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On returning to school full-time in Medfield

Thank you to the teachers, administrators, committee members and volunteers for your hard work. As a school community, the best interests of our students must be our first and primary consideration. The purpose of this letter is to convey the sentiment many of us have shared with you privately, during school committee meetings and with countless teachers and staff members – We believe our children’s best interests are served by being back in school, full-time, five days a week.

Trusted sources agree, children, especially our youngest children, need to be in school:

• The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states, “The harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well known and significant.” (Importance of Reopening Schools, 7/23/2020)

• The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. (COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-Entry)

There is a growing group of Medfield Parents (the Facebook group “Medfield School Return Advocates” has over 200 members as of this writing) reporting negative health, social and educational impacts of hybrid learning on our children. We must weigh the definite, current health effects parents are seeing in their children today against the potential community transmission of COVID-19. 

Our youngest students, some who have had limited to no exposure to screens in their lifetime, are forced to sit in front of a 12” computer screen for up to 5 hours a day. They complain of burning eyes and headaches. Elementary school students are experiencing weight gain and difficulty sleeping. Our children are withdrawn, grumpier, and prone to tantrums and crying jags. Previously well-adjusted children are experiencing depression, anxiety and attentional problems. Already stretched families are about to snap. Our children are suffering.

Children in middle school and younger have not been able to learn on remote days without help, lots of it, all day. Medfield’s model for remote days is independent work. Medfield students often come from working families. For some, no parent is home to assist with learning or provide any supervision. For others, a parent may work from home, but lack the ability to provide the supervision and support each student requires. 

Many families have enrolled some or all of their children in private school, where in person learning is the norm. Some families have decided to home school. Families have hired tutors to assist with the remote days in their homes ($25-$80 per hour) or have sent children to Medfield’s Afterschool Program or another remote learning center where they supervise learning (~$80 per day). These options increase the number of exposures and our collective risk to COVID-19. All working families are experiencing the professional impact of teaching and working simultaneously. Families are commonly spending thousands of dollars each month on what is supposed to be a free education. These are the lucky families. 

Meanwhile, our neighboring communities, many with significantly lower real estate taxes and lesser compensated administrators, have valued their students enough to ensure their youngest have returned to school full-time, or close to it. 

• Westwood: Kindergarten- 1st grade, four full days

• Dover: (as of 10/26) Kindergarten – 3rd grade, four full days

• Wellesley: Kindergarten- 1st grade, four full days

• Holliston: Kindergarten – 3rd grade, five full days

• Walpole: Kindergarten, four full days

• Medway: Kindergarten-2nd grade, four full days

Medfield, as a community, invests significant financial resources into our schools. We are a proud community! We boast about our wonderful schools, dedicated teachers and thriving children. We can do better. We must do better.

Dr. Marsden and elected members of the Medfield School Committee please do what our neighboring communities have done and find a way to allow our youngest learners to be in school at least four full days by November 30th. Medfield children and families should be able to experience the same or better education as our neighboring communities. 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the following Medfield families: 

Lauren Liljegren and Dan Bair (Blake, Private School), Amaura and David Kemmerer (Memorial, Wheelock, Dale), Cailin and Steve Caskey (Memorial, Dale, Private School), Alexis and Jeremy Kovacs (Wheelock, Dale, Private School), Liz and Dan Daly (Wheelock, Blake), Christina and Michael Bolduc,  Leeann Bravo (Memorial), Catherine Thorp (Blake, Medfield High School), Cheryl and Paul Crosby (Dale, Blake), Margaret Georgacopoulos, Katerina and James Polechronis (Memorial, Dale, Blake), Flavia and Bobby Benson, Matt and Angela DiNisico

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