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Somerville to end mask mandate for City buildings
The City of Somerville will be lifting its mask requirement for City buildings and events, beginning on March 21. According to a media release, “This means all City-issued mask mandates are now either lifted or set to lift.” The decision comes at a time when COVID cases and hospitalizations have been down.
The Board of Health had ended the mask mandate for privately owned indoor public spaces as of March 5, a change that impacted establishments such as restaurants and stores. In addition, the Somerville School Committee voted to make masks optional in public schools, starting March 14. These choices to lift local mask mandates follow guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal and State requirements for masking in settings such as mass transit, rideshares, medical settings, and adult daycare still apply.
“Vaccination has played a significant role in driving down COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and especially with the masks coming off, it remains more important than ever that we all stay up to date with the vaccines. Please be sure to get vaccinated and boosted when you are eligible so that you can continue to protect yourselves, your neighbors, and our incredibly dedicated healthcare workers,” said Mayor Katjana Ballantyne.
Police staffing and operations analysis for reimagining policing/public safety efforts
The City’s Racial and Social Justice Department has contracted with Raftelis Financial Consultants Inc. to work on a staffing and operations analysis of the Somerville Police Department. Accordingwe to a media release, “Raftelis has been tasked with measuring the workload of the SPD, studying staffing, operations, and organization, and analyzing that data. Once completed, this analysis will help inform both the Administration as well as community members who engage in reimagining efforts on the City’s public safety resources and needs.”
“As we move forward with the work of reimagining policing and public safety, it is important that we do so with a full understanding of our community’s public safety needs, current SPD resources, and information about where changes can be made,” said Mayor Katjana Ballantyne. “The RSJ Department has already done a lot of important work in this area, and I look forward to continued conversations about how we can work together to support efforts around reimagining what public safety looks like in our community.”
“This is a major step for us to make sure our work to inform reimaging of policing and public safety is fully informed, responsible, intentional, and transparent about where we are as a city now so that we can work with the community to explore and shape goals,” said Denise Molina Capers, director of the Department of Racial and Social Justice.
Brown School play area public meeting
Mayor Katjana Ballantyne and Councilor Lance Davis will be holding a virtual information meeting for City staff to discuss updates about the play area at the Benjamin Brown School. According to a media release, the City is working to begin construction this summer on school yard improvements, aiming to address safety concerns.
The meeting will take place virtually on Tuesday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m. To learn more and register to attend, visit somervillema.gov/brownschoolrenovation.
Maker Movement Huddle for local creators
The City of Somerville’s Economic Development Division and Boynton yards are hosting a Maker Movement Huddle, an informal gathering for local creators, on March 24. Creatives and makers will be invited to network, reconnect, and plug into City initiatives and resources. Technical entrepreneurs and hobbyists may attend. The event will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Hive at Boynton Yards, 561 Windsor Street. Attendance is free, although registration by March 22 is required. Masks are optional.
To learn more and save your spot, go to somervillema.gov/economicdevelopment.
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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.