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6 things parents can do to keep students safe from COVID-19

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6 things parents can do to keep students safe from COVID-19

Kids all over California have returned to school, but in a time where COVID-19 or the delta variant is on every parent’s mind, what can be done to get the peace of mind that their children are safe in the classroom?

California state officials have taken some of the most progressive steps in the country to ensure that schools open up safely and take every measure to protect staff and students. The state has set aside $25 billion for schools to upgrade classroom ventilation, hire more teachers and staff, provide COVID-19 testing, mental health resources and more.

Parents can also do their part to protect their students. Here are some steps parents can take keep their children safe when they go to school:

  1. Have your child wear a mask – it’s simple and effective.
  2. Teach your child to wash their hands regularly.
  3. Ask your child’s school about COVID-19 testing – it’s the best way to detect the virus before your child even feels sick.
  4. Talk to your child’s school to learn more about the air quality in their classrooms.
  5. Keep your child home if they are feeling sick and let their school know.
  6. Get your family vaccinated! It’s the best way to train your immune system to fight COVID-19.

Schedule your family’s vaccine appointment or find walk-in vaccination sites now at MyTurn.ca.gov (available in multiple languages) or by calling (833) 422-4255. It’s safe, it’s free, and it’s the best way to keep children safe from COVID-19 at school. For more information on how schools are keeping safe, parents can visit CA Safe Schools for All.

Feature Image via CDPH

This post was created by NextShark with the California Department of Public Health

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State tax collections continue rapid pace in November

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State tax collections continue rapid pace in November

State tax collectors hauled in $2.416 billion last month, keeping the recent trend of above-benchmark receipts going as the November total exceeded Baker administration expectations by almost 9%.

The Department of Revenue said that preliminary revenue collections for November 2021 were $289 million or 13.6% greater than actual collections in November 2020 and $192 million or 8.7% above the administration’s monthly benchmark amount.

Revenue Commissioner Geoffrey Snyder said that last month’s collections increased in most major tax types — including withholding, sales and use tax, and the “all other” category — in comparison to November 2020.

“The increase in withholding is likely related to improvements in labor market conditions. The sales and use tax increase in part reflects continued strength in retail sales and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The increase in ‘all other’ tax is primarily attributable to estate tax, a category that tends to fluctuate, as well as room occupancy excise,” Snyder said.

Now five months into fiscal 2022, the state has collected approximately $13.612 billion from residents, workers and businesses, which is $2.145 billion or 18.7% more than collections in the same period of fiscal 2021 and $914 million or 7.2% more than what DOR expected to have collected at this point in the year.

Fiscal 2021 produced a surplus of roughly $5 billion, the last of which will be redeployed by Beacon Hill when Gov. Charlie Baker signs the $4 billion American Rescue Plan Act and surplus spending bill that the Legislature finalized Friday.

– Colin A. Young/SHNS

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Lydia Edwards talks Methadone Mile and free MBTA with sights set on State House

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Lydia Edwards talks Methadone Mile and free MBTA with sights set on State House

City Councilor Lydia Edwards is looking to shed City Hall for Beacon Hill, where she would be a big progressive ally to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu in the quest for a free MBTA, but says the two are at odds on other issues.

“On some issues we’ve disagreed,” Edwards said during a Sunday appearance on WCVB’s “On the Record,” pointing to the 2020 police budget, in which she backed then-Mayor Marty Walsh’s plan slashing $12 million in overtime funding from the Boston Police. Wu voted against the budget.

Edwards has been endorsed by progressive allies of Wu including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, but in Sunday’s interview attempted to distance herself from lockstep politics.

“When it comes to the police budget, I have been very clear. I believe in fiscal responsibility. One of the biggest reforms we’re pushing for is overtime reform,” Edwards said.

The city councilor from East Boston said she wants to “bring to scale” programs that already exist, like street outreach teams to reduce the reliance on public safety in all situations.

Specifically, she pointed to the addiction crisis at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard as a place where alternative resources are needed.

The area disparagingly referred to as “Methadone Mile” has become a hotbed of drug addiction and homelessness in recent years and reached crisis proportions amid the pandemic as a major tent encampment popped up.

“This needs a regional response, not pass the buck,” Edwards said, emphasizing that communities around Greater Boston need to work together to solve the issues there.

“We don’t have a choice but to come together and come up with resources that we all share,” Edwards said.

If she makes the step from City Hall to the State House, Edwards said she would continue to fight for a free MBTA — carrying the Wu campaign issue. Democratic opponent Anthony D’Ambrosio has bucked the idea.

“The best thing we can do is make sure that public transportation is free,” Edwards said. “That is going to make sure that people have access to jobs, access to homes and that there’s a sustainable model that we can look to.”

D’Ambrosio, a Revere School Committee member, faces off against her in the special primary election on Dec. 14.

The general election takes place on Jan. 11, next year. No Republican candidates are running.

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Senator says businesses bearing burden of unemployment fraud

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Senator says businesses bearing burden of unemployment fraud

Candidate for state auditor, state Sen. Diana DiZoglio is calling for “sorely needed clarity” in the effort to replenish the unemployment trust — drained during the pandemic — with businesses apparently on the hook to pay back an eye-popping $7 billion — including nearly $2 billion in fraud.

“It is important that we know precisely how much of this deficit is due to fraud and overpayment issues which, we should add, should not be up to employers to pay for,” DiZoglio, D-Methuen, wrote in a Dec. 3 letter to Gov. Charlie Baker, signed by a group of bipartisan lawmakers.

The unemployment insurance fund — which is funded through a tax on employers — may have wracked up $7 billion in debt amid an unprecedented number of claims during the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Unemployment Assistance has said.

As much as $1.6 billion in Massachusetts unemployment benefits payouts made amid the pandemic could be fraudulent, according to the the National Conference of State Legislatures and the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Mom and pop shops are left shouldering the burden of fraudulent claims,” DiZoglio told the Herald in an interview. She is calling for a full accounting and vowed to audit the Unemployment Insurance Fund and others cashing in on pandemic relief dollars should she win the auditor’s seat.

Lawmakers have authorized bonding the Unemployment Insurance debt so that it can be spread out over 20 years and paid for through  increased fees to businesses.

But the Baker administration said last week it still doesn’t actually know how much money it will ultimately borrow to cover the cost of the unprecedented number of pandemic-era claims. The Department of Unemployment Assistance recently reported to the Treasury a $2.9 billion positive balance, “creating tremendous uncertainty” amid a continued lack of transparency, DiZoglio said.

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