We Can not leave anyone out
To the Editor,
As an elected official, I am not afraid to speak out about issues that affect our community, and be a voice for the voiceless. Last week, I created a stir of emotions because I addressed the way School Committee and School Leadership handled certain issues during COVID-19.
In the last three months, I’ve received multiple phone calls, emails, and text messages from students, parents, school employees, and other elected officials concerned about multiple issues in the school system. Examples include parents spending their own money to make up for what the school should have been doing all along, no communication plan to the parents, school employees looking for legal counsel, and students who felt left behind.
At the end of many of these conversations, I felt embarrassed. I happily took the time to listen, and I asked each person, what do you want to see done? Every conversation left me puzzled, asking myself, “Are they doing what is best for the students?” and, “What could I do to help solve this problem?”
I have many examples, but here are four ways in which I feel there was a lack of leadership:
•Lack of equity and communication plan for all parents, including English Language Learners, Special Needs, and Low-Income;
•Food access for all students;
•Seniors Celebrating their Milestone;
•Parent and Employee Confidence in the School System.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mayor Carlo DeMaria decided to shut down the schools. Before the shut down, I wondered what the education plan was and how they would communicate next steps to all parents. A few days after the shutdown, students and parents reached out to me, asking what was going on, they had not heard from the schools.
Once we heard food would be distributed to students, no one reached out to me about the logistics. I wondered, how are they reaching out to parents? A week in, City Councilors were told the number of people coming to pick up food was much lower than anticipated, and asked to help get the word out about the food distribution. Again, I wondered, what was the communication plan and how were they implementing it?
When the schools decided to distribute chromebooks, they explained on social media that parents could pick them up on certain days based on the first letter of their last name. I knew many parents did not get this information, because multiple parents reached out to me to ask how they could get a chromebook. They asked how to access the learning plan. With 7,200-plus students, I did not understand the plan, how many weeks would it take to get every household a computer to learn? Then the number of cases climbed in Everett. What happened next? They decided to shut down distribution of Chromebooks and food to students for three full weeks. Parents were asking, “How will my child learn? Will they be left behind?” I grew up with parents who had no idea what a computer was and wouldn’t have been able to afford internet service. When a Spanish speaking Everett parent reached out to a Chelsea City Councilor about receiving the Chromebook but not having internet, not knowing what to do, I was broken-hearted.
Parents reached out about food. I told them, please call 311. I contacted the 311 Director early, knowing the number of calls, many from Spanish and Portuguese speakers, would be high. I asked what the plan was, and how we could find solutions together. I was told everything was being handled.
In other cities (I spoke with other elected officials), they did not stop, they kept going because they did not want any child to be left hungry or left behind in learning. Many Everett teachers told me there was no communication plan for them for almost two months. I watched the video that the Superintendent released to the teachers about the end of year plan. I don’t feel it instilled the confidence or clearly outlined the steps needed to ensure that equity would be achieved for all students in all circumstances. Also, they did not seek input.
Last week, the Everett Independent highlighted Super Mom Shenae Jackson, whose questions about the cap/gown and yearbook (she paid for) were not addressed. Was there a plan in place for the Seniors before COVID-19? There was no communication, so she took matters into her own hands. She spent more than $2,100 of her own money to help give seniors a sense of pride. I asked my City Council Colleagues to join me in helping to support Mrs. Jackson, instead of yes or no answers, I received backlash in asking for support. Now people are trying to say the School Committee and school leadership were planning activities all along. All any of us really know is that the schools shut down in mid-March. In the first week of May, there were still questions as to what the plan was. When we finally received an update, it still did not address inequities in students’ personal situations.
At the end of the pandemic, elected officials will need to ask ourselves:
•Did we treat every student the same?
•Are our students safe and healthy?
•Are our students continuing to learn and grow as school continues remotely?
•What support will they need over the summer or the next school year to be successful?
The truth is, I cannot answer these questions with a ‘yes.’ My fears are real that we may have, and may continue to, miss the mark.
During the next City Council meeting, I am calling on Everett Public Schools to share information on remote learning, and what is planned for the future. Data is a valuable tool to understand how our students are learning so we can ensure equity, not only in access to quality education, but in how we can address the gaps many of our children will face due to COVID-19. It has been brought to my attention that many students are still not able to access virtual learning and there is no plan to do so.
Thank you to all who have stepped up and created opportunities, possibilities, and smiles for all our students, parents, and employees. Together, we will get through this, but the keyword is together. Let’s work together and not leave anyone out.
City Councilor at-Large support struggling local restaurants
(The following letter was sent to Gov. Charlie Baker from elected officials, including Councilors Michael McLaughlin, Stephanie Martins and Gerly Adrien.)
Municipal Sign-On: Support Massachusetts restaurants by capping third-party restaurant delivery fees during the COVID-19 pandemic
We are writing as elected officials representing municipalities across Massachusetts, to encourage you to support struggling local restaurants by passing legislation to cap the fees charged by “third-party delivery services” for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have heard many troubling first-hand accounts of the enormously detrimental effects that such fees can have on local restaurants. We believe that swift action by the Legislature to limit these fees would provide a desperately needed financial lifeline for many local restaurants struggling to survive. We look to you as state leaders to help our local businesses and the many people that they employ.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a complete shut-down of in-person dining in the Commonwealth. Those restaurants that have remained open have been forced to rely entirely on revenue from pick-up and delivery orders. Many local restaurants are newly reliant on a small number of third party delivery services, and in fact will continue to do so following “re-opening” due to necessary limits on in-person dining. Many such delivery services charge fees of up to 25-30 percent per order, representing an enormous burden on an already struggling business. Unfortunately, these high fees are only one of several industry practices that disadvantage local businesses, and the pandemic has served to exacerbate these issues. Given that the third party delivery sector is dominated by four large corporations, it is nearly impossible for individual small restaurants to negotiate more favorable terms, thus making government action necessary.
