information that can be gathered from the CDC, Tennessee and Anderson County Health Departments, and medical professionals who specialize in communicable diseases, the Oak Ridge Schools are doing the best with all the information we have to keep education productive.
Parents, I realize that you also feel stress and anxiety for your children as you are making decisions that affect their education. We have over 5,000 staff and students and this alone presents different and complicated situations. I hope you will be patient with us as countless hours are being spent to keep everyone safe and healthy and to give each student a chance for a quality education.
Sometimes, just saying thank you is not enough. Even so, I want to thank our staff and administrators for the countless hours they are spending to be ready for whatever lies ahead. I particularly want to commend Dr. Borchers for his leadership, Mayor Gooch for his support of the Oak Ridge Schools and his communication with me and my colleagues on the Oak Ridge Board of Education for their insights and dedication to education.
We are all in this together and we need everyone’s help to return to the times that are less stressful, healthier, and richer with opportunity. Finally, I would ask all citizens to do everything possible to help eradicate this virus, even though some recommendations you may not agree with, or may make you uncomfortable. If health experts say there is something that will help, then do it. What do you have to lose? We all have to work together to return to more productive times. Health experts encourage everyone to wear a mask to cut down on the transmission of the virus and I would ask each and every one of you to wear a mask to help get our students back in school and keep them in school as well as making our community a place where we can feel free to live our lives as we want.
Oak Ridge Board of Education