The 2020 Rose Garden farmers’ market kicked off its season on June 13 with Covid-19 restrictions in place, according to organizer Mary Toulouse. Patrons were required, under the current yellow restrictions, to wear masks, practice social distancing, and be limited to 25 persons within the cordoned-off market area. “People are being very smart” about this, said Toulouse as market patrons were coming and going with purchases in hand. About 10 vendors participated on the initial weekend. Toulouse said the market will run each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Oct. 10.
BASD voted to approve (7-0) a nearly $302 million budget at a special meeting June 15. The budget does not include an increase in the tax rates for Northampton County or Lehigh County, instead using $2 million from the district’s fund balance to meet the shortfall between revenue and expenditures. This is the second consecutive year that BASD has passed a zero-percentage-increase budget. Seven of nine board members (all but Winston Alozie and Craig Neiman) were present at the meeting via Zoom.
The Saucon Valley School Board, which has been running meetings virtually through the Zoom application switched to a “webinar format,” which became necessary after the aborted May 26 meeting, which saw over 200 people try to attend.
The crowd, which included many teachers and other district employees attending in anticipation of discussion of necessary budgetary cuts, was too large for the regular application to contain and several board members were not able to join the “room,” necessitating the postponement and ultimate cancellation of the meeting.
Knowing what is open or closed, as well as what restrictions apply, has been a challenge for the past 10 weeks. Beginning at 8 p.m. March 25, Northampton and Lehigh counties have been under a “stay at home” order. For people of faith – who might have expected First Amendment protections to afford houses of worship at least the same level of openness as grocery stores – the situation has an additional layer of frustration and confusion.
As more counties move to yellow and green, Governor Tom Wolf has issued an order to elaborate on the reopening process for green phase counties and guidance on outdoor dining in yellow counties, dining in green counties, and professional sports in yellow counties.
Green Phase updated order
The governor elaborated on green phase guidelines announced on May 22 by issuing an updated order for counties in the green phase of reopening.
The orders from Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine update existing yellow phase orders with these revisions:
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is joining U.S. Senators Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), with Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA-37) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), as an original cosponsor of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.
Governor Tom Wolf has announced that 12 more counties will move to the Green phase of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic Friday – and they include Lehigh and Northampton.
Wolf said, “It’s a testament to the many residents and businesses that have sacrificed over the past three months to stay home and adhere to the guidance the state has provided to protect lives and livelihoods. As we begin to reopen, I urge everyone to stay alert and continue to follow social distancing to maintain the momentum of mitigation we have in place.”
After two days of discussion, Northampton County Council on June 18 unanimously approved a plan for the distribution of $27.6 million in CARES Act funding that will help the county get back on its feet after a lengthy business shutdown. Priority must be given to small business grants; tourism; municipal and community assistance; mental health and addiction projects; nonprofit assistance; and broadband development. But council added one condition. It must approve all grants before they are awarded.
An estimated 55 million school children in the United States remained out of their classrooms the past few months because of the coronavirus. Parents already overwhelmed with the responsibility of homeschooling are faced with having to continue home studies this summer and possibly into the fall term.