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To the Editor:

The Philomath Community is tired, and rightfully so. The pandemic has taken a toll on our students, teachers, administrators and families.

There is no easy answer — prolonged continuance of comprehensive distance learning presents real challenges with childcare, student activities, mental health and effective retention of subject information. On the other hand, returning to in-person instruction can jeopardize the health and safety of students, staff and families in very serious ways.

However, turning against other members of our own community is not the answer. I have spent almost my entire life in Philomath and spent all of my K-12 years in Philomath public schools. Through that experience, I’ve seen how deeply this community cares about our schools and our students. You’d be hard-pressed to find students that are more loved and cared for by their community anywhere in the state.

I also know that our teachers, staff and administrators give immeasurable amounts of time and dedication to see their students be as successful as possible. Teachers work long hours, whether online or in person, to do the absolute best with the situation they’ve been given. When we work together for students, there’s nothing we can’t do.

In my time in the Philomath schools, I’ve also seen how little is achieved when this community turns on itself. Nothing productive happens and all we’re left with is hard feelings and worsening situations. We all have the same goal. We all want Philomath students to have the best possible education, and to be safe and healthy in the process.

The School Board, district administration, teachers, staff, community members and certainly students are all dedicated to this goal. Let’s keep our eye on that goal — doing what is best for students — while avoiding blame games and conflicts that do nothing but delay solutions and pull us further apart. 

This is Philomath — our name literally means “lover of learning.” We are defined by our outstanding schools and our community commitment to education. Let’s talk to one another with open ears and listen to the real, genuine concerns of our neighbors, charting a path forward that incorporates the needs of all members of our community.

We’re all on the same team, even when we disagree. Let’s act like it.

Christopher McMorran