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State of the Town: Latest news of COVID-19 closings, cancellations, and postponements

Updated March 25, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.

Today Gov. Charlie Baker announced that all public and private Massachusetts schools as well as all non-emergency day care centers will remain closed until Monday, May 4.

All non-essential businesses in the state are now closed until at least April 7. The list of essential businesses is available at https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-essential-services/download.

Emergency day care is available for health care workers, grocery store employees, emergency response personnel, law enforcement, transportation and sanitation workers, and others who may have no options. Parents must reach out to the programs to determine hours. There is no fee, as the state is funding the programs.The full list of exempt providers is available at eeclead.force.com/resource/1584817665000/EEC_EmergencyProviderList  It includes one provider in Littleton, one in Ayer, and two in Hudson. 

The Department of Public Health reported today that as of 4 p.m., the tally of deaths due to coronavirus in Massachusetts has climbed to 15. The number of confirmed cases in the state has risen to 1,838, up from the 1,159 reported yesterday. So far, no confirmed cases or deaths have been reported by the Harvard Board of Health.

In other news, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department have said that tax filings and payments for all federal income taxes (including self-employment tax) due April 15, 2020, regardless of amount, will now be due July 15, 2020.

Locally, town parks, the town beach, the Common, the McCurdy Track, and Harvard’s athletic fields have been closed since last week. Tuesday night, the Board of Health voted unanimously to support reopening the athletic fields and the McCurdy Track. 

The Select Board is holding a public virtual meeting on Thursday, March 26, at 11:30 a.m.to discuss the town’s response to COVID-19. Information on how to attend virtually is on the posted agenda.

Harvard Press reporters are tracking the decisions of Harvard’s town government, businesses, schools, and other organizations as they adjust to state and local efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. We’ve created this State of the Town site to provide readers with a single source of verified information on what’s open, what’s not, and what may lie ahead. We review this information daily and update the page as needed; please send additions, updates, and corrections to editor@harvardpress.net.


Need help or want to help?

The Harvard Council on Aging is setting up an “Adopt a Senior” program to make trips for groceries and supplies for homebound seniors. Volunteers must be willing to get a CORI, be trained in and use proper safety procedures, and be available to help one or two seniors. Volunteers should call the COA at 978-456-4120, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and ask to speak with COA Director Debbie Thompson. Seniors in need should call the COA to be matched with a volunteer.

Nextdoor Harvard now has a Help Map feature, which allows residents to sign up to help neighbors or to get help from a neighbor who has signed up. Nextdoor Harvard leader Robert Curran posted that residents who sign up to help will be warned to take precautions when offering assistance, such as performing common-sense decontamination, and initiating noncontact interactions (leaving items on doorsteps, and arranging for remote reimbursement, for example). The Help Map appears on computer browsers on the Nextdoor homepage in a box to the right of the main column. On the Nextdoor mobile app or in a mobile browser, it will be a choice in the “More” selection of the main dropdown window. 


Town Hall

The building is closed to the public until further notice. Town personnel are continuing to report for work either at Town Hall or at home and can be reached by phone or email during regular business hours, Monday through Thursday, at 978-456-4100 or harvard.ma.us. For information on how to access the town administration, the town clerk’s office, land use offices, finance department (including treasurer/tax collector and assessor), or inspectional services (building, electric, gas, plumbing), go to    https://www.harvard.ma.us/home/urgent-alerts/access-town-departments-during-town-hall-closure.


Public Safety Building

Open hours have not changed, but all business will be conducted at the window only. Hours are Monday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sundays. 


Council on Aging

Hildreth House is closed, but staff is available by phone and email. All programs and gatherings  are canceled until at least April 17. The COA will provide delivery of prepackaged lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays to any senior in town who signs up for lunch delivery while Hildreth House is closed. Call the COA at 978-456-4120 to put your name on the list. Deliveries will be placed outside the door; there will be no contact between the delivery person and the recipient. COA vans will continue to offer rides for medical appointments. Meals on Wheels will continue to be delivered.


Library

The Harvard Public Library building is closed until further notice, but many of the library’s resources are still accessible. 

Please do not return items while the library is closed. All items that were recently checked out will be renewed automatically, and all fines for overdue items will be waived. 

Library staff will be present to answer reference questions and other queries by email or telephone. The children's department is launching virtual storytimes several mornings a week. 

