The November 16 date when the Everett Public Schools were supposed to open for in- class learning has come and gone.
Online attendance is at a steady 90% of what it should be every day with approximately 5,000 Everett Public School students studying and attending classes online.
The lowest brackets of attendance are also declining.
The rise in COVID-19 infections and positive cases among all age groups in Everett forced the hand of Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani, according to exhaustive comments she made during Monday evening’s School Committee ZOOM meeting.
“We do not believe the state’s new COVID reporting practices should govern our decisions solely,” she said of the November 16 opening day having passed.
“We are resisting the temptation to bring back students in very large numbers at this time.
She insisted she believed this was the right thing to do given the circumstances.
Massachusetts education officials and the state’s three largest teachers’ unions are calling for a delay for the reopening of schools in September by two weeks.
Districts can use the time to prepare for the reopening.
Students will not be required to make up the lost time.
The tentative agreement provides for districts being able to use the first 10 days of the school year to provide teachers and staff with time to implement all the hygienic and social distancing policies required as well as to redesign teaching modalities to meet the demands of the new normal.
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.