Beacon Hill In 5

File photo of Jeff Riley, Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner from 2020.
Nick Czarnecki / Boston Herald Pool via SHNS

Some question whether Nov. 1 is the right time to lift Mass. schools mask mandate

Seven schools in Massachusetts have achieved an 80% vaccination rate and a waiver from mask rules from the state education department. But for other schools, masks remain mandatory. That rule expires on November 1.

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Black and Latino families continue to bear pandemic's great economic toll in U.S.

Jonathan Eta had managed to keep his head above water after he lost his job as an auto detailer in Southern California at the start of the pandemic. But last month, the emergency unemployment benefits he relied on expired. "Basically, now we're just out on our own, you know?" he says. Eta, who was born in Honduras, lives in the San Fernando Valley, where he's a single father to his three school-aged children. The financial strain he'd staved off for 17 months has arrived. He's now three...

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Connecting Point

Conjure up some fall fun at Hick's Family Farm Corn Maze

Jonathan Soto left Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria and arrived in Holyoke, Massachusetts, not knowing much about the city's deep Puerto Rican roots.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Four years ago this week, high school teacher Jonathan Soto left Puerto Rico and made his way to Holyoke, Massachusetts. He was among the thousands of Puerto Ricans who evacuated from the island after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

The town of Vernon is considering a new plan that lays out a path forward for the redevelopment of the land around the former Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

The plan offers a number of options which include housing, industrial development and recreation, and the town seems willing to move forward with using the site — even if high level radioactive waste remains there.

More than 100 Hartford HealthCare employees out of work after refusing vaccine

Oct 22, 2021

Just over 100 Hartford HealthCare employees — representing 0.3% of the health system’s workforce — have left the organization as of Thursday after refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19, according to Dr. Ajay Kumar, Chief Clinical Officer.

“We don’t even use the term ‘termination,’” Kumar said. “The individual decided to choose a different path in their career. … We’re very respectful of people’s choices.”

As Connecticut’s coffers swell, calls for tax relief grow louder

Oct 22, 2021

Connecticut continues to pile up huge state budget surpluses and reduce debt, despite an economy not fully recovered from the coronavirus.

But even as government coffers swell, most of Connecticut’s COVID-19 response has been paid for with federal aid, prompting some political leaders to question Gov. Ned Lamont’s approach with a new state election year, less than three months away.

City Hall in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Kenneth C. Zirkel / Creative Commons /

The Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Health Department has issued a statement saying there is a COVID-19 cluster at the city's post office, but the postal service isn't cooperating with contact tracers. The city said the lack of collaboration "poses a risk to the community."

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Border Patrol apprehensions hit a record high. But that's only part of the story

The Border Patrol recorded nearly 1.7 million migrant apprehensions at the Southern border over the past year — the highest number ever, eclipsing the record set more than two decades ago. But that doesn't mean it's the biggest number of individual migrants who've illegally crossed from Mexico into the U.S. in a single year. In fact, it's probably not even close. That's because the flow of migrants has changed dramatically since 20 years ago, when millions of people successfully crossed...

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A preschool class at Mt. Carmel Early Education and Care Center in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

Hiring crisis in child care: 'We're stuck in a market that's broken'

In western Massachusetts, the cost and availability of child care can be a major barrier to employment for some parents. During the pandemic, it has become an even bigger problem, in part because day care providers themselves are having a harder time recruiting employees.

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