Unless one was a kid with a ChromeBook, or a parent trying to remember how to teach division, few would have known that Monday was the last day of school in the Chelsea Public Schools.
Yet, it was, and thousands of remote learners – packed away their computers and power cords to focus on summer.
Supt. Almi Abeyta sent out a message to the community and staff on Tuesday expressing the intensity of the final leg of what started as a normal school year with her as the new superintendent.
“What a year it has been – a year that will go down in history as one that our generation will never forget,” she wrote. “We have faced many challenges this year; however, through the challenges, we have grown stronger as a community. We are resilient and our response to the global pandemic that hit us in March demonstrates just how strong and tenacious we are as we close a school year that looked like no other. Through it all, our commitment to educating our students and supporting the well-being of one another stayed constant.”
It was only in April that the district transitioned instantly into a remote learning environment, mobilizing to provide more than 3,500 ChromeBooks to students. Then teachers, administrators and staff pushed through online learning as the City grappled with being the hottest spot for COVID-19 infections in the state – perhaps on the whole East Coast. Persevering, Abeyta said they have learned new techniques that they will take into the future for good.
“We have learned a lot during this crisis, and we will not let it go to waste,” she said. “As a result, new opportunities have emerged such as engaging more families through the use of technology.”
In addition to teaching, the Chelsea Public Schools became one of the main sources for breakfast and lunch to many students whose families were struggling to have enough food. The CPS served 312,704 meals over the last four months.
“I am so proud of what we have accomplished this year,” she wrote. “District-wide we continue to emphasize social emotional learning and support, increase our higher education partnerships, and expand access and opportunities for students at all grade levels. Finally, we can boast that the Class of 2020 includes 317 students, and our students have earned approximately $4.7 million in scholarships and grants and will be attending 58 different colleges and trade schools.”
But most of all, Abeyta wrote that it was the community coming together that affected her the most. A newcomer to Chelsea who started full-time in January, she pretty much learned through trial by fire, but she said in the letter and many times before, that the community of Chelsea is the most special she has seen in her career.
“Lastly, when there is a challenge, the Chelsea community comes together to overcome it,” she said. “We find solutions to our problems and work together to meet the needs of our students and families.”
There is still no definite plan for resuming school in September, but the schools are working with the state leaders to figure out how that will come together. More news is expected throughout the summer, but most are being warned not to expect “regular” school in the fall.