Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Schools, the Pandemic and the importance of Grace

In the upcoming days we are going to begin to get information from our district's administrative team regarding our plan for school this fall. They have put in an immense amount of work over the past months trying to balance an impossible number of variables and create a plan that takes into consideration our student and staff's physical safety, mental and emotional wellness, and the need to provide a quality education.

As the father of a Senior I'm anxious to hear more about the specifics behind the plan. As a school board member I feel the weight of protecting all the parties involved and ensuring that all of our children have the opportunity to be successful in their education. Lastly, as a business owner I am keenly aware of the economic impact that the decisions made by schools across the country will have. I'm also aware that when our administrative team comes out with their plan, a significant part of the population is going to disagree with it. Some will believe it is too conservative and restricting, others will believe that it is far too liberal and not safe enough. While that conversation is important and all voices should be heard, I am hopeful that as we have it there is one word in particular that represents us. Grace. I'm hopeful that we can recognize that there are no good answers to the circumstances we're facing. I'm hopeful that we can remember that our best and brightest have put in countless hours working through the endless details and often changing guidelines and have come up with the best plan they can. I'm hopeful that we will trust our teachers and staff to do what they have done before and make the most out of less than ideal circumstances. Lastly, I'm hopeful that we can listen when people disagree with the decisions that have been made. I'm hopeful that it can all be done with grace for each other's perspective and without much of the cynicism and biting remarks that have become too common.

We're coming up on a year from when our community faced an incredible tragedy. When that happened I, like many of you, was heartbroken and felt a bit powerless to help. During the days, weeks, and months that followed the response that sprang up from the people in this area reminded me why our community is so special. We put differences behind us and rallied together to support our neighbors. We faced an incredible challenge together and while we would rather have never faced it, I'm convinced we came out of it stronger. I'm hopeful that we will be able to look back at this time and marvel at our community's ability to persevere. Let's have robust debate in the areas where good people might disagree, let's recognize the impossible situation that our administration, teachers, staff, and students are in, and let's ensure that we are working together with grace. We've supported our heroes before and we made the most out of a bad situation, let's do it again.

Kirk Doyle

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16 Responses »

  1. Good words from my colleague on the school board. Thanks for writing them.

  2. Kirk don’t your kids get homeschooled ? I appreciate you dedicating time to the school board and all the others as well. I feel if the schools don’t reopen the budget money should be returned to the taxpayers and the state so parents can make their choice of how education continues. The state should pay parents whatever they pay the school our local share will be erased from our property taxes as well.
    No child left behind has made it so if schools don’t reopen than NO new material can be taught unless EVERY student has a computer and internet access at all times. Our district does not have this ability nor will it by start of the school year. I have been in constant contact with my board representative and teachers and the amount of kids that didn’t even show any effort after closing was proof enough that these kids need to be in the classroom. Young kids had packets of work that was never collected so there is no hard evidence of them doing anything either.
    We need to reopen the schools and any teacher that is “high risk” should resign or retire so the district can get teachers that can be in the classroom with students.

  3. Kirk, very well put.
    We are all in this together.
    And like any family,, we will "quarrel".
    I support our educators and will refrain from political knee jerkIng. (hopefully....).

    Teachers are like the rest of us,
    There's Good'uns,,, And There's Bad'uns.
    Either way you have to admit, they're in a tough situation.
    Just like the rest of us.


    Everything Is Beautiful.

  4. Good luck finding teachers. Nationwide and in Maine there is a teacher shortage. There was also a substitute shortage prior to March. Now they estimate that 20% of teachers are expected not to return. So saying, “Just get new teachers”, Is not going to happen.

  5. Listening. Appreciation. Seeking to understand. Weighing our words before we speak. Caring. You nailed it, Kirk. Let's have grace.

  6. Teachers with health condition should retire or resign but elsewhere you trumpet that the ADA allows YOU to go anywhere without a mask?

    In fact, teachers - as employees - fall under the ADA, and the school district, as a public employer, will need to accommodate them. In contrast, you - as a private consumer - may fall under the ADA, but how far a private business goes to accommodate you is entirely up to them, as long as they don’t refuse to sell to you.

    So, teachers with high risk conditions can expect to be accommodated under ADA, and private businesses can force you to wear a mask, or address you needs curbside.

