By JOSH RESNEK
If public school opens in September – which remains a question mark until administrators decide on safety factors related to the virus – what form will it follow?
How will the public schools open in the new normal?
Will over crowded classrooms be gone? Yes.
How? No one really knows.
“There will be a very funky quality to September but we don’t know what it is,” said a school department administrator who wished to remain unnamed.
He said the entire question right now is in flux.
Dramatic and possibly deep cuts in the school department budget will be a giant hurdle to overcome for school administrators.
The state budget, let alone how schools reopen, is a giant question mark.
No one in state government knows this better than Everett Senator Sal DiDomenico.
“If it’s the current situation right now in August, school won’t be opening in September. A severe decline in positive cases is need for a resumption of school. If school does open some time in the fall, there will be major changes in how we operate our schools. Everything about public school education is going to be impacted,” he told the Leader Herald. He said it is a unknown factor how the state is going to fund the schools. He said the state deficit could be as low as $4 billion and as high as $6 billion.
“We don’t know right now and won’t know until June how the state will be funding public schools in the cities and towns,” he added.
The worry among Everett school administrators is how Chapter 70 and Chapter 90 funding will be supported by the state. If the state’s support drops, it will create a seismic event for teachers and other staff as well as for the kids.
“On the city side the budget cutting is going to be Draconian. A lot of men and women are going to be laid off by the mayor. The same will likely be true with teachers who will be laid off by the superintendent and the school committee. The upcoming school department budget is going to be difficult to put together without straining services to the kids,” said an Everett city official familiar with the budget making process.
There is always the possibility that the state will up the distribution to the cities and towns for school funding, which would set aside the necessity for layoffs.
“That isn’t going to happen,” said the official.
What will change.
Classes will be staggered, as you can’t have hundreds of kids filing into the schools at the same time. Kids will be separated inside their class- rooms.
Virtual classes will become more prevalent, especially among high school students – and there is the possibility the high school will not reopen because of the sheer numbers of students going in there everyday.
This would free up space for elementary school students already crowd into classrooms that are too small.
Feeding large numbers of students everyday will become an impossibility.
The possibilities are endless.
No one right now knows exactly how this is going to play out.
Senator DiDomenico said a state house Senate/House conference is being held Wednesday by Zoom to design a protocol for virtual learning.
“Virtual learning is going to be the new normal,” he said.