An email to parents from Sun Prairie Area School District Superintendent Brad Saron and School Board President Steve Schroeder asked parents and others not to be critical of staffers following a SPASD announcement that the fall semester will begin with online learning.

“There are certainly many reasons to be confused, saddened, and even angry about how the current health crisis is affecting schools. Our students have been put in the undesirable spot of having to access instruction remotely,” the pair wrote in the email, sent July 29 to parents.

“Our exceptional educators are feeling a tension between their professional calling to teach and care for students and the health and safety of themselves and their families. Parents are put in the binary position of making high-stakes choices between factors that compete against each other,” the email reads. “And yes, administrators and School Boards across Dane County and the State of Wisconsin must determine next steps for thousands of kids while standing squarely in the midst of many forces and competing objectives.”

Since announcing the decision to have students attend school via distance learning for First Quarter this fall, the email reads, “we have responded to a wave of polarized feedback.”

While the comments provide insight into the community’s frustrations with the pandemic, “we are duty bound to address a particular strand of criticism toward our staff,” the email reads.

“To that effect, any comments that disparage our staff or question their commitment to the kids of the SPASD are absurd,” the pair wrote in the email.

“We made the decision in March to focus on ‘kids over content’ to ensure we were meeting the social and emotional needs of students first,” the email reads. “Our staff not only exceeded our expectations as they transitioned to distance learning on a moment’s notice, setting a standard of excellence for our state, but they have shown time and again their dedication to and care for our kids.

“We also recognize the need for more academic rigor as well as continued focus on social and emotional learning as we begin the new academic year,” Saron and Schroeder added. “We are confident that our staff will not only meet our students’ needs this fall but again exceed any standard of educational delivery for the State of Wisconsin.

“To be clear, criticisms of our staff are unfair, undeserved, and must stop,” the email reads. “If community members feel the need to criticize and second guess, direct that toward us, not the SPASD employees who dedicate themselves to children day in and day out.”

The email insists staff had “no part in creating the health crisis we now find ourselves in,” adding, “anger toward educators is an unnecessary diversion from communicating with the decision makers--our elected governmental leaders--who can implement policies that will directly impact our current situation in the state.”

The email invites recipients to contact Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and the officer of Gov. Tony Evers with their specific concerns.

“We ask you to join us in showing gratitude to the exemplary staff of the SPASD,” the email concludes, “who will once again rise to the occasion and teach, inspire, and love our children.”

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