Gov. Charlie Baker and Education Commissioner Jeff Riley got what they wanted last week: permission to force schools to start teaching in-person, full-time as of April 5.
But in true Baker Administration fashion, they released no plans on what the expectations are, and how school districts should do this.
Imagine being a carpenter and being told to start building a house without the customer giving you the architectural plans.
So the Abington school department is in yet another mad dash to enact a state education mandate, hoping that what it sets up will match the to-be-determined regulations whenever they’re made public.
Superintendent Peter Schafer has released few details about how school will look next month, and how students will be kept safe during an ongoing pandemic, aside from the prospect of students eating lunch outside under newly purchased tents. But that could change soon.
“I am hoping by the end of next week we will be able to communicate the Abington planned return dates,” Schafer said in an email to Abington News following the state Board of Education vote. “The timeframes we are working with will get students back ASAP and give families time to adjust schedules.”
Schafer and the school committee have been meeting with the Abington Education Association to negotiate yet more changes in working conditions.
Abington teachers are also busy this week playing the inoculation lottery, joining hundreds of thousands of Baby Boomers trying to score precious appointments to get vaccinated. Teacher unions are lobbying the Baker Administration to send doses back to local communities so clinics can be set up around classroom schedules (Editor’s note: back in January and February firefighters, police officers, and many health care workers received their doses at locally-run clinics).
9-1-1 DISPATCH SERVICES
Selectmen on Monday night are expected to vote whether to shift Abington’s 911 operations to the regional dispatch center in Holbrook. That facility already handles the Abington’s fire dispatch services, as well as any 9-1-1 calls made via cell phone within the town’s borders. Whitman, Rockland, and Holbrook already use the regional facility. A few voices on social media raised concerns last month that the facility was problematic and unreliable. Abington selectmen said they would take a couple weeks to listen to any concerns Abington residents had before taking a final vote. Time is partly of the essence; the center is finalizing a state grant application that would fully cover the cost of Abington’s dispatch services for three years, plus pay for any needed technology improvements.
TOWN ELECTIONS, PART 1
Selectmen may also vote Monday night whether to shift Abington’s polling location back to a town-owned facility. Voters had cast ballots the past couple of years at Emerald Hall, a privately-owned facility. There were no reported issues while voting at Emerald Hall, but it does cost the town $1,700 to rent for the day, and it is reportedly up for sale. The middle/high school gymnasium, the senior center, and the Beaver Brook and Woodsdale elementary schools are all locations under consideration. During an informal poll taken by Selectman Tim Chapin on his Facebook page last week, the middle/high school gymnasium was by far the preferred location.
TOWN ELECTIONS, PART 2
Today is the last day for municipal candidates to turn in nomination papers. Candidates need to collect legible, verifiable signatures from 50 registered voters by 5 p.m. this evening to be included on the Town Election ballot. Anyone who doesn’t make that deadline can run as a write-in candidate.
Here’s a list of those who have pulled nomination papers so far: Alex Hagerty, Board of Selectmen; Christine Henrikson, Board of Selectmen; Tim Chapin, Board of Selectmen; Jaclyn Abrams, School Committee (not running); Chris Schultz, Board of Health; Melissa Pond, Board of Health; Erik Henrikson, Sewer Commission; Bill Cormier, Water Commission; Richard Muncey, Water Commission; Ann Kent, Board of Assessors; Gail Bergin, Library Trustees; Henry DiCarlo, Library Trustees; Mary Gillis, Library Trustees; Jeff Rangel, Planning Board; Melodie Olson, Housing Authority; Kevin Whalen, Board of Health; Heidi Hernandez, School Committee; Julie Groom, School Committee; Daniel Eddy, Jr., Board of Selectmen.
People had strong feelings regarding the Planning Board’s decision to approve a 7-unit condo development on Spruce Street. Residents will get another chance to weigh in on Thursday when the proponents appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Planning Board review was of the project’s site plan, which includes traffic, utilities, parking, lighting, stormwater drainage, and other engineering features. The Zoning Board will determine whether the site’s proposed use – multi family housing in a district generally zoned for single family housing – is appropriate.
Most of us aren’t going to church right now, but it is Lent. The United Church of Christ in Abington, which hasn’t held in-person services in almost a year, is still hosting its annual Friday Night fish chowder fundraiser. There’s no weekly repast this year, but containers are available for pickup. More information can be found here.
COLORECTAL CANCER MONTH
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC), a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting the disease, is urging those 45 and older to talk to their doctor about getting screened. Abington resident Kathy Creighton, a survivor, worked with state officials, including Sen. John Keenan, to have the lights on the Fore River Bridge, as well as the Zakim and Longfellow bridges, turn blue to raise awareness. More information is available at FightCRC.org.
GREEN WAVE PRIDE, PART 1
It’s March, so it must be football season, right? The Abington High School football team belatedly kicks off its season this Friday against East Bridgewater. First tackle is scheduled for 4 p.m. The game will not be open to the general public, but will be televised on Abington Community Access & Media.
GREEN WAVE PRIDE, PART 2
Former Abington High School multi-sport standout Lauren Keleher started her D1 career off with a smash. The Boston University freshman cranked a two-run homer in her first collegiate at-bat to help the Terriers softball team win 4-0 in their season opener. Keleher was part of the Green Wave state championship softball team in 2018.
Board of Selectmen, 6:30 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes a liquor license request for Ole Ole Cantina, at 800 Brockton Ave., regionalizing 9-1-1- dispatch services, outdoor seating for restaurants, and the polling location for the Annual Town Election.
Community Preservation Committee, 7 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes voting on projects that will be funded in FY 22.
Finance Committee, 7 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes budget reviews for the Abington Community Access & Media, the Town Manager’s Office, and others.
THURSDAYZoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes requests at 208 Centre Ave., 238 Park Ave., 430 Plymouth St., and 286 Spruce St.