Message from the Superintendent
We are living through an unprecedented time in our nation’s history. The challenges of a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of far too many neighbors, family members, and friends across the world and in our own neighborhoods has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, including our ability to come together as a community. In cities and towns across the nation, we are also standing up and at last taking action against the systemic racism that has defined our country throughout its history, and which has led to the stark inequities that we see daily -- in opportunities, outcomes, and in how we value and treat one another. The disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had on our Black and LatinX communities is just the latest example of those inequities.
There is no question that the upcoming school year will be unlike any other that we have experienced in our lifetimes. When we first closed our schools in March, we could not have foreseen the impact that Covid-19 would have on our daily lives. Nor could we have anticipated the complexity and unpredictability of this persistent virus. However, what we did hope and believed would happen is that this wonderful, compassionate Somerville community would come together as it always does in times of crisis, to support and take care of each other and to lift each other up. Within days, the community banded together to ensure that families’ basic needs were being met. The community also banded together with families, helping to support their children at home with their education and making health and medical services universally available. Five months later, that critically important work continues.
As we get ready for the start of the 2020-21 school year, we will continue to work tirelessly to prepare for an eventual and gradual return to our classrooms as conditions allow. We have no doubt and are in full agreement -- staff, students and families -- that teaching and learning in person is what is best for kids. Social interaction is a foundational part of how we learn and grow, both as students and educators. Until that time is possible, current health and safety conditions demand that we find new and innovative ways to support our students, staff and families. As educators, we ourselves must learn and grow from this experience so that we may better serve our students and families, not just during this crisis, but in the years to come. We are committed to doing so.
We are also committed to keeping equity at the forefront, as we continue to work to become an anti-racist district and eliminate policies and practices that have contributed to our persistent achievement and opportunity gaps. It is imperative that we prioritize a return for those students who have not and may not be able to learn what they need remotely -- our special education students, our English learner newcomers and early language learners, our youngest pre-K to grade 2 students, and those students who have been disproportionately impacted by this terrible pandemic through family sickness and death, housing and food instability, or family job loss.
We are hopeful as we look to a new school year filled with challenges and uncertainties, that it will be a successful one, guided by our belief in the resilience of our staff, students, families and community and grounded in our commitment to provide a safe, supportive and engaging learning environment where every student can thrive and grow.
Mary Skipper, Superintendent