The death toll in Massachusetts has surpassed 8,600, as health officials reported 11 new deaths on Sunday and an additional 303 cases. There have now been 8,607 confirmed deaths and 114,398 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The total number of coronavirus deaths, however, is listed in the daily COVID-19 report as 8,838, which would indicate there are 231 more deaths that are considered probable at this time.
As the U.S. continues to account for a quarter of the world’s more than 760,000 COVID-19 fatalities and nearly 21 million confirmed cases, states across the nation are in the process of reopening their schools amid the ongoing pandemic.
In Massachusetts, Friday was the deadline for all schools to file their school reopening plans with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Districts were required to prepare plans for three different scenarios: in-person classes, remote learning, or a hybrid of the two options.
Boston Public Schools has removed a full in-person return from consideration, but has acknowledged its openness to multiple models, including the blended learning model that involves alternating schedules for students between coming into a school building for in-person instruction and remote instruction.
Boston school officials released their new guidelines on Saturday, a day after the state deadline. They are also emphasizing parent choice in the process, while acknowledging that science will “drive the decision,” according to an updated draft of the public schools’ reopening plan.
Some Boston city councilors are frustrated that school officials filed their reopening plan with the state without making a firm decision. Councilor Andrea Campbell, who favors a remote start, told the Boston Globe, she was "shocked and disappointed'' by the plan.
"Every day the district delays this decision, we lose an opportunity to prepare our students for success and our community loses confidence that this school year will be safe and successful," she said.
Reopening Mass. Schools Amid Pandemic
Councilor Michelle Wu, who also favors a remote start, agreed.
"It continues to be a very confusing plan that is not fleshed out,'' Wu said. "The most important thing is to have a stable predictable start to the school year.''
In a statement Saturday, Boston Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said she understands the urgency as officials work to ensure the plan is "thorough, thoughtful and responsive to our community.''
Meanwhile, two universities in Massachusetts have begun to accept students back to their campuses for the fall semester. Boston University and Clark University have implemented rigorous guidelines for how students may return to the schools for the first time since early spring, including arriving test protocols.
More on the Coronavirus in Massachusetts
And as the start of school comes closer and more people hope to return to fields, courts and rinks, Massachusetts has new rules around amateur sports set to take effect on Monday.
These guidelines are categorized into three tiers of risk depending on the frequency of close contact involved: low, moderate and high risk.
Low risk sports, which include tennis, swimming, golf and cross country, may engage in all levels of activity because they require almost no physical contact.
Football, basketball, lacrosse, wrestling and competitive cheer have conversely been identified as high risk sports. These must be modified to engage in practices, competitions and games by eliminating deliberate contact, staying outside and wearing masks. Tournaments are not allowed.
Moderate risk sports like track and field, baseball and softball have similar restrictions as high risk ones.