The online Spring Reading Challenge for Children started last week.  There is a link to the program on the library's homepage

https://www.harvardpubliclibrary.org/children/blog/spring-reading-challenge 

The library has a variety of online resources for both adults and children, including eBooks and eAudiobooks. It has also created virtual versions of some children’s programs, including the Lego Expo and the Edible Books Contest.  

The library is now offering instant eCards for residents who may not have a card. There is a link to this service on the library’s homepage which then connects you to this page:

https://www.harvardpubliclibrary.org/about/programs/no-card-no-problem-new-temporary-ecards-available  

The instant eCards work only with the Overdrive collection of eResources, but that is the largest of the collections.

Check harvardpubliclibrary.org for further updates. . 


Transfer Station

Open at regularly scheduled hours, but with restrictions. Punch card items will not be accepted at this time; town officials are working on a policy for extending card expirations. People must keep 6 feet apart from others, drop their trash and recyclables, and leave. All gatherings are prohibited. The “take it or leave it” section is closed. 


Schools

All public and private elementary and public schools in the state are closed until at least Monday, May 4. 


Village Nursery School

Closed at least until Monday, May 4.  


School athletics

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association (MIAA) has postponed the start of spring season until April 27. As that date approaches, the MIAA board will revisit its decision.


Town playing fields, parks, beach, and Conservation Trust trails

All playing fields, parks, playgrounds, the town beach, the Common, and the McCurdy Track  in Harvard are closed until further notice. The 28 trails of the Harvard Conservation Trust remain open. (For trail descriptions and maps go to https://harvardconservationtrust.org/trails/)


Summer beach programs

No change; registration is open. See beach webpage at www.harvard.ma.us/node/34/news for more information.


Town committee and board meetings

In-person meetings of town committees and boards are canceled. All public meetings are now virtual, implemented by Zoom conferencing software, which is also the choice of several neighboring towns. Participants can join a posted meeting via Zoom by clicking on the link that appears at the top of the posted meeting agenda. There is no need to download or install software. For the agendas and times of upcoming meetings, go to https://www.harvard.ma.us/calendar-by-event-type/16. Meetings can also be joined via phone; the number to call is also on the agenda.

Committee chairs will continue to send their agendas to Town Clerk Marlene Kenney 48 hours in advance of their meeting times. Instead of assigning a group a physical meeting room in Town Hall or elsewhere, she will assign one of four available virtual meeting rooms. Residents can either join a meeting as a participant or simply watch the proceedings on the Harvard Cable TV Facebook page. Because they will no longer be held in a physical room, meetings will not be broadcast live on cable. However, a recording and a transcript will be posted soon after on the HCTV Facebook page, as is currently done.


Town Caucus and Town Election

The March 23 Town Caucus was rescheduled to May 11. The Town Election has been moved to June 23. The delay of caucus delays the nomination of candidates for several open seats on the Select Board, School Committee, Library Trustees, and Warner Free Lecture Trustees.


Special 37th Middlesex State Election

The March 31, 2020 Special State Election in the 37th Middlesex District has been postponed until Tuesday, June 2, 2020. 

Town Clerk Kenney has encouraged voters to vote by absentee ballots and to mail them to Town Hall rather than risk coronavirus exposure by venturing out to the polls. To apply, visit the town clerk's webpage at https://www.harvard.ma.us/town-clerk. Contact the town clerk's office at (978) 456-4100 or by email at mkenney@harvard.ma.us for more information or with any questions.


MassDevelopment

The offices at 33 Andrews Parkway in Devens are closed to the public. The Devens Fire Department, Department of Public Works & Recreation, and Devens Utilities will continue providing essential services to the community.


Churches

  • St. Theresa’s Catholic Church: Masses are canceled on Sundays, weekdays, and Holy Days of Obligation until further notice. 
  • Harvard Unitarian Church: Worship services and programs are canceled until further notice. Virtual services will be conducted via Zoom; for details see uuharvard.org 
  • Congregational Church: Services will be held online until further notice; see the church’s Facebook page for instructions

General Store

Closed Wednesday, March 25. More information will be available on Thursday, March 26.


Fivesparks

Closed until at least April 6. Links to online classes of interest will be posted on the website, which will be updated regularly.


Fruitlands Museum

The museum and grounds are closed until April 7. 


Eateries

  • Dunkin’ Donuts: Reduced hours are 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Siam Pepper Thai Cuisine: Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 to 8:45 p.m. Take-out services only; DoorDash delivery available.  
  • Sorrento's Pizzeria: Hours unchanged; take-out service only, online and text ordering available. 
  • Bull Run (Shirley): Delivering to Harvard Thursday through Saturday, 3 to 8:45 p.m., Wednesday and Sunday, 3 to 8 p.m. Featuring "family meals to go," pizza, and extensive delivery menu. Details at bullrunrestaurant.com/menus.
  • Lucia’s Tavola and Markohs on Main (Ayer): Closed this week for an updated takeout menu. Call for updates at 978-391-4837.    

