Dr Hayes has responded, and provided more details into his reasoning for Beverly not participating in today's presidential speech to the nation's school children:
Deciding to not watch the speech as a live broadcast was a difficult one. I assure you it was not for any political reasons. It is a much more complicated thing to have 4,000+ kids in seven schools in the middle of lunch schedules all watch the same broadcast. We are not equipped with TV's and appropriate settings to make that completely happen, and the interruption to the school day is much more than the 15-20 minutes it may take. Altering the lunch schedule changes the instructional day and adds more salary expense for cafeteria workers. I have no doubt that the President's message was a good one and that the group experience would have been positive. I wish he had chosen to videotape it and provide it to all schools to be used in the opening of their school years. We opened last week, some states opened even earlier, and some area schools still are not open.
Like many other districts, we have encouraged teachers to look at the speech and see if there are places in their curriculum where they could show and discuss it. As I wrote for our website, "downloadable video of the speech will be made available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/mediaresources/ as well as on www.ed.gov. C-SPAN.org will also provide archived and "on-demand" viewing options. Parents have these options for their children to view the video on their own. If teachers review the video and materials and feel there is a place in their curriculum to include these elements, they are encouraged to do so."
Here is a direct link to the President's speech.
Sept., 9 UPDATE: Today's Salem News has a report on Beverly, and other school districts' handling of the speech. The Citizen also has a report, but mainly quotes from Hayes response to Save Beverly Schools.