By JOSH RESNEK
Unbelievably enough, public schools in Everett have been closed since last March.
If events and timing remain on track for the virus to abate and for vaccines enough to inoculate the public, it appears that schools will not reopen this year, dooming the public school community to another round of compromised graduations and grade promotions.
Superintendent Priya Tahiliani has been predicting that a hybrid plan for a partial reopening of the public schools while at the same time maintaining online, at-home education, may come to pass at the end of February.
However, the jury is out on whether or not this will happen, and if it will happen end of February.
The desire to reopen public schools across the nation is in full swing with the Biden Administration saying schools must be reopened as soon as practically possible.
Teachers’ unions all over the nation, here in Massachusetts, and in Everett, do not want to reopen the public schools before their safety can be guaranteed.
The vaccination of the teacher force is vitally important to the reopening of the schools as soon as possible.
In addition, the virus has to be under control in Massachusetts before the kids can go back into their classrooms.
As it stands today, Everett is one of the state’s hottest virus urban centers – surrounded by the hot virus cities of Chelsea and Revere.
At last week’s School Committee meeting, a mass e-mail sent out by the Everett Teachers Union under individual teacher’s names warned of difficulties and potential health risks for teachers and students if schools were reopened too soon.
“As an educator of the Everett Public School District, I am very concerned regarding the strategy to move to a hybrid teaching model when the pandemic is currently raging at dangerously high levels,” read the letter. “At the time of writing this letter, Everett’s positivity rate is 14.5%. While this is not unique to Massachusetts or the rest of the country, the concept of gravitating to a hybrid model is very premature and puts all educators, students, and administrators at risk…Please do what is right for our community and allow this to be a transparent process where all stakeholders have a voice.”
Whether or not Everett’s school teachers will be vaccinated in time to make a meaningful difference in the school year remain to be seen.
At this time, the mass vaccination of teachers appears to be at least a month away unless something drastic happens.
More likely than not, mass vaccination of teachers will not occur until the end of the month or the beginning of March – which comes on the first year anniversary of the schools being closed.
Efforts in New York City to open the city’s public schools have been squashed for similar reasons.
All is not lost, however.
Attendance rates for online teaching remain the same as attendance rates when schools were open.
Parents who need to work are at their wit’s end providing for their children at home when normally they would be in school. That is the rub.
Everyone would like to go back to the way it was last February.
When this can happen remains anyone’s guess.