I have served on the North Smithfield School Committee for six years. Our meeting in August became infamous based on the behavior of a small collection of people who tried to cajole the committee – and other audience members – into ignoring science and the safety of our students.
The School Committee heard everyone out, let everyone speak, and in the end made what I believe was the right decision to support a mask mandate in our schools. The overall rationale was and is to prevent school lockdowns, keep students safe, and try to get as close to normal as we could.
I hoped that would be the end of it, but the last Town Council meeting featured a bizarre detour. Councilor Corriveau hijacked the agenda with propaganda-driven fear mongering, and the entire affair was an embarrassment for our council and our town.
To say the councilor’s insinuations were out of line is an understatement. School Committee meetings are open to all, and even when things get heated or intense we stand by the unified conviction that everyone deserves to be heard. By pretending things are otherwise, and by suggesting the NSSC cut itself off from valuable state resources, presents evidence of misplaced priorities and a deep misunderstanding of our local government.
This seems driven by one person’s bitterness over the School Committee’s decision in August, and that person’s willingness to misuse his office to create division and throw aspersions on our local government institutions.
This is not just my concern. Although I am a member of the School Committee I am also the chair of the North Smithfield Democrats, and as one body we stand disappointed by the actions of Councilor Corriveau. We condemn this resolution, and appreciate the councilors who spoke out against it.
Vaccines are widely available, and have recently become so for children as young as 5. Our students are proving resilient, and there is – finally – a light at the end of the COVID tunnel. We need to put aside these willful attempts at replicating the same division we see at the national level and focus on real problems facing North Smithfield.
N.S. School Committee; Chair, N.S. Democratic Town Committee
Note: The version of this letter that appeared in the Nov. 11 print edition misidentified Jones as the "N.S. School Committee Chair" due to an editing error.