I am appalled by what I witnessed at the 13 July school board meeting, and I am not alone. While many parents are now looking at other education options for their children, such as private schools or homeschooling, I am still hopeful that reason and common sense will win the day.
Your role as a school board is to provide a framework of rules and guidelines for school system administration affecting major educational issues. Your role is to listen to your stakeholders, operate with integrity and help create an equitable educational environment where each student is provided the opportunity to reach their God-given potential. Your actions at the 13 July school board meeting failed to meet any of these standards.
Mr. [David] Jeck and this school board continue to speak about the stakeholders. Your stakeholders are Fauquier students and staff. Students consist of 85% of your stakeholders. Your largest stakeholder, by far, voted for the four-day model in your most recent survey. I would speculate Fauquier families would have voted for the traditional, five-day model, but you never even provided that as an option on either of your surveys. Then, on July 13, 23 individuals took time out of their day and prioritized your meeting to voice their concerns during citizen's time. Not a single parent or student voiced support for the A/B model. Not one. Only staff supports the A/B model - your 15% stakeholders. Yet, amazingly, you failed to listen to your stakeholders and voted, unanimously, for this ridiculous A/B model.
Following citizen's time during the 13 July school board meeting, multiple board members stated that they had not already made up their mind regarding their vote. Parents posed a litany of comments and questions to you. Yet, mere minutes after citizen's time ended, board members read from their prepared statements. Less than 18 minutes after citizen's time ended, this school board unanimously voted against the voice of the majority of Fauquier parents. You could not have considered all that was offered in any serious way in such a short amount of time. Fauquier families expect you to operate with integrity. You did not.
We continue to hear you argue that you are following the data and science. Again, just this week, Mr. Jeck stated that his team will reassess the A/B model based on the pandemic and school community. What is there to reassess? Based on the data, the environment cannot get much better than it is. Fauquier County has had only eight deaths related to COVID-19. This board has unanimously decided to upend our school community, family homes and schedules, based on eight deaths. This is remarkable.
In 2018, Fauquier County had 518 total deaths. Upending our community over a cause of death that accounts for less than 2% of all deaths in the county is not a wise decision. By this logic, you ought to have closed schools for dozens of other causes as well: influenza killed 219 Virginians in 2018. Where was the outcry then? Parent after parent reminded you of the data - COVID deaths are down 86% from their April peak; no child deaths in Fauquier County; children are not driving the spread of COVID. While every death matters, we must maintain perspective. The data supports the traditional five-day in-class schedule.
I am a huge supporter of Fauquier County School teachers. My children have been blessed with amazing teachers so far, teachers who truly care for their students. Let your teachers do what they do best — teach. This is yet another policy by this board that continues to place obstacles in the way of Fauquier County School teachers. Your role is to remove obstacles and help create an equitable environment.
This is a time for the Fauquier school community to come together and be united. It is not too late for you to make the right decision. This is not hard or complicated. Listen to your stakeholders and make a data-driven decision. Should you do so, and operate with integrity, I will be your strongest advocate.