  7. As of last night the school board received the guidelines for school reopening. The same guidelines were outlined in a newsletter from the superintendent to parents via email, Facebook and webpage. Please go read these guidelines and be involved on August 6th meeting for staff from 4:00-5:00pm and take notes, and be involved during the public portion from 6:00-7:00pm.
    This is the time to make the decision on how your children will be returning to education through a very difficult decision for some people.
    I would also encourage everyone to join in on Tuesday’s board meeting starting at 6:30pm August 4th via Zoom the link will be on the district website. This will be the beginning of decision making and encourage you all to be involved and stay in touch with each of your board members so that we are sure to have your best interest in mind for the final stages going forward.

  8. All these meetings will take place via Zoom, links will be on the district website.

  9. @awww I will use you guys analogy and ask this. Why would we force students to not continue with a healthy version of school ie. Socializing with friends and interacting in the classroom actually learning? The “high risk” teachers will hinder that if we are forced to “remote learn” any longer. So with you guys way of thinking the ADA doesn’t mean anything for me under the China flu so it doesn’t mean anything for the teachers either right ? If they have health conditions that keep them from entering the school or doing their job they need to stay away from civilization lime I have been told too because I’m a monster with health conditions. Have a great weekend.

  10. As I watch this situation continue to unfold I'm reminded of the time I spent preparing to lead defense department efforts that were being designed so that our nation would be prepared to respond as one to this and other challenges. That's right, I'm telling you that pandemic response has been a focus of defense department planning for decades and that the millions spent on it has failed to generate results because Washington has so far chosen not to tap into that resource. Frankly I'm appalled by this, given that Washington was prepared to force the same organization to go to war without a completed war plan, and against the better judgement of a majority of defense experts, after just a fraction of those killed by COVID-19 were killed on September 11, 2001.

    It's time for us to get our priorities straight and to make effective use of the resources available to us in the effort to eliminate COVID-19 from the United States. And, if you're one of those defeatists who say this will never happen I want you to consider the fact that lesser nations have done just that. I don't know about you folk but I'm not prepared to accept defeat here when so many other nations have achieved victory in this regard. That's just not American as far as I'm concerned.

    So let's send our children back to school if that still makes sense, but be prepared to take more drastic steps to bring our numbers to zero if incident rates do begin to increase because if we're forced to confront this problem for years rather than months it's going to have a greater impact on our economy and government than if we just did what's necessary up front.

  11. We may as well face facts now. Washington didn't follow the advice of its experts and take those measures necessary to starve COVID-19 of future hosts because they feared the impact those measures would have on the upcoming elections. This left those most in need of guidance without it, forcing individuals and private organizations to develop a response on the fly. I'm not sure where we fall statistically but the United States definitely has the worst record in the world where COVID-19 responses are concerned and with the rate of infection holding that record will only get worse.

    Public servants aspire to be apolitical in an effort to ensure that politics would never interfere in our response to an event like this. I've struggled to make members of this community understand that through two decades of war as I saw it follow a course we once considered our worst case scenario. I hope that won't continue to be the case.

  12. To be fair, officers commissioned by Congress to carry out the people's work have faced resistance from Congress as they attempted to do so from the very beginning. George Washington himself was forced to contend with this as he struggled to prevent decisions made by the First Continental Congress from tearing his fledgling army apart. I recall learning that as an Officer Candidate and thinking, "well at least I won't have to do that!". Little did I know.

  13. Nice letter, however let’s practice what we preach. Please be cautious of the taxpayers and have us in mind when making your decisions. Also have enough respect to return your emails when they are sent to you. Remember Grace!!!

  14. Well said Wally. It would be nice if some board members would respond to emails. Transparency is still lagging in good ol RSU9 !!

  15. It’s odd that Mr. Doyle has been asked questions and hasn’t answered yet had time to read and comment on a different article on here. 🤷🏼‍♂️🤷🏼‍♂️

  16. I guess Jay likes to hear himself talk.
    COVID is as real as all the other colds and flus. The epidemic however is fake! Still to this day less deadly.

    Before you say: "but people are dying" in your wining voice... No S@#t. You can die in your tub so wear a helmet while your taking a bath.