This Will Take All of Us

As TDS #401 School Board Members, our community asks us — regular citizens who have volunteered to step into the ring of public service — to be the stewards of your trust and your taxes, and to be responsive, responsible decision-makers for ensuring we meet our mission.

In the best of times this is an interesting, rewarding and often challenging task. During a global pandemic, that task has expanded widely and become extremely complex.

So many factors overlay into what are increasingly complicated scenarios — changing metrics and data thresholds, decision-making structures that offer little definitive guidance, a lack of understanding of the impacts of the virus, and a serious strain on the capacity of all district employees. We must consider the varied perspectives and needs of all students, staff, parents and stakeholders, funding shortages, expectations related to achievement . . . the list goes on and on.

You, as parents, students, teachers, and community members, are regularly faced with the complexities of this uncertain environment as well. How will we keep safe? How will I keep my job or business? How will my loved ones be affected?

As a school board, we will continue to do what you have asked of us — we will continue to ensure we are informed and prepared for these complexities.

We will bring our best selves and our individual strengths to meetings, to our work with the district and to you as individual community members.

We will provide the space for multiple perspectives and take the time to gather as much information as is available to help in our decision making.

We will not lose sight of our commitment to our mission, to provide a safe and exceptional learning environment that delivers a relevant and progressive education — while remaining open and compassionate to whatever that may look like during these unprecedented times.

We also have an ask of you.

While our safety and risk-management measures within the schools are thorough, we know that they may not be enough. Students are only with us one-third of any weekday. As we report more than 20 positive cases of COVID-19 among students and staff since we started school in August, we recognize that in order to continue to keep schools open, a community effort is required to manage the spread of this virus.

There are two simple — inconvenient, annoying for some, but simple — ways that we know to contain the spread of COVID 19. The first is wearing a mask. The second is maintaining 6 feet of social distancing between people.

The degree to which this community can implement these risk-management protocols is and will directly impact our ability to keep our schools open. To keep our children in an environment where they can progress academically and socially. To keep them safe and fed. To keep parents able to work or run businesses.

As we have all learned, schools make a significant contribution to the overall health of a community. Please help us keep this community healthy in the broadest sense by committing to reducing our risks.

Teton School District 401 Board of Trustees
Ben Kearsley
Shannon Brooks Hamby
Ticia Sheets
Jake Kunz
Alexie Hulme