Coverage of Hampshire County, Massachusetts.

South Hadley High School in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Courtesy / South Hadley Schools

Students at South Hadley High School begin the semester Thursday — online and two weeks late.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Two western Massachusetts hospitals said they are experiencing staffing issues. This comes as they've seen a rise in COVID-19 cases in recent months.

"Survivor Tree," a new book from Marcie Colleen and Aaron Becker, tells a story of the 9/11 attacks through the lens of a tree planted at ground zero.

"Survivor Tree" is a children's book written by Marcie Colleen and illustrator Aaron Becker of Amherst, Massachusetts. It tells the story of a growing pear tree found beneath the ruins of the Twin Towers. Today, the tree thrives and is planted at the 9/11 Memorial in New York. 

Masked fairgoers walk past unmasked participants inside an animal exhibition barn at the Three County Fair in Northampton, Massachusetts, on September 6, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

The head of the Three County Fair in Northampton, Massachusetts, said he expects the organization to be fined by the city health department because some visitors did not follow mask rules.

Daily Hampshire Gazette reporter Dusty Christensen, with his daughter, at a union rally.
Karen Brown / NEPM

Employees of the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts, rallied Thursday against outsourcing of local newspaper jobs.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

While the numbers of COVID-19 patients are creeping up, western Massachusetts hospitals have not yet had to limit elective care.

Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin (left) and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno in Springfield walk to a press conference.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin said action needs to be taken to grow the population of the western part of the state. He made his comments Wednesday during a visit to Springfield.

The campus of UMass Amherst.
HOANG 'LEON' NGUYEN / The Republican / Masslive

Many western Massachusetts colleges and universities are requiring students be vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to campus, but they are offering exemptions.

Downtown Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Joseph / Creative Commons/https://www.flickr.com/photos/josepha/14636593555

New figures from the U.S. Census show the four counties of western Massachusetts ranked at the bottom in the state for percentage population growth over the past 10 years.

Poet Carol Edelstein's new book is called "Past Repair."
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

"Past Repair" is a new collection of poetry by Northampton, Massachusetts, resident Carol Edelstein. It's her third book, with more than 80 poems that span a 13-year period.

Unband performs music from "This is Spinal Tap" at a past "Transperformance."
File Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

A decades-long concert tradition in Northampton, Massachusetts, is changing its name. Organizers say they want to be more inclusive.

A sign, previously posted in the Florence section of Northampton, Massachusetts, reminding visitors to wear masks.
Sam Hudzik / NEPM

The CDC says Hampshire County has a "moderate" level of COVID-19 transmission — the lowest among Massachusetts counties. Still, starting Wednesday, a mask mandate returns in the county seat of Northampton.

Wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean.

A new grant provided to UMass Amherst seeks to assist people of color and low-income students get jobs in the offshore wind industry.

A map, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing the level of community transmission of COVID-19 in Massachusetts as of August 2, 2021. Red signifies high, orange means substantial and yellow is for moderate.
CDC / covid.cdc.gov

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent COVID-19 guidance recommends that everyone — regardless of vaccination status — wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission. That now includes all of Massachusetts, except for Hampshire and Franklin counties, which the CDC lists as having a moderate level of transmission.

Bart Everson / Creative Commons

A federal moratorium on evictions came to an end this weekend, but housing advocates in Massachusetts say help and millions of dollars in rental assistance are available.

Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump.
File Photo / Daily Hamsphire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The state auditor concluded that a western Massachusetts educational collaborative failed to ensure some teachers who worked for it were properly licensed.

A PVTA bus.
Mark M. Murray / The Republican / MassLive

State lawmakers from the western part of Massachusetts disagrees with Governor Charlie Baker's veto of funding requested for regional bus systems — like the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority.

Nurses talk to a patient at the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, in January 2021.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / Masslive

The numbers remain low compared to earlier in the pandemic, but local public health officials are expressing concern about upticks in COVID-19 cases in two of New England's largest cities.

Amilcar Shabazz is a professor of African American Studies at UMass-Amherst. He hopes to be on the new reparations committee.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The town of Amherst, Massachusetts, is creating a committee to make reparations for those harmed by anti-Black racism. 

Psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms.
Dick Culbert / Wikimedia Commons

One of the newest frontiers in mental health care is psychedelic drugs — like MDMA or psilocybin in magic mushrooms. But, for now, those drugs are illegal and can’t be subscribed.

A pre-pandemic scene in the lobby of Amherst Cinema in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Jerrey Roberts / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Now free of government-mandated COVID-19 restrictions, most movie theaters in New England have reopened in full. But after months of streaming movies and selling tickets in a limited capacity, several area arthouse cinemas are choosing to stay half-empty.

The door to the upstairs office at Iron Horse Entertainment Group's Northampton Box Office.
Ellery Berenger / NEPR

Updated 3:46 p.m.

The owner of several entertainment venues in Northampton and Holyoke, Massachusetts, has been hit with $100,000 in fines and restitution after the Massachusetts Attorney General's office found the rights of about 30 workers were violated.

Interior of St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Farragutful / Creative Commons

Updated at 4:09 p.m. 

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, has expanded a list of clergy and lay employees credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in the diocese. Some of the findings date back decades, as the diocese has expanded its criteria for disclosure.

Lucio Perez, at a ceremony marking his departure from sanctuary in an Amherst, Massachusetts, church, on March 13, 2021.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Advocates for a Guatemalan man, who was in sanctuary for more than three years in western Massachusetts, say a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could help him stay in the country.

George Ejja outside his restaurant, Pita Pocket, in Northampton, Massachusetts, on May 31, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

Most COVID-19 restrictions in Massachusetts were rescinded by Governor Charlie Baker effective Saturday, but some people aren't taking their masks off.

The biographical exhibit, "The Story of Eric Carle," at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Illustrator and author Eric Carle is being remembered for his many children’s books, including “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” — and the museum of picture book art he founded with his wife.

A photograph from a Mother's Day walk Patrick took with wife, Sally Serio, in 2020. She said this picture "is so incredibly Pat."
Sally Serio / Submitted Photo

More than 400,000 residents of western Massachusetts have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

At the same time, new deaths are reported most days, with about 2,200 victims from the region since the pandemic began. Patrick Serio of Hadley is among them.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette's headquarters in Northampton, Mass.
File Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The Northampton, Massachusetts, City Council will consider a resolution Thursday night in support of workers at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

A PVTA bus in April 2019.

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority wants to begin new bus service connecting Amherst, Massachusetts, to Worcester. It would stop in seven towns in between.

Mark Sebastian / Creative Commons

No one is experiencing the pandemic in exactly the same way, but we share many common fears and anxieties — even when we’re asleep. As the pandemic goes on, dream experts say the evolution of COVID-19 dreams tells us a lot about our waking life, too.