Small-town Massachusetts restaurant recovers from big changes

When COVID-19 shut everything down in March of last year, it hurt many businesses and restaurants to the point where they couldn’t recover. Bueno Malo, a small restaurant in the suburban town of Andover, Massachusetts, was not one of these. Despite the suddenness of the lockdown, co-owner Franco Lozano said that he even felt a little more prepared than most people when the world shut down. “We went through the gas disaster a few years ago,” said Lozano, referring to the gas explosions that hit three different Massachusetts towns in September of 2018, affecting many businesses. On the day of the explosions, a gas burner in the kitchen of Bueno Malo caught fire causing them to close.

With restrictions lifting, pools are opening in Massachusetts

Karen O’Connell is about to put the Dedham area on blast and let people know that the pools are open for the summer. “Because we were closed for so long, a lot of people started swimming other places,” said O’Connell.” I think I’m just going to send out another memo saying that we are fully open like, ‘Love to see you back’.”

On May 29, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order ending the Massachusetts State of Emergency. This order rescinded most of the COVID-19 restrictions, including limitations placed on businesses. Bakers’ announcement turned out to be extremely helpful for the many pools, membership or not, in the state. 

One place that this announcement ended up helping was the Dedham Recreation Department, which opened up just after the announcement was made. Karen O’Connell, the aquatics director at Dedham, said reopening has been easy since they don’t have to worry about restrictions. 

“Reopening has actually been pretty awesome,” said O’Connell.

Okemos Public Schools changes mascot

When the nation looked in on itself, evaluating its systemic racism and fighting for social justice, the Okemos Public Schools decided it was time to reconsider its mascot. 

“Last summer with this renewed focus on racism and social justice, we got feedback from many alumni, current students, and community members asking us to evaluate this,” said Dean Bolton, the president of the Okemos School Board. “It was time to make sure that everything was aligned with our efforts.”

On May 24, the board held a meeting and voted unanimously to change the mascot from the Chiefs or Chieftains into something else. When voting on this, they had to make sure that it aligned with their equity plan and strategic plans – plans that they have had since before the pandemic. Bolton has said that both of these plans heavily address diversity and equity inclusion issues. This has been a topic of discussion for more than 30 years, Bolton said.

Remote learning reveals the digital divide in Michigan runs deeper than devices

The digital divide among students with different at-home resources has existed for years, but the pandemic brings the gap to the state’s attention. Full-time remote learning has revealed disparities beyond devices and internet access, including varied transportation, tech support, and parental support available to students at home. 

Access to devices is just the start

Cathy Mikesell, a 4th grade teacher in the Woodhaven school district, said students in Downriver districts are generally equipped with devices and Wi-Fi. “Everybody in my class, and I think in my school, has the internet,” she said. “If they didn’t have a computer, the school gave them a Chromebook. We’re really good with that, and that’s not the case everywhere, I’m sure.”

Rachel Lott, a speech therapist from Southgate, also said her district had plenty of devices to spare. 

Income comparisons of districts mentioned.

Award-winning teachers say what a longer post-COVID school year would need

Michigan Schools Superintendent Michael Rice has floated the idea that, to help students catch up on instruction lost during the COVOD-19 pandemic, the 2021-2022 school year be extended.

Here, award-winning teachers from throughout Michigan react to or propose ideas for that suggestion.