YOUTH


Back in August, families with children in Hartford Public Schools responded to an online survey aimed at finding out the reasons behind their decision to send their kids back to school.

From "How To Be A Person" by Catherine Newman.
Karen Brown / NEPM

"How to Be A Person" takes readers through dozens of basic skills they should learn before they’re grown up – from doing the laundry and tying knots, to writing thank-you notes and managing money. 

Three Connecticut schools have been temporarily closed and staff members in several others have been sent home to quarantine following positive tests for the new coronavirus just days into the start of a new academic year.

Joanna Jaracz of Cummington, Massachusetts, after winning a blue ribbon for showmanship on September 7, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Because of COVID-19, this year's Three County Fair was far different than in past years. There was no demolition derby, carnival rides, games — or the public. The fair was limited to arts and crafts exhibits and youth livestock competitions.

Parents and relatives got to see what life will look like for socially distanced students at Bridgeport’s Central High School Monday. Superintendent Michael Testani led a group through sparsely furnished classrooms and into a cafeteria marked with caution tape. 

A viral video of UConn students at a recent campus dorm party brought a swift rebuke from the university. But both the party itself and the school’s official response are raising more questions about whether students should be back at school.

Daniel Thiombiano, a ninth-grade earth sciences at Holyoke High School, says what his students need most is a "holistic attention to social and emotional aspects of their lives."
Ben James / NEPM

After months of late-night school committee debates on the merits of competing hybrid education models, many western Massachusetts districts now plan to go remote, at least for the first quarter.

Chants, speeches and a public art installation took over the state Capitol building Wednesday as educators, parents and students called on the state to delay in-person instruction for the coming school year.

With less than three weeks until the Sept. 1 primary, Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy are in a tight race for Markey’s senate seat. Both have positioned themselves as strong climate and environmental justice advocates, and both are campaigning hard for the progressive vote.

So in a race between two candidates with strong environmental records — and similar platforms — climate-oriented voters have to decide which politician is more likely to make green legislation a priority, and be able to push it through Congress.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

A regional plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants also made the northeast healthier, by reducing air pollutants like mercury and sulfur dioxide.

But a new study focused on children found the benefits were even greater than previously thought, preventing hundreds of childhood illnesses and saving an additional hundreds of millions of dollars.

The findings were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Mass. Schools To Start 2 Weeks Later After State, Teachers Union Ink Planning Period Deal

Jul 28, 2020
Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley in June 2020.
Pat Greenhouse / Boston Globe / pool / State House News Service

Officials in Massachusetts signed a memorandum of understanding (PDF) Monday that will officially reduce the 180-day school year requirement to 170 days. The agreement accommodates a 10-day period for districts to prepare to reopen school buildings that have been closed since March.

Connecticut’s Department of Education says that state COVID-19 data will guide the decision-making process regarding how K-12 students should learn in the fall, but Thursday's numbers inched in the wrong direction:  The state reported 101 new positive COVID-19 test results and an uptick in the number of hospitalizations by two.

Connecticut school districts say access to technology has kept tens of thousands of students from being able to learn at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

St Mary's High School in Westfield, Massachusetts.
File Photo / Masslive

The Springfield Catholic Diocese said its 13 schools in western Massachusetts will open in September for in-person learning five days a week.

Richard Parris Scott, with megaphone, is a recent graduate of the High School of Commerce in Springfield, Massachusetts. He's pictured speaking at Springfield City Hall in opposition to school policing.
Ben James / NEPR

School will look very different in September than it did last year. There will be more distance between students, masks on every face — and in some schools across the country, fewer police in the hallways. 

A sign at UMass Amherst.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Some UMass Amherst students say they have concerns about the reopening plan announced this week for the fall semester as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Providence Hospital in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Providence Hospital in Holyoke, Massachusetts — owned by Mercy Medical Center — is planning to close all its inpatient psychiatric beds on Tuesday despite concerns from the state and criticism from staff.

The school year may have just ended, but plans are taking shape for the return of students inside schools this fall. Gov. Ned Lamont announced the plans Thursday, noting that several COVID-19 trends are holding steady in Connecticut while the virus continues to spread in other parts of the country.

State education leaders released new guidance about how schools could reopen this fall.

The office of the bishop of the Springfield Catholic Diocese.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

An independent investigation commissioned by the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese found allegations of sexual abuse against the late bishop Christopher J. Weldon to be credible.

At Massachusetts Schools This Fall, Masks And Hand-Washing Will Be The Norm

Jun 8, 2020
Teachers outside the Boland Elementary School in Springfield, Massachusetts, prepare to hand out laptops on April 6, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Smaller, "isolated" classes, masks on students and staff, frequent hand washing, and six feet of spacing between desks are among the elements necessary to safely reopen schools in the fall, according to new Massachusetts state guidance.

Child care providers are facing some new requirements to reopen this summer. On Monday afternoon Gov. Baker released detailed guidelines about how child care can operate safely.

The nation’s child care industry would benefit from a $50 billion federal emergency fund proposed by U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. She says the industry is on the precipice of a major crisis due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

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