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DESE Issues Mask Mandate for 2021-2022 School Year

On August 25, 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (“DESE”) implemented a requirement that all public school students (age 5 and above), staff members and building visitors wear a mask indoors through at least October 1, 2021.  In particular, the mandate specifies that: Masks should cover an individual’s nose and mouth; While […]

DESE Updates Masking Guidelines

On July 30, 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (“DESE”) released a memorandum containing updated guidelines on masking, COVID-19 testing, and quarantine protocols – the guidance can be found here: DESE Guidance. Guidelines on masking are as follows: DESE strongly recommends that all students in kindergarten through grade 6 wear masks when […]

Appeals Court Addresses Public Records Law Requirements for Public Bodies

On July 19, 2021, the Appeals Court issued a decision, Bradley v. Records Access Officer, Department of State Police (20-P-0419) holding a public body violated M.G.L. c. 66, §§ 10 and 10A, (the “Public Records Law”) in ignoring an individual’s requests for public records and directives from the Commonwealth’s Supervisor of Public Records (“SPR”) to […]

CDC Relaxes Guidelines on Masks In School

On July 9, 2021 the CDC updated its guidance for schools, saying that only individuals who are not fully vaccinated need to wear masks while indoors and directed all schools to reopen, even in areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is elevated. Additionally, in general people do not need to wear masks when outdoors (i.e., […]

Federal Court Rules Against Teacher Who Refused to Use Transgender Students’ Preferred Pronouns

On July 12, 2021, a federal judge in Indiana ruled against a former teacher who alleged that his employer, a local high school, discriminated against him when it requested his resignation after the teacher continuously refused to call transgender students by their chosen names and pronouns. The Indiana case was precipitated by the school district’s […]

Supreme Court Denies New Hampshire Income Tax Lawsuit

On June 28, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit filed by the State of New Hampshire asserting that a pandemic-era Massachusetts’s income tax policy was unconstitutional. At issue was a temporary tax rule adopted by Massachusetts that sought to maintain the pre-pandemic status quo for filing obligations, and thereby spare Massachusetts […]

Supreme Court Issues Important Decision Ruling that a Student’s Suspension from Cheerleading Based on Her “Off-Campus” Snapchat Post Violated the First Amendment but Also Indicating that Some “Off-Campus” Speech – Such as Bullying or Harassment – May be Regulated

The Specific Parameters Remain to be Developed in the Lower Courts, Including a Pending Cyberbullying Case in which VDH, Working with the NSBA, has Filed a Brief.    More than 50 years ago, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision regarding student speech rights. In Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Community Sch. District, 393 US […]

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Remote Meeting Bill

On Wednesday, June 16, 2021, Governor Baker signed “An Act Relative to Extending Certain COVID-19 Measures Adopted During the State of Emergency” into law. This bill extends remote open meeting measures that had been in place under the “Order Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, § 20,” until April 1, […]

Remote Open Meeting Bill Remains Pending in Massachusetts Legislature

The Massachusetts state of emergency will lift at 12:01 am on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.  This will also render the current executive order permitting remote open meetings, “Order Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, § 20”, ineffective and void. On May 25, 2021, Governor Baker filed “An Act to Temporarily […]

Massachusetts Legislature Enacts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

On May 28, 2021, the Massachusetts legislature passed “An Act Providing For Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave.”  The Act requires all private and public employers within Massachusetts to offer employees leave time for COVID-19 related issues. This mandate is in effect from May 28, 2021 until September 30, 2021, or the exhaustion of the […]