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WSSD: Superintendent's Message - July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

Dear Families and Staff,

I hope this email finds you well and in good spirits. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will mark my one-month anniversary as the proud Superintendent of this district. Thursday concluded our ESY program, and our Summer Panthers program has one more week to go. I want to thank all the staff members who did an exemplary job supporting our children. Your love for your craft and love for children was evident in words and actions every day of the program. As a father, I got a glimpse of how my child will be received, and I am excited she and all of our students are in great hands.

As a community and country, we continue to face significant challenges related to effectively addressing the ongoing mitigation efforts with COVID-19. Thus far, the COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be the most effective mitigation strategy.

I want to acknowledge the overwhelming number of emails that the Board of School Directors and this administration have received regarding the proposed Health and Safety Plan. We are reading and reflecting on all of your correspondences. This is one of many ways for you to share your questions, concerns, and recommendations with the board. And if your schedule permits, you can join us in person and speak during the public comment section of the board meeting on Monday, August 2nd at 7 PM at Strath Haven Middle School.

As I read through the communications I have received, Wallingford-Swarthmore is a microcosm of our larger community in so many ways. One of my families poetically stated, “To Mask or Not to Mask That Is The Question.” There are many perspectives on this issue, and even our families, who are first responders and medical professionals who have communicated with me, have differing opinions. Many of you have expressed deep concern with requiring students younger than 12 years of age to wear a mask, and others expressed concern that I did not go far enough and I should mandate masking K-12; some are satisfied with the pending proposal, while others believe I am violating their civil liberties and that masking is an individual choice to be decided by families and not by the district.

As we look ahead to our conversation, I want to remind everyone that all of us are passionate about our position, and that is okay. Still, we must remember that we can engage in debate without arguing, we can have differences of opinion without being divisive, we can have dissonance without building walls. We are Wallingford-Swarthmore, committed to a common set of values, and our sense of community is what keeps us connected. A parent who came to speak to me stated, “We are still neighbors.” I am your neighbor, and I am proud you are mine, and we must continue to be neighborly - though we may have different perspectives. Divergent perspectives and interpretations do not have to lead to division.

I want to clarify that 3ft physical distancing to the greatest extent possible will not impact our full inperson return nor impact high school lunch. In several areas where 3ft cannot be met, we will layer other mitigation strategies.

I again invite you to attend our August 2nd Board Meeting at 7 PM at Strath Haven Middle School. To accommodate community members attending Monday night, I have moved the meeting to the Auditorium.

Be safe and enjoy the weekend.

Sincerely,

Wagner Marseille, Ed.D

(Download the letter here.)