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Updated November 12, 2020 02:34PM

Update: All Pittsfield Public Schools Transition To Remote Learning

Staff ReportsiBerkshires
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In a response to the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the city, all Pittsfield Public School students will transition to remote learning starting Friday, Nov. 13
Pittsfield Public Schools and the Health Department released a joint response Thursday afternoon announcing that all city schools will suspend in-person learning and will transition to full remote learning.
The statement reads: "While recognizing that the suspension of in-person education certainly continues to add to the challenges that families, students, schools, and communities have been presented with during the COVID-19 era, the health and safety of our students and staff remain at the forefront of all considerations.  As we continue to re-envision the academic experiences of our student body and staff during these unprecedented times, we are grateful for the understanding and resiliency associated with adjusting to modifications to how education is delivered."
According to the statement, this decision follows the notification that multiple members of the greater-City of Pittsfield community have tested positive for COVID-19, and\or are awaiting results of recent COVID-19 tests.
At this time, remote learning within the Pittsfield Public Schools is scheduled to continue through Friday, Dec. 4, with anticipated hybrid learning, beginning Monday, Dec. 7. 
The timeline takes into consideration recent community events, virus incubation period, the experiencing of symptoms, contact tracing, and the test result turnaround time.
The statement reads: "The pause of in-person learning allows time to further assess data with the goal of resuming in-person learning as soon as we can confidently and safely deliver it."
The recent spikes within the City of Pittsfield do not include cases involving student-to-student, staff-to-staff, or student-to-staff interactions within the school buildings.
The statement included that the procedures in place within school buildings to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus have successfully been implemented, and will continue. Data shows that the recent uptick in Pittsfield's COVID-19 cases directly relates to large gatherings that have taken place in recent weeks within the community.
The district and city will continue to monitor health metrics over the next few weeks that will inform additional decisions and announcements. Additional information will be provided to the entire educational community in the coming days.  
Meals are still available Friday to children 18 and under.  Meals can be picked up between 11:45-12:15 at the following sites:
  • Conte Community School
  • Morningside Community School
  • Allendale Elementary School
  • Egremont Elementary School
Original post,  Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020; 8:31 p.m.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A day after saying the mayor said the numbers didn't add up to switch to remote learning, a cascade of cases on Wednesday is resulting in the closure of Taconic and Pittsfield high schools. 
School officials on Wednesday said they have been told there are 104 new COVID-19 cases in the city. The city was categorized at the green level on Wednesday morning. The state has reported nearly 100 new cases in Berkshire County over a two-day period, with 50 reported Wednesday morning. 
"The Pittsfield Public Schools was informed that a backlog of cases released today [Wednesday] showed 104 new COVID-19 cases in the City of Pittsfield," according to a press release from Pittsfield Public Schools interim Superintendent Joseph Curtis. "This backlog was due to a recording delay caused by a technical issue at one of the testing centers located in Pittsfield."
The statement also referred to a "number of unresolved issues on our PPS high school internal medical trackers" but did not go into detail.
Both high schools will have remote learning days on Thursday, Nov. 12, and Friday, Nov. 13. Current high school schedules will be followed remotely. 
All elementary and middle schools, along with Eagle Academy, will remain open for hybrid learning.
A staff member at Reid Middle School as well as a student at Pittsfield High School tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 
School officials say the decision was made in partnership with the Board of Health and other city officials.
Absentee rates, reports of illness, and test positivity daily incidence rate metrics will be monitored to determine if school closure or in-person education initiatives require modification at scchool.
"This is a stark reminder that the events in our community directly impact the operations of each one of our schools," said Curtis. "We must as citizens of the city of Pittsfield remain vigilant in wearing a mask, sanitizing our hands frequently, standing 6 feet apart from one another, and not participating in any type of large gathering."

Tags: COVID-19,   Pittsfield Public Schools,   

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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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