Regional News

News from the region from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

The UMass Amherst campus.
Rhobite / Creative Commons / en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Rhobite

The town manager for Amherst warns that the influx of UMass students in the fall could spread COVID-19 in a town that, up until now, has had relatively few cases. He's asking the university to change its reopening plan to avoid making things worse.

Massachusetts Senate Approves Policing Reform After Overnight Session

10 hours ago
Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka speaks to reporters early Tuesday morning, alongside Sen. William Brownsberger, after the branch passed a wide-ranging police reform bill during a marathon 16-hour session.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

The Massachusetts Senate overcame a difficult rollout and several false starts to pass a far-reaching reform of policing on Tuesday.

The Self-Defense Brigade Anti-Oppression Rally for George Floyd, at the Keney Park Woodland entrance in Hartford, Connecticut, on June 1, 2020.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

After more than a month of protests against racial injustice by police and the killing of George Floyd, some police departments are considering revising their policies on use of force. 

Thirty-two residential schools that serve students with the most severe disabilities will receive much-needed aid from the state.

This spring, as other schools in Massachusetts closed their doors and moved instruction online, those schools stayed open — exposing students and staff to the virus and incurring millions in unmet costs. And even with this support, the risk isn’t over.

George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, but his death hit home for Boston Scientific because the company has nearly 9,000 employees in Minnesota.

“We immediately held listening sessions with our executives,” said Desiree Ralls-Morrison, a senior vice president and general counsel for the medical device maker.

With or without a link to the Twin Cities, many Massachusetts firms say they are committed to confronting racism — even within their own organizations — after Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial inequality.

18 Attorneys General File Suit Over ICE Rule

Jul 13, 2020
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

A coalition of 18 attorneys general — including those representing Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island — is suing the Trump administration to block a new federal rule that bars international higher education students from studying in the United States if they are taking online-only courses this fall. 

Clauses in police union contracts often protect officers from the consequences of their misconduct. That’s according to a new analysis from the ACLU of Connecticut.

Worcester City Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts.
File Photo / Masslive / masslive.com/photos

The city of Worcester says it’s received more than 25 complaints in the past several weeks about local businesses and their customers not following COVID-19 protocols. 

A fish advisory next to a path to a fishing spot on the Housatonic River, in a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The EPA is proposing changes to its toxic waste cleanup plan for the Housatonic River, and is asking the public to submit comments starting Tuesday. The public comment period ends August 28.

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.

Many colleges plan to resume in-person learning in the fall. Others, including prestigious schools like Harvard, are going all online. In the midst of a pandemic, returning to dorms or even a classroom is a hard choice to make for some students and professors.

The UMass Amherst campus in a file photo.
UMass Amherst / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

New England professors are among about 30,000 academics from around the U.S. to sign an open letter condemning a new federal policy regarding international college students. The Trump administration is barring those students from staying in the U.S. if they only take online classes this fall.

Slot machines at the MGM Casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, with one shut down to promote social distancing on July 9, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

The MGM Casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, says it’s ready to re-open and will strictly enforce the wearing of masks.

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Springfield, Massachusetts, city and police officials have responded to a scathing government report that charges the narcotics bureau with a pattern of excessive force with no accountability.

Students in STCC's automotive technology program, which is slated to close.
Ramiro Soares

Faculty members at Springfield Technical Community College are protesting the elimination of seven entire programs, most of them vocational.

Lengthy debate is expected in Massachusetts Senate Thursday on a major policing and racial equity bill. More than 140 proposed amendments were filed to the bill by Tuesday’s deadline.

Museums around Massachusetts are gearing up for their reopenings after being shuttered since mid-March. Announcements have been rolling in since Gov. Charlie Baker gave Phase 3 the green light last week. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston announced Wednesday that it will unlock its doors first to members on July 14 and 15, then to the public on July 16.

Data shows Connecticut is succeeding in slowing the spread of COVID-19, even as cases of the virus spike in other states.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, was just about finished with a $24 million renovation when the virus pandemic hit. 

Author Jennifer Rosner of Northampton, Massachusetts.
Elizabeth Solaka / Courtesy Jennifer Rosner

Kicking off our annual summer ficiton series: a novel about a mother-daughter connection and the role of creativity and beauty in human survival. 

New ICE Policy Rattles Massachusetts Higher Ed Landscape

Jul 7, 2020
The UMass Amherst campus.
Mark Bonica / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/23119666@N03

A new federal immigration policy ordering international students to leave the country if their colleges or universities offer online-only classes this fall has prompted an outcry from educators and campus officials in Massachusetts, who slammed the move as "cruel" and likely to cause massive economic damage.

EEE Detected in Mosquitoes Earlier Than Anticipated In Massachusetts

Jul 7, 2020
A mosquito.
Malcolm Tattersall / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/malcolm_nq

The risks of COVID-19 transmission are higher indoors, and as summer ramps up, Massachusetts is beginning to see signs that another public health hazard is emerging again outdoors.

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.

The rolling seven-day average of positive COVID-19 cases in Connecticut was less than 1% over the past week, lower than every other state except Vermont, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.

With fewer than 100 new confirmed infections a day, 885 contact tracers are able to follow up on 96% of all reported cases within 48 hours, but fewer than half of those contacts result in interviews useful in the prevention of outbreaks, Lamont said.

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. 

Massachusetts Senate Bill Embraces Wide-Ranging Policing, Justice Reforms

Jul 6, 2020
Massachusetts state Senator Karen Spilka outside the Statehouse.
State House News Service

The Massachusetts Senate plans to vote Thursday on a wide-ranging bill that would create a process for certifying and de-certifying officers and impose new limits on use of force, including a ban on chokeholds and restrictions on the use of tear gas. 

If you’ve missed hitting the gym or your Pilates class since the pandemic shut down the state in mid-March, there’s good news — starting Monday, your gym, unless it’s in Boston or Somerville, can reopen.

(Boston and Somerville indoor fitness centers can open next Monday, July 13.)

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont suggested he will slow down the timetable to fully reopen bars in the state.

After being closed for the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Baker Administration has given Massachusetts museums the green light to reopen.
Courtesy MASS MoCA

Three major Berkshire County museums say they plan to reopen next weekend after shutting down for nearly four months. 

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