Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper sent a letter to the BPS community asking staff and students to wear masks to limit spreading COVID, RSV, and other illnesses, for the first eight days of school in January. "This is our ask and expectation of students and staff, not a mandate—which will be in effect during the school day on school premises and school buses," wrote Skipper. She emphasized that no one will be disciplined or sent home if they refuse to wear a mask. Skipper said the hope is to "maximize our ability to keep students healthy and minimize staff absences during this high-risk period," and that it's a temporary ask for students from Jan. 4 to Jan.
Twenty-one Boston child care centers, including two in Jamaica Plain, are receiving funds dedicated to supporting child care centers and essential workers who work non-traditional hours. In Jamaica Plain, the Shattuck Child Care Center and Wee Care JP Childcare Center are two grantees receiving funds from the city's Office of Early Childhood totaling $5,600,000 that are part of Boston’s equitable and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19, and are funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). “Investing in a robust and accessible childcare system is an investment in our collective future,” said Mayor Michelle Wu via press release. “With this grant, we can support childcare centers to expand their services for our essential workers, and provide better opportunities for childcare workers who serve as the backbone of youth development.”
Grantees will receive immediate compensation relief to child care workers to provide higher wages, hiring and retention bonuses, and other compensation incentives, according to a press release. Child care centers will also look to address low wages by receiving training and technical assistance to develop a compensation plan for their business that raises teacher pay to a minimum of $22 per hour by 2025.
This Saturday the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is hosting ‘B Healthy Back-to-School,’ a free COVID-19 vaccination event at White Stadium and anyone who gets vaccinated is eligible to receive a $75 gift card. The event is from 11 am to 3 pm, and is part of BPHC’s efforts to encourage pediatric vaccination, support a safe and healthy school year, and improve equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, according to a press release. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters will be available for all attendees ages 6-months and older at the event. There will also be free food, music, and games will also be available at the event. Plus, BPHC will be giving away backpacks to students and families.
After more than two years, the Anna Cole Community Center in Jackson Square is no longer a COVID testing site. The news was shared on Instagram by lcgboston, and first reported by UniversalHub.com. The city has a list of sites offering tests via appointment and walk-ins. There are no testing sites in Jamaica Plain, but there are in Roxbury, Roslindale, and other neighborhoods.
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The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) announced it is recommending that all Boston children and infants ages 6-months and older get vaccinated against COVID-19. The BPHC’s recommendation follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be used for children 6 months and older.
“Many parents and caregivers have been anxiously awaiting approval of COVID-19 vaccination for the under 5 age group after two very difficult years of worrying about the health and safety of their children,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “Some parents may be uncertain about getting their child vaccinated because there is so much information to consider. The vaccines are safe and protective against serious illness in this age group.
Boston will lift its indoor mask mandate effective March 5. State and federal mask orders are still in effect on public transportation, health care settings, and congregant care settings. Mayor Michelle Wu and Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, made the announcement on Tuesday. Wu and Ojikutu cited improved COVID-19 metrics to explain why the mask mandate is being lifted. At a Tuesday meeting, Boston’s Board of Health voted unanimously to support Ojikutu's recommendation to rescind the order.
Bikes Not Bombs recently received a city grant to green jobs and mobility training. The grant is for $138,232. “With the city of Boston’s funding, Bikes Not Bombs will give Boston youth the opportunity for apprenticeship, skill building, and career development. BNB uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change – and this funding will open the door for Black and marginalized Boston residents to achieve economic mobility, build relationships, and work towards a healthier Boston,” said Elijah Evans, Executive Director of Bikes Not Bombs via press release. Mayor Michelle Wu announced the recipients of Boston’s Catalyst Grants for Green Job and Mobility Training on Jan.
The operation hours for the Anna Cole Community Center COVID testing site have been expanded starting January 9. Starting Sunday, January 9, operating hours will be:
Monday-Thursday: 12 to 7 pm
Friday: 12 to 5 pm
Sunday: 9 am to 4 pm
Expansion of operating hours will hopefully decrease the very, very long line that people had to stand in outside in freezing temperatures for the last two weeks or so, if they wanted to get tested. Mayor Michelle Wu had said the long wait was "completely unacceptable" and had vowed to improve the process. For comparison, previous operation hours were for three hours on Sunday, five hours on Monday and Thursday, and four hours on Tuesday and Wednesday. The testing center will continue to not operate on Saturday.
Boston Mayor Michelle remained outside during her early morning visit on Tuesday to the Margarita Muniz Academy. Wu visited to understand the school experience regarding COVID during the recent surge. Wu said "it's been a very difficult time" for school communities, students, staff, school leaders, and administrators during the recent surge of the omicron variant. Wu said the variant has "effected everything that needs to logistically happen." Wu was joined by At-Large Boston City Councilors Erin Murphy and Ruthzee Louijeune, BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, and Muniz Headmaster Dania Vazquez
Cassellius said there are three key things they're looking at to make sure of safe operations: a) staffing b) health and safety in the schools c) operational effectiveness of schools.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the hours-long wait for people to get tested at the Anna Cole Community Center was "completely unacceptable" on Sunday night. Wu was responding to a tweet by Heshan Berents-Weeramumi, who was standing in line at 11:50 am when he was at the edge of the Stop & Shop Supermarket up Centre Street, past the Mildred Hailey Apartments, and past the Jackson Square MBTA stop. https://twitter.com/wutrain/status/1477823459765936128
Berents-Weeramumi was tweeting his frustration at Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, detailing his wait as he slowly progressed in line, and later tweeted at 3:13 pm that he had finally made it out of the testing site. https://twitter.com/wheresmyporsche/status/1477734714731646978
Wu said that she would huddle with her team right after the Boston City Council inauguration on Monday morning to expand testing and improve the experience at each site. The long line on Sunday was not an outlier at the Cole Center.