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

Updated Thursday, April 9, 2020, at 2:00 a.m.

The toll of the virus continues to rise. According to the Department of Public Health, as of April 8, the number of deaths in Massachusetts due to COVID-19 has increased to  433, while the number of confirmed cases in the state rose to 16,790.  DPH reported that Worcester County had 1,296 cases, while neighboring Middlesex County had 3,545. Massachusetts has now tested 87,511 people for the virus.

Fire Chief Rick Sicard, Harvard’s emergency management director, has reported that cases have been confirmed in Harvard, but the Board of Health and the Emergency Management Team have chosen not to state the number. Four of the five Select Board members said they disagreed at their Tuesday night meeting, and that in the interest of transparency residents should know the results. Member Stu Sklar will draft a letter to the BOH urging a change in policy.

Contact tracing program

If you see “COVID Community Team” on your phone, answer the call; it is a trained volunteer from the state’s Community Tracing Collaborative with important information for you regarding potential exposure and what actions you should take. For a description of this program, go to www.mass.gov/covid19-updates. As of Monday, the state was still recruiting volunteers for the program. The ability to speak a foreign language is especially sought after, especially Cambodian, Haitian, and other languages prevalent in Massachusetts diverse communities.

Orders, advisories and closures

Thursday is Harvard’s 23rd day under a state of emergency. State advisories and orders aimed at slowing the spread of the virus remain in effect. 

The Board of Health joined the CDC on Thursday in advising residents to wear a cloth face mask in public settings.  The recommendation does not replace the social distancing, stay-at- home measures, and hand-washing recommendations that remain in effect. You can find the complete document here: https://bit.ly/3aXtQhQ

Only businesses designated as essential may remain open, which allows restaurants, equipment stores, garages, food stores, and package stores to continue operating, subject to state guidelines. Watch this bulletin for changes in business hours and offerings.

Fields, playgrounds, and parks, including McCurdy Track and the beach, are closed until May 4, but conservation areas such as Bowers Springs are open. The parking area overlooking Fruitlands on Prospect Hill Road is closed. For more details, see “Playing fields, parks, beach, and Conservation Trust trails,” below.

With other locales off-limits, Harvard’s conservation trails are getting heavy use. The Conservation Commission has issued new guidelines to encourage physical distancing on conservation properties. (See “Playing fields, parks, beach, and Conservation Trust trails,” in this bulletin”)

At a glance: Other national, state and local orders

  • The federal and Massachusetts 2019 individual income tax filing and payment deadlines have been extended from April 15 to July 15.
  • Motor vehicle licenses and inspection stickers due to expire between March 1 and April 30 have been granted a 60-day extension.
  • The town has extended the due date of 2020 property tax bills to June 1, 2020. This applies only to fourth quarter bills that were originally due May 1. Interest will still be applied to unpaid 2020 bills from the first, second, and third quarters.

Tracking the town

Harvard Press reporters are tracking the decisions of town government, businesses, schools, and other organizations as they adjust to state and local efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.This State of the Town site is intended 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 constantly and update the report Monday through Friday, but not on weekends, unless there is extraordinary news to report. Please send suggestions, 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 May 4. While Hildreth House is closed, the COA will provide delivery of prepackaged lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays to those who qualify. COA vans will continue to offer rides for medical appointments. Meals on Wheels will continue to be delivered. Call the COA at 978-456-4120 for more information.


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 May 4, and the season ending to June 27.


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 at least until May 4. No MIAA, local or other sports, events or gatherings are allowed, by order of the Select Board. Police have the authority to enforce this order.

Although the beach is closed, fishermen and residents may launch their boats at the beach boat ramp and head out onto the pond.

The parking area on Prospect Hill Road that overlooks Fruitlands is closed.

The 28 trails of the Harvard Conservation Trust remain open. The town is encouraging their use but the Conservation Commission has issued new guidelines. These include advice to maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet at all times, including in the parking area, at the trailhead, on the trail, and on bridges and boardwalks. For details, go to https://bit.ly/3bP2TND. For trail descriptions and maps, go to https://harvardconservationtrust.org/trails/

Walkers can also head to Devens. Sidewalks there are open, as are trails in the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. For a map of walking, running and cycling routes at Devens, go to: https://bit.ly/2Rd8x4g.


Learn to row program

The Bare Hill Rowing Association has delayed the scheduled April 13 start of its Learn to Row program. If school re-opens on May 4, the association will readjust the program dates.   


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

All public meetings are now virtual, implemented by Zoom conferencing software. 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 by phone; the number to call is on the agenda.

Residents can either join a meeting as a participant or simply watch the proceedings on the Harvard Cable TV Facebook page. Virtual meetings cannot be broadcast live on cable TV, but a recording and a transcript will be posted soon after on the HCTV Facebook page, as is currently done.

Postponed: The public input meeting to discuss the Ayer Road renovation project—previously scheduled for an April 15  Zoom conference—will be rescheduled to a time yet to be decided.  .


Town Caucus and Town Election

The March 23 Town Caucus is rescheduled to May 11. Town Meeting has been moved to June 20, and Town Election to June 23. The delay of caucus postpones 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 2020 Special State Election in the 37th Middlesex District is postponed until Tuesday, June 2, 2020. 

