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An Open Letter to the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Dear Elected Board Members,

By the narrowest margin, this Board has voted to convert our school buildings into COVID distribution centers on January 28, at the peak of a fatal pandemic. It is the desperate hope of my colleagues that, by appealing to facts and the sanctity of all human life, at least one of you—Ms. Bennett, Mr. Schifanelli, or Mr. Smith—will muster up enough empathy to reverse this decision. Frankly, I believe my colleagues give you too much credit.  

I commend Ms. Harper and Ms. Morrissette for deferring to the recommendations of leading scientists and epidemiologists. Our Superintendent, Dr. Kane, whose charge it is to protect all faculty and students, also deserves credit for pushing back against the heel of ignorance. COVID is ravishing our nation: over 380 thousand Americans dead since February. Google it, please, to confirm, then tell me why three of you are still eager to pile on our own community members. 

Because while you proudly shrug off statistics and prudence, the law of averages intends to wipe out the most vulnerable members of our community. You have, with your vote, condemned our teachers and their families, bus drivers and their families, students and their families. It’s a crapshoot which ones we’ll end up mourning. The looming question is, how many death certificates will you have cosigned before school lets out in June?

I have no doubt you’ll blame Dr. Kane when breakouts inevitably occur. That seems to be the modus operandi of our new Board’s majority rule, which votes to fidelity with the tenets posted on Mr. Schifanelli’s blog. I’ve had a chance to read through it, Mr. Schif. What’s funny is how you advocate for a History curriculum “based on sound research and empirical fact” (read: a curriculum that throttles the voices of brown-skinned immigrants and the American Civil Rights movement) yet refuse to apply those same rigorous standards to your decision to open schools. The deadly pandemic aside, your blog just doesn’t bode well for a school system striving for equity, diversity and inclusion.

I doubt there’s anything anyone can say to change your minds at this point. I’ll leave with you a bit of advice: When the death toll rises, start considering how you’ll square this with your maker.

Thank you for your time.

J. S. Dewey

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J. S. Dewey is a short story writer, fair weather poet, Y.A. horror editor, and English teacher living in Centreville, Maryland. He holds an MA degree in Fiction from Johns Hopkins University. His short stories have been featured in YEMASSEE, Coffin Bell Journal, Flash Fiction Magazine, and The Delmarva Review, among others. He publishes Dead Awake Magazine and, in Fall of 2021, will be publishing his first collection of dark, humorous and fantastical stories, The Haunting of Halls Hill. You can read some of those pieces in the Published Works section.

Instagram @johndeweywrites.