Open Letter to IMSA

Open Letter to IMSA

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Melissa Graf started this petition to IMSA Board of Trustees and

Dear IMSA Board Members, Administration, Teachers and Staff, 

IMSA Students have been studying from home since the beginning of the pandemic – over 13 months.  Most colleges reopened seven months ago.  Some boarding schools in the area never even closed.  Yet our students remain at home, hunched over computers, in their rooms. 

At a recent PAC Zoom meeting frustrated parents asked, point blank, whether IMSA is going to open in the fall.  This should have been an easy question to answer with a simple, unequivocal “yes.”  Instead, several IMSA administrators talked around this question without ever answering it, and the PAC then ended the call before parents could press administrators for a definitive answer.  This non-answer is typical of the administration’s communications over the last year; administrators dance around questions, if they are not ignoring parents’ emails altogether. 

The union’s approach to reopening has been equally abhorrent.  On this same call, Dr. Hancock claimed that teachers and RCs want students to return to school when it’s “safe” for the students. This is a dishonest argument: hundreds of families were prepared to send their students back to IMSA this spring, clearly satisfied with the safety measures IMSA had taken. Parents certainly never authorized the union to speak on their child’s behalf, and the union has no business using feigned concerns about our children’s safety as an excuse to stop the school from reopening. Parents will be the final word on their child’s safety – not the union. 

Parents are deeply concerned that the finger-pointing we saw on this call is a symptom of a much bigger problem.  Both the union and administration have circulated timelines, each blaming the other for not responding in a timely fashion.  It is clear from these timelines that both parties are at fault.  The administration appears to have ignored requests from the union for months.  At the same time, the union appears to have sandbagged the administration with a report from a purported “expert” which they only obtained in March.  These dueling timelines paint a picture of a school in crisis, and of a working environment that has become so difficult that the purported “adults” in the room cannot even provide the courtesy of responding to each other’s emails. 

All of this has shaken our faith in IMSA.  Our children worked hard for years to get into IMSA, excited not only because IMSA offered advanced math and science classes, but also because it offered a boarding school experience where the students could build relationships with others. Our children have already missed nearly half of the three years we expected them to spend at IMSA, are missing an entire semester of grades which are critical to their acceptance at colleges, and right now administrators cannot even say whether IMSA will be open for in-person learning in the fall (stats for current Juniors). Many are seriously considering pulling their child from IMSA and sending them to a different school.  Most have no interest in subjecting their child to another minute of online classes. Most parents have no interest in sending their child to IMSA just to take classes from a dorm room.  IMSA’s campus reopening is long overdue. 

We, the undersigned parents, seek a commitment from IMSA’s Management to repopulate campus in fall 2021 and ask Management to provide transparency and timely progress reports to all stakeholders via IMSA’s website.

To that end, we specifically request the following: 

  1. IMSA immediately affirm its unqualified, unequivocal commitment to reopening the campus in the fall, with a full commitment to in-person classes. 
  2. Prioritize weekly bargaining sessions with Unions and prioritize issues related to repopulation. 
  3. Ensure the “Fall 2021 Return to Teaching and Learning Committee” has the resources and support it needs. 
  4. Release the Fall Repopulation Plan no later than July 1, 2021.
  5. Create a new “Fall 2021 Repopulation Dashboard” on IMSA’s website that regularly summarizes progress and setbacks of collective bargaining sessions with the Teachers’ Union and RCs’ Union, as well as progress of the Fall 2021 Return to Teaching and Learning Committee (i.e. weekly summary of meetings from the previous week). 

Many parents need to know IMSA’s answer on this immediately, so that we can make alternate arrangements for our children’s education if IMSA is not committed to reopening. 

Signed,

IMSA Parents

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