BROOKLINE — The Town of Brookline announces several closures and cancellations designed to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the community.
The closures are a proactive step, recommended by the Town of Brookline’s Emergency Task Force, to limit the potential spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). There are currently two known positive cases of COVID-19 in town.
As of Friday, March 13, Brookline Public Schools, the Soule Early Childhood Education Center, Eliot After School Program, Brookline Senior Center and Brookline Public Library buildings will be closed for two weeks, through at least March 27.
Doing so will serve to limit the amount of possible exposure to the virus to residents, especially seniors who are most at-risk for serious illness due to COVID-19.
As part of the closure, all senior center, school, library and recreation activities, including sports, are cancelled. Each building will undergo rigorous cleaning and disinfecting in order to prevent the spread of the virus through commonly touched surfaces.
The town continues to advise residents to practice social distancing and avoid group activities and events.
“The impact of these closures on all aspects of our community is something we take very seriously, but after thoughtful analysis of the situation our leadership team has determined that this is the most prudent course of action under the circumstances,” Town Administrator Mel Kleckner said. “We are working continuously to evaluate the ever-changing nature of the situation and will regularly communicate our actions to all of our stakeholders.”
Town Hall, Services and Meetings
Brookline’s senior staff are meeting regularly over the coming days to ensure the town is best prepared to adapt as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve.
All non-essential public meetings are cancelled through April 30.
Town Hall is expected to be open on Monday, but senior staff are meeting regularly through the weekend to determine next steps town-wide, including proactive efforts to keep stakeholders informed.
Gov. Charlie Baker also signed an executive order temporarily modifying the state’s opening meeting law to accommodate remote participation by board and committee members for meetings that do take place, as well as remote options for members of the public wishing to oversee such meetings. The Town Brookline will provide details on these remote access means on an as-needed basis.
For information about specific board and committee meetings, residents should visit individual board pages on their respective town’s website.
Residents who need to conduct essential business at their respective Town Halls should call ahead to the department they need to speak with.
Information about resources for seniors will be shared as it becomes available.
Brookline Public Schools are closed through at least March 27. School leaders are working to identify ways in which the gaps left by critical school services can be filled in a way that’s efficient and in line with public health guidelines regarding virus prevention.
Information about lunch options for students will be shared when it is available.
Students, staff and families are urged to heed the latest state level guidance that individuals should avoid large public gatherings in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19 locally and regionally.
“The time to take decisive action in response to this outbreak is not after it has taken hold throughout our community, but before,” Superintendent Ben Lummis said. “We fully grasp the ramifications of this decision, but steadfastly believe it’s ultimately in the best interests of our community to close schools.”
Library buildings are closed and programs are cancelled through March 27.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that seniors and those with chronic health conditions are the most at-risk for serious illness caused by the coronavirus; they urge that those in this vulnerable population take appropriate precautions to mitigate their risk of becoming sick. As has been widely suggested, any person who believes they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their primary care physician.
Reported symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and respiratory illness, including pneumonia in severe cases.
If anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should not come to work or school and they are advised to contact their primary care physician. According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure.
The DPH recommends that residents continue with good hygiene practices including:
- Practice good hand hygiene! Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds including under your fingernails. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content) can be used when soap and water are not available.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing with a tissue and discard it immediately. Cough into the sleeve over your elbow instead of your hand. Wash your hands often when coughing and sneezing.
- Stay away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.
“These simple steps can make a big difference in preventing the spread of any communicable sickness,” said Brookline’s Director of Health and Human Services Swannie Jett. “These tips are the same we share every flu season and can have large impact in preventing the spread of communicable viruses, such as the flu or COVID-19.”