Editor: The Arlington School Board needs to take seriously its obligation to oversee Arlington Public Schools and ensure a return to in-person instruction.

After technical problems that left half of APS’s children and families in tears and unable to hold a first day of instruction, the School Board met Sept. 10. Board members heard compelling examples from many speakers about how “virtual” learning was failing them.

One caller related that she was a single mother and first-responder who went to work every day helping others in our county and conducting COVID investigations. Her fifth-grade daughter was home alone to deal with virtual instruction, and calling her in tears every couple of hours.

After hearing numerous and repeated examples of such personal impact, School Board member Reid Goldstein proceeded to rattle off not one, but two, “top 10” lists of reasons to enjoy virtual education, including that virtual school is always “bring your pet to work day” and homework is no longer “left at home.”

After his rousing monologue, Mr. Goldstein then proceeded to ask those parents calling in to stop citing statistics – apparently he finds data unhelpful – but instead to tell him whether they are willing to send their own children to school in-person. (What did he think that single mother, and everyone else, was asking for?)

An in-person return to school is no joking matter. And parents – who have continued to express their overwhelming belief that in-person instruction is needed for their children – are not calling into School Board meetings at 7 at night for Mr. Goldstein’s personal amusement.

Arlington Public Schools has continued to provide a list of meaningless “factors,” with no metrics to define them or benchmarks to determine when a return might be possible. Instead, we just get promises of a return to school “some day.” Despite its obligation to oversee the school system, the School Board has not asked for any objective criteria or even a detailed plan for a return to in-person instruction.

Stop telling jokes and start asking the hard questions.

Rob Neal, Arlington


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