Supermarkets:

All supermarkets have closed in-store dining areas, and most have closed salad bars and other self-serve food areas. 

  • Market Basket:  Effective Monday, March 23, regular hours are 7 a.m to 6 p.m., daily. Shopping hours for those 60 years and older are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday,  5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. 
  • Roche Brothers: Effective Wednesday, March 25, regular hours are 8 a.m to 6 p.m daily. Customers 60 years or older and disabled persons may begin shopping at 7 a.m. Time slots for curbside pickup service and online ordering are extremely limited, as is availability for some products. Products that are visible during online shopping may not be available. The butcher counter is closed. The deli is open, but many deli items are also available, packaged, in refrigerated cases. 
  • Donelan’s Supermarket: Open daily 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. No designated senior hours yet. Online orders are suspended for now.
  • Ayer Shop ‘n Save: Open regular hours, Monday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Shopping hours for seniors and disabled people are 7 to 8 a.m. 
  • Whole Foods Market: Reduced hours for the Westford store are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Customers 60 or older may begin shopping at 8 a.m. daily. As for online shopping, the store’s website states, “Inventory and delivery may be temporarily unavailable due to increased demand. Confirm availability at checkout.”

Loaves & Fishes

The pantry is open as a drive-through service only; recorded message at 978-772-4627. Volunteers must sign up in advance by email, volunteer@loavesfishespantry.org  


Pharmacies

Ayer Family Pharmacy, Acton Pharmacy (in West Acton), and CVS Pharmacy in Acton are all offering free delivery to Harvard. CVS also offers video MinuteClinic visits, see the website for details. 


Banks

Rollstone Bank, Middlesex Savings Bank, and Main Street Bank are now conducting service at drive-through windows only. Call to access safety deposit boxes or conduct in-bank transactions


Veterinarians

  • Harvard Family Pet Clinic: Open regular hours for urgent or routine care. Call two weeks ahead for medicine refills or prescription food, shipping services are experiencing delays.
  • Shepherd Veterinary Clinic: Open regular hours for urgent or routine care. Pet owners must stay outside the building while pets are being treated; phone the posted number when you arrive.

Other businesses

  • The Fiber Loft: Closed until further notice.
  • Harvard Kennels: Closed until further notice.
  • Bodylines Pilates: Studio is closed. Offering virtual classes, see the website for more information.
  • Harvard Cleaners: Closed until April 7. 
  • Z Drycleaners: Closed until April 7. 
  • The Grape Vine: Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday at the Harvard store. 
  • Indian Hill Music School: No on-site activities through at least April 5; online instruction available.
  • Harvard Bowling Lanes: Closed until April 7.
  • Harvard Outdoor Power Equipment: Open regular hours with social distancing.
  • Toreku Tractor and Equipment: Open regular hours with social distancing

Miscellaneous

  • Garden Club: March meetings of the Garden Club and Garden Club Board are canceled.
  • Alcoholic Anonymous at the Congregational Church on Wednesday nights is canceled until further notice.
  • Firefighter training/classes: Fire academy training has been suspended. Only career recruit classes have been deemed essential; all call/volunteer classes have been suspended. 
  • Nashoba Nursing Service & Hospice: All Well-Adult Clinics are canceled until the end of April. Updated schedules are available at www.nashoba.org.

For updates on scheduled happenings around town, go to our online Current Events page at https://www.harvardpress.com/Happenings/Current-Events


Up-to-date information on COVID-19 is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov and at mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19. Massachusetts residents can also subscribe to up-to-the-minute notifications from state health officials by texting COVIDMA to 888-777. The nonprofit mass211.org provides free, confidential information in several languages, both on its website and for callers who dial 211; callers may experience delays because of the high volume of calls.


If you have not done so yet, please register for MyConnect on the town website to receive townwide announcements as either a phone call, email, or text message. To sign up, click the “One-Step Notification Sign Up Now” button on the town website home page. All announcements will also be posted on the town website. Questions regarding town operations during the COVID-19 emergency may be emailed to asktheTA@Harvard.ma.us. The town website also has a COVID-19 page with various updates from the Town Administrator at https://www.harvard.ma.us/home/news/coronavirus-covid-19..

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