Letter: Grateful to school district staff for their work

Send letters to the editor to: Editor@DarienTimes.com

Send letters to the editor to: Editor@DarienTimes.com

Hearst Connecticut Media

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Superintendent Dr. Alan Addley and Head of Nursing Alicia Casucci, who have recently received much criticism, for their decision to conduct school remotely for the week following the Christmas break. It never occurred to me that students and teachers would immediately return to in-person school after the vacation. Starting in-person school on Jan. 4 would have been incredibly irresponsible considering the number of families that traveled over Christmas and into New Year’s. Even if travelers were to have followed state guidelines for returning to Connecticut by having a negative COVID test prior to re-entering the state, or even over the Jan. 1 weekend, there is no guarantee that in the meantime they hadn’t had an exposure.

In order for tests, given to symptom free individuals, to be truly accurate and accountable, they should be done at least five days after any potential exposure risk or travel. The vacation itself was just under two weeks which doesn’t even meet the quarantine rules for travel out of state or from COVID exposure. This was the first extended vacation since the summer and I am amazed by the anger incited about returning to school remotely for the first week of January to ensure the safety of the district’s students and staff. I also commend Dr. Addley for implementing remote school for the week leading up to vacation to limit exposure so that families could safely travel to see relatives without needing to quarantine. Greenwich schools did not do that and I know of two friends whose children were exposed at school on Wed., December 23 and were required to cancel their holiday plans to see family.

Parents in Darien have no idea how fortunate we are and how good we actually have it. Dr. Addley, the nursing staff, teachers and the Board of Ed in our district have handled the unprecedented circumstances of a pandemic and online schooling phenomenally well. Compared to my friends and families across the nation and even within Connecticut, Darien has done a commendable job organizing remote and online teaching, hybrid learning and safely coordinating in-person school, especially at Darien High School.

Public schools in the affluent North Shore suburbs of Chicago, such as Lake Forest, Illinois, have been and plan to remain remote for the entire school year. Public schools in Raleigh, North Carolina didn’t teach any new material after March 15, 2020 because not every student in their district had access to WIFI and many parents didn’t pick up the donated laptops which were made available. I do recognize and understand the added challenges for elementary aged kids and parents, however, compared to other school districts in Connecticut as well as in New York City, Darien has done a far superior job handling the entire situation since March.

We should all be appreciative and grateful for the laborious efforts made by Dr. Addley, Ms. Casucci, the teachers, staff and the Board of Ed. Even before COVID truly hit us, they had started planning how to handle a pandemic shutdown and began developing what is one of the best school systems in the nation to address learning during this difficult time. I also want to thank Alicia Casucci and her nursing team for their diligent contact tracing and for sending out the very thorough COVID reports nearly every day to keep everyone healthy and safe. But parents, please be thankful and show some gratitude. This too shall pass.

Kristin Peterson Edwards