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Massachusetts will reach major COVID-19 reopening milestone on Monday



State officials said that on Sunday, the number of coronavirus vaccinations in Massachusetts increased by 72,047 to 3,904,179.

The Ministry of Public Health said that the number of fully vaccinated people increased by 1,478,520. They received two doses of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson.

No updates on coronavirus cases, deaths and other indicators were released on Sunday. According to data from the State COVID-1

9 Information Center, the data will be included in Monday’s report.

On Saturday, the state reported 2,263 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 605,055. The department also reported 30 newly confirmed deaths from the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 16,938.

As 90% of Massachusetts school districts prepare to send elementary school students back to full-time study in person on Monday, the number of coronavirus cases is steadily rising.

Last week, the number of COVID-19 cases among public school students and faculty members reached the highest weekly total since the beginning of the school year.

Despite the record-breaking report, in the week ending April 3, there were 801 new coronavirus cases and 244 leaks of the virus among school faculty-state officials and public health experts said these numbers do not mean that schools are unsafe.

They cited various factors, including the increase in virus cases among young people and the number of children and staff inside schools that recently reached the highest level since classrooms closed in March 2020.

CDC officials said that as long as preventive measures are taken, the school is safe for children, including keeping students 3 feet away from general-purpose masks.

Dr. Davidson Hamer, an infectious disease expert at the Boston University School of Public Health and School of Medicine, noted that the education of students continues to be disrupted, but he said that the decision to allow children to return to the classroom “was a difficult decision… “

He said: “Due to the recent increase in cases, the timing is indeed not the best.” “But on the other hand, this has been planned for some time.”

Hamer said that if the school makes every effort to disinfect the space, strengthen social distancing and ensure the use of masks, it can reduce the risk of transmission. He said that ideally, routine screening should be carried out to prevent an outbreak.

Nonetheless, Hammer expressed concern about returning to students’ classrooms when the number of cases increases, adding that he suspects that the recent increase in COVID-19 cases is partly caused by the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the UK.

He said: “I think I will feel better three weeks ago.”

Certain areas, including Boston and Worcester, have received exemptions from the state to delay the resumption of face-to-face learning. According to state education officials, all elementary schools are expected to be in place by May 3.

In some communities, due to the shortage of school bus drivers, the return of face-to-face learning has become complicated.

In Lynn, Superintendent Patrick Tutwiler said on Saturday that the area had to temporarily suspend school bus services because its transportation provider lacked drivers. He said the suspension affected 680 special education students who needed transportation.

Tuttleville said in an email: “I know the importance of transportation. It is sad that we cannot provide transportation for some of the students who need it most.” “However, this problem is only temporary. This resource solves it as quickly as possible.”

Tutwiler said the region’s supplier NRT Bus Inc. now has 18 drivers in Lynn, compared to more than 40 drivers in a typical year.

The company said in a statement that it has provided all transportation services required by the school district since September, and has been “diligently” hiring drivers and others since state education officials announced plans to resume learning the program in person. People serve Lynn and other communities. month.

The statement said: “For NRT, there is nothing more important than the safe transportation of student passengers to school. We will continue to cooperate with various regions to ensure that every child who needs to ride can get a ride.”

Tuttleville said Lynn Public Schools is working on a plan to accommodate students who need transportation, but the details have not yet been finalized. He said that the families of students with special needs need transportation in order to be reimbursed for mileage.

Lynn School Committee member Jared Nicholson (Jared Nicholson) said that the shortage of bus drivers is an equity issue.

He said: “The driver found another job in an area where he could return earlier,” he said. “This is another example of a pandemic, prompting us to reconsider how we value workers who are essential to the basic services we expect and our families deserve.”

Tom Hamilton, executive director of the Massachusetts School Transportation Association, said that since the pandemic suddenly sent students home in March 2020, there have been approximately 1,200 fewer school bus drivers working.

He said Saturday that many school bus drivers found new positions after their employers stopped receiving payments from certain school systems and fired workers.

“Drivers are just like everyone else. They need to put food on the table.” Hamilton said.

In Springfield, school leaders warned families on Friday that a shortage of bus drivers on Monday could disrupt traffic.

Last Saturday, Springfield Superintendent Daniel Warwick (Daniel Warwick) said that the bus routes have been adjusted and the area is no longer being favored due to large-scale traffic delays.

He said: “We think we are ready on Monday morning.”

A spokesperson for First Student Inc., a transportation provider for Springfield Public Schools, said that even before the pandemic, recruiting school bus drivers was full of challenges because low unemployment has brought a lot of competition to workers.

Spokesperson Chris Kemper said the “first student” will provide a signing bonus of $1,500 to new drivers in Springfield as part of its recruitment efforts.

He said: “This is a very unique opportunity.” “Some of our people will tell us that this is the hardest job you love. They do it for the kids.”

Global correspondent Abigail Feldman (Abigail Feldman) contributed to this report.


You can contact Laura Crimaldi at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.




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