Michelle Wojtowicz, a teacher at Hadley Elementary School, helps Anna Damon during class on Feb. 24, 2021.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette /

Massachusetts school mask mandate extended to Jan. 15, 2022

An indoor mask requirement for Massachusetts public schools will remain in effect through the start of 2022, education officials announced Tuesday.

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Sports Betting

Massachusetts Sen. Eric Lesser (bottom), at a State House News Service forum with Rep. Jerald Parisella (right) moderated by reporter Colin A. Young (left).
Screenshot / State House News Service

Massachusetts Senate struggles for sports betting consensus

Three months after he declared the Massachusetts Senate "ready" to approve legislation legalizing sports betting, Sen. Eric Lesser on Tuesday suggested that his chamber still has not reached consensus on the House-backed idea. But he said it's still a "top-tier issue."

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Marijuana vaping among teens has more than doubled since 2013

Teen vaping of marijuana doubled between 2013 and 2020, indicating that young people may be swapping out joints, pipes or bongs for vape pens, according to a new study. Researchers also found that adolescents who say they vaped cannabis within the last 30 days increased 7-fold — from 1.6% to 8.4% — during the same period. The report was published in JAMA Pediatrics on Monday by researchers who analyzed 17 studies involving nearly 200,000 adolescents in the U.S. and Canada. Overall, they say,...

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Connecting Point

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

The entrance to Central High School in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File Photo / The Republican /

Police cruisers were stationed outside Central High School in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Monday. City officials were concerned about a threat of violence at a school with the same name in another part of the country.

Refugees in an English class at Center for New Americans in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 2019.
Laurie Millman / Center for New Americans

Afghan evacuees now entering western Massachusetts are starting to enroll in local English classes.

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

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.

Connecticut’s two Democratic U.S. Senators say President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan would combat the country’s worker shortage.

Chris Murphy, the state’s junior U.S. Senator, said the skilled worker shortage in Connecticut and across the country is complicated. But many of the programs in the Build Back Better plan would help.

“I don’t think it would solve it completely, but it’s the best legislative tool we have in order to get people back into the workforce and help employers. That plus immigration reform,” Murphy said.

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.

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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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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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