Call to Action - Covid-19 response is a School Board responsibility

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Lauren Coupland

Jan 27, 2022, 6:25:08 PM1/27/22
to, Melanie Colgan, Ellen Ben-Naim, Christine Bernstien,,
President Colgan and members of the board, 

Over the past two years, education all over the world has been affected by covid-19.  During, and in the lead up to the 2020-2021 school year, the Los Alamos Public schools board was extremely proactive in information gathering and decision making regarding covid-19 and LAPS schools.  However, this school year, that proactive role has fallen by the wayside in favor of dismissing anything related to covid-19 as "operational decisions" not under the purview of the School Board.  I write this email to remind you of previous board actions and statements, and to remind you of your duty in this regard.  

Ms. Specter and Ms. Bernstein, you are the two members of the board who have been a part of the LAPS covid-19 response since the beginning.  On August 11th 2020, you were both voted for the unanimously approved School Board Resolution entitled "Support for local and regional health data and modeling projections by county and zip code: Transparency for school employees, parents, families and community members."  In this resolution, I would like to draw your attention to the following statements - 
"WHEREAS, School Boards across the state of New Mexico are responsible for critical safety decisions about students and school employees potentially impacted by COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, the Los Alamos School Board needs localized scientific evidence to determine when it is safe to transition between Red (remote), Yellow (hybrid) and Green (in-person) learning models; and
WHEREAS, it is important that the Los Alamos Public Schools staff, parents and students have sufficient time to develop schedules and make arrangements to best support education in differentiated schooling models"
(emphasis mine)
Ms. Colgan, in your letter announcing your reelection campaign on August 20th 2021, you stated "I have also demonstrated the leadership qualities necessary to make the tough decisions that sometimes have to be made. For example, the Covid pandemic resulted in the School Board having to make very difficult decisions as to when and how to bring our children back to in-person learning."  

While Ms. Green and Mr Jaurigue are newer to our school board, they should know about the high level of involvement that the school board had during the 2020-2021 school year.  Many times the school board discussed and debated the appropriate times to be in person or remote.  They asked hard questions.  They asked for information to be gathered and presented.  They did not always agree, with each other, or with LAPS administration.  But we were all better off when there was open discussion and involvement by the board.  

I encourage all board members to think back, and to even look back at the minutes and recordings of the 2020-2021 school board meetings.  Do not listen to anyone who tells you that covid-19 decisions are out of your scope of practice.  They are your responsibility, now, as they were then.  
Thank you, 
Lauren Coupland
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