Scituate Public Schools Superintendent Bill Burkhead is one of thousands of educators across the state tasked with developing safe and feasible reopening plans for their schools.
Many are frustrated that the state has devised specific, uniform plans for everything from restaurants to golf courses to churches -- but not education.
“If we could do it for the reopening of our state, let’s do it for the reopening of our education,” Burkhead said, urging officials to “make this your top priority.”
Burkhead wrote an open letter to Gov. Charlie Baker asking pointed questions like, “when you only allow gatherings of 25 indoors how can you expect to fill schools with [hundreds]?”
Burkhead explained in an interview, “I think you could avoid some of these contradictory decisions -- and they’re not on purpose, but they had to be pointed out, I think, hopefully so they could be avoided.”
Earlier this week, Baker released a breakdown of the average daily COVID-19 case rate by municipality, with risk ranked from white and green (low) to red (high). He had a strong message for the majority of school districts.
“If you’re in a green or a white community, I can’t imagine a good reason not to go back, whether it’s full time or in some sort of a hybrid,” Baker said.
The state has reportedly issued further guidance to schools based on that metric, recommending that schools in green or white communities reopen full-time.
“I think that when you get to listen to people, you hear that it’s a lot more complex than one metric number,” Burkhead in response to Baker's comment. “There’s people’s lives at stake.”
Burkhead said superintendents are seeing first-hand just how complex this decision has become on many levels.
“I think the governor would be well-served maybe doing some Zoom meetings like the superintendents have done with 500 people or more, just answering all their questions, and listening and talking to communities and going out there and listening to parents and listening to teachers,” Burkhead said.