UPDATED: Coping with the pandemic has become front-and-center at Arlington Public Schools in the first two weeks of the school year, manifesting in four ways.
The School Committee will ask state legislators to push for a vaccine mandate for students. Arlington High School was dismissed early Thursday because of a power failure disabling the ventilation system that reduces possible virus transmission. Ten positive virus results at Hardy Elementary School were reported to the public this week. And the district will use federal pandemic-recovery funds primarily to enhance instruction for all students.
At its meeting Thursday, Sept. 23, the committee voted, 6-1, with Len Kardon opposed, to follow the lead of the neighboring town of Belmont and to ask state Sen. Cindy Friedman and state Reps. Sean Garballey and David Rogers to try to get Covid-19 added to the list of required vaccinations for public-school students. The motion was made by Paul Schlichtman and seconded by Kirsi Allison-Ampe, a medical doctor, both of whom have consistently expressed great worry about pandemic spread locally.
UPDATED, Sept. 23: Nine trees connected to the reconstruction and renovation of Broadway Plaza will be removed, as unanimously approved by the Select Board, despite objections from some residents.
“Through the design of the project, it’s clear that the sidewalk bricks are failing, causing mobility issues for pedestrians,” said Michael Rademacher, director of public works, at the board's Sept. 20 meeting. Tree roots at the plaza’s surface are the reason the bricks no longer provide an adequate walking surface. As soon as we remove the bricks, we’ll be unearthing roots, which will seriously damage the trees, which already have extensive damage.
“Not planting new trees now will severely impact our ability to plant trees in the future. In order to get a nicer downtown plaza than what we have today, I’m requesting that these trees be removed.
“The construction we’re proposing is a more modern approach to tree planting. We’ll supplement the soil, to provide for healthy roots in an urban environment, that we’ve used already in town with great success. It will be more successful than the trees today.
UPDATED, Sept. 23: Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine presented to the Select Board on Monday, Sept. 20 Arlington’s updated proposed allocations for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and heard suggestions about what the priorities should be.
Board member Diane Mahon made a strong pitch for allocating more than $1.5 million for essential workers and received support from one colleague, John Hurd.
The discussion will continue Oct. 13, but likely will not be set in stone by then. The initial plan to spend $34 million has increased to $35.25 million. See the updated spending plan here >>
ARPA funding provides state and local governments an opportunity to invest in assets, rebuild reserves to enhance financial stability, and cover temporary operating shortfalls until economic conditions and operations normalize.
“This is an incredible funding source for municipalities across the country, including Arlington, as we recover from the pandemic. These allocations enable significant lasting impacts for our community, and address the negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency.
The event is set for Saturday, Sept. 25, from 3 to 4:15 p.m., at Uncle Sam Plaza. (Rain date: Sept. 26.) Enjoy live music by Trailmix - Uncommon Folk.
State education officials said results showed that "many more students had gaps in their knowledge of math and, to a lesser extent, English language arts" compared to scores from 2019, which was the last year MCAS was administered. The test was skipped in 2020 due to the pandemic forcing a shift to remote learning.
Parents and guardians are to get the scores Sept. 30. The Arlington School Committee is to discuss them in October. Here are results reported by The Globe (scroll down in each case to see Arlington):
UPDATED, Sept. 24: The Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Arlington co-sponsored the annual "State of the Town" panel discussion and Q & A, held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22. The discussion was on Zoom.
If you missed it, you can download the video file here >>
Join Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine; Jennifer Raitt, director of planning and community development; Ali Carter, economic-development coordinator; Select Board Chair Steve DeCourcey; and Beth Locke, chamber executive director, for a discussion on issues and updates of specific interest to the Arlington business community relative to economic recovery as well as updates on new and ongoing initiatives.
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