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Clarksburg Sets Halloween Hours; Buildings to Reopen in November

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Halloween will be celebrated in Clarksburg this Oct. 31. 
 
The Select Board set the hours for 5:30 to 7 p.m. and are recommending the "GHOST" protocol outlined by North Adams two weeks ago for the city's observances. 
 
"It can be smart, people have lights on if they want to participate, if they don't then they are not participating," said Chairman Ronald Boucher 
 
Boucher said he had been approached by Fire Chief Carlyle "Chip" Chesbro Jr. about what the town was planning. Chesbro had offered to have the Fire Department do something, perhaps deliver candy to children.
 
Cities and towns across the state have taken different actions regarding Halloween during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Most have canceled congregate activities such as parades and parties and some have canceled trick or treating outright.
 
In the Berkshires, which has the lowest level of transmission rate of COVID-19, the tendency is toward allowing trick or treating with cautions. Pittsfield has set hours but is discouraging the door-to-door candy distribution while Adams will have town employees deliver candy by precinct.
 
After speaking with Board of Health member Cynthia Shock, the board decided to go-ahead with trick or treat.
 
Shock said the board had discussed Halloween and decided it was OK as long as people deferred to the guide issued at the governor's COVID-19 update on Oct. 5. 
 
"It's important to emphasize that these are recommendations to use one's best discretion to avoid passing COVID-19 on to community members," she said. "That being said the the No. 1 is handing out of candy from residences should be done with clean hands, wash or sanitize ... frequently and no hands in the bag."
 
One person should be handing out candy and putting it directly in the trick-or-treater's bag, Shock said. 
 
Boucher read out the GHOST guide released by North Adams encouraging trick-or-treaters to socially distance, wear masks, and wash hands. Those who do not feel well should not participate. 
 
"I think that was a prudent recommendation," said board member Danielle Luchi. 
 
Shock was there to inform the town officials that the Board of Health had determined it was safe to reopen Town Hall, the Community Center and the library with limitations of 50 percent occupancy and a maximum of 25 people. This is based on the state moving into Step 2 of Phase 3 in the reopening plan. 
 
Luchi, however, said she had expected more detail based on the meeting with the board two weeks ago. 
 
"I was looking for is for you guys to come back to us today with a list of protocols that you would hand out to the library, OK, on to the Community Center," she said. "How often do they have to clean high-touch area, for [distance] markers, do you want them to hand sanitizer on their way in?"
 
Shock said the idea had been to provide the guidelines set out by the state Department of Public Health and let each facility create the strategies they need to operate. The Board of Health would be available to help.
 
The Select Board asked for more guidance than that. 
 
"I would ask the health department to go in and make sure that they are doing what they need to do. I am not real secure about this leaving it up to them to do it," Boucher said. "I think if it comes directly from you guys saying, 'hey listen, this is what you need to do.' And then once they do it is to check it and inspect it. Make sure it's right."
 
Shock said she would speak with fellow members Norman Rolnick and Michael Rivers and come back in two weeks. Board members agreed that Nov. 1 would be a suitable date for reopening with the exception of the Community Center. Luchi noted that it will be set up for the election on Nov. 3. 
 
In other business:
 
The town is looking for someone to replace Mark Denault on the Finance Committee. The committee is appointed by the moderator and currently Boucher is the temporary moderator by acclamation of town meeting. Luchi asked if it would be legal for Boucher to appoint and Town Administrator Rebecca Stone said she had an opinion from town counsel that he could. 
 
Anyone interested in serving on the committee should contact Town Hall. 

Tags: COVID-19,   Halloween,   


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Northern Berkshire Union Schools Report Fairly Smooth Reopenings

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Principals in the Northern Berkshire School Union reported last week that their reopenings have been going well. 
 
Gabriel Abbott Memorial in Florida, Emma L. Miller and Rowe elementary schools reopened for in-person learning in September; Clarksburg has been operating with a hybrid model, largely because some classes are too large to properly distance within the building. 
 
"Clarksburg can can be described as that wading into the beautiful lake, instead of jumping right in like my counterparts in the union, we took our time to reopen this school year with a very staggered, slow start," Clarksburg Principal Tara Barnes told the union committee at its quarterly meeting. "But it has been a very safe and successful start."
 
It wasn't until Oct. 5 that the school had all students in person in some manner, with about 160 taking in-person learning and 20 who have opted for remote, synchronized learning. 
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