OPINION: SOMA Community Alliance for Education Leadership Urges School Stakeholders to Work Together on ‘Child/Student-Driven’ Approach to Reopening

by The Village Green
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We want to start by saying that we are here with you, in this challenging moment, as fellow community members, processing our own feelings about it all. We are operating largely with the same information as you are. We are also trying to connect the dots, and read between the lines, within charged communication. Charged communication that directly impacts us, and most importantly our kids. There exist gaps in the communication released tonight, and consistently — and that is where assumptions are made. Assumptions lead to frustration, distrust and discontent, all of which continue to grow in our beloved community.

While language may be used that suggests collaboration or a willingness to partner, actions speak louder than words. We are asking for SOMSD, SOMEA, and the BOE to work together and focus on simple solutions that better engage, and inform the community they serve. The issues at hand are nuanced, but no matter where you fall on the continuum of reopening, we all have a shared goal to do what is best for our kids. Our community is outspoken, and here are some consistent threads that we hear, and believe can be activated into specific, measurable, and achievable goals to both move the needle in terms of solutions and rebuilding community trust:

  1. A commitment to transparency with the entire school community, namely: students and families. This commitment includes providing clear, digestible information on all known issues (ranging from HVAC updates to COVID-19 safety protocols from all parties), status updates and timetables where possible. A clear list of expectations for conditions from both the district and SOMEA is necessary for the community to understand and process the situation.
  2. An approach that is child/student driven and includes student considerations in all updates. This approach would include suggestions of how to support our children through change, how to explain this situation to our children, and how our leaders are prioritizing our children in their actions and plans.

What we really need from our leaders right now is a determination to see this through, a clear commitment to driving visible change to support our schools, our kids, and our community. At a time when we are looking to leaders for stability, grace, and guidance, we are disappointed by the continued lack of transparency and added chaos that we find ourselves and our children witnessing. Our goal as a community voice is to advocate for increased transparency and communication; empathy for the global trauma we are all enduring; and to continue to urgently push for a solutions-oriented approach.

In partnership,

Liz Callahan, Nicole Stewart, Caitlin Peterson, Joel Janney, Steve Weber, & Whitney Poliner
SOMA Community Alliance for Education Leadership

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