Teachers union calls for continued remote learning in fall

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BOSTON (AP) — Another major teachers union in Massachusetts called Monday for remote-only lessons to continue for at least the first few weeks of the new school year because of the rising levels of COVID-19 transmission in the state.

The American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, the state’s second-largest teachers union, also raised concerns about delays in obtaining test results, as well as a lack of hot water, adequate ventilation, and space for social distancing in many older school buildings.

The decision was made by the 23,000-member AFT’s executive board last week, the union said in a statement.

The state’s largest teachers union, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, last week called for continued remote-learning this fall.

“We miss our students terribly, and we all wish we could be back in the classroom with them,” AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos said in a statement. “But it’s become clear in the last few weeks that an in-person return to schools would unacceptably put the health and safety of our students, their families, and educators at risk. Parents, grandparents, and educators – maybe even students – would die.”

In order for in-person learning to resume, community transmission of COVID-19 has to be under control and a public health infrastructure to support effective testing, surveillance, tracing and isolation in schools has to be established, the union said.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

Massachusetts reported 10 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 8,648 in the state.

There were 199 newly confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, reported Monday — bringing the number of confirmed and probable cases to more than 118,600 in Massachusetts.

There were 375 people reported hospitalized Monday because of COVID-19, while 64 were in intensive care units.

The number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 related deaths at long-term care homes rose to 5,508 or nearly 64% of all confirmed and probable deaths in Massachusetts attributed to the disease.

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HOSPITAL VISITATION

A Massachusetts hospital group’s stricter coronavirus-era visitor check-in policy took effect Monday.

All visitors to Baystate Health facilities are now required to provide their full name and phone number, a photo identification, as well as the name of the patient they are visiting.

Visitors are required to wear face coverings and are only allowed in the rooms of the patient they are visiting.

The new rules are “necessary to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff,” the Springfield-based hospital system said in a statement.

The policy applies to Baystate Medical Center and Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield; Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield; Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield; and Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer.

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LIFEGUARD PARTY

Two more lifeguards who work for the town of Falmouth have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total who have tested positive to 10, town officials said.

Last week, eight lifeguards tested positive following a party July 21 and the town set up free testing for all 117 Beach Department staff members, the Cape Cod Times reports.

The town has been advised that two other lifeguards tested positive Sunday, according to a statement issued Monday by Town Manager Julian Suso. One case was self-reported and the second case was confirmed through the process set up by the town.

Both lifeguards have been removed from the work schedule and are quarantined, Suso said.

——— GRADUATION CANCELED

A Catholic high school in Massachusetts canceled its in-person graduation after a student and parent tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.

Archbishop Williams in Braintree was supposed to hold graduation Friday, but it was called off after school officials received a report Thursday that a student’s parent tested positive. Later that day, the school was informed that the parent’s child also tested positive.

“We decided not to go forward, out of an abundance of caution,” school President Dennis Duggan said in an email to families, according to The Patriot Ledger.

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