The urgency of this issue has led communities across the country to enact Emergency measures to limit these fees. San Francisco, Seattle, Jersey City and Washington D.C. have passed mandates capping delivery fees during the pandemic, and similar legislation was recently passed by the New York City Council. In Massachusetts, Representative Day has filed H.5054, “An act relative to restaurant delivery commissions during the COVID-19 emergency,” which has more than fifty cosponsors, and municipalities including Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and others have passed Resolutions or otherwise taken action in support of such legislation, recognizing that this legislation would provide clear and immediate relief to the local restaurant industry.
We are grateful for the many critical actions that the Governor and Legislature have taken throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we respectfully encourage you to prioritize action to support local restaurants by capping third party delivery fees. We believe that it is necessary to do so as quickly as possible, as many beloved local restaurants which are the heart and soul of neighborhoods and which employ a large number of vulnerable workers face an uncertain future.
Signed by 36 community elected officials,
Gerly Adrien, Everett
New tobacco law starts June 1
To the Editor,
I want to remind people that starting June 1, 2020, flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes like Kools and Newports will no longer be sold in Massachusetts. Last Fall, the Fight All Flavors campaign and many supporting partners worked to build grassroots understanding of and support for a proposed flavored tobacco restriction with an explicit focus on building youth leadership and calling out the tobacco and nicotine industry’s targeting of menthol in communities of color.
The tobacco and vaping industries have allegedly targeted youth, LGBTQ populations and communities of color with their deadly products, causing many health consequences for these populations specifically. Flavors, like mint and menthol, are a leading reason that young people start vaping and using tobacco.
The law, which goes into effect on June 1, 2020, means that:
• Menthol cigarettes and all other flavored tobacco products like flavored cigars, flavored chewing tobacco, and flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine vaping products will no longer be widely available in Massachusetts.
• E-cigarettes and nicotine vaping products will increase in price.
I’m excited to see that No Menthol. Know Why. is an extension of that work; they’re working with community-based organizations, youth advocates, public health and health care partners, local health departments, churches, regional Tobacco-Free Community Partnership programs, and more to reach out to and support the communities most impacted by the new law. They want to build awareness about the law and provide information about the resources available to help people quit smoking.
You can help spread the word in your community. Visit NoMentholKnowWhy.org to learn more, to share your menthol story and to find tools and resource to share.
For information about how the law will be enforced visit mass.gov/NewTobaccoLaw.
Help for those who want to quit vaping, smoking or using other tobacco products is available for FREE at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) and KeepTryingMA.org.
Contact Edgar Duran Elmudesi at the Metro Boston Tobacco-Free Community Partnership, [email protected] or 617-451-0049 x549 to learn more about the law, how you can support people in quitting and to find out how you can partner with us.
Edgar Duran Elmudesi
Health Resources in Action
Welcome Back Parishioners!
Dear Immaculate Conception Parishioners,
After suspending all activities due to the Pandemic, I am very happy to inform you that on May 31, 2020 the Feast of Pentecost, we shall re-open our Parish of the Immaculate Conception in Everett.
I am very grateful for your support for the Church, especially your continuing your monthly donations whether by mail, by delivery to the Rectory or online. Remember you can register to give to our Parish online by going to the 90 days online through the Archdiocese of Boston at BostonCatholic.org.
While re-opening our Church will give us the opportunity to celebrate Holy Mass at our Parish, I am kindly requesting those who feel uncomfortable returning at this time as well as those of vulnerable age, to remain at home and worship with us through livestream on YouTube (Immaculate Conception Everett MA), Catholic TV or other social media where you are able to follow Holy Mass.
I know that you will cooperate with the work of the Preparation Committee to assure our safety while worshipping together. Among other directives are the following requirements: we may have a maximum of only 40% of the size of the congregation in the Church; we must keep a social distance of 6 feet apart; we must wear a mask before, during and after Mass; the Church must be deep cleaned.
In these early days, we have limited sitting spaces in the upper Church, only about 78, and in the Chapel about 30 people will be able to attend each Mass. I would not want anyone to be turned away at the door, it is very important that you call the Rectory to indicate what Mass you would like to attend and leave you name. If the Mass you would like to attend is full, we will recommend another Mass that has availability. Please call the Parish number 617 389 5661. Our Mass schedule is:
Saturday at 4:00pm (English), 7.30pm (Vietnamese)
Sunday at 7, 9, and 11 am (English), 1:00pm (Spanish), 4 pm (Haitian)
There will be a basket in the back of the Church for the Offertory Collection since we have been told not to take up the collection in the normal way. Please be as generous as you can.
Daily Masses will be as usual at 7:00am in the Chapel. The Sacrament of Confession will be on Wed and Thurs at 4:00-5:00pm in the Chapel. Funeral Masses will follow the same norms.
Welcome back and we are so glad that you are here so that we may once again celebrate as a Community.