After the better part of the 2019/2020 and the 2020/2021 school years being remote due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it is no secret the return to school this year has not been easy for students and teachers.
“I am becoming concerned as I think you’ve all heard across the country, that teachers are incredibly stressed out,” said Revere Public School Superintendent Dianne Kelly at the last Revere School Committee meeting. “And I think part of that has to do with the fact that the kids are really stressed out. I feel like the school district is just in a pressure cooker and one thing is going to set it off. We’ve all heard a lot from parents about the anxiety that kids are experiencing and the perception that there is a lot of strife happening in the schools. We know our staff is stressed and we see in their attendance rates that they’re stressed. That has been kind of having a cyclical effect. If teachers are out and we don’t have enough subs, the teachers who are left are having to hold everything up. Then they become more stressed and more tired and I just think we should really think about creating a little bit of relief for everybody.”
An idea that Dr. Kelly and Revere High School Principal Dr. John Perella have been mulling repurposing some of the 182 required school days as an opportunity for teachers and students to connect on different levels.
“There’s been some movement around this in other parts of the state and other parts of the country,” said Kelly. “If we could capture some time and maybe think about doing some half days–we still need to do the same number of hours–so I’m not looking to forgive days. What I would like to do is repurpose some of that time and do half days. This idea actually came from talking to Dr. Perrella after what happened with the student (walk out) at the high school and we were thinking it would create opportunities not just for teachers to do professional development but also time for students and teachers to engage in ways that are different than they do right now–more on relationship building and how how students and teachers can partner together with administrators to foster a kind of building culture where everybody does feel safe and included and heard.”
Kelly said by giving students, teachers and administrators the time to do some relationship building work and do some social emotional learning it would be beneficial to everybody.
“I’m not looking for this decision to be made right now,” said Kelly. “I think we have some time to think about it. I think March, when we have that long stretch of no vacation time from February to April, might be a good time for us to look at it. But I wanted to discuss that idea with the School Committee tonight so that you’d all have time to think about it and talk to your constituents and see what people think.”
The suggestion to the School Committee was applauded by member Carol Tye.
“I think that’s an excellent idea,” said Tye. “There’s all kinds of education and it doesn’t have to be a day where everybody’s in class and doing Math or English or whatever. I can see the crying need so I certainly would be really very happy to participate in finding a schedule that we could work with. I think the suggestion about the half days is really a good one.”