The state Board of Education will meet Aug. 13-14 and talk about the opening of school the week of Aug. 24. It also met on this subject July 23.
Under coronavirus rules, the state Board has been meeting by teleconference. The public is unable to attend and make public comments. Comments are accepted in writing in advance of meetings.
This process effectively prevents the public from being heard. Maybe the Board reads its mail. Maybe it doesn’t. But the public doesn’t hear it.
So I made an FOI request for comments submitted by the public to the board about school reopening, particularly before the July 23 meeting. There were dozens. They are from worried teachers and parents. They overwhelmingly favor beginning school only by “virtual” means, or online. Governor Hutchinson has allowed that as an option but is requiring all regular school districts to offer in-class instruction.
The comments reflect misgivings all over the state about a return to conventional school. There are so many imponderable questions.
It’s a sobering outpouring. Many noted the irony of the state Board finding it unsafe to meet in person while sending teachers and children back to classrooms.
I did see one letter supporting a return to regular classes, without masks, and letting herd immunity work.
There were so many letters, they had to be sent to me in 11 batches.