Schools in Massachusetts to Remain Closed for Rest of Year


School buildings in Massachusetts will remain closed through the end of the academic year, but remote learning will continue, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday.

There hasn't been any strong guidance about how to operate schools safely as the state works to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Republican governor said.

"We believe therefore that students cannot safety return to school," Baker said. All non-emergency child care programs will remain closed until June 29, he added.

Baker's announcement came a day after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Democrat, said the city's students wouldn't go back to school May 4 and suggested schools would not reopen until September.

The current state of emergency order extends until May 4.

See Also: Map: Coronavirus and School Closures

"I also think next year when school comes back in September, it could be a very different looking situation in the classrooms," Walsh said Monday.

Before Baker made his announcement, the head of the state's largest teacher's union-the Massachusetts Teachers Association-said in a news release that the state's public school buildings must remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Museum of Science

The Museum of Science, one of the most popular cultural institutions in Massachusetts, is cutting staff and reducing salaries in response to a steep dropoff in revenue during the coronavirus pandemic, the museum's president announced Tuesday.

The museum's board approved furloughs for 250 staff members and layoffs for another 122 workers, President Tim Ritchie said in an emailed statement.

Remaining staff making more than $75,000 annually will take salary reductions ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent. Ritchie will take a 50 percent pay cut. The museum will also suspend retirement plan contributions.

The museum, which gets about 1.4 million visitors per year, closed March 12 in response to the pandemic.

Since then, it has taken several steps to save money.

"These decisions, while difficult, were made only after considering all other viable options for sustaining the museum well into the future," Ritchie said.

Honoring Veterans

The U.S. and state flags at two Massachusetts veterans homes and two veterans cemeteries have been lowered to half-staff to honor those who have served, the state secretary of veterans affairs says.

The state's soldiers homes in Holyoke and Chelsea have become epicenters of coronavirus outbreaks. Fifty-two residents of the Holyoke home who have died recently have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to state public health officials.

A dozen residents of the Chelsea home who have died recently tested positive.

Baker ordered that the flags at the homes as well as veterans cemeteries in Winchendon and Agawam "be lowered to half-staff as a mark of solemn respect and in honor of the lives of all departed veterans during this period," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Francisco Urena wrote on his Facebook page Sunday.

They will remain lowered until the COVID-19 state of emergency ends.

The number of COVID-19-related deaths in Massachusetts rose to 1,809 Monday, and more than 39,600 people have tested positive, state health officials said.

High-Fashion Masks

A Massachusetts factory that usually produces high fashion is now making masks instead to help in the fight against the coronavirus.

The Joseph Abboud factory in New Bedford has committed to producing more than 100,000 masks at the facility, parent company Tailored Brands said in a statement, The Standard-Times reported.

The masks are washable and reusable but are not medical grade, Tailored Brands said, but the company hopes to eventually get approval to produce a surgical grade mask.