Belmont Schools Readying Online Ed Support For Students Stuck At Home

Photo: Online initiative set to start in Belmont next week. (Pexels photo)

The Belmont school district next week will launch an online initiative to help students retain learning they were taught during the school year while enriching that experience since being away from the classroom due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Following the lead of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MDESE), the district’s Leadership Council and teachers are creating a plan to provide to students and families online options “to practice, deepen, and enrich what has been taught,” said Belmont Superintendent John Phelan in an email dated Wednesday, March 18.

The plan will include practicing skills and content already taught, deepen students understanding of the content, and enrich what they have learned.

In addition, the initiative will give students and teachers an opportunity to meet each other again since last Friday when district schools shut down and provide “some sense of social interaction and connection in this time of physical distancing,” said Phelan.

What this plan is not is “distance learning”, said Phelan, who is following the MESE guidelines. “We are not teaching new content or skills,” said Phelan.

Teachers will be updated on the plan as of Wednesday, March 18, and principals will contact families on Thursday, March 19. Teachers will then connect with families between Friday morning, March 20, and Monday afternoon, March 23.

Additional news from Superintendent Phelan:

  • MEAL DRIVE-THRU HOURS: Meal pick-up window for Wednesday, March 25 will be 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. “We want to emphasize this is a drive-thru service and advise families to stay in cars. We’ll load goods into trunk/backseat. This is for our students who access free and reduced lunch.”
  • “I would like to thank our Food Service leaders Dustin O’Brien and Gail Mulani and their team for all their hard work,” said Phelan.
  • BELMONT HOUSING AUTHORITY: The Belmont Public Schools is happy to announce that the Belmont Housing Authority will be providing a free “grab and go” breakfast and lunch, daily from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. The BHA is located at 59 Pearson St. These are free meals for all community members 18 and younger. Many thanks to Jackie Martin and her staff.

Social distancing towards stronger communities.

“It is with great emphasis that I state to our community the importance of physical distancing.  The goal of reducing the spread of COVID-19 within our community and our country rests in our hands. However, during this physical distancing we encourage to appropriately socialize via phone or text.  Please check in on a family member or neighbor who may be fragile or lonely. This is a time when strong neighborhood relationships make strong communities;  which in- turn, can positively influence the culture of kindness in our society,” said Phelan.

Parents Group Creates COVID-19 Fast Fact Sheet Listing High School Volunteers, Activities

Photo: Belmont High School.

In an attempt to keep their neighbors’ informed on the latest about the COVID-19 pandemic, the co-moderators of the Belmont Massachusetts Parents Facebook Group – Amy Kirsch, Fitzie Cowing, Shana Wang and Kristi Armstrong – are managing a Fast Fact webpage that includes updates and contact information.

It also has ways to contact nearly 80 volunteers who can run errands for food or prescriptions and do porch drop-offs.

FAST HELP: COVID-19 Resources Sheet for Belmont

To add resources please email them to

Local and state news:

  • All Massachusetts public and private schools closed until April 7.  Public town buildings including the fire station are closed to visitors.  
  • Police Station is still open, but call first – 617-484-1212 – some cases can be completed over the phone.
  • Gatherings of over 25 people are banned until April 5. Social distancing practices are important. Social distancing means maintaining at least six feet from others.
  • All bars and restaurants in Massachusetts will be shut down to on-premise consumption starting Tuesday through April 17. Take-out only.
  • Essential senior services are still available including food, social work, counseling and transportation. 617-992-2970

If you are experiencing a medical emergency dial 911, if you suspect you have Covid-19 (main symptoms are fever, cough, & shortness of breath), call the hotlines first.  You will want to make sure there are tests available. 

Latest Covid-19 & Coronavirus News in Massachusetts.

Free Covid-19 Hotlines & emails

  • Dial 211Massachusetts State Covid-19 hotline. Nothing off-limits ask to get answers to all your questions
  • 617-993-2222 – Belmont Covid19 hotline- open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., or use this email address for questions.
  • 617-724-7000 -Partners HealthCare Coronavirus Hotline. Open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., 7 days/week – expert answers to your urgent questions.
  • 617-983-6800 -Massachusetts Department of Public Health 24- hour Emergency Hotline.
  • Military Health System Nurse Hotline 1-800-874-2273 or connect via online chat here:
  • 1-800-985-5990 – Disaster Relief Hotline – 24-hour national hotline for emotional distress crisis counseling including relating with Covid-19.   This is toll-free, multilingual, and confidential.
  • 1-800-985-5990 or by texting TalkWithUS 66746 – SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline.  Get support regarding your anxiety or stress by speaking to a trained counselor.
  • Text “Home” to 741741 – Texting Hotline for Emotional Distress when you are feeling depressed, sad, or going through any kind of emotional crisis, a crisis worker will text you back immediately.

