EDITORIAL: SCHOOL DEMONSTRATES DILLIGENCE
Early this week, school officials from Freeman Public released their plan to return to in-person instruction when the 2020-21 school year begins on Aug. 19, and it’s impressive. The 28-page document includes a letter from Superintendent Kevin Kunz, an explanation about how and why the district arrived at its conclusions, local data and plenty of documentation from two key players in the return-to-school process — the South Dakota Department of Education and the South Dakota Department of Health.
The document can be found at the school’s website, freeman.k12.sd.us, where there are also two video clips that include an overview of the plan put together by Kunz.
Freeman Public certainly isn’t the only school district that has put who-knows-how-many hours of thought (and likely anguish) into both if and how to return to the classroom for the first time since the middle of March; officals at both Freeman Academy and Menno have said that they too have been looking carefully at what state officials are saying, and also responding to input from their own constituency.
But Kunz and his team at Freeman Public appear to have gone above and beyond when it comes to transparency, the sharing of information and due diligence in these unique times. The depth and information found in the back-to-school plan is impressive and perfectly states the district’s case — and concern — for students, staff and the larger community as it pertains to returning to school.
Equally impressive, however, is the way in which Freeman Public has communicated with its constituency and the ease with which it has made the plan available.
Kunz has made no bones about how challenging the past few months have been both in terms of sorting out the information, developing multiple scenarios for the start of the school year and, finally, settling on a plan that everybody should feel good about.
Finally, the fact that Freeman Public administration is using this challenging time as a way, not just to respond to varying opinions but also get a better big picture, is both impressive and encouraging.
“This is a moment to reconsider and shift past practices that have contributed to a lack of equitable opportunities for students,” Kunz wrote in the cover letter of the plan, noting also that the district would be using this as a way to “improve and transform our processes to create more opportunity for our students.”
What’s that they say about lemons and lemonade? Congratulations to Freeman Public for being self-aware, mindful of the situation and, above all, transparent.
Jeremy Waltner, Editor & Publisher