The overwhelming majority of high school students at Everett High School (EHS) have chosen to stay remote at 75 percent – with less than 100 seniors choosing to come back to the building in person for their last month of school.
It is one of the largest opt-outs of in-person high school in the area, with districts like Chelsea at about 50 percent in person.
Supt. Priya Tahiliani said that 1,353 students (75 percent) chose to stay virtual in the high school through the first week, which started on May 10. There were 601 students that returned to the building. Of those students returning, the senior class was the smallest, with only 67 returning for their last month of school, and 317 remaining virtual.
The largest in-person class was the ninth grade with 238 returning, and 322 staying put at home.
“Many of our high school students chose to stay remote, some 75 percent of them,” she said. “The opposite is true for Pre-K to 8th grade students where 66 percent are in the classroom now as opposed to 34 percent remote. In reality, there aren’t very many days left on the school calendar and now wasn’t the time to change up routines. Many of our high school kids also work, which is a larger conversation we will and are having.”
Tahiliani said there shouldn’t be any judgment or discernment made of the numbers staying home, and said the reasons are varied and any decision is the right one this year.
“The percentage of students that have returned to a school or classroom is just a number,” she said. “This was a choice for families that required any number of considerations from the practical to more serious considerations. We support all our families. There was no right or wrong decision. The fact we were able to provide choices is what matters.”
•Vaccine Clinics Coming
The next great wave of vaccination efforts is now being concentrated in the schools, including Everett Public Schools where a mobile vaccination clinic will be available on May 21 and June 4.
Last week, the federal government announced that it had approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in children 12 and up. Before that, students 16 and over were allowed to take the vaccine starting in late April and early May.
Now, to reach students where they are, the Mobile Vaccine Clinic operated by Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care will visit Everett High School.
Registration and consent forms will be sent to each qualifying student and forms must be filled out prior to a minor receiving the vaccination, unless accompanied by their parent or guardian on the day of the shot.
On May 21, there will be a clinic from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school for all EPS students who qualify. On June 4, there will be a clinic for seniors and members of the community from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are accepted.
•Major Repairs Needed at Schools
The School Committee approved a measure to spend $1.43 million on major repairs to three schools. That list of four major repairs was accompanied by list of 11 other repairs that needed to be made to the schools, and were requested to be put in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). All told, the repairs were more than $7 million.
The money approved on Monday would fix the two cooling towers at Everett High, and that needed to be done immediately as there is no air conditioning in the school now. That came at a cost of $107,500.
The other repairs included:
•Keverian School Chiller for air conditioners: $350,000
•Madeline English School boiler: $575,000
•Keverian School boiler: $400,000
The Committee earlier this year had approved an emergency expenditure to replace the Lafayette School boiler as well.
Members of the Committee and Mayor Carlo DeMaria agreed with Supt. Priya Tahiliani that a comprehensive CIP plan for the schools would be needed going forward so they could be more proactive and less reactive.
“We are going to try to anticipate these things two or three years ahead of time,” Tahiliani said. “We’ll be more mindful and plan for these things well ahead of time.”
Said Chair Parker, “I think the fallacy is people look at the schools and think they are brand new and they’re not anymore. Some are 20 years old at this point.”