Help with Food, Errands, & Prescription deliveries

Belmont Massachusetts Parents Help: Sign up if you need help with food supplies & errands or want to volunteer.  We have 100 helpers signed up to leave porch drop-offs.

Belmont High School Students Help – For anyone who needs food or supplies during this time, a group of Belmont High School students have volunteered to pick them up, and deliver them to your door. Contact or text 617-818-3149 for more information. Please spread the word to others who may be interested!

Mutual Aid (various towns – Medford Somerville, Cambridge included)  Volunteer or get help.

Project Bread FoodSource Hotline 1-800-645-8333. A toll-free hotline that is the only comprehensive statewide information and referral service in Massachusetts for people facing hunger—can connect you to food resources in your community.  TTY: 1-800-377-1292

Belmont Helps During Covid-19 Facebook Group:

CVS Delivery: CVS is now offering free delivery on prescriptions & other store essentials.

Belmont Schools Free or Reduced lunch for students that rely on this service – Breakfast and lunch, pick up at Belmont High School outdoor tent. Food services will have a roster ready where we’ll check off students each day.  

  • Monday, 3/16: 10 a.m. to Noon
  • Tuesday, 3/17: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Wednesday, 3/18: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Belmont Connectslinks to other popular Belmont groups online

General COVID-19 Facts and Prevention

CDCmost up to date Covid-19 info. 

Printables: How to keep the workplace, school, home and commercial establishments safe.

Belmont Board of Health Covid-19 advisory.

Outbreak: Parent Guide From National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

The World Health Organization is a great resource for information and comes in many languages.  Includes a myth busters section. To learn the facts about COVID-19 and help stop the spread of misinformation, visit CDC’s webpage: Share the Facts, Stop Fear.

Prevention and Treatment

Covid-19 daily check and report

American Heart Association Covid-19 Resources & Precautions –

Kids Resources:  Gentle Reminder: Sharing equipment on the playground is not suggested

A Comic explaining Covid-19 to kids:

Talking to kids about Corona: 

Belmont Little Free Library Locations:

Giant List of Things to do with the Kids at Home –

Free Educational Online Subscriptions for kids –

Grade 3-6 Choice Board:

Scholastic learn at home for 20 days:

Caregiver Resources from Lesley University:

150 Enrichment Activities for kids while parents are working remotely at home –

Outschool Online Classes for pre-k-12 grades:

Free Sing-along for toddlers online Tuesday 10 a.m.

Free Harvard edX online courses:

Museum Tours:

A huge compilation list of from your living room museum tours, kids resource links, online classes:

Belmont Businesses

Free Delivery  or curb-side pickup of Books & Games by Belmont Books – (617) 932-1496

Free Delivery, curb-side pickup, and private appointments at The Toy Shop of Belmont (617)489-0070

Belmont Police Seek Publics Help In Home Invasion On Stults Road

Photo: The crime happened on this street.

The Belmont Police is actively investigating a home invasion that occurred on Sunday night on Stults Road.

According to Police Chief James MacIsaac, at approximately 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, Belmont Police patrol officers responded to a home invasion on Stults Road. Two men wearing dark clothing and masks knocked on the homeowner’s door. When they answered, the pair called him by name and forced their way into the residence.

Once inside, the two men were able to obtain cash and jewelry. The suspects then fled the residence.

Detectives are asking residents who may have observed any unusual activity in the area of Stults Road, either last night or at any time in the past, to call 617-993-2550. Detectives are also asking that if residents in the area have doorbell or driveway video to contact detectives if your cameras captured any unusual activity.

The Belmont Police believe this is an isolated incident and there is no threat to the public at this time.

Playgrounds Now Off Limits As Belmont, State Shuts Down Public Gatherings

Photo: PQ Parks Playground is now

Playgrounds – but not parks – throughout Belmont are the latest areas to be officially closed by the Belmont Health Department in an effort to slow the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the latest public health update issued Monday, March 16, Health Department