Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A Tenth Open Letter to the School District

Dear folks in charge of the decision making down at the School District,

I know you have been working 24/7 over the summer trying to figure out how to possibly have school happen for all our kids next month. It must be stressful since there is no historical year-after-year blueprint for how to operate schools and educate young people in a world that also has diseases. But you guys are smart. I’m sure you’ll think of something.

Speaking of all the thinking and planning you’ve been doing, I wanted to highlight one area you have been working diligently on – masks. Specifically, who needs to wear a mask and when. I received a copy of an email from an anonymous source the other day, laying out your new “policy.” (I put policy in quotes since I didn’t know what else to call this, but it’s clear that you need to look that word up in the dictionary.)

You started by mentioning that all the students needed to wear masks, but you wanted to focus on getting back to community building within the classroom and not to have the teachers become strident mask enforcers.

You don’t want to further aggravate the current politically divisive climate of mask vs. no mask, in an attempt to avoid the hostile atmosphere we saw last year.

So, your “policy” is that students, no matter their vaccination status against whooping cough, diphtheria, or COVID-19, 20, or 21, are supposed to come into the classroom wearing a mask. But if the student is not following that rule and a teacher asks them to comply and the student refuses, the teacher is asked to not further engage in forcing the student to comply.

Your “policy” goes on to restate that you wish to focus on creating community and to that end, you provided some helpful tools for the teachers to employ.

Teachers could:

A) Share that wearing a mask indoors is respectful to those in class who may have immunocompromised family members.

B) Share that they too have family members.

C) Talk about respecting choice and taking care of self.

But above all else, teachers are not to become aggressive in mandating they wear the mask. Also, teachers are going to need to be conscious of not bullying each other on the masks. (I am assuming you meant the kids bullying each other, and not the teachers bullying other teachers? Or are you worried about that, too?)

So, since I am assuming you didn’t roll play your new “policy” down at the district office, for fear of accidentally bullying each other, allow me to give it a shot.

Student: *walks into class with no mask*

Teacher: Please put your mask on.

Student: No.

Teacher: I respect your choice. You need to take care of yourself and do what’s right for you.

Student: Thanks.

Teacher: But did you know that one of your classmates might have a grandma who could have to go to the hospital and be put on a ventilator because of your choices? Does that sound like you are respecting them? Did you know that I also have a grandmother?

Student: Umm…

Teacher: I apologize for bringing up the whole mask thing. You are a valuable part of our classroom community and I want you to feel emotionally safe here, so please let me know if anyone bullies you.

Student: Umm, didn’t you just…

Teacher: OK, we need to get started with today’s lesson.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think my teacher in our little fictional conversation just followed your new “policy” to the letter.

Let me know how it works out in real life.

Yours in educational excellence through continued partnership,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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