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Public schools must be in-person this fall, state says

UPDATED, May 28: Massachusetts public schools will be required to offer full-time, in-person learning this fall, with most coronavirus-related restrictions lifted, state education officials said.

Covid-19 image

Schools will not be allowed to offer remote learning as a standard learning model, according to the guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released Thursday, May 27.

Social distancing guidelines will be lifted, although some younger students may still be required to wear masks.

“DESE encourages schools to maintain ventilation upgrades from this past year as feasible, continue hand hygiene practices, and extend policies that encourage students and staff to continue to stay home when sick,” the agency said.

Virtual learning will remain available to some students in limited cases, such as for children with documented medical conditions.

End school-mask mandate, parents ask state ed board

Protesters rallied at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's headquarters in Malden on Tuesday to call for an end to the in-school mask mandate, YourArlington partner Patch reported May 25.

The state will lift all coronavirus restrictions starting Saturday. The mask mandate will be replaced with federal guidance that fully vaccinated people don't need to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors, with a few exceptions. This includes schools, where masks will be required for staff and students in K-12 and early education settings.

Ashleigh MacKinnion, the parent of a first-grade student in Marshfield, told WCVB masks are "essentially a 'Scarlet Letter'" for students when the virus "will not severely affect them."Malden police responded to the protest, which delayed DESE's meeting by about 15 minutes Tuesday, WCVB reported. Demonstrators also asked that vaccinations not be mandatory for students.

May 28 town update

The May 28 Arlington update shows that Covid-19 cases remained since May 20 at 1,867 -- 577 higher than Jan. 18 and 819 more than on Dec. 31, 2020. Deaths remained at 87.

See daily counts going back to March here, under cumulative cases) >> See all numbers by clicking on View more tables >>  Here's an explanation about how to read these numbers >> The age breakdown of cases reported through May 28:

19 and under20-2930-3940-4950-5960-6970-7980 and overTotal cases
314 304 291 215 287 182 131 143   1,867

 Mass. lifting all Covid-19 restrictions Saturday

Massachusetts will lift all remaining Covid-19 restrictions, including the mask mandate, on Saturday, May 29, Gov. Charlie Baker announced May 17.

YourArlington partner Patch reported that face coverings will still be required in a small number of places, such as nursing homes, hospitals, public and private transportation and schools, regardless of one's vaccination status.

The Department of Public Health will issue new mask guidance consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when the mask mandate is lifted. Businesses will still have the option of requiring masks.

Mass. won't follow CDC mask guidance -- yet

President Biden said it's time for those vaccinated to ditch masks, but Gov. Baker needs more time.'

Hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced May 13 that those fully vaccinated can safely stop wearing masks indoors and outdoors, with a few exceptions, Baker's office said "the current mask order remains in place," YourArlington partner Patch reported

It might not survive for long though — Baker said Friday an update to the reopening plans are coming early next week.Mass. can vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds

The state can begin vaccinating 12- to 15-year-old children beginning May 13 after the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine got the final go-ahead from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. Charlie Baker said during his Wednesday, May 12, news conference that parents can preregister children in that age group for an appointment at any time and shots will be administered as soon as allowed through appointments and walk-up vaccinations where available, YourArlington partner Patch reported.

"We're working with our providers, and our mass vaccination sites, and others, to put plans in place to vaccinate this group once we receive word of a final approval," Baker said. "The Department of Public Health has already reached out to the primary care community and to the pediatric care community in order to discuss with them a process for ensuring they are part of a process of administering the Pfizer vaccine throughout their practices once the vaccine is approved for this age group." View Massachusetts case numbers here >>

State to close 4 mass vaccination sites by end of June

Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, May 3, said Massachusetts will close four of the state's seven mass Covid-19 vaccination sites by the end of June as his administration pivots to the "next phase" of the vaccine distribution process.In a press conference, reported by NBC 10 Boston, Baker said the move is part of a more "targeted" strategy focused on regional collaboratives, pharmacies and walk-up and mobile clinics that seeks to vaccinate more residents in disproportionately impacted communities.

"It's time to adapt our vaccination effort to make sure we get to some of the harder-to-reach populations," Baker said.

The sites expected to close by the end of June are those at Gillette Stadium, the Hynes Convention Center, Natick Mall and Double Tree Hotel in Danvers.As of April 30, face coverings are required outside in public when it is not possible to socially distance, and at other times required by sector-specific guidance.Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places and be required at all times at events, whether held indoors or outdoors and whether held in a public space or private home (except for when eating or drinking).

Accounting for some deaths

The Boston Globe has reported that Ellen McDonald, a guardian to Norma Ricci, 92, said her friend’s assisted-living residence, Sunrise of Arlington, told her April 1 that a nurse who worked on Ricci’s floor had been infected. A week later, McDonald was told Ricci was rushed to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, with no mention of coronavirus.

