CLIENT ALERT March 17, 2021 COVID-19 and Municipal Operations
Guidance continues to update as vaccination rates increase and infection and death trends improve. This Alert highlights the most recent changes.
Here is a list of the Orders, Acts, and Guidance referenced in this Alert:
· March 16, 2021, Ch. 5 of the Acts of 2021, “An Act Further Providing for Early Voting by Mail”
· March 9, 2021 Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Guidance on In-Person Learning Requirements
· March 8, 2021, Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center Exposure and Return to Work Guidance
Q. How does the increased availability of the vaccines affect when and how our workers return to the office?
A: Massachusetts follows the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control. All workplaces should remain cautious and vigilant because not every adult is eligible to receive the vaccine. This will continue to be true for several more weeks at the least.
However, there are some changes in the guidance. The Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center advises that individuals who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days or who have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days need not quarantine if they are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Isolation will still be necessary if an individual develops COVID symptoms, regardless of vaccination status.
Q. What is the latest on school attendance?
A. There have been significant changes to attendance at schools. As of April 5, 2021, districts and charter schools can no longer count hybrid and remote learning models toward the hours an elementary student (grades K-5) must spend in learning time. Middle schools (grades 6-8) must return to full time in-person learning by April 28, 2021. Families, however, may choose to continue remote learning through the end of the school year. In addition, districts and charter schools may apply for temporary waivers from these emergency regulations. No change has yet been made to high school learning models.
Q. Another year, another Annual Town Meeting season. May we once again postpone our meeting or reduce our quorum?
A. Yes to both. M.G.L. c.39, §9 authorizes a Select Board to vote to postpone the Annual Town Meeting so long as it occurs before June 30. In addition, Section 7 of Ch. 92 of the Acts of 2020 remains in effect. It permits the Select Board, with the approval of the Moderator to reduce the quorum requirement for any Town Meeting to as low as 10% of the number otherwise required. Representative Town Meetings may once again be held remotely.
Q. I hear that there are changes to the rules for early voting and municipal elections?
A. Yes. On March 16, 2021, the Governor signed Ch. 5 of the Acts of 2021, “An Act Further Providing for Early Voting by Mail.” The Act extends early voting and voting by mail for municipal elections that occur on or before June 30, 2021, permits postponement of a municipal caucus or election until August 1, 2021, and permits municipal caucuses scheduled for before July 31, 2021, to be canceled and replaced by submission of nomination papers signed by at least 10 registered voters. Any eligible voter may vote by mail in a municipal election held before June 30, 2021.
Please contact us as further questions arise.
We are here to help.