Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Mayor's Update
Updates on City of Newton Operations

The City of Newton is moving forward with new precautionary measures in an effort to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19.

In line with the advice from the Commonwealth, the City of Newton is postponing, modifying, or cancelling (or holding virtually) discretionary and/or large gatherings scheduled and hosted by the City involving the public. These include many programs offered by the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department and the Department of Senior Services, among others. We will also be modifying the use of City facilities by outside groups. Regular business and internal business will continue for now, including but not limited to mandated public hearings and Council, Board and Commission meetings. When possible, we will encourage the public to send emails for public comment and will try to use alternatives like conference calls and other group communication tools.

These recommendations are effective immediately, Wednesday, March 11. We acknowledge that deciding which activities are discretionary and/or large can be a difficult judgment call and the decisions may change as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Check the City of Newton website for information on specific programs.

Updated Guidance for People at Higher Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness

The people who are at higher risk include:

  • People, regardless of age, with underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those with severely weakened immune systems.
  • Older adults. The risk begins to increase over 50 and increases significantly with age, with persons over age 70 and 80 in the highest risk categories.

In line with advice from the CDC and MDPH, we strongly urge that persons in the above categories do the following:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid travelling on cruises and airplanes.
  • Reduce as much as possible your presence in large gatherings of people.

Not Feeling Well, or Have Travelled Internationally Recently

Before deciding to go to the hospital,  please call your primary care provider  and tell them about your symptoms and if you’ve travelled to any of the areas listed in the CDC travel warnings which can be found here.

They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t leave your home and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others. If you need to call 911, provide these same details; tell them about your symptoms and if you’ve traveled to any of the areas listed in the CDC travel warnings.

More information on how to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 can be found here.

Updated Information about Newton Public Schools

Superintendent David Fleishman is sending out right now the following email to the Newton Public Schools community:

In an effort to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all evening and community events in our facilities effective immediately and until further notice. All field trips will also be cancelled immediately. We have made this decision in consultation with the Newton Department of Health and Human Services. This decision is consistent with the state’s latest guidance for meetings and events which was announced yesterday. The City of Newton is also cancelling large public gatherings and many programs.  

I know our decision to restrict access to our facilities will raise lots of questions. Here are some examples of events that will be cancelled beginning tonight:

  • Community events and meetings
  • Student performances
  • PTO meetings and other parent events
  • Adult education classes
  • Use of buildings by non-school groups

We will continue to offer before school and after school care at our elementary schools, as well as after school programs and classes run by Newton Community Education. After school activities at the secondary level will continue including athletics, rehearsals, and clubs, although we will not have outside spectators at indoor events. The Newton School Committee meetings will take place as scheduled.

In addition, the use of school buildings by non-school groups will be discontinued until further notice. We know this has a real impact on our residents and community organizations who provide valuable programs and activities. 

We are fully aware that these decisions have significant ramifications and are difficult for our students, staff, families and community members. The cancellation of many meaningful activities will be a great disappointment to those who have worked very hard. However, we believe these steps are necessary given the guidance from the state and the current status of the COVID-19 situation. We want to do our part to limit the spread of the virus and to reduce the risk of infection for our community.

I recognize that the information in this message will raise a lot of questions regarding specific events and activities. We are in the process of developing an FAQ which should answer many of your questions. 

Thank you for your understanding and support during this rapidly changing and unsettling time.

For Newton-specific information and answers to frequently asked questions, click here .

For information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, click here .

For information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here .