11/6/20 Superintendent & COVID Tracking Update

11/6/20 Superintendent & COVID Tracking Update
Posted on 11/06/2020
Finally, it has been a charged week around the Presidential election, but a good one for teaching and learning about our democracy. The election is a tense one — this is not lost on any US Citizen. We are a public school and a learning organization. We have an obligation to uphold to create civic dialogue in our classes (see our dispositions below).
Our students will look to us in the coming days and weeks to help them heal, celebrate—but through it all, still be Natick Neighbors—living in relationship and in collaboration.
As a community, we take very seriously our responsibility and legal obligation to educate students about the history and current events in the United States and about the importance of civic engagement to our democracy. In a country of nearly 330 million people — with diverse backgrounds, religions, and political views — there will never be agreement on all issues. Our educational system is designed not to tell students what to think about issues, but rather, how to gather and examine information, think critically, engage with their peers, and draw informed conclusions.
At the same time, we know that many of us have strong opinions and deeply held beliefs of our own. When political issues arise in schools — particularly when students ask thoughtful questions — it can be difficult to set aside our individual perspectives and respond without bias. Some argue that even in school settings, students and adults are protected under the First Amendment to freedom of speech. However, that provision of the Constitution does not give individuals the right to voice any opinion, in any setting. The circumstances and context do matter, and in the case of schools, we have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure that our viewpoints do not create division or disruption that would be harmful to students or staff. This year in particular, with so many members of our community feeling the anxiety and strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must be more vigilant than ever about creating school cultures rooted in empathy and support rather than conflict and opposition.
We recognize that in this political environment, the stakes are high, and many of us are deeply passionate about the issues at hand. In a community composed of people with different viewpoints, we will undoubtedly encounter neighbors and colleagues whose opinions may not only be different from ours, but may even seem offensive, prejudicial, and out of step with the values of our school community. As objectionable as these viewpoints may be, they do not negate our responsibility to maintain safe, civil learning environments focused on students’ academic growth and social-emotional well-being. We hope you will join us, as our children's first teachers, in this mission.
Help them be the civil global citizens our Profile of a Graduate expects and help them stay in relationship with each other in our amazing and, at the core, loving, community.
Thank you for your partnership with us in support of our students!

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