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Remote school attendance lower than hoped

Results much stronger in K-8


As widely expected by school administrators, remote school attendance numbers are sufficient but not nearly as good as they can be.

The city’s school learning centers also scored lower attendance rates than were hoped for since school began.

Everett High School Attendance numbers were somewhat softer than hoped for while K-8 appeared to be pretty strong.

This information was mad public at Monday evening’s School Committee meeting by Superintendent Priya Tahiliani at a time when public school systems all over the nation are experiencing the same conflicts and difficulties with remote instruction.

In New York City, the mayor there announced the closure of dozens of public schools this week that had reopened because of a rise in the virus numbers.

In Massachusetts, the state is on high alert in lower income “red” cities like Everett, where social distancing is made almost impossible in such crowded circumstances.

Everett is one of the most densely populated cities in Massachusetts.

At Monday night’s School Committee meeting, which was held online, School Superintendent Tahiliani spoke honestly, openly and without hesitation about the problems the Everett School System is facing.

With her tone and attitude on full display, she took full responsibility for attendance figures rather than carting into the meeting school principals and other administrators who would have been made to take the blame for the situation.

“It says that she is fearless. She’s willing to take on the responsibilities of the position during an exceedingly difficult time,” said a school department executive.

Indeed, Tahiliani said everyone involved will need to work smarter and harder, and that individual students will be dealt with more closely to make the remote online learning experience as seamless and widespread as possible.

The high school numbers, she said, need to improve.

There are many questions about how exactly attendance is being logged and how the effort must be adjusted to reflect true numbers.

Attendance numbers over the first twelve days of schools are what was reported.

Tahiliani did not lay blame on anyone in particular for lagging attendance figures, prompting one observer of the EPS to proclaim: “At some point doesn’t the responsibility for kids attending fall on the families and not the schools?”

The EPS has been forced to overcome numerous difficulties tom deliver remote learning to the widely varied school population.

A thousand pieces of technology have been handed out. WiFi hot spots have been established for those without internet connections. Learning centers have been set up and on and on.

Also noted Monday night, each school is identifying at risk students reporting absences. Guidance counselors have been calling at risk students and their families every day.

Considerable outreach efforts are being made to reach all the families.

Everything is done on a school by school, student by student basis.

“It’s a hustle to reach out and to get kids engaged,” said a school official.

“The superintendent and the schools deserve a lot of credit for releasing the first twelve-day attendance records. How many other districts have come up with attendance re- cords?” the official asked.

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