At home instruction under the management of the School Department and its staff of teachers, administrators and assistants is now underway to augment the closure of classroom instruction which began March 12 with real time video and audio instruction on the computer.
This effort is now underway with a free supply of Chromebook laptops now being distributed to parents of students for their use.
Free distribution of the laptops began Tuesday at the Encore site and was very well received by a steady stream of parents who picked up the computers in a drive through staffed by School Department employees and volunteers.
An estimated 7,000 Everett public school students are presently at home.
It is not known yet how such instruction will impact on state education department requirements for students to be deemed to have finished a school year.
At this moment, with the coronavirus spreading rapidly and the city, state and nation in lock down, the school department has been rushing to set-up virtual teaching for Everett students by their teachers to fill the void caused by the closure of the schools.
Unless we have been entirely misled about the difficulties the virus is going to impose upon us as we try to head into the future, the closure of the Everett Public Schools is likely to last longer than at first considered.
Superintendent Priya Tahiliani chose to act with an abundance of caution when she announced Everett’s schools would be shut for 30 days.
Not only did she do the right thing but she was here, in and out of her office on Vine Street, meeting with her staff and making judgments about what to do on the scene.
She didn’t need the mayor’s advice.
She didn’t leave the city for a vacation.
She understood the importance of being available during a difficult time.
What’s more, it appears more likely than not, that the EPS will be closed longer than 30 days, bringing to the fore the likelihood that the school year might already have been compromised by the coronavirus.
It was impossible to imagine just three weeks ago that our world was going to be profoundly reshaped by the virus.
The new second in command of the School Department is not certified to be a superintendent or acting superintendent and is embroiled in a law suit against her former employer, the City of Boston School Department.
Attorney Kim Tsia has been hired by Superintendent Priya Tahiliani to be her eyes and ears, or so it would appear, as she launches her new administration of the Everett Public Schools.
Tsia has been hired at $185,000 a year according to School Department records.
“She (Tahiliani) has full autonomy to make such a hire but to hire a friend that is not certified to act as a de facto superintendent, well, that’s going a stretch,” said a School Department source familiar with the new superintendent’s ambitions.
“There is the other important matter that Tahiliani and Tsia are suing the School Department of the City of Boston together,” added the source.
Two recent serious incidents involving students and a teacher at the Webster and English Schools, a sexual assault and inappropriate behavior respectively, have not been reported publicly by the School Department, according to a number of sources all claiming familiarity about the particulars but who refused to be identified.
The apparent egregiousness of the incidents, and the degree to which public officials here have gone out of their way to obscure them, highlights some of the difficult issues facing student safety and Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani as she takes over the School Department this week.
Several e-mails from the Leader Herald to Tahiliani detailing the incidents went unanswered.
In late January, four fifth graders at the Webster School allegedly assaulted a fellow fifth grader at the back of the school, an act of sexual violence recorded on School Department video cameras, and played for the Webster School Principal Denise Hanlon and then handed over to the police, the source added.
“She was sickened by what she viewed on those videos,” said a source close to the investigation.
Many Everett folks from all walks of life who have lived in the city for the past decade or longer, have very firm ideas about the condition of the city.
Many say the city is worse off than it was ten years ago.
They complain it is more crowded, more difficult to park and drive around, and more dangerous.
Many more say it was better in the old days, when life was more predictable than it is today, when everyone’s memory point to the entire population paying attention to the law and following rules and regulations and watching out for each other.
Many say Everett is better than it was ten years ago – and they point to all the new real estate development and improvements that have been made. All the parks have been redone. New schools have been built. Road and drainage problems have nearly been erased. The city is clean and orderly.
Each successive generation of people living here and across the nation believe their generation was better than the one that came before.
It is known for a fact all generations are essentially the same – a bit like the tide coming in and the tide going out, the seas rising and the seas falling, the tides and the seas are eternal.
During the past ten years the school population has exploded and is continuing to expand.
The new schools are overcrowded. The teaching institution is taxed to the point of breaking. The school population is diverse, poor, struggling, and most of our public school students cannot read or write with ease and understanding in English or in their native languages.