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Central Berkshire School Switch to Remote Learning

Staff ReportsiBerkshires
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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.

Tags: central berkshire,   COVID-19,   


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Regional Planning Commission Tackling County Housing Issue

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is taking steps to address the ever-growing problem of housing that Berkshire County faces.

"What we have been hearing and learning is that housing is becoming increasingly a problem in Berkshire County," Executive Director Tom Matuszko said at Thursday's commission meeting. "And a problem for a number of different ways and a number of different venues."

BRPC has partnered with countywide economic development organization 1Berkshire to develop a regional housing strategy, a policy that will set the stage for solutions and legislative support. The commission's former director, Nathaniel Karns has agreed to take this project on and help shepherd it through the process.

Matuszko explained that a group of planners and other housing-related entities has been formed to develop the regional strategy. This group will dive into the issue of housing in Berkshire County and brainstorm solutions whether it be a legislative fix, additional funding, or another programmatic element from the state government.

This initiative is not just about affordable or subsidized housing, Matuszko said, because you have to have higher-end housing for those in the applicable income bracket to move into, which then frees up more affordable housing for another group.

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