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In-person learning draws ire of teachers in Massachusetts; 11 more COVID-19 deaths

BOSTON (AP) — A major Massachusetts teachers union is accusing the state's top education official of pressuring more than a dozen school districts for asking them to come up with plans for in-person learning.

“In light of the stark discrepancy between local public health data and your reopening plan, I am requesting a timeline by which you anticipate providing in-person instruction for the majority of your students,” Jeffrey Riley, commissioner of the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, wrote in a letter to 16 districts currently teaching only remotely, according to the Boston Herald.

All the districts are at low risk of community transmission of the coronavirus, according to state data.

The president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association called Riley's directive a threat.

“Having failed to provide adequate guidance or state support to make it possible for our public schools to open safely, State Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley and Governor Charlie Baker have the gall to threaten 16 communities that have wisely chosen not to pursue in-person learning at this time,” Merrie Najimy said in a statement.

The districts are Amesbury, Bourne, Boxford, East Longmeadow, Gardner, Pittsfield, Provincetown, West Springfield, Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public, Hoosac Valley, Gill-Montague, Mohawk Trail, Mohawk Trail/Hawlemont, Manchester Essex, Belmont and Watertown.

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PARTY CHARGES

Charges have been filed against a Massachusetts couple and their teenage child for allegedly hosting an underage drinking party that forced a high school to switch to remote-only learning to start the school year, police said.

Sudbury police Chief Scott Nix confirmed to The MetroWest Daily News on Monday that his department has filed charges of violating the state's social host law.

No names were released because the case will first go in front of a clerk magistrate, who will determine if there is enough evidence for the case to go before a judge.

When police broke up the Sept. 11 party, several people ran into the woods and other partygoers gave officers fake names.

Because so many of the partygoers could not be identified, and they did not take measures to prevent transmission of the coronavirus, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School Superintendent Bella Wong decided that instead of starting the school year with a hybrid learning model, the school would start fully remote.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

Massachusetts reported 11 newly confirmed coronavirus deaths and about 140 newly confirmed cases Tuesday, pushing the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to nearly 9,120 and its confirmed caseload to more than 125,800.

The seven-day weighted average of positive tests was less than 1%. The true number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

There were nearly 370 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of COVID-19, with nearly 70 in intensive care units.

The number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 related deaths at care homes rose to nearly 5,990 or about 64% of all confirmed and probable deaths in Massachusetts attributed to the disease.

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