More than 7,000 Everett Public School students began the new school year Tuesday at home looking into their computers or Chromebooks and listening to their teachers attempting to be online educators.
The Coronavirus has revolutionized public school education at the start of this year in school districts like Everett where in person schooling inside classrooms will not begin again until November, if at all.
Call it a reckoning, call it whatever you will, the virus has rather abruptly and completely reset the public school education protocol.
Even in those places where the schools have reopened, with students attending classes on campus, there is the unwritten understanding among nearly everyone involved with the learning process and safety of the students that public school education may never again be the way it was.
Not since 1918 have public schools been forced to close or to distance students from one another and for everyone attending to wear facemasks in order to keep the virus from spreading among them.
Everett’s public schools will be starting a new school year as never before on Sep- tember 15.
Remote learning only will be the bill of fare for Everett’s kids and their parents, many of whom need to find a way to return to their jobs while attending to their children while they’re at home studying online on their computers.
A controlled number of students will be allowed to be taught from a number of “learning centers” which have been designed in locations dispersed around the city for those who need a private spot for remote instruction that is supervised because learning at home from a computer is impossible.
Unless parents work at home, watching the kids while being at work is incompatible with the new normal, the startling new reality of school year 2020- 2021 about to get underway.
Without day care, parents cannot leave their children home alone.
The Encore Casino and Hotel were intended to be among the largest grossing commercial business investments of their kind in all of New England.
Had the year worked out, the city’s major source of income would have taken in something like $600 million.
Instead, the casino and hotel are vastly underutilized in the age of the pandemic.
The virus has caused the rough equivalent of an earthquake, followed by a tsunami for the Everett casino and hotel, intended to be one of the busiest places in New England, as well as the savior of the city’s hungry city treasury.
Instead, the casino and hotel are largely empty much of the time.
The Everett city treasury isn’t doing that well either.
Now lingering questions exist at city hall about Encore’s commitment to the city after failing to pay entirely, or on time, what it owed the city for several quarters in lieu of taxes.
Doubts have intensified about Encore’s willingness to go on for many years with no income or a vastly decreased amount of income in a world dominated by a new normal.
The proforma documents the State Board of Education is requiring of all school districts have been submitted by the Everett Public Schools as ordered during the first week of August.
Education here will be resuming in September, most likely in several different forms.
EPS officials say the final education product is a work in progress.
“Education begins in September in one way or another,” said an EPS official. “There could be a hybrid system with in-classroom instruction and or remote learning on the Internet or all one or all the other. There is no way to know right nowwhat the final plan will be.”
Administrators are now in heavy deliberation with great concerns about what exactly will work at the highest details being discussed daily.
“People are on the hustle getting ready,” said a school official.
Administrators are grappling with what technology is necessary, what kind of educational platform will work, how will teachers respond to the planning?
The six-foot social distancing platform is what will be implemented in the EPS.
Nearly everyone with an understanding of what it takes to work to run the Everett Public Schools has come to understand that Superintendent Priya Tahiliani’s overriding interest in her life right now is the successful reopening of the EPS.
“She works tirelessly day and night. She is at it from early morning until late in the evening. She is bright. She has a strong work ethic. She is under pressure and appearing to work well with it and because of it,” said a member of the administration who wished to remain unnamed.
“She knows where she’s heading. She is confident. She is not overconfident. It is quite remarkable to watch her in action,” said the source.
The present period, this week, was described the source as an in between period.
“You’ll know more about exactly where the EPS is headed during the first week of August,” he added.
“That’s when the city’s plan must be submitted to the State Department of Education,” he said.
Until then, we watch, and we wonder what form the coming year of public-school education is going to take in this city.
The essential question, the overriding interest, is how to do the best for the city’s 7,000 students in grades K-12.