Who should pay for the masks?

It’s no secret that school budgets are strained more drastically than ever as classrooms prepare to reopen in the fall. Backup masks for kids who don’t have them, hand sanitizer, and copious amounts of cleaning supplies are going to be needed.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released a guidance a week ago, outlining its rules for teachers and students to wear masks and keep three feet apart. Parents have been asked to monitor their children’s health for COVID-19 symptoms.

Gov. Charlie Baker said nearly $200 million in additional funding will help schools with COVID-related costs, but education leaders remain skeptical about the details and want more.

More than 100 school committees across the state have passed resolutions asking the state to cover the costs.

Roberto Jiménez-Rivera of the Chelsea School Committee told the Boston Herald last week that the state’s plans don’t account for existing resource gaps between districts. “It acknowledges that COVID has hit different communities differently, but then it makes blanket recommendations for the entire state,” he said.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association blasted the news out of Beacon Hill, with President Merrie Najimy declaring her “vehement point of opposition” to the requirement that each district is responsible for purchasing its own COVID-19 personal protective equipment.

“That is far too much like President Trump telling states they had to buy their own ventilators and testing supplies rather than using the centralized authority and purchasing power of the federal government to protect public health and safety by making vital equipment available,” she said.

“The sooner the Legislature hears us and can take some action, the better,” said Peter Demling, vice chair of the Amherst School Committee. Demling oversaw the drafting of the resolution. “If the state is going to come out with a mandate to open school safely, they need to make sure we have the money to do it,” he told the Boston Globe.

Federal grants currently available to municipalities include $193.8 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to districts, part of the $502 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund already allocated to cities and towns. Much of those funds require spending by the end of the year.

Considering there are 289 school districts across the state, the funds could get divvied up pretty quickly.

In early June, Laura Clancey, a Worcester School Committee member, told CommonWealth that personal protective equipment will cost the district “millions” and she’s not sure where the money will come from. Fellow committee member Tracy Novick told the Globe, “We simply cannot deliver on their mandate without a full reimbursement guarantee to provide safe facilities [and transportation] for all students and staff.”

SARAH BETANCOURT


MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Falmouth residents are concerned about racist flyers, theft of Black Lives Matter signs (Cape Cod Times)

During a Zoom city council meeting, while the Springfield police commissioner is talking about low police morale, Springfield City Clerk Tasheena Davis says, “Aw, bitch, shut the F- up.” (MassLive)

The Somerville City Council approves an ordinance recognizing polyamorous domestic partnerships. (WickedLocal)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A proposed ballot question that would have increased funding to nursing homes is derailed by the coronavirus pandemic and won’t go forward this year. (State House News Service)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Fraudulent unemployment insurance claims are slowing down the benefits system nationwide. (New York Times)

Coronavirus cases in the US surged by nearly 50 percent in June, led by states that are reopening their economies and leading to more closures. (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

More than 200 uncounted early voting ballots are discovered in a vault at the Grafton Town Clerk’s office, a week after the town election. (Telegram & Gazette)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Black-owned businesses are seeing a boom during the Black Lives Matter racial reckoning. (Associated Press)

Gloucester businesses that typically close for July 4 plan to stay open this weekend, since they have had so few opportunities to be open for business. (Gloucester Daily Times)

YMCA summer campers are happy to be socializing again, opening this week with capacity ceilings. (Herald News)

EDUCATION

Boston University President Robert Brown says the school is reconsidering its use of the name Rhett for its terrier mascot since Rhett is named after Rhett Butler, a character in the 1937 film Gone With The Wind, which many now view as racist. (Boston Globe)

A shift towards a blend of online and classroom learning exposes divisions in higher education. (WGBH)

The Massachusetts Teachers’ Association is making a renewed push to suspend MCAS testing requirements. (Eagle-Tribune)

ARTS/CULTURE

Popular Renaissance-themed King Richard’s Faire cancels its 2020 season out of concern over the pandemic. (Patriot Ledger)

IMMIGRATION

A federal judge struck down a Trump administration order requiring immigrants from Central America seeking asylum in the US to first apply for asylum in the countries they pass through. The judge said the Trump administration did not follow rules regarding public comment in issuing the order. (Washington Post)

TRANSPORTATION

AAA is forecasting a major decrease in travel this year over the July 4 weekend due to COVID-19. (Telegram & Gazette) But state officials are still warning of heavy traffic. (MassLive)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Communities that get drinking water from the Ipswich River are facing a water shortage, with increased demand as more people are home during the day. (The Salem News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is joining a national push for a reconciliation commission to confront racism. (Boston Globe)

Attorney General Maura Healey tells the New Hampshire-based Phantom Fireworks to stop advertising in Massachusetts. (MassLive)