BAKER PIVOTS AGAIN, SAYS YES TO TEACHERS (FINALLY)
Less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden urged states to prioritize vaccinating teachers by the end of March, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday morning that Bay State school staff can start signing up for shots on March 11. Mass vaccine sites will reserve specific days for educators, he said. But he also warned that it could take upwards of a month to get everyone inoculated based on current supply amounts and the populations now jockeying for appointments (65+, and those with 2+ morbidities). (Editor’s note: Based on his comments, Baker clearly feels priority should remain on getting 65+ vaccinated, but felt forced to make this change by the Biden Administration.)
School superintendents, teacher unions, and members of the public – including Abington Superintendent Peter Schafer and Abington Education Association President Steve Shannon – have been putting increasing pressure on Baker to give higher priority – especially in light of news last week the Baker Administration is going to mandate a full-time return to the classroom in the matter of weeks.
This was Shannon’s response to the news regarding a full-time return to the classroom:
“The Abington Education Association is surprised by the announcement in light of the fact that Commissioner Riley and Governor Baker have failed to advocate for, or prioritize school workers to be vaccinated. We continue to be concerned by the inconsistencies between CDC and DESE Guidelines around what constitutes a safer learning environment, especially as DESE continues to work remotely. We believe that providing vaccines to all school personnel is a reasonable and fair expectation for a full return to in-person learning. The AEA has worked collaboratively and cooperatively with the Abington Public Schools to provide in-person hybrid learning safely since September.”
Abington Public Health Director Marty Golightly said the town could vaccinate every employee of the Abington school department in one day – if the state provides the needed doses.
School administrators were scheduled to meet with Shannon this week to discuss a plan to return Abington students back to classrooms full-time while meeting safety guidelines.
TOWN HALL REOPENS
Town Hall is now open to the public. The building had been closed over the winter due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. Abington municipal departments remained on the job, but handled most customer service needs via phone, email, or by appointment. But with the number of positive cases in Abington dropping again, Town Manager Scott Lambiase, in consultation with Director of Public Health Marty Golightly, made the decision to re-open the doors. Visitors are asked to log in when they enter for contact tracing purposes.
FINCOM CANCELLED; CAPITAL PLANNING SCHEDULED
This week’s Finance Committee meeting has been cancelled. The new Capital Planning Committee will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. via Zoom. The committee will be discussing proposed capital projects involving Town Hall, the Town Library, and Strawberry Valley Golf Course, as well as ways the town could fund the growing list of needed work.
GROOM IN, ELLIS OUT
Carolyn Ellis has opted not to run for school committee. The Hampton Way resident initially pulled nomination papers Monday morning, but told Abington News she won’t pursue a candidacy. Julie Groom, of Temple Street, also pulled nomination papers on Monday. Heidi Hernandez, of Orange Street, has returned her nomination papers and will be on the Town Election ballot for school committee. Current school committee members Jaclyn Abrams and Lisa Augusta chose not to seek re-election. All nomination papers must be returned by Monday, March 8 at 5 p.m. to qualify for the official ballot. Candidates are still able to run write-in campaigns after that date.
ROTARY CLUB RAFFLE
The Abington Rotary Club is holding a St. Patrick’s Day Scratch Ticket Raffle. Tickets are $5 each or 5 tickets for $10. Winning prize is $250 in Mass. Lottery scratch tickets. Proceeds benefit the organization’s charitable giving program. The drawing will be held on St. Patrick’s Day. Tickets are available through Rotary Club members. Those interested can also buy through Venmo: @judi-mccabe-1 (last four numbers is 8271) Please leave your phone number when using Venmo so the organization can contact you if you win.