Town Clerk Marlene 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. The law signed by Gov. Baker last week allows taking precautions against a COVID-19 infection as a legitimate reason to request an absentee ballot. 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

Only the online store is open, with curbside pickup available Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. Order ahead, online, at www.harvardgeneralstore.com for groceries, beer, wine, bakery items, prepared foods, as well as other pantry items, and copies of the Harvard Press. Small and large Harvard trash bags were restocked March 27, and may be ordered online as well. Contact the store at online@harvardgeneralstore.com or 978-430-0062.


Fivesparks

Closed until at least May 4. 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 at least May 4. 


Eateries

  • The Devens Grill will reopen daily on Monday, April 6 from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. for takeout only. There will be a limited menu along with family style meals that will feed four to eight family members. To order visit their website devensgrill.com or call 978-862-0060.
  • Bravo Pizzeria (Boxborough): Hours are Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 978-635-0637
  • Dunkin’ Donuts: Hours are 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. at service window only.
  • Siam Pepper Thai Cuisine: Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 to 8:30 p.m. for takeout. Call 978-391-1251.  
  • Sorrento's Pizzeria: Hours unchanged; online and text ordering available. Call 978-630-0045.
  • Bull Run (Shirley): Delivering to Harvard Thursday to 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 Markoh’s on Main (Ayer): Open for takeout with curbside pickup, Tuesday to Saturday, 4 to 7 p.m. Call 978-391-4837.    
  • Il Forno (Littleton): Open for takeout with curbside pickup, Tuesday to Thursday, 4 to 7 p.m. and Friday to Sunday, 4 to 8 p.m. Order from lunch or dinner menus, il-forno.com or 978-540-2880.
  • Tiny’s Restaurant (Ayer): Open for takeout Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m to 8:30 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Delivering to Harvard Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 5 to 8:30 p.m.  978-772-2917.
  • Pizza Bella (Devens): Closed for two weeks.

Supermarkets

Governor Baker has ordered all supermarkets in Massachusetts to provide shopping hours for seniors only; those hours are listed below. Reusable bags are prohibited, and stores may not charge for plastic or paper bags. Those 60 and older are considered seniors.   

  • Market Basket:  Open daily 7 a.m to 6 p.m. Open daily 6 to 7 a.m. for seniors and disabled people only. 
  • Roche Brothers: Open daily 8 a.m to 6 p.m. Open daily 7 to 8 a.m. for seniors and disabled people only. Curbside pickup of online orders is limited. Products visible online may not be available. 
  • Donelan’s Supermarket: Open daily 8 a.m to 7 p.m. Open daily 7 to 8 a.m. for seniors and disabled people only. Online orders are suspended for now.
  • Ayer Shop ߴn Save:  Open daily 8 a.m to 8 p.m. Open daily 7 to 8 a.m. for seniors and disabled people only. 
  • Whole Foods Market: Westford store open daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Open daily 8 to 9 a.m. for seniors and disabled people. Online availability “must be confirmed at checkout,” according to the website

Loaves & Fishes

The Loaves & Fishes pantry is closed until further notice. For updates about reopening, call 978-772-4627. Or check the website https://loavesfishespantry.org or Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/loavesfishespantry/  


Household Goods 

Household Goods will remain closed throughout the duration of Governor Baker's stay-at- home advisory. There will be no donation drop-offs or donation pickups during this time. For updates about reopening, check out the Home Goods website at https://householdgoods.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

  • Friendly Crossroads: Closed until further notice. Sales of honey suspended.
  • Carlson Orchards: Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Offering apples, regular and hard cider, eggs, cheese, coffee beans, maple syrup, pantry items. Call 978-456-3916 or visit their Facebook page.
  • 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 May 4. 
  • Z Drycleaners: Closed until May 4. 
  • The Grape Vine: Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday at the Harvard store. 
  • Harvard Alpaca Ranch: Closed to visitors. Shop is open online, pickup or local delivery. Alpaca manure  available for curbside pickup, delivery for large orders. www.harvardalpacaranch.com 
  • Indian Hill Music School: No on-site activities through May 4; online instruction available. All professional concerts are canceled or postponed through the end of June.
  • Harvard Bowling Lanes: Closed until May 4.
  • Harvard Outdoor Power Equipment: Open regular hours with social distancing.
  • Mill Road Tire & Auto: Open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Toreku Tractor and Equipment: Open regular hours with social distancing.
  • Right at Home in Harvard: Open for business. For information about EVlder Care Services offered in Harvard, call 978-391-1700 or goto www.inhomecarema.com
  • Alltown Fresh (Ayer) is offering three prepackaged crates of groceries—meat, produce and pantry--for curbside pickup. For more information, call 978-757-2050 or go to https://alltownfresh.com/ways-to-shop

Miscellaneous

  • Harvard Sportsmen's Club: The indoor and outdoor shooting ranges are closed; April meeting and breakfast are canceled. 
  • Garden Club: The Garden Club’s April meeting and its annual plant sale in May are both canceled. The annual meeting will be rescheduled from June to fall.
  • 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


Harvard’s Emergency Management Team has released a nine-minute video that provides a comprehensive report on actions taken thus far to protect residents, while continuing to provide vital town services. To view, goto https://bit.ly/2ULQYdB.

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.

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.

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