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Massachusetts teachers union head rips state for remote teaching guidance, calls it ‘paternalistic’
Source:  Boston Herald
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:32

The state’s expectation that remote teachers will work from their school classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic is getting slammed by the head of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

MTA President Merrie Najimy said the union is rejecting the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s recommendation that teachers conduct remote instruction from their school buildings.

“It is paternalistic and punitive and has no bearing on the quality of education that the real experts — the educators — provide so masterfully,” Najimy said in a statement. “This new guidance is clearly designed to force local educators’ unions to agree to in-person learning regardless of the condition of the school buildings in their districts, indoor air quality, testing capabilities or area COVID-19 transmission rates.

“The guidance also demonstrates Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley’s fundamental lack of trust of educators, most of whom are women,” she added. “While parents entrust the lives of their children to teachers and other staff, the commissioner’s guidance implies that educators are not capable of doing their jobs without being told how — and then supervised to make sure they follow orders.”

She noted that people across the country, including at DESE, have been successfully working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As Governor Charlie Baker has said frequently, if you can work from home, you should work from home to reduce the transmission of coronavirus from one community to another,” Najimy said. “Educators can conduct remote learning remotely.”

The guidance is DESE’s recommendation and still has to be negotiated with local unions, the MTA president said, adding that the MTA is “100 percent behind any of our locals that choose to reject this recommendation.”

“Although some educators may prefer to work out of their school buildings and have that right if it is safe, no one teaching remotely should be required to do so from a school building,” Najimy said.

Riley on Friday released the guidance for teachers and critical support staff in remote learning districts, writing that having teachers in the school will benefit students, teachers, staff, and administrators for several reasons.

“It allows students to develop and maintain a level of familiarity with a classroom environment, which will be beneficial when students transition back to in-person instruction,” Riley wrote. “It provides more consistency for students, which is especially important for some students, including some students with disabilities.

“It allows the teacher to have access to a broad range of instructional materials that may not be available in each teacher’s home, allowing the teacher to provide differentiated modes of instruction,” he added. “It assures that the teacher will have reliable internet access and quicker access to technical support and/or backup devices, when necessary.”

Patriots reportedly among NFL teams dealing with false positive COVID-19 tests
Source:  News South Of Boston
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:23

The National Football League revealed Sunday that several positive COVID-19 tests were found a day earlier by one of its testing partners.

What you need to know about COVID-19: FDA announces emergency authorization for convalescent plasma
Source:  News South Of Boston
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:19

Despite frequent warnings from health officials that big gatherings can spread COVID-19, large groups continue to congregate across the United States leading to outbreaks in communities, on college campuses and beyond.

Small Worcester Co. town mirrors US political schism
Source:  News - Milford Daily News
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:14

WEST BROOKFIELD – The weekly presence of supporters of President Donald Trump’s reelection bid was maintained this weekend as dozens of local residents, young and old, lined East Main Street, waving at mostly approving motorists.But what was different Saturday was the presence of dozens of backers of the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket, a group called Brookfields Fight Fear. It provided a counterbalance to the politic sphere as the new outspoken group consumed an area of [...]

Small Worcester Co. town mirrors US political schism
Source:  News - MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:14

WEST BROOKFIELD – The weekly presence of supporters of President Donald Trump’s reelection bid was maintained this weekend as dozens of local residents, young and old, lined East Main Street, waving at mostly approving motorists.But what was different Saturday was the presence of dozens of backers of the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket, a group called Brookfields Fight Fear. It provided a counterbalance to the politic sphere as the new outspoken group consumed an area of [...]

2 Women Killed By Head-On Crash In Brocton
Source:  CBS Boston
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:14

BROCKTON (CBS) – Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz said two people were killed early Sunday morning when a car slammed into their car in Brockton. It happened around 3 a.m. on Route 27 in the area of Route 24.

Officials initially believed a 30-year-old woman was driving the wrong way on Route 27 right before the crash. Brockton Deputy Fire Chief Brian Nardelli later said that was not the case, but the impact of the crash caused the car to spin.

That 30-year-old woman suffered life-threatening injuries after crashing a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe with two women inside. She was taken to Good Samaritan, then transferred to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston with life-threatening injuries.

Two women died in head-on crash in Brockton. (WBZ-TV)

A 2000 Chevy Tahoe crashed into the Jetta after the initial impact, but the man who was driving was not hurt.

The passenger in the Santa Fe, a 39-year-old woman, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, a 66-year-old woman, was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital but did not survive.

“Two sets of jaws of life, a ram put into service to actually cut them out, it was an extensive operation just to get them out of the vehicle,” said Nardelli.

The District Attorney’s office has not released identifications for those involved in the crash.

FDA announces emergency authorization for convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19
Source:  News South Of Boston
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:05

Convalescent plasma is created from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19, and it has shown some success in two other deadly coronaviruses: MERS and SARS.

