The damage wrought by COVID-19 is permeating all aspects of society. Our funerals are being affected, our woodworking classes are being cancelled, and our beloved Wake Up The Earth Festival is not happening May 2.
The Forest Hills Cemetery was consecrated in 1848, and it's not clear if there's ever been restrictions placed on the number of attendees allowed at funerals. But now there are -- in accordance with Governor Charlie Baker's executive order, burials are now limited to 25 people, according to Forest Hills Cemetery's website. Along with the 25 person limit, there are other new protocols:
We are requesting that all family members remain in their cars until the casket has been placed at the gravesite and the Cemetery personnel have left the area. The graveside service will then take place. In order for the lowering of the casket to take place, all family members must leave the grave site and return to their vehicles.
The cemetery has also suspended all niche placements, as have chapel services. Cremations are taking place, but viewing into the retort has also been suspended.
The cemetery remains open during usual hours, 7 am to 6 pm, and burials are taking place.
As COVID-19 is affecting where we bury our dead, it's also affecting when we wake up the earth. Spontaneous Celebrations announced that the 41st Annual Wake Up The Earth Festival will not occur on May 2. A decision of if it's just a postponement or a cancellation has not been determined yet. Also, all Spontaneous Celebrations activities have been suspended until further notice.
Our local schools, including The Eliot School and Stonybrook Metal Arts & Sculpture School (StonybrookMASS), have had to alter their class schedules in different ways.
The Eliot School, which opened in the 1600s, chose to close its schoolhouse doors for the foreseeable future, cancel all spring classes, and moved its Teen Bridge program online. The Eliot School's partnership programs are scheduled to resume April 27 in the Boston Public Schools, but could change depending upon whether public schools reopen at that time.
"Canceling our spring term is a hard decision for us. We feel a responsibility to each other and the greater community to help ensure good health, and we’re also taking into account our teachers’ needs for stable and predictable schedules," said the Eliot School in an emailed message.
More importantly the financial toll the cancellations will wreak havoc as tuition and contracts make up 70 percent of the school's revenue. The school has taken out a bank loan to pay staff and teachers through April.
The school is asking for donations to offset the drastic financial hit it is taking. Those who paid for a class may take a credit toward a future registration, request a refund, or donate the tuition to be converted to a tax-deductible contribution to the school.
StonybrookMASS has closed its doors through the end of March, and all classes and workshops for March will be pushed a few weeks later, according to their website. Enrollees may transfer to a future class, or cancel registration for a full refund.
StonybrookMASS is also a 501C3 nonprofit organization, signing up for a class now for a summer session, or purchasing a gift certificate, will help pay the school's crew.
And while many of our businesses' financial outlooks are going to the dogs. The dogs (cats, birds, ferrets, etc.) are also being affected.
The MSPCA-Angell remains open, but only for those in need. Currently, clients are not permitted to accompany their pets into Angell, or its Waltham, Danvers, and Westford animal hospitals. Clients are provided specific phone numbers outside of the facility to call upon arrival. Angell's team will provide the next steps while the client remains outside.
For dogs, if it's determined that the animal should come inside, the client will be asked to exit their vehicle, hand the pet to the employee and return to their car. For cats and other animals in carriers, a client will place the carrier on the ground, step back six feet, and an Angell employee will bring the pet into the building.
New appointments or rechecks are not being scheduled. Angell is continuing to fill prescriptions, and is waiving shipping fees at this time for mail prescriptions.
But here's some good news -- animals can still be adopted!
"Finding homes for our current population of shelter animals will be vital for our ability to provide temporary housing and increased surrender intake as a result of the outbreak," says Angell's website.