Given the links to articles I’m being sent frequently, it’s clear many of us are subscribed to the same news feeds. I am keenly aware of, and very concerned about, Utah’s COVID numbers and trends. I know this is a time when you and I have lots of concerns and lots of feelings and lots of unanswered questions. The idea of going back to school raises fears about spreading the virus further and even contracting the virus ourselves. These fears naturally extend to concerns we all have for the health and safety of our loved ones, parents, spouses and children. The risks are real, and I know those feelings and concerns are both genuine and valid.
Please know, as superintendent, I feel great responsibility for all of our 64,000 students and their families, and for our more than 8,000 employees and their families. However, I can also say that I am approaching this coming school year with confidence - wariness, yes - but with confidence. I’d like to share with you why.
While I do not know our state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn personally, I know many who do. They have great respect for and confidence in her. I have personally known our state superintendent Dr. Sydnee Dickson for more than two decades. I know no one who is more competent or who cares for children more deeply than she. I have great confidence in the direction we receive from her.
I know the leaders of our county health department personally. I am extremely grateful to them for taking CDC guidance - guidance that is issued and worded to have application from Waynesville, Missouri to New York City - and translating it for specific application to Granite School District. I have great confidence in the health department team that has been assigned to work directly with our district with everything from contact tracing to analysis of specific situations and guidance accordingly. I know that every “positive” diagnosis is reported to the health department and that each time they immediately work with us to determine the medically expedient next steps.
I have great confidence in our school nurses, medical professionals who have dedicated their careers to helping children be safe and healthy at school.
I have great confidence in school leaders, assigned to serve in our more than 90 schools. They know their people, their facilities, their resources and their communities. I’m so impressed with the thoughtful, principle-based plans they are developing with their leadership teams and broader communities.
I have great confidence in our support personnel and their abilities to keep our work and learning spaces clean as they do everything from preparing lunch to installing hospital-grade air filters into our school HVAC systems.
I have great confidence in our nearly 4000 educators who recognize that they represent the only opportunity for tens of thousands of our kids to get an education, the only possible ticket out of poverty and into a healthy and self-sufficient life. Over the last ten years I have visited thousands of our classrooms and can’t imagine a more professional and dedicated group. I would hold our teachers up against any group any time and anywhere.
I have great confidence in the families of Granite School District, specifically our parents. No one knows the children better than they and I honor the decisions they make for their children. Some may feel their children will be better served in a distance modality for a time, I respect that and we will do all we can to serve them to meet their needs. For the families who do not choose a distance option and for the very many for whom a distance option is simply not a real option, we will provide for them as well. None of our district’s children can afford to fall further behind, especially those referenced before for whom we represent the only opportunity for a successful future.
Please know that we are listening closely to the governor’s office, including Dr. Dunn and associated state health officials, our county health leaders and our state superintendent. I do not know what changes will occur over the next weeks and months but have confidence yet again in their ability to issue guidance and our ability to pivot accordingly.
I sincerely thank you all for all you do!
Granite School District, Superintendent