CORONAVIRUS

The Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton, Massachusetts.
File Photo / The Republican / Masslive.com/photos

The Hampshire County Sheriff's Office in Northampton, Massachusetts, will furlough 77 staff members to comply with state budget cuts.

After five months of pandemic living, the uncertainty over the new school year is pushing many parents to the brink. When it comes to returning to school, what parents want depends on what their children need and what the risk is for staying at home.

A "Welcome Back Students" sign hangs outside an Amherst, Mass., store August 6, 2020. It was the same day UMass told thousands of students because of COVID-19 developments, they would not be able to live on campus as planned.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Hundreds of resident assistants at UMass Amherst were expected to move into dorms this week. But UMass revised its COVID-19 policy late last week. It allows only a fraction of students to live on campus this fall, including far fewer paid RAs. 

The Mtali Banda Oneness Project was the opening band at the Makaya McCraven concert at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on June 4, 2019.
Ed Cohen / MassLive / masslive.com/photosMassMass

It’s been five months since live music venues and DJ clubs shut their doors to dancing crowds, and in Massachusetts they won’t be able to open in full until a COVID-19 vaccine or a proven treatment is available. If they make it that long.

UMass Amherst football players.
UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts is canceling its 2020 football season, officials announced Tuesday.

On a recent Tuesday morning, the English For Advancement class at Jewish Vocational Service was reviewing a lesson on team building. Like most academic classes this year, this English class for adult learners was also happening through a screen.

“Alright, we’re going to have a team meeting because you want to try to build your team’s confidence,” said teacher Wayne Griffin to the group of students appearing in boxes on the screen.

As a statewide deadline nears, school administrators across Massachusetts are deciding how to restart learning in a fall still overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

State officials — including Gov. Charlie Baker and Commissioner Jeff Riley of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — have repeatedly recommended that districts invite as many students as possible back into school buildings this fall.

Connecticut issued its first fines Monday for violations of the state’s requirements for travelers from COVID-19 hot spot states, making an example of two residents returning from Florida and Louisiana.

“We wanted to send a message loud and clear,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “I hate to do it, but we’re going to be serious and show people we are serious about this, and to date it’s made a difference.”

The former commissioner of the state Department of Public Health is firing back over her May termination ahead of an impending report this month on Connecticut’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two months after Gov. Ned Lamont announced her dismissal, Renée Coleman-Mitchell said in a written statement released late Monday night by the law office of Eric R. Brown that she was going to “set the record straight in my own words.” 

Voters go to the polls today in an unusual election year. With over 300,000 absentee ballots requested for the primary elections, much of the voting has -- or should have -- already happened. But between delayed ballot mailing and postal service disruptions from Tropical Storm Isaias, many voters received their ballots late.

An empty classroom.
Violet Jiang / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/124094550@N02

Schools in Massachusetts are deciding whether to start the year with in-person classes. Governor Charlie Baker says he wants local school committees to make the call, but he's making his own opinion pretty clear.

As hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents adjusted to life without power last week, Gov. Ned Lamont praised the state’s COVID-19 statistics, pointing to days without recorded deaths and a low positivity rate among test results.

Massachusetts Gov. Baker Orders New Enforcement, Gathering Size Limit

Aug 7, 2020
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on July 31.
State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is indefinitely postponing the next step of the state's reopening in response to the uptick in COVID-19 cases that Massachusetts has seen in recent weeks.

The campus of UMass Amherst.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Updated 4:25 p.m.

UMass Amherst has reversed its plans to allow students to decide whether to return to campus housing.

Teachers outside the Boland Elementary School in Springfield, Massachusetts, prepare to hand out laptops on April 6, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

The public schools in Springfield, Massachusetts, will keep classes remote-only through at least the first few months of the year. 

There’s a primary next week. And though absentee balloting has been the talk, the question now is whether the power outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias will affect in-person voting.

Many people who have no symptoms can still carry very high levels of the coronavirus and potentially spread it, according to preliminary research from the Broad Institute in Cambridge that was based on mass testing in Massachusetts nursing homes.

The gates of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
File Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette

Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, had planned to bring a reduced number of students back to campus for the fall semester, and give faculty the choice of teaching online or in person. In a reversal, the college now says it will offer only distance learning.

Mary Owens Lindenschmid with her grandchildren in the late 1990s. From left, Kenneth Mick III, Mary Mick and Karl Mick.
Courtesy Kenneth Mick-Evans

More than 900 western Massachusetts residents have now died of the coronavirus. Among them is Mary Owens Lindenschmid, who was 91 when she died of complications from COVID-19. 

Before the first wave of COVID-19 infections hit Massachusetts last spring, nobody was sure exactly when it would arrive. Experts only knew that it was on the way. By the time testing showed cases were rising dramatically, thousands of people had already caught the coronavirus.

“You’re behind the virus. You’re chasing it, always trying to catch up, and speed is absolutely of the essence,” says William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard University. “The pace with which some of our response has taken place has just been too slow for it.”

School Committees Face Tough Reopening Decisions

Aug 4, 2020
MAXPIXEL.NET / CREATIVE COMMONS

Massachusetts education officials are reviewing school districts' initial reopening plans and expect to issue guidance on athletics and extracurricular activities next week, Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley said Tuesday.

Out on the flat, rock-carpeted roof of the West Somerville Neighborhood School, consultant Scott LeClair steps up to an air handler unit as big as a semi-trailer.

He opens a metal panel and pulls out a filter shaped like a pizza box.

“This unit’s actually sending the air into the building,” he explains. “We’re looking to see what types of filters they have and what level they can filter to,” so the filters can be upgraded if possible.

After a tumultuous week filled with legislative outrage, sniping between energy companies, and consumer sticker shock at rising utility bills, state regulators on Friday announced they would temporarily suspend a controversial rate increase for energy company Eversource.

A health care worker places a cotton swab into a vile after taking a sample from someone being tested for COVID-19 last month at a drive-through testing area at Somerville Hospital.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Summer travel has increased the demand for COVID-19 testing in Massachusetts, which means less capacity and longer waits for results.

A new survey led by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy coalition (MIRA) suggests many immigrant households in the state are struggling with unemployment as well as food and housing insecurity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As schools around Massachusetts look to bring students back into the classroom this fall, education and public health leaders are looking to the latest research to guide schools’ reopening safely. But experts say that the science on how easily COVID-19 can spread in schools is still very uncertain.

Schoolwork.
Jimmie / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/jimmiehomeschoolmom

As school districts in Massachusetts submit their fall proposals to the state, many parents are coming up with their own contingency plans. 

Outside Fenway Park in Boston.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Mike Noonan has attended every Boston Red Sox home opener since 1968. That is, until this year.

Some shoreline cities and towns in Connecticut are reviving a controversial practice by restricting beach access to residents only on weekends in response to COVD-19.

The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, the site of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in a Mass. nursing home, is once again suspending all outside visitors. The move comes one day after a veteran who had “clinically recovered” from COVID-19 started showing symptoms and was transferred to a local hospital where he tested virus-positive, a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services said.

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