New Hampshire was recently ranked as the fifth safest state in the nation to re-open school, according to a data analysis. Yet approximately 20 percent of our schools are still fully remote, including the Nashua public school district. Gov. Chris Sununu himself has stated, “The data shows it’s time to send kids back to class.”
Gov. Sununu went on to say, “And my hope is that some of the schools who are in a fully remote position right now will look at the data… to make the decision to advance to a hybrid model, or maybe even back to a full classroom instruction model sooner than later, especially given the fact that so many folks are looking for that to actually happen.”
Meanwhile, in a letter to parents on September 20, you, Superintendent Mosley, delayed in-person learning until January 2021, except for a small population of IEP students, Kindergarten, and Grade 1. Until this, parents and students had been mostly patient, flexible, and understanding, despite the gaps in remote learning, logistical challenges for families, and mounting mental and physical health consequences for the students themselves.
Not anymore. As a result of your recent delay, the Nashua Parent Voice was formed. It consists of a group of more than 700 parent members — and growing — who have organized to challenge the current re-entry and re-opening plan and demand a solid and accelerated plan for the school district, especially given what other similar-sized districts have achieved and implemented, including Manchester and Lowell.
As you are aware, though we have yet to receive a response from you, the official appeal was submitted to the local BOE on September 29, 2020. The Nashua Parent Voice will escalate the appeal to the State BOE if your response is unsatisfactory. The Mayor, Commissioner of Education, Governor, and media have all been contacted.
Challenges cited in your decision to delay included “epidemiology, staffing, and PPE.” If that is the case, then we demand answers with regards to your criteria or transitioning from remote to in-person learning. We obligate you to factor in current and local epidemiology for fact-based decision-making.
We acknowledge that epidemiology is not the only factor in this process. Therefore, we request a new survey of Nashua teachers and staff to assess willingness for in-person schooling given current local epidemiology as well as updated PPE and safety measures. Logically, we urge you to provide our parents and teachers detailed and updated information regarding PPE and safety measures.
If there is continued delay or a lack of commitment on your behalf, COVID-19 could end up worsening existing inequities in our school and community and lead to more consequences than COVID-19 itself.
Superintendent Mosley, you have said, “It is very difficult to predict what will happen with the pandemic tomorrow or in a few weeks.” Yes, of course it is. None of us have experienced or schooled/parented through a pandemic before. We maintain that that is even more reason to rely on the facts and not the uncertainties.
Have you considered utilizing the decision-making matrix published by the NH Division of Public Health Services Bureau of Infection Disease Control? Have you considered that a full return to school by January is worthy of discussion and would force the district to focus on one task without wavering?
Have you thought about giving families and teachers the option to choose full remote or full in-person learning? The only thing that has been predictable, Mr. Superintendent, is that you have continued to “take more time this fall” to “think about things” with no end or real plan in sight.
We expect challenges along the way—shut-downs for extra cleaning, students and staff being sent home for quarantine, and other shifting of gears. However, as other school districts have accounted for, cases can be mitigated and contained without total disregard for the opportunity for in-person learning. In fact, it is our constitutional right.
Therefore, we put the onus on you, the Superintendent and Board of Education, to show why an immediate return is not warranted and to work with neighboring districts who have done the work to implement a plan.
What changed that altered the original course for in-person learning? Was there ever an actual plan to get the students back to school in October? What epidemiological metrics are acceptable for return? What exactly are the remaining PPE or safety challenges? What is the current number of teachers willing to return to in-class instruction given the latest data? What will you do now?
Our students and teachers deserve better.
Nashua Parent Voice is a collaborative group of over 700 members (and growing) who believe students deserve better than the Nashua Public School District’s current remote model, and who are advocating for change.