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The playground at Williamstown Elementary School, like the school itself, remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baker Pushes Back on Federal Pressure to Open Schools

By Stephen
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BOSTON -- Gov. Charlie Baker Wednesday said he does not think it “makes sense” for a one-size-fits-all approach to reopening the nation’s public schools but stopped short of directly criticizing a presidential tweet pressuring states to open the schoolhouse doors in the middle of a global pandemic.
Baker was asked in his daily press availability about President Trump’s Tuesday Twitter statement that indicated his administration “May cut off funding if [schools] not open!”
The Republican governor, not for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, found himself having to argue against his party’s leader while trying to not get into a feud with the leader of the free world.
The first question from the press at Wednesday’s briefing was about Trump’s Tuesday statements.
“I don’t think a one-size-fits-all policy on any of these issues makes a lot of sense,” Baker said. “What we’ve done here in Massachusetts is work closely with our colleagues in the health care community, the pediatric community and the education community to put together a program that’s based on this idea that we’d like to see kids returning to school.
“But, as part of that, [the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] is expecting schools to develop programs that would work on either a hybrid basis or a remote basis depending on what happens.”
Baker said that his administration attempted to provide frameworks for school districts to think about the issue and that it was “inappropriate” for the federal government to mandate solutions for all 50 states where the conditions may be very different in two months.
“When we announced our proposal -- two weeks ago? -- we talked about the fact that we had over $900 million in resources, most of which was federal, that was available to support communities and school districts as they went through the process of figuring out how to develop these plans,” Baker said. “I think that’s a much more effective way for the feds to play in this space than to put a one-size-fits-all or ultimatum in place because facts on the ground are going to be different.”
Baker stopped short of going as far as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who on Wednesday said the federal government has no authority to decide if and when schools open.
“The president does not have any authority to open schools,” Cuomo said in his daily press briefing as reported by “We will open the schools if it is safe to open the schools. Everybody wants the schools open.”
The last statement may have been in response to another part of Trump’s Tuesday tweet, where he alleged, “Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election.”
Baker was asked later in Wednesday’s press briefing what he thought was motivating the pressure from Washington, D.C. He declined to take the bait and tiptoed around the national political debate.
“I try not to speak to the intent of other people’s motivations when they make proposals and issue statements and policies,” Baker said.

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DA Clears Trooper in Fatal Hancock Shooting

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

District Attorney Timothy Shugrue says the results of an autopsy by the medical examiner will not change his findings, which are based on the video and witnesses. With him are State Police Lts. Chris Bruno and Ryan Dickinson and First Assistant District Attorney Marianne Shelvey.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — District Attorney Timothy Shugrue has determined that State Police Trooper William Munch acted in compliance during what is being described as a "suicide by cop" earlier this month.
On Sept. 9, 64-year-old Phillip Henault reportedly placed a fictitious 911 call about an ongoing violent assault. Body-camera footage from the trooper shows the man advancing on him with two knives before being shot twice and collapsing in the street in front of his Richmond Road residence.
"Mr. Henault was actively using deadly force against law enforcement. There were no other objectively reasonable means that the trooper could have employed at the time in order to effectively protect himself and anyone that was in the home or the public. By virtue of his duties as a police officer, the trooper did not have the obligation to run away from Mr. Henault," Shugrue said during a press conference on Friday.
"Mr. Henault posed an active threat to the trooper and to the public. The trooper had a duty to arrest Mr. Henault who was engaged in various felonies. His arm was an active threat."
The DA determined that Munch's decision to fire his weapon at Henault under the circumstances was a "lawful and reasonable exercise of self-defense and defense of others" compliance with the policies of the State Police and commonwealth law, clearing the trooper of criminal charges and closing the investigation.
The lethal force was labeled as an "unavoidable last resort."
A preliminary autopsy determined the unofficial cause of death was two gunshot wounds to the torso with contributing factors of wounds to the wrists that were inflicted by Heneault. The final report from the medical examiner has not been issued.
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