The next day, Mount Auburn called to say Ricci had Covid-19. McDonald donned full protective garb to visit her friend on Easter. Ricci died April 15, according to a DeVito Funeral Home notice, which lacks an obituary. 

McDonald told the Globe that Sunrise nurses told her many residents were coughing and some staffers had stopped coming to work, without official word from management. In a statement, Sunrise Senior Living told The Globe that nine residents of its Arlington facility have died and 25 have tested positive. The statement said Sunrise has regularly updated residents and families by phone and e-mail. It quoted a regional vice president, Thomas Kessler, as saying, “Communication has always been a source of pride at Sunrise of Arlington.”

10th local death identified

Joyce Dodge, a resident of Sunrise Assisted Living, Arlington, before she was taken to Mount Auburn Hospital last Christmas, tested positive and died there Jan. 8, according to a member of the family. There is no obituary.

9th local death identified

Among the Covid-19 deaths so far reported among town residents since early March, YourArlington has identified an ninth from obituaries. A listing at Boston.com shows  Helen T. Metros died Dec. 12 from the virus in Pittsfield.

8th local death identified

Among the Covid-19 deaths so far reported among town residents since early March, YourArlington has identified an eighth from obituaries. A listing at Boston.com shows Vincent A. Aliberti died July 12 from the virus.

6th, 7th local deaths identified

Among the Covid-19 deaths so far reported among town residents, YourArlington has identified a sixth and seventh from obituaries. Listings at Boston.com show that Joan M. Mockel and Danile F. Morrison recently succumbed to the virus.

A window in Arlington tells the story in April 2020. / Marjorie Howard photoA window at Sunrise in March 2020. / Marjorie Howard 

5th local death identified

Among the 19 Covid-19 deaths so far reported among town residents, YourArlington has identified a fifth, Vincie Teresa DeRose (Militello), as reported by the Gloucester Times. 

The fourth was Alfred "Fred" Iannacone. YourArlington reported a third death, occurring April 14 at Sunrise Assisted Living. A source confirmed the virus victim was Theodore S. Wayne. Since the end of March, two others have died in town from coronavirus: A Globe death notice identifies the first as James K. Power on March 30. A second death here was reported March 31, without details. 

Town issues "Wear A Face Covering in Public" advisory; continue to heed state’s stay-at-home advisory. Only run essential errands.
In addition to the current Stay at Home advisory by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, starting immediately, the Town of Arlington is issuing a townwide advisory that all residents wear a face covering when in public.

This advisory applies to anyone age 2 or older when in any public indoor or outdoor space. Indoor public spaces include stores and common areas in multi-unit homes. Outdoor areas include sidewalks, parks, trails, and the bike path. All persons including joggers and cyclists must comply.

This ongoing town statement continues: "We continue to believe this number may provide a false sense of security to residents as numbers in the region and across the state increase at a rapid rate. Public health officials remind all residents, regardless of age, to stay at home and away from anyone who does not live in your house, including relatives. If you have to go out to conduct a necessary errand, like grocery shopping, picking up medication, or checking in on a neighbor who may need assistance, it is crucial you practice social distancing and keep 6 feet away from others."

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance information: The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is now accepting applications; this program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a Covid-19 related reason, but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. This includes the self-employed, independent contractors, workers with limited work history, and others. Individuals can review eligibility scenarios here and apply for PUA here.

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings when in public: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). Wearing a cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing, but an extra measure while you are running essential errands to minimize the spread of the virus. The CDC provides instructions on how to make your own cloth face covering.

For the national picture, see this U.S. map showing numbers from all counties >>

The town is also accepting donations of cloth face coverings, to local seniors, as well as PPE equipment for first responders and healthcare professionals.

List of businesses currently open in Arlington: The listings will be updated at least once daily. Please contact businesses directly before placing and order or going to their establishment to confirm that they are open, as the information on this list is subject to change.  See the list here >>

Additional resources for businesses and nonprofits may be found on the Business & Nonprofit Resourcepage. but should not comngregate in groups. 


Tracking Covid-19 via Johns Hopkins site


April 1 through 30: Town Covid-19 tracking
March 1 through 31: Town Covid-19 tracking
Feb. 1 through 28, 2021: Town Covid-19 tracking
Dec. 1 through 30, 2020: Town Covid-19 tracking
Feb. 28-March 6, 2020: Coronavirus risk remains low in town, health office says in 2nd update


This news announcement was published Monday, May 3, 2021, and updated May 28. The orginal copy was written by Joan Roman, town webmaster, with editing and additions by Bob Sprague. Patch reports were included. 

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