Dear East Holmes District Parents:
As a public school district, as much as we try every day to respect the needs and culture of the community served, on some matters we are left with no choice. As of the date of this letter, Ohio Governor DeWine has mandated that wearing a mask for students K-12 is mandatory to protect the individual and others who come in contact. As a public school we are left with basically no choice but to one way or another to follow the Governor’s order.
For generations, the East Holmes public school district has enjoyed a very unique communal relationship with a diverse student body. As your Superintendent, I want to do everything I possibly can to preserve that kind of legacy of relationship of goodwill in the East Holmes community. In my opinion, it would be a huge loss if a virus and a piece of cloth would become such a contentious issue that it threatens to change generations of education relationships in our community. We did not cause the virus, and further we did not choose the mandate options. But here it is.
Wearing the mask is an issue. Is it possible that for now, perhaps 9 weeks at a time, we can work together and agree to follow the Governor’s mandate as more of a local request from your Superintendent, your Board of Education, your local Health Department and your local doctors? The protocol of knowing exactly how, where and how long each day and how long into the school year the mask must be worn will be under continual review and subject to change. But in the meantime, the mask will do two things: First and foremost it will keep our school doors open for learning; Hopefully it will also protect your student and others from contracting the virus.
The decision does not come lightly. Nor has it been made without much consideration and discussion with our local Health Department and representative members of our community. The good news is that so few who contract the virus become critically ill. And further, this pandemic will end.
Finally, we are in this together. We need each other. Where the virus and the medical, community and political response will be in nine weeks is not known to us nor anyone else. Will wearing a mask during school be a challenge for our students? Yes. But it will also be a challenge for the other hundreds of school districts throughout the State of Ohio. And for that reason, I sincerely ask that everybody give this matter some time. We will all learn from it. Again in all seriousness, we need each other. Now more than ever. Neither I nor the Board of Education have any agenda other than to provide a quality education that meets both the needs and expectations of our wonderful community of caring parents who entrust their children to us.
My best, always,
Erik H. Beun, Superintendent