Members of the Everett School Committee heard at their meeting on Monday that the state order for mandatory face masks in schools for students and teachers has been extended to November 1. However, if 80 percent of students and staff have been vaccinated by October 15, then the order is no longer mandatory.
Presently, 69 percent of the students ages 12-15 have had one dose of the vaccine and 57% have had the full vaccine. In the 16-19 age group, 78% have received one dose and 69 percent have had the two shots.
Superintendent Riya Tahiliani also told the Committee that the Test and Stay Program is working well, but lack of being able to administer more tests is hindering the progress of the program. She noted that members of the Cataldo Ambulance Service are at the schools until 9 a.m. to administer the tests.
But if a student has symptoms, there is no one to administer the test after 9 a.m. to see whether it is COVID or the flu. In September, 167 students had symptoms, but with no one to administer the test, these students were sent home. There were 82 confirmed COVID cases in this time period.
Tahiliani said that she is working with both the Cambridge Health Alliance and city officials to try to get staff to have the tests administered after 9 a.m. She is confident that if more students could get tested at schools, then there would be fewer students sent home. There are one to five students per day who complain of symptoms.
At the meeting it was confirmed that the Parent Information Center (PIC) in the Keverian School will be moving to the City Hall on October 12. Several members noted that the present location of the PIC is not a welcoming place. Tahiliani said, “We will make this a welcoming space. Once all the renovations are complete, it will be a place that families will want to be in.”
School Committeewoman Dana Murray added, “Expectations are very high.” She also asked if the hours of the PIC would be impacted by the shorter hours on certain days at the City Hall and was told that the hours of operation would not be impacted.
Tahiliani announced that the results are in for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. The state grant totals $13 million and more than 300 respondents answered the survey, and overwhelmingly chose both tutoring and mentoring, as well as mental health support, to get the larger share of the funds. It was also noted that there was no student feedback on the allocation of the funds, which many members found upsetting.
The committee accepted a grant of $30,000 from the COVID-Safe Cooling Strategies Grant to be used to help Everett Public School families pay their utility bills.