Gov. Baker extends school closure through April

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In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that all schools in Massachusetts will remain closed through April, with a tentative reopening set for Monday, May 4, as the state continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergency order affects all public and private schools, along with all non-emergency childcare programs.

Hopkinton Superintendent of Schools Carol Cavanaugh emailed the Hopkinton Public Schools community Wednesday evening to confirm the news and offer some encouragement to anxious families.

“Certainly, this is difficult news for all of us as we struggle with the unknowns that accompany the next phase of this pandemic,” Cavanaugh wrote. “We have forfeited our routines, our normalcy — whatever that is for each educator, each student, and each family. But, most importantly, we have lost our close human connections.

“As you know, the schools have been pushing out remote learning experiences. In Governor Baker’s press release, he noted that this next phase of closure will afford ‘the best possible opportunities for remote learning’ for all students. I can assure you that our school district is committed to that. First and foremost, though, we are committed to bringing students together in ways that will restore — to whatever extent possible — their belonging in our community.”

Cavanaugh said more information for students, staff and families would be coming in the next few days.

“In the meantime, foster relationships and create community by reaching out electronically to one another. Clean your basement. Read a good book. Bake. Walk. Breathe. Tell someone you love them. It’s what we all need right now,” she added.

Hopkinton athletic director Rich Cormier announced that May 4, the day students are slated to return to school, is the new tentative start date for the spring sports season, which would be a very short one.

Baker also said Wednesday that customers should not use reusable checkout bags at grocery stores and pharmacies. Stores must provide paper or plastic bags at no charge. Single-use plastic bags, which had been banned in the state, will be allowed during this time.

Additionally, stores must set aside at least one hour of shopping per day dedicated to those aged 60 and over.

Health officials reported Wednesday that there are 1,838 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, up 679 from the day before, and there have been 15 deaths related to the disease.

For more details on the governor’s announcement and the new actions, visit the mass.gov website.