‘Learning and joy!’

Dear Families, it is an extraordinary time to join a new community and to be a superintendent. I am in awe and admiration of educators across our globe who stand together to transform schools and classrooms.

Together, barriers and obstacles have been torn down and vulnerabilities have taken a back seat to the needs of students, families and the profession. Homes across the world adjusted quickly to the new normal.

I would like to express my gratitude to Interim Superintendent of Schools, Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote. Through her leadership, I now have the opportunity to look ahead and continue the work in this ever-changing journey.

Over the next few weeks, I will look to find creative ways to connect and collaborate with the Board of Education, staff, students, families and the community. You can expect frequent communication — in doing this, I ask for your patience, as I too am new to this style of social interaction and engagement.

I look forward to getting to know you, and you me, but for now it will have to be through this new digital world.

During these difficult and unprecedented times, the work of the district will continue, albeit remotely.

The road ahead requires the on-going assessment of our practices, modifying and adjusting where needed and navigating the Budget implications of now and the challenges of the future. We will plan and prepare for students' return, and as typical of school districts during the spring season, begin making preparations for the summer months.

As days turn into weeks, and the possibility of weeks into months, creating parallels to the classroom experience will be essential. We will look to foster the learning and joy that students have come to expect from the Ridgefield Public Schools.

I am fully aware of how this unusual moment in history has impacted our students. While I wish we could turn back the clock, the best gift we can give now, is our spirit, drive, and endless energy.

So, yes, it is an extraordinary time — the importance of leadership has never mattered more, and I look forward to serving Ridgefield as your Superintendent of Schools.

Stay safe and healthy.

Susie Da Silva,

Superintendent of Schools

Ridgefield, April 2

Coronavirus Response

Re: John Katz’s letter in April 2’s Press, it appears hatred is still alive and well in Ridgefield.

Besides name calling, he accuses President Trump of knowing the severity of the Coronavirus in January and failing to act. Not true. China discovered the virus in November but covered it up until Dec. 31. On Jan. 7 the CDC organized to respond to the virus. On Jan. 17 they began screening all arrivals from Wuhan at our 3 busiest airports, before there was even one case in the U.S.

The first virus case surfaced on Jan. 21. A task force headed by HHS Secretary Alex Azar was set up to coordinate the government’s response to this virus. On Jan. 20 Dr. Fauci announced efforts to develop a vaccine but on Jan. 26 stated on channel 970 AM that the virus “isn’t something the American public needs to worry about….”

Nonetheless, on January 31 Trump banned all travel from China and took scathing criticism from media/Democrats for this action, accusing him of racism and xenophobia. At that time there were 13 cases in the entire U.S.; 11 were travelers and 2 were their spouses. Trump ordered the CDC to develop testing kits for the virus. Failure to act?

V.P. Pence was appointed to head a full government task force on Feb. 26. Still there were only 15 viral infections in the U.S.

Testing kits were delayed because the FDA, using rules established during the Obama administration’s response to H1N1 and Ebola, prohibited test kit development by private companies not contracted by the CDC. Trump lifted those rules.

Blame China who could have prevented 95% of Coronavirus deaths worldwide. Trump’s team of medical experts has been working 24/7 to fight this pandemic. Try to appreciate this effort and the transparency of daily briefings.

Linda Lavelle,

Aspen Mill Road, April 5

Don’t gut the schools

(Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to the Board of Selectman by the leaadership of Ridgefield’s teacher’s union, the NEA-R (National Education Association-Ridgefield), which asked that it be printed as a letter to the editor.)

Members of the Board of Selectmen,

First and foremost, we at NEA-R hope that you and your families are weathering the current situation. The teachers of Ridgefield have rolled up our sleeves and jumped into the uncharted waters of distance learning. This is an overwhelming and ever-changing task and we are all striving for excellence in the true Ridgefield tradition.

In a time of crisis such as this, it is very difficult to think long-term. However, looking even just a little further ahead, we can envision that our students will need a healthy and robust school system to return to — one that will be able to support them socially, emotionally, and academically in recovering from this pandemic. The students of Ridgefield deserve to return to schools that are adequately equipped to support them in their academic pursuits and their social and emotional well being.

While we realize that the economic forecast is concerning, we urge thinking beyond the next few months and even years. Interim Superintendent Dr. Paddyfote already presented a lean budget. While the Central Office Administration has worked to prioritize, our administration, staff, and faculty are already stretched thin in the daily workings of the district.

In addition, we shudder to think of increases in class size averages or the gutting of academic programming available to our students.

Ridgefield has always been proud of its status as a top Connecticut school district - even among the top in the nation. We have been leaders in student activism, creativity, and academic excellence. This takes investment.

We realize these last several weeks have held difficult circumstances for all. But we cannot sacrifice the future of our students. Careful consideration of the investments we must make in our town’s greatest asset —the school system — is crucial. Our students deserve nothing less.

NEA-Ridgefield Executive Council

Jeanne Deming,

Steve Ruland, Robin Collins, Dave Yolen, Mike Hougasian

Ridgefield

Thanks, RVNAhealth!

While the national and state news focuses on the amazing hospital workers, I would like to draw attention to an incredible and devoted team right here in Ridgefield, the RVNAhealth providers.

Between all their in-home services, they make more than 1,000 visits every week. Their newly developed COVID 19 Response Team has taken on management of these folks exclusively to prevent the potential for transmission. This care to a very sick and fragile population has filled a tremendous and crucial need.

To further protect all patients, regardless of diagnosis, all staff making home visits wear expensive personal protective equipment. For the COVID 19 calls, required PPE (masks, gloves, goggles, gowns, etc.) is currently costing as much as $65 per visit. None of this is covered by insurance or any other funding except for donations. RVNAhealth also is offering Advanced Care Planning via telehealth for anyone concerned about these important decisions during this emergency situation.

This unbelievable health crisis has caught us all by surprise and shock. Our lives have been upended and transformed in ways we never could have imagined. We will get through this with the support and caring of so many in our community. And so, I’m giving a huge shout out of “thanks” and “forever grateful” for a job so very well done to one of these groups — the RVNAhealth personnel.

Susan Law

Ridgefield, April 4

COVID and the Navy

Why isn’t anyone asking about the health of all of our men and women serving on the currently active ships of the United States Navy?

Rose Sayers

342 Limestone Road, April 6