DALTON, Mass. — The Central Berkshire Regional schools will revert to remote learning starting Monday, Nov. 23.
A letter from school and public health officials released on Friday morning pointed to the rising number of COVID-19 cases and surrounding school districts that are going to remote learning status.
"The COVID-19 crisis is resulting in a large increase in cases in Berkshire County and all other parts of the commonwealth," the letter states. "In recent weeks, Berkshire County has seen a 10-fold increase of new confirmed cases per day and we have felt the impact of these cases within both our school community and town communities."
Officials are urging the school community to be cautious during the holiday season, noting that "we do know from recent data that Halloween parties and other large gatherings have significantly contributed to the extraordinary surge in cases."
The spike in novel coronavirus cases in Berkshire County in came within two weeks of Halloween and two significant outbreaks were traced back to parties held at restaurants in Pittsfield.
"We urge you to avoid large holiday parties and gatherings," the letter states. "While it is so tempting to be with family and friends during the holiday season, we ask that you be extra vigilant so that together, we can minimize the impact of this virus."
School officials are encouraging people to follow state guidance in wearing face coverings, keeping a physical distance of 6 feet, and washing hands and surfaces. Anyone traveling should be isolating and testing as required by the state.
"It is unfortunate that we are called upon to make these sacrifices. However, it is essential that we all do our part to reduce the prevalence of COVID-19 both for our own and our community's safety," states the letter. "The ultimate goal is to be able to have our students return to the in-person models of learning that we all feel are essential for the education of all of our learners."
The letter was signed by School Committee Barbara Craft-Reiss, Dalton Board of Health Chair Dr. Daniel Doyle and Dalton Health Agent Jayne Smith. They wrote that they have also relied on Superintendent of Schools Leslie Blake-Davis and Leslie Drager, a public health nurse Berkshire Public Health Alliance for guidance.
Central Berkshire is the latest school district to cancel in-person classes -- Hoosac Valley Regional and Pittsfield have already gone remote along with North Adams' Drury High School.
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Health Systems is changing it visitation guidelines beginning Wednesday to one visitor per patient and requiring medical-grade masking within its facilities.
Berkshire County has seen a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases, suspected to be the Delta variant, and an increase in hospitalizations.
Some 60 new cases were reported over the weekend, and more than 100 since July 22 as well as two deaths. More than half the new cases in the past week are from North Adams Commons, where 30 residents and five staff members were found to be infected. Much higher numbers are being seen in the eastern part of the state.
"COVID-19 is resurging across the nation, but, for now, Berkshire County remains among the areas of low to moderate positivity," said Dr. James Lederer, BHS' chief medical and quality officer. "Our health-care facilities are safe, and our community should have no hesitation in seeking out the services they count on from our health-care providers.
The former American Legion post home at 41 Wendell Ave. will house the new facility, which is slated to open in the fall. It will feature two 3-year-old classrooms, one prekindergarten class, and a private kindergarten class that is new to the curriculum.
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Project elements include widening of the existing roadway, turn lanes at intersections, a 14-foot grass median, reconstructed traffic signals, and infrastructure that is currently lacking.
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