I hope everyone is enjoying a safe and healthy summer break—I realize it's hard to determine where summer break started. Thank you for your efforts this last semester as we worked through a multitude of unknown, never-before-experienced challenges. As parents and as students you were asked to be responsible for learning in ways that you had never experienced. As a Mascoutah community you stepped up and made the best of a difficult situation. The seniors experienced a graduation in a way that was different than they imagined, but they made it a memorable one and responded with the class we expected from this excellent group of students.
We have begun to plan for next school year; however, there remain many unknowns. What next school year may look like at this point is anyone's guess. We believe that it may look very different from one moment to the next. As we plan, we are preparing for the reality that we may have to transition from a more normal school day to a period of eLearning, as well as something in between, based on what the health challenges are at that moment.
We are mobilizing committees to plan for next school year; anticipating the many possible challenges, our task is to be prepared with an appropriate response. We will be posting information weekly on the District website’s frontpage News section to help keep you informed. We realize the decisions we make will greatly affect your lives. Please stay informed and feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions. Parents, students, and community members may submit their questions, concerns, or ideas to the MSD19 Health Center’s Questions & Concerns page—I do beg your patience and ask that you recognize there may be decisions made that are for health and safety reasons that may not be the most conducive to maintaining a normal schedule.
On a different note, I feel that I must address the issues we are currently grappling with in this country. As Superintendent I am asked to be the spokesperson for the district. The following are my personal thoughts and do not necessarily reflect the position of the School Board.
I know that we all share differing perspectives, and I realize that, particularly these days, we are not very tolerant of divergent opinions. For this reason I generally try to avoid sharing my personal beliefs. However, the most recent demonstrations certainly should cause us to pause and ask where is the change and unity we need, are we doing everything within our power to bring this about? Instead of actively engaging with the issues that this country is facing, the response to both the health crisis and the demonstrations for racial equality seems to focus more on political rhetoric than actually addressing people’s pain, with leaders spending more time focusing on assigning blame than looking for solutions.
I think about our students and feel their anxiety as they fear the virus and now, as they watch TV and engage on social media, they wonder if they are safe. I ask myself what I can do. My best answer is try to be informed. While we may have contradicting concerns or ideas about the virus and how serious it is, I know I have an obligation to take precautions to be safe for others. I know that I don’t want to be the one that spreads the virus to my family, friends, or neighbors. So I continue to take the recommended precautions when around others. I encourage you to do what you can to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19.
When it comes to racial injustice in this country, I am at a loss to know what to do except to recognize that I should not tolerate injustice and prejudices and speak up when I witness it—to engage in a conversation about change that examines issues and is thoughtful, inclusive, and change driven. It would be easy from my perspective to be critical of the violence and destruction; I certainly don’t condone that action. I have tried to step back to recognize that when frustrated and not heard we tend to lash out, getting louder and more animated, demanding that someone listen. Not only do we need to listen, but also we must be willing to initiate change that is long overdue. I have an obligation to elect leaders who are about the people they represent, not the next election, personal glory, or just about the Party line. I have an obligation to use my privilege and power to create space for and amplify the voices of those who so often go unheard in this country.
I ask you to reflect on where you stand in regards to these issues. Please examine the facts and let us all consider how we might be able to make a difference. We are lucky to live in a diverse and wonderful community. As a community and as a school district, we have the obligation and opportunity to build a generation that is tolerant, thoughtful, compassionate, and just. We can help shape a world where the students we teach not only feel safe, but also are safe.
I hope you remain cautious and continue to practice safe and reasonable health precautions. I hope we all do better to fight the inequality that is so prevalent in our society. And I hope we can soon all be together again at school.
Enjoy your summer break.
Craig A. Fiegel
Superintendent of Mascoutah School District #19
We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others. ― Bryan Stevenson