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Message from the Superintendent: Covid and 9/11

Dear Friends and Families of ER9:

There are two sections for my email today. I ask that you read the first section on COVID-19 Reporting, Quarantine/Isolation Guidelines, How to Access the ER9 COVID-19 Dashboard and Health Screening.  The second section is about preparing to honor the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

Section 1:  COVID-19 Related Information:

(1)  Email for reporting positive cases of COVID-19:  Families/Guardians have a duty to report positive cases of COVID-19. This can be fulfilled by phoning the nurse’s office in the five schools, or you can use this email address to report any cases  Email:  Covid@er9.org

(2) The ER9 Guide for Quarantine/Isolation Guidelines can be accessed here:  ER9 Quarantine Isolation Guidelines 

(3) We update our ER9 COVID-Dashboard daily. You can access it on the ER9 homepage – www.er9.org.   You might have to scroll down to see the link.                                     

(4) Information about Health Screening can be found here:  Health Screening 2021-2022 

Section 2:  Remembering the 20-Year Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Attack on the USA

For the first 30 years of my life, our extended family celebrated Thanksgiving at the farmhouse in Maine that my great grandfather’s father built when he returned from the Civil War in 1865. That old soldier was named Harrison Gray Otis Perkins. He was born on April 26, 1838, so he was actually quite a young man when he was mustered out of the Grand Army of the Potomac.  

Part of our family tradition was to hear stories related by his granddaughters, and since the Springfield muzzle-loading musket he carried home with his kit was kept in the closet of the spare bedroom, if a naughty boy and his brother wanted to take a peek, all they needed was a bit of stealth. That piece of history is in a museum now.  But we remember the stories.

If I asked, “Do you remember the Maine?” you might tell me it’s State above Massachusetts.  Or,  you might tell me about the battleship that was sunk in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898. I know that there are very few Americans who couldn’t tell me what happened on December 7, 1941 at the naval base in Pearl Harbor.  

Here’s my point:  I respectfully suggest that not only the school, but each family should teach their children about our shared experience.  I was three weeks away from being born when President Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963. I can’t tell that story directly; but I can tell what my parents related to me.   I was old enough in 1969 to sit in front of a grainy black and white TV as Neil Armstrong took his first step for mankind.  Buzz Aldrin was right behind him.

I didn’t know anything about Bobby Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr. then. As a five-year old I should not have. I know now.

I worked at Ridgefield High School on September 11, 2001. As one of the Deans of Students at that time, I spent a harrowing six or seven hours with the 52 students who only knew that their parents or guardians worked somewhere in Manhattan. After a gruesome few hours, the phone calls started to come in that this student’s mom had made it to safety or that student’s parent was on his way back home. The seconds ticked along in a begrudging manner, but the news of a parent, aunt, uncle, guardian or beloved adult who had not been in the towers when they went down trickled in. By the late afternoon, every one of those 52 students had received good news.   

Our shared priorities of what mattered the most in our lives had been startlingly reaffirmed. My own brother-in-law worked for Morgan Stanley, but he had been shifted to an office in Princeton only a few weeks before the attack. I had been so focused on taking care of the teenagers that I didn’t think of him until I walked through the door at home and saw my wife. We didn’t suffer a personal tragedy that day.

But that was not true for far too many of our fellow citizens. That was not true for Easton and Redding. I think it is incumbent on each of us to honor the tragedy and ultimately the triumph of that day, particularly of the passengers on Flight 93 who gave their lives to protect Washington, D.C.  We should be telling their stories and remembering their names. There is a monument now in Stony Creek, Pennsylvania.  A monument is a story told in marble.

Therefore, I have asked each of our five school librarians to collect materials that are age-appropriate and put them on display or for check out. I am writing to you to invite each family to individually consider how and in what manner you might choose to educate your own children. There are many resources you can find online. I suggest you also take a look at https://911memorial.org for ideas on what to do.

I do not want to frighten our youngsters, and I am not in a position to determine at what age the older children or teenagers should hear the full story.   

As a very young boy I knew that my great grandfather’s father had met Abraham Lincoln and shook his hand.  It wasn’t until I was older that I learned of the lifelong injury he struggled with from a cannonball that fractured his ribs. And I was in my 40s when my great aunts gave my siblings and me an acre of that farm he had fought to keep free.  

The best storytellers are a child’s parents/guardians or those adults who love them the most. We the People are at our best when we set aside our cosmetic differences and pull together as Americans.

Respectfully,

Tom McMorran, Ed.D.

Interim Superintendent
Easton, Redding and Region 9 School Districts