VIDEO MESSAGE FROM SUPERINTENDENT TAHILIANI
Bright Thoughts this Holiday Season!
To the Everett Public Schools Community,
Monday marked the Winter Solstice, the annual paradox that marks our longest night while promising more daylight. It is a day that might ordinarily pass with only a quick acknowledgement, but this year it is filled with symbolism and meaning. The guarantee of longer, brighter days is a comforting thought to embrace as 2020 passes into history. It reminds us to share the priceless gift of optimism with each other this holiday season.
My hope was heightened this week when I attended safe and socially-distanced holiday events at our elementary schools. What I saw and felt from students, teachers, administrators, staff, PTO members, and families was sheer pleasure. Members of our school communities clearly delighted in the joy of seeing each other, even momentarily. Watching a teacher give a student a book, a small gift — or even a smile and a wave — was more than enough to guarantee my happiness this holiday season.
This emotional momentum is something I hope to build on as we move into the second half of the school year. When we return from the winter holiday, we will focus our ample energies into hybrid learning. We have already begun the exhaustive work needed to ensure that our classrooms are prepared. From developing staffing solutions to stocking our schools with PPE and cleaning supplies, you can be sure that we are not starting from a standing position. We have established the framework for a safe and successful return to in-person learning. I know I speak for the entire district when I say we are eager to complete the process.
Our original hybrid plan was to have 100 percent of our students return for in-person teaching and learning 50 percent of the time. If the city’s Covid-19 metrics allow, this would be our preference. If Everett’s positivity rates continue to be slow in dropping, we will focus on bringing back certain grade levels across the district, with the intention of expanding the model as circumstances permit. At the high school level, we will explore any and all opportunities that allow for safe and healthy interaction among our students, whose social and emotional needs must be prioritized. This includes winter athletics, which we will assess after the first of the year in collaboration with the Board of Health.
In the meantime, we have to remain committed to safety, for ourselves and for each other. We cannot let anticipation about a vaccine and the weariness of the past nine months combine to shake our resolve. Wearing masks, social distancing, limiting gatherings, rigorous hand-washing, and conscientiousness continue to be the essential safeguards we all hold in curtailing the spread of the coronavirus as we anxiously wait for the widespread distribution of a vaccine.
The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on the world, but it should not deny us the chance to cherish our most noble and genuine holiday beliefs. Whatever values are most important to you at this time of year, embrace them. Whatever traditions you celebrate, enjoy every second of them.
To our students and teachers, please boot down your computers! Rest. Relax. Spend time with family and loved ones. Do the things that bring you peace and happiness.
In closing, I must also point out that Monday was not only the Winter Solstice but a day that saw Jupiter and Saturn, the two largest planets in our solar system, come closer together than they have been in 400 years. This is appropriate as well. For I am confident that we, too, will soon be closer together than we have been in a long time.
In partnership and fellowship,