Conn. city naming sewage plant after ‘full of crap’ John Oliver
Source:  WHDH-TV - Home
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:01

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut town’s officials are showing comedian John Oliver what they think about his expletive-filled rant about their city — they’re naming the local sewage treatment plant after him.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced the tongue-in-cheek move in a video posted on his Facebook page on Saturday that shows him at the plant.

“We are going to rename it the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant,â€� the Republican mayor says. “Why? Because it’s full of crap just like you, John.â€�

The new name comes after a recent episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver� in which he explored the racial disparities in the jury selection process, citing problems in a few Connecticut towns.

In the segment, Oliver noted Danbury’s “charming railway museumâ€� and its “historic Hearthstone Castle.â€�

“I know exactly three things about Danbury,� he said. “USA Today ranked it the second-best city to live in in 2015, it was once the center of the American hat industry and if you’re from there, you have a standing invite to come get a thrashing from John Oliver — children included — (expletive) you.�

It wasn’t exactly clear what prompted Oliver to go off on Danbury. A message seeking comment was left for his agent Sunday.

Oliver also made fun of Boughton and other American mayors in 2017 over videos they made seeking to attract Amazon’s second world headquarters. In his video, Boughton asks Alexa where the best place for the facility would be, and Alexa says Danbury.

In Boughton’s new video, he also mentions that Amazon has decided to open a distribution facility in Danbury, although it’s not the second world headquarters.

“And, oh by the way, thanks for showing that Amazon video,� Boughton says to Oliver at the end of the video. “We did get Amazon here in Danbury.�

Vermont extends emergency court rules until new year
Source:  WHDH-TV - Home
Sunday, 23 August 2020 16:56

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont has extended until the new year its emergency rules for how courts operate in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The judicial emergency declared in March means that jury trials are not being held and many court hearings are taking place online or over the phone, the court said. People must go through a health screening before entering a courthouse, wear a facial covering and stay at least 6 feet away from others.

“The Court has extended the judicial emergency to January 1, 2021 in recognition of the fact that the ongoing and dynamic nature of the pandemic will continue to impact court operations and to require changes to court operations and rules,� the Vermont Supreme Court said when it announced the extension last week.

The court also made changes to allow individuals participating in proceedings other than hearings access to court buildings.

Vermont reported four new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday for a statewide total since the pandemic began of 1,557. The total number of deaths remained at 58.

Massachusetts suicide prevention advocates sounding alarm during coronavirus crisis
Source:  Boston Herald
Sunday, 23 August 2020 16:47

Suicide prevention has never been more important with many facing isolation and unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Massachusetts advocates who are raising awareness and urging people to seek help.

The Boston-based Samaritans’ suicide prevention phone and text Helpline has seen a surge in calls and messages during the COVID-19 crisis.

Calls were up 23% between March and June compared to last year, and texts were up 86% in the same time period, according to Samaritans Executive Director Kathy Marchi.

“We were anticipating higher levels of people needing to reach us based on isolation and anxiety around the virus, and the long-term impacts of finance, housing, food and relationships,” Marchi said.

“The level of calls and texts has come down a bit, but it just continues to exceed any expectations we had,” she added, noting that texts remain up 75%.

People seriously considering suicide is significantly higher during the pandemic, according to a recent U.S. survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 11% of respondents to the survey reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the June survey, compared to 4.3% in 2018.

The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide was significantly higher among respondents aged 18-24 years (25.5%); minority racial/ethnic groups (Hispanic respondents 18.6%, non-Hispanic black respondents 15.1%); unpaid caregivers for adults (30.7%); and essential workers (21.7%).

“This is a big concern,” said Marketa Wills, a psychiatrist and co-founder of Healthy Mind MDs. “We can potentially have a COVID-related suicide surge if we don’t all lean in and work to prevent it.

“We really have to be on the lookout for those who lost jobs, and those who are socially isolated and alone,” she added.

In Brookline, police have been receiving more requests from family members to do well-being checks on loved ones battling depression, according to Annabel Lane, a social worker on staff at the Brookline Police Department.

“Before the pandemic, it was a lot easier for family members to swing by in person,” Lane said. “Now we’re seeing an increase in requests from people worried about someone.”

“It’s really challenging for families, not having that same level of connection,” added Lane, who frequently responds with officers who have received crisis intervention training.

She urges people to reach out for help.

“I really encourage people not to give up and don’t hesitate to get that extra support,” Lane said. “It’s not the time to be shy.”

The Samaritans Boston Marathon team is raising money for suicide prevention services, including its phone and text Helpline, suicide prevention workshops, and SafePlace support groups for those who have lost someone to suicide.

Jacqueline Patel, 21, a member of the marathon team, lost her brother Alex to suicide a few years ago.

“There are so many people struggling with depression and mental health, and the isolation only exacerbates those issues,” said Patel, who’s running the virtual Boston Marathon during the week of Sept. 7 to 14. “It makes it even more important now to provide people who are struggling with the resources to fight through what they’re going through.”


For help or information:

For more information, visit the Samaritans website at

The Samaritans Statewide Helpline is 1-877-870-HOPE (4673), and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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