Grace Tourtelotte, Senior

Initially, I was hopeful that I would go to school in person for some part of my senior year, but with the current state of negotiations, this seems less and less possible. Kids are observing that NPS administrators and teachers are not coming together. Students are caught in the crossfire. As a result of the utter lack of trust between the School Committee, district administration and teachers, we are being left behind. And the most frustrating part about it? The fact that a solution can be reached with collaboration and teamwork. All parties are choosing to hold on to pride instead of working together. Everyone should be trying every day to develop an equitable plan to get us back in person as soon as possible. 

Time is ticking. As long as we are out of school, our educational development, social interaction and mental health will deteriorate. An achievement gap is surely going to emerge and widen between public and private school kids as private schools go back in person. Why else are wealthy parents pulling their children out of Newton schools and putting them into private schools? People are taking great measures to have their kids learn in person. It shouldn’t come at that high of a cost, especially not one that the majority of people cannot afford to pay. 

For seniors especially, this is crushing. Every senior I have talked to has had increased feelings of sadness and anxiety recently. This March, everyone rallied around seniors who missed their graduations. But at least those seniors got the majority of the year in person, together. My grade doesn’t know if we will see each other ever again. Where is the support for the Class of 2021 that the Class of 2020 got? All we’ve gotten are hollow promises. We’ve heard we are going to have some opportunities for in-person community building, we’ve been waiting for a plan for sports, and yet school started yesterday, and we have not heard anything about those options. 

Everyone has lost hope and confidence in anything the Newton Public Schools says at this point because again and again this summer, we have been promised one thing and given another. 

I would think with the knowledge that kids will suffer in every way possible, Newton would be doing everything they can to get us back into school. And yet, they are not. Teachers have concerns, so let’s see how we can ease them. They’re calling for testing, so let’s invest in weekly testing for teachers and students. They’re calling for a third party heating, ventilation and air conditioning evaluation, so let’s bring that third party in right away. We will never go back without the support of more teachers and parents who are uncomfortable with the current safety measures. 

It is clear that the School Committee, district administration and teachers are not working together as a team. Where is the teamwork that we are taught at school and in our extracurriculars and in sports? That is what needs to change. All parties need to be treated as equal partners. Students do not want to hear “foreseeable future” ever again. What we want to hear is a plan to get us back together in the classroom before Thanksgiving. 

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