Editor’s note: In this article, we ask five questions of local school board and city council candidates. Today we will hear from the four candidates for the Joplin school board. Sally Jo Hawley Chesser, Donald L. Greenlee II, David Weaver and Matthew Robertson are running for two vacant board seats. The election is April 5.
How do you think the school district has handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years?
Chesser: Reasonably, and I hope it continues. The continued masking in so many areas is really hurting our students, and even worse those who still haven’t been to class.
Greenlee: The past two years have been difficult for all of us. Trying to maneuver an organization as large as the Joplin School District through such a difficult time was an incredible task. Although the district handled the situation admirably, I feel that some brought too much of what was happening outside the district, including the national scene, into the discussions and decisions. While awareness of what is happening in nearby and even larger scenes is necessary, the real stakeholders are here in Joplin and their voices need to be heard.
Weaver: I think they did their best given the information they had at the time the decisions were made. I have great confidence in our leaders who made these decisions. I guess in the pandemic, it’s easy, in hindsight, to realize what we should have done. I guess I would equate this to investing in stocks; hindsight is 20/20. I am grateful to our frontline teachers who worked and still work so hard to fill the gaps and catch up with our children.
Robertson: I think the executives made the best decisions they could with the information they had at the time. I didn’t agree with all the choices, but they were responsible and you need to be sure they made the best choices possible. It was frustrating when schools closed or moved to virtual learning; the mechanism to ensure that all students had access to the internet and devices to do their work was insufficient. I am glad the district did not require COVID-19 vaccines for staff or students. With the information we currently have, the best thing to do is to keep children in school as much as possible.
Editor’s note: Question 5 coming on Saturday.