Melrose Cares: Open Community Dialogue

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The absolute state of the public school system

In Europe school systems switched from the traditional format of in person schooling to 100% online schooling OVER THE WEEKEND after schools closed due to the pandemic and were up and running the following Monday. My daughter attends Bulgarian school on weekends and the school switched to online classes with the same speed. Her teacher even called my daughter to teach the entire day's lesson (one on one) on her own time so that my daughter would not fall behind.

Our pathetic school system can't even manage to officially document what work should be studied let alone manage to establish any online presence whatsoever. All they seem to be able to produce is excuses and nonsense about equity. I am outraged by the absolute ineptitude of our school system.

Good Afternoon ,

I am thinking of you all as we continue to confront this unprecedented national health emergency that has upended our world and smashed any assumptions we had about how our lives would proceed. I walk the halls of the vacant high school and it is sad. We miss our students. We miss the daily interactions with them, the ability to provide in-person instruction and support, the ability to see them grow. We miss our relationships with them. Teaching is interpersonal and dynamic. For all the ups and downs we may encounter in a school year, educators find joy in working with our students.

We are worried about the impact of this crisis on all our students. We are worried about the stress on families, not just for their children, but also for their extended families and friends. We are all fearful for what this means for our children's future both in the short run and the future.

I would like to comment on educational continuity and teaching and learning at this time. We cannot replicate the educational experience via technology. There is a give and take in a classroom filled with children that is spontaneous and informative. Additionally, we do not have the cadre of other teachers, specialists, and support staff that collectively augments each child's education on a daily basis.

Our ability to provide ongoing learning using technology has other limitations. We have issues of access and equity. Although we made Chromebooks available, we cannot be certain that every family has one or the necessary internet connectivity. We also know that not all of our children have family members who can support their child's online learning. And lastly, we know that in some families, there are multiple users, including adults, who need to use the same computer.

Importantly, we have children with unique needs, whether they are special education or English Language learners or children at risk for other reasons. And we have many children who may not fall into one of these groups, but for whom we provide a safe environment with supportive adults. We cannot replicate the fullness of a school day virtually. Thus, we are not able to provide these students with the services and supports they need to access learning.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is acutely aware of equity and access issues as well as the technology disparities that exist between cities and towns across the state. To this end, the Commissioner was very clear in his statement to Superintendents: districts should be providing enrichment for continuity of learning, not continuity of instruction and should not be grading work during the closure because of the equity and access issues. You should have heard from, or will soon be hearing from, your children's teacher or teachers with virtual resources and assignments for continuity of learning.

Beyond the academics, school districts have a plethora of other issues for which we do not yet have answers. Some of the more immediate questions have to do with MCAS, special education timelines, and requirements for graduation. Superintendents continue to participate in frequent conference calls with DESE and each other as well as our leadership teams and unions, working to continuously improve what we provide and to address questions and concerns that arise.

As we keep saying, this is evolving on a daily basis. Right now, we are closed through April 3rd, due to reopen April 6th. This is the best case scenario, but we have no guarantees. As you know, some of our neighbors are closed until April 27th. And in some states, schools are closed for the year. We will continue to work with DESE and other districts as this unfolds. We are hopeful that if we are in a worst case scenario, DESE, as well as the state and federal government, will be able to suspend many of the legal and financial restrictions that govern public education. We will keep responding and adapting to each new development. Every one of the Melrose Public School staff from the educators to the paraprofessionals to the secretaries to the custodians wants to be back in school. We want to be there in person to help our children understand what has happened and then help them to move forward. Hopefully, if we all do our part in containing the spread of the virus, this will happen soon.

I am thinking of you all. Please send along my good thoughts to your children. I will be in touch with you again soon. In the meanwhile, please check our webpage All updates to resources and new information are being posted here.

Stay safe and take care of each other.

Cyndy Taymore

Superintendent of Schools