As a year-round resident of Falmouth, I enjoy reading The Enterprise every week. I rely on The Enterprise to keep me informed on key issues impacting our community. I have been surprised and disappointed to see the lack of coverage of the Falmouth Public Schools and how students, teachers and families are faring during the past 10 weeks of school closures due to COVID-19.
The physical closure of the the schools has impacted the lives of the 3,400 students it serves, as well as the thousands of caregivers for these children. Yet news coverage has been limited and focused mostly on mechanics (handing out Chromebooks, high school graduation plans, et cetera), not impacts.
For example, the schools recently carried out a parent survey about remote learning, but these results are yet to be presented to our community, instead only briefly mentioned at a school committee meeting. The findings of this survey would be relevant to report on. Other key questions include: What percentage of students are participating in remote learning? Are caregivers satisfied? What are their concerns? What challenges are teachers facing and are they being provided the support they need?
Similarly, an understanding of how the district is preparing for fall 2020 is not clear and deserves reporting. Will teachers be provided with more training this summer? Is summer school a possibility for children to catch up on lost learning? Will there be roundtable discussions with caregivers and schools to brainstorm ideas? What different models are being discussed? How can we as a community engage in this planning?
Over the past 10 weeks I have attended school committee, school council and PTO meetings (at two different schools), trying to stay engaged and aware of what is happening in our school system, as well as to ask questions about concerns related to remote learning. While caregivers can certainly attend such meetings, these events are not widely publicized and have had very limited participation considering the population impacted. Additionally, while there are opportunities to comment, these have not been used as forums for questions and answers by district leadership or used as a main method for communicating with the caregivers of school-age children during the pandemic.
The Enterprise is uniquely positioned to carry out in-depth reporting on our schools, how students and teachers are faring, and how we are preparing for the future. Considering we spend close to $50 million per year on the schools and the profound impact the school closures have on thousands of children and their families in Falmouth, our community deserves more reporting on this important issue.
Julie A. Huber
Woods Hole Road