It’s off to Hawaii for 65 students and nine staff of the Everett High School Band who will take part in the 80th anniversary remembrance service at Pearl Harbor.
This piece of good news was not apparent at the start of the School Committee meeting on November 1, as many students and parents thought the trip could be cancelled. However, at the public comment part of the meeting, several students and parents made their case to be allowed to take part in the ceremony.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students that may never come again,” said Mike Mangan.
“This trip will showcase their ability,” said Will Hurley, who also noted that there are 22 seniors who will take part in the ceremony.
Emma Santos, a student and band member, told the School Committee members, “We have been chosen to represent the city and state with decorum. Other bands could have been chosen. We need your support.”
However, the initial feeling of angst was misplaced, as the School Committee and Superintendent Priya Tahiliani apologized and re-iterated that they just wanted to make sure that everything was safe and preparations were finalized for the shipping of the musical equipment, as well as what will happen if some members of the group contract COVID-19 on the trip.
Tahiliani said that the initial approval had been given in January for the trip, but with the departing date of December 3, now was the time to go over the last of the finances and protocols.
During the meeting, the school board heard about the protocol should anyone have to remain in Hawaii for 14 days if they test positive for COVID. School Board member Millie Cardillo asked if insurance would cover the extra $2,800 in expenses for the 14-day quarantine period. She was assured that the students’ expenses would be covered and possibly the chaperones’ as well.
School Committeeman Tom Abruzzese noted, “My only concern was about the health,” and went to say that he was, “Shocked about the rumor of the trip being stopped.”
Chairman Frank Parker, after noting that travel is a lot better than it was two weeks ago, told Eugene O’Brien, the Everett High School Music and Marching Band Director, “You own this — you are the last one on and the last one off.”
With that vote of confidence, the committee voted unanimously to allow the EHS band to go to Hawaii.
In other business, the committee heard that the safety issues at Everett High School have been resolved and that a lot of the extra staff members who were in place during the recent weeks have been transitioned out of the high school. Tahiliani also noted that several substitute teachers have been hired, as well as custodians. Security measures such as additional cameras now are in operation.
On the COVID-19 front, the news is getting better. Tahiliani said that measures such as Test and Stay are proving effective.
In September there were 82 COVID cases reported among students and staff, but in October, the number had dropped to 52 cases. “We are improving,” said Tahiliani, who noted that the state mask mandate order for schools has been extended to January 15, 2022.