by Marc Broklawski, cross-posted from Medium
Aside from the coordinated attack by several Stafford County Supervisors over school funding at the July 29, 2020 joint working session between the Stafford County School Board and the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, there were a few other noteworthy exchanges.
In probably one of the most remarkable exchanges, Falmouth Supervisor Meg Bohmke suggested that Stafford Schools was not doing anything to plan for a return to school: “I think what the public is seeing cause they don’t know are people just sitting back on the government, sitting back and not doing anything, what has, and I’m not being critical, I’m just asking the question.”
Stafford School’s Superintendent Dr. Scott Kizner wasn’t having any of that, “I just can’t have that comment without a comment. Every Friday I send out [an email] to 30,000, I think you guys get a copy. I can’t tell how many people are thanking us and hitting our web site. We got website counter. So, you have different silos than we have silos. Ok. I would offer you this, if people, and I would say you are probably right people are not aware. If it’s a parent, I would be a little more concerned, and it might be a parent that wouldn’t totally surprise me. We have had summer. I would encourage you to send them to our website. I would encourage you all to go on our website. All our videos, all our document are on our website. We have a page totally dedicated to an FAQ page. That if you’re asked questions, maybe not 100 percent, but I will say 80 percent of the questions you’re been asked already and have been answered. We have ran 4 town halls and we are doing a 5th one a week from Wednesday, a week from today, the 12th for children with disabilities, children in our FOCUS gifted program and English learners and then our last town hall right before the kids return will be on our health. Ok. What we’re doing for health. So, we got rated very high, we had a parent survey of communication division wide. So, those people that might be critical, they might be critical on probably a lot of things we’re doing. But I will say that if you need an answer, you can always of course email any of the school board members or email or text me. But I would encourage you to go to our website. I am extremely proud of our staff. Extremely proud. And, the work they’ve been doing seven days a week is something that I think this community will also value.”
I don’t know Kizner well, but damn that’s what a leader looks like. From personal experience, Stafford Schools has gone above-and-beyond with so much information, at times, I feel like my head is going to explode. The town halls have been excellent — especially, the virtual one recently.
I’ve emailed questions to Kizner throughout the process and even offered suggestions. Even with all of his day-to-day responsibilities during a global pandemic, he still found the time to respond; and, not just some canned response. He provided detailed answers and then added them to an FAQ that school staff created on their website, which is excellent.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for his staff and all those helping us through this difficult time. I love how he stuck up for his staff.
Instead of political speeches, it would be nice if Bohmke would actually acknowledge this great work and support his teams’ efforts versus these sorts of cheap shots.
Apparently Kizner’s appeal for Supervisors to be champions and Ambassador’s of the school system fell on deaf ears, “I would ask you to be, and I’m not saying you’re not, but be a champion, an ambassador of the school system. Because our words, do count. Our messaging does count.”
Bohmke’s response, “Dr. Kizner, I’m not saying I’m not a great ambassador. I’m a huge fan of the school division. But if we’re going to benchmark, why don’t we benchmark against Japan right now and what they’re doing? I mean oh my gosh, it’s phenomenal.”
So Bohmke wants to benchmark Stafford County Schools against Japan?
Sure, Japan had success early on in avoiding a full lockdown by telling everyone to steer clear of the 3 C’s: closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings — as well as encouraging practices like staying 6 feet away from other people at all times. Japan already had a culture of wearing masks, which many list as another reason for early success. They also had an early push to shutdown schools — thank you Gov. Ralph Northam.
They reopened schools in early June AFTER they flattened the curve with transmission rates significantly lower than what we are experiencing.
What did this school reopening look like in Japan?
Children alternate days in schools, go home early and students and staff wear masks. They follow social distancing markings on the floor, wash hands before classes starts and continue to do so throughout the day. They have silent lunches at their desk, facing forward.
Japan acted like the virus was gone, prioritizing economic recovery over infection control and now cases are exploding — hitting record highs daily. Sound familiar, except the virus was much closer to being gone in Japan than in the United States.
They are now averaging 1,000 new infections a day and rising. Outbreaks are everywhere, including nursing homes, theaters and SCHOOLS!
Meg, you still want to benchmark Stafford Schools against Japan?
If so, you should be giving Dr. Kizner an award! Or, I’m sure he’ll settle for you prioritizing COVID-19 funds to meet the needs of students, staff and families.