Revere Public School teachers are going into school buildings three days a week to teach remotely from their classrooms, but a new daycare service offered to Revere families operating out of the Hill and Lincoln Schools is causing some concern.
A month ago RPS partnered with AlphaBest to give working families and students having difficulty navigating the word of ‘remote’ learning the support they need in these trying times.
AlphaBest’s AlphaAcademy, a full-day program that includes enrichment, fitness, facilitation of virtual learning, and much needed social connection for students has been operating at the two schools and is looking to expand to other elementary schools.
Last Tuesday’s Revere School Committee meeting opened with committee member Susan Gravellese reading a letter from Whelan School teacher and RPS parent Melissa Randall.
Randall raised the concerns she and other Revere Teachers Association (RTA) members shared and argued that now is not the best time for a private daycare operator to share space with RPS staff.
“Why is a private childcare/daycare being able to operate in our schools?,” Randall wrote in her letter read by Mrs Gravellese.
Randall wrote that just last week Mayor Brian Arrigo appeared with Gov. Charlie Baker and expressed his concern that Revere was trending in the wrong direction when it comes to COVID.
At the meeting RTA President Gina Garro said while she appreciates the district’s desire to want to support students that are most challenged by remote learning, she was disappointed the plan to have AlphaBest at the two Revere schools was not discussed with the RTA beforehand.
“Unfortunately the plan was never discussed with the RTA,” said Garro. “Teachers are asking how this can be happening.”
Due to teachers at the Hill and Lincoln having to share space with a private provider and students Garro said the only sensible thing for the School Committee and RPS to do is allow all teachers the option to work from home.
“Putting additional people in an already occupied building does not seem safe,” said Garro.
Garro’s frustration was echoed by teacher Victoria Vitale Bingham who reported to the School Committee that many RTA members are ‘extremely’ uncomfortable with extra bodies in the two schools.
“The space used to run this program is not isolated,” she said.
However, RPS Superintendent Dr. Dianne Kelly defended the program and said any principal hosting or planning to host an AlphaBest program at a RPS school has taken extreme precaution to ensure the program is 100 percent isolated from staff.
“There is no reason whatsoever that any RTA member would need to engage with the AlphaBest program,” said Kelly.
However, Kelly said the one place she would acknowledge that there might be some interaction between AlphaBest and RPS staff is at the Hill School where the program is in the school gym on the second floor. There, Kelly said, RPS teachers and AlphaBest attendees may pass each other in the hallway when using the second floor bathroom outside the gym.
With that said, Kelly told the School Committee that both AlphaBest attendees and RPS staff would have masks on.
Kelly went on to say that this is an incredibly difficult time for everyone.
“I don’t want to diminish how incredibly difficult this is for our teachers but I need to highlight how difficult it is on families,” said Kelly. “We have some kids right now who are trying to learn remotely from home with no parental supervision…and other students learning from home where the parents are on the verge of bankruptcy and need to get back to work, but they have no place for their children to go during the day.”