BROOKLINE — The Brookline Select Board, Town Administrator Mel Kleckner and Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Swannie Jett announce that the Town of Brookline has established an informational call center and will hold a virtual town hall Tuesday. Additionally, the Public Schools of Brookline have announced a plan to support students who receive free and reduced cost lunches.
The Town of Brookline’s website for updates on COVID-19 matters is accessible at www.brooklinema.gov/covid-19.
Virtual Town Hall
Brookline’s COVID-19 Task Force will hold a virtual town hall on Tuesday, March 17 at 5 p.m., which will be available to watch live on Brookline Interactive Group (BIG).
The broadcast will stream live on BIG’s YouTube Channel, as well as on Comcast channel 23 and RCN channel 3.
Beginning now, residents may submit questions they would like the Task Force to address by tweeting using the hashtag #AskBrooklineCOVID19. In addition, once the meeting begins, residents can submit questions in the comments section of the video on YouTube.
Residents may also submit questions via email by writing to [email protected]
Brookline COVID-19 Call Center and Email
For general COVID-19 questions not specific to the Town of Brookline, please call the state 211 line.
The Town of Brookline has established a call center in order for residents to ask non-medical questions specific to COVID-19 in Brookline. The call center will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number for the call center is 617-879-5636.
Residents seeking answers to Brookline-specific medical or public health inquiries should continue to contact the Brookline Department of Public Health at 617-730-2000.
Messages left after hours will be returned the next day. Residents can also email their non-medical inquiries to: [email protected].
Remember, in the case of emergencies, please call 911.
“The call center is an essential two-way resource for our community,” Dr. Jett said. “Being able to take calls from residents enables our constituents to ask us questions directly, while also helping us to have a real-time understanding of our community’s needs.”
Free and Reduced Lunch for Brookline Students
During the temporary closure of the Public Schools of Brookline, students who qualify for free or reduced price meals will be offered meals at no cost through the district’s online student ordering system.
Students 18 and under can access grab and go prepared meals at one of four locations — Coolidge Corner School (CCS), Pierce School, Brookline High School and Baker School — three days per week. The first day students and families can pick up meals at their designated location is Wednesday, March 18.
See the table below to determine when and where you should pick up meals:
All school buildings providing lunches during the period that the district is closed will undergo rigorous cleaning and disinfecting on a regular basis.
Families that qualify for free or reduced meals can use publicschoolsofbrooklineschoolnutrition.com to place orders ahead of time through the Out of School Ordering System. The website also has step-by-step instructions on how to place an order online.
Brookline Food Pantry Update
Families who take part in the Brookline Food Pantry’s Brookline Thrives program should be aware of the following:
- Brookline Thrives bags will be available at Brookline Food Pantry locations during their operating hours.
- In addition, Thrives bags will be available for pick-up on Fridays from 3-5 p.m. in the Community Room at 226 High St. Just ask a Pantry volunteer for a Thrives bag at the entrance.
- To promote social distancing, the Food Pantry has announced changes to their normal procedures (shoppers wait outside while volunteers prepare bags to hand to them at the door).
- Complete details about the Food Pantry are available here and specific information about their Brookline Thrives program is available here.
Parking Ban Suspended
Brookline’s overnight parking ban has been suspended indefinitely.
The Brookline Select Board, in order to further implement social distancing practices, moved today to order all restaurants and bars in town to cease dine-in operations by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 16. Additionally, queues of more than 10 people inside or outside any establishment will be prohibited beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, March 16.
Restaurants may remain open and continue to offer takeout or delivery only.
Takeout patrons are urged to call ahead or place their orders online with restaurants and eateries in order to minimize face-to-face interaction and streamline the pickup process.
The Brookline Police Department and Department of Public Works are coordinating to set aside parking spaces on town streets to facilitate the takeout and delivery process.
To ease the burden these restrictions place on restaurants and eateries, the Town of Brookline has suspended its styrofoam container ban, effective immediately.
In addition, Gov. Baker has ordered that all social gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited, including within retail establishments and other businesses. Grocery stores and pharmacies are excluded from this order.
The Brookline Department of Economic Development and Long Term Planning is actively working to engage businesses and ensure their needs are met to the fullest extent possible, and minimize the impact of COVID-related regulations.
Businesses are encouraged to review the resources available to support them during the COVID-19 response, which are online here.
Town Buildings and Offices
All town buildings — with the exception of Town Hall — are closed to the public until further notice. Town Hall is open on a very limited basis, and residents are asked to call 617-730-2000 prior to visiting Town Hall.
All town personnel not assigned to roles supporting the EOC will transition to working remotely, and that transition will be completed town-wide no later than Wednesday, March 18. Police, fire and public works employees, with few exceptions, will continue to report to work and serve the community.
“Our COVID-19 task force has been working around the clock to ensure all town departments can fulfill their essential duties while practicing social distancing,” Town Administrator Kleckner said. “I want to thank our residents for their patience as we all grapple with the unique challenges of these circumstances, as well as town employees who are continuing to work and ensure the town continues to function at a high level.”
Active Town Closures/Cancellations
- Town Hall and other town facilities — except parks — are closed to the public, and only emergency personnel will work from their offices or the Emergency Operations Center until further notice. All other town staff who can will work remotely, with the transition to remote work being complete no later than Wednesday, March 18.
- All non-essential board and committee meetings are cancelled through April 30.
- Public Schools of Brookline are closed through at least Tuesday, April 7. All after-school activities and school-sponsored events are cancelled until further notice.
- Town playgrounds are closed until further notice.
- Council on Aging activities are cancelled through at least March 27.
- The senior center is closed through at least March 27.
- Recreation activities are cancelled through at least March 27.
- The Brookline Public Library is closed through at least March 27.
Prevention and What to do if you Feel Sick
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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 stay home 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.
If you feel sick, the CDC recommends:
- Calling your primary care physician before visiting them in person
- Staying home and limiting your contact with others
- Wearing a facemask if you are sick. Masks are not recommended for widespread use by healthy people.
Brookline Public Health recommends that residents continue with good hygiene practices including:
- 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.