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More Vermont courthouses ready to reopen for live trials

April 11, 2021 GMT

Eight Vermont courthouses are once again ready for jury trials.

The Vermont Judiciary announced recently that the move comes after a year of work to construct barriers, test and improve air circulation and filtration systems, and develop process and facility enhancements to allow for social distancing to make them COVID-19 safe.

Two other courthouses are expected to be approved for 12-person jury trials in the coming weeks. Several are also ready for six-person jury trials, which could be used in some civil trials if all parties agree on the reduction of jury size.

Courts now available for jury trials are the county courthouses in Woodstock, Hyde Park, Chelsea and Burlington and the state courthouses in St. Johnsbury, Rutland, Barre and Brattleboro.

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The courts expect approval soon for jury trials at state court facilities in St. Albans, Bennington, Middlebury and Burlington.

The county court building in Rutland is expected to be approved later this spring.

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MAINE

Schools across Maine have reopened for in-person learning, but many school districts are having trouble finding enough bus drivers to get kids to class.

Gabe Dostie, director of transportation for the Gardiner-based Maine School Administrative District 11, told the Kennebec Journal that attracting bus drivers has been an issue for some time, but the problem has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

The bus driver shortage is “100% a statewide issue,” Maine Department of Education spokesperson Kelli Deveaux said.

“School districts across Maine have been using bonuses, offered paid training programs and even worked with other employment and training organizations to try and entice people to join our bus driver workforce,” Deveaux said.

Readfield-based Regional School Unit 38 Superintendent Jay Charette had to cancel school a couple of times recently because there was no driver available to transport students to school.

MSAD 11 Superintendent Pat Hopkins at a recent school board meeting said she was “practically begging” for parents to drive their kids to school.

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The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported more than 200 new cases of COVID-19 but no additional virus-related fatalities.

The cumulative number of confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state is now almost 54,000. Deaths remained at 750.

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RHODE ISLAND

Almost 2,700 people of color recieved a COVID-19 vaccination at a equity-focused clinic in Providence this weekend.

“We’ve seen how this pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color so the more people that are vaccinated the better it is for all of us,” Providence City Councilor Nirva LaFortune told WPRI-TV.

Some people of color are hesitant to get the vaccine, but seeing members of the community and medical staff who look like them puts them at ease, volunteers said.

“They feel safe. They feel they will be treated with respect. They feel if they have a concern they will be listened too,” Dr. Katrina Byrd said.

Interpreters for seven languages were available at the clinic.

More equity-focused vaccination clinics are scheduled for Woonsocket and Providence.

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CONNECTICUT

High school proms and graduation ceremonies can take place this spring but should have precautions in place to reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19, Connecticut’s Department of Public Health said.

Attendees should wear masks and practice social distancing regardless of their vaccination status, the department said. Events also should be held outdoors with a scheduled rain date, rather than moving indoors.

Schools holding indoor events should consider reducing capacity, health officials said. Also, delaying events until later in the school year or after the end of the school year will give more students the opportunity to be vaccinated. The state recommended schools set up mass testing sites and require attendees to show proof of a negative test result within 72 hours of the event.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

The vaccination site at Nashua High School South will be moved to a different location on Monday, officials said.

Anyone scheduled for an appointment at the high school should instead report to the former Sears at the Pheasant Lane Mall, according to the state.

Appointment times are not changing.

The state Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reported 415 new positive coronavirus tests and one more virus-related death.

There have now been nearly 89,000 known cases of the disease in the state, while deaths increased to 1,257.

The death reported Sunday occurred in February but was only recently confirmed as related to COVID-19.

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MASSACHUSETTS

The state Department of Public Health reported more than 1,800 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and eight more virus-related deaths on Sunday.

The number of estimated active cases across the state is now more than 36,000, up from a little more than 25,000 two weeks ago.

The confirmed death toll from the disease in the state is now 17,042.

There are almost 700 people in the state’s hospitals with the disease.

The 20- to 29-age group has had the most new cases in the past two weeks, according to the state.