Gov. Baker Extends School, Child Care Closure Until Early May

Massachusetts State House. Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that K-12 schools and non-emergency child care facilities in the Bay State will remain closed until May 4 as a precaution due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The announcement came as the number of cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) jumped by 679 in Massachusetts in one day. In Watertown the number went from 12 to 15. The following announcement was released by the Governor’s Office:

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced new actions to support the ongoing COVID-19 response, including extending the closure of all public and private schools and non-emergency child care programs and steps to protect homeowners and low-income tenants from eviction and foreclosure.

Three MTBA Bus Drivers Test Positive for Coronavirus

The following announcement was provided by the MBTA (Note the Cabot bus facility is located in South Boston):

Following three confirmed employee cases of COVID-19, the MBTA took immediate steps to protect its workforce and riders by enacting its facility maintenance protocols to clean and disinfect all exposed work areas, vehicles, and equipment at the T’s Cabot bus facility. The three confirmed cases are MBTA Bus Operators and were reported yesterday. “We ask the public to keep our employees in their thoughts, and I continue to express my deep gratitude to the women and men of the MBTA workforce who are serving a vital purpose in combatting COVID-19,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “To ensure we can protect the health and safety of our workforce, we strongly urge essential travel only, and we will continue our enhanced protocols for cleaning and disinfecting all vehicles, equipment, and surfaces.”

Consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the MBTA has enacted its COVID-19 outbreak plan. We are disinfecting the employees’ workspace, vehicles, and equipment that they may have come into contact with. 

Through the public health tracing process, public health officials alert close contacts of the individuals who tested positive and will provide them with instructions for self-quarantine. Under health information privacy laws, the MBTA is prohibited from providing identifying information about a particular employee’s medical status.

Town Council, School Building Committee Meetings Cancelled During Coronavirus Outbreak

Watertown’s Town Hall. Watertown’s Town Council and the School Building Committee will not be meeting until at least April 7, due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Town Council President Mark Sideris sent an email to Councilors alerting them that for now, they will not be meeting, even using video conferencing. The message reminded the Council that the March 24 Council meeting would not be taking place. “I cancelled the council meeting scheduled for (Tuesday) as there was nothing pressing that could not be dealt with at a later date,” Sideris said in the message.

UPDATED: Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Up to More Than a Dozen in Watertown, Parks Still Closed

The sign posted at Watertown parks and fields reminding people that they are closed due to the Coronavirus. The number of Watertown residents who have tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached 15, as of Wednesday. Also, Town officials remind residents that parks and fields remained closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The number of confirmed cases in town was published on the Town’s COVID-19 web page. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts has increased significantly over the past six days.

MassBay College Moving Many Courses Online in Response to Coronavirus

The following information was provided by MassBay College:

Joining in the global movement to limit large gatherings, MassBay Community College is encouraging faculty to transition their courses online in an effort to facilitate social distancing wherever possible. Much of the training and curriculum conversion will happen the week of March 16, 2020 during spring break. The following week of March 23, 2020, online courses already in progress will continue as usual. However, no face-to-face classes will be held to allow professors more time to convert their classes and prepare their students for the change in format. Students are encouraged to check their MassBay email accounts often, from today on, as professors will be communicating changes in their class formats that will begin the week of March 30, 2020.

See the Results of Sen. Brownsberger’s Poll on the State’s Coronavirus Response

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

A majority of people who took State Sen. Will Brownsberger’s poll on Massachusetts’ response to the Coronavirus said they don’t think the state has gone far enough to stop the spread, would be willing to shelter-in-place for a few weeks and believe they are financially secure for a year. Brownsberger, who represents Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston, put up the poll over the weekend, and asked four questions. “The surprising result of the survey is that willingness to increase social distancing appears, at least in this sample of people engaged in the community, to have only modest relationship to age, zipcode, financial security or current working arrangement,” Brownsberger wrote in his post about the poll results. The first question, about Massachusetts’ response to COVID-19, found that 54 percent of the 3,259 people who took the poll said the state “did not go far enough,” 42 percent said they state is getting it just right, while 3 percent checked “We have gone too far.” Note that the poll went up before Gov. Baker’s order to close non-essential businesses and the stay-at-home advisory.

Community Foundation Starting New Fund Respond to Impacts of the COVID-19 Emergency

Looking for ways to help people in Watertown who are adversely impacted by the Coronavirus, the Watertown Community Foundation has created a new fund. Jan Singer, executive director of the Community Foundation, said the response to the Community Resilience Fund already been positive. The Foundation boards met remotely using Zoom to put together plans for the fund. “We know that this is going to be very difficult for a lot of people and it’s going to last for a while, we are assuming at this point,” Singer said. “We met together as a board and came up with an idea for the Resilience fund.

See How to Help New Rep Weather Financial Difficulties Caused by COVID-19

New Repertory Theatre sent out the following information:

Like other arts organizations, New Rep is facing financial challenges due to the necessary and important steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The difficult decision we made to postpone and cancel our spring performances and events (including our annual gala) puts us at risk of losing 20 percent of our annual revenue. How Can I Help? Purchase a 20/21 Subscription! The best option of all – your purchase today provides revenue that will help to relieve our cash flow challenges, and you guarantee your seats for a phenomenal upcoming season. It’s a win-win!