Superintendent Jerry Weast's 12th letter to parents, students, and staff was not sent home with Blair students one day late. The letter addresses the impact of the Oct 22 shooting in Aspen Hill on school attendance rates.
The letter is reprinted below.
October 23, 2002
Dear Parents, Students, and Staff:
The ramifications of yesterday's shooting continue to be felt in our schools, especially those immediately near the investigation scene and those schools within a wide geographic area that were impacted also by the police roadblocks and traffic congestion. Yesterday, there were schools within the impacted area with student attendance as low as just 10 percent and many more with attendance at half or less the normal rate. This is entirely understandable, given the incident and parental concerns about the unfolding events of the day. Outside of the impacted areas, student attendance was much higher, and this also is understandable, with communities responding in different ways.
Today, student attendance was higher overall at an average of 88 percent systemwide, compared to 80 percent yesterday, but it remained much lower in the geographic areas near yesterday's incident. Again, this is understandable. Nonetheless, the schools in these areas displayed a great deal of staff and student resiliency today, with acts of real emotional courage by adults in reassuring each other and providing the necessary care and support for their students.
The decision to remain open today was made with the best information available from law enforcement authorities and county and state government leaders. This is not an easy decision, but it reflects our determination to provide students with as much opportunity for continuity as possible. I am mindful that many parents, as well as staff, are anxious and fearful about the continued threats being made about the safety of people, including children, in our community.
For tomorrow, Thursday, October 24, we will continue to operate under Code Blue with restrictions on outdoor activities and other operational limitations. This is a difficult adjustment for schools that are addressing the real and exhausting challenge of taking care of children who are not allowed to play outside or take the field for interscholastic athletics. I ask that parents continue to do what they can to support the people who work in our schools and drive our school buses. They need your friendship, kindness, and understanding, as we all do.
Jerry D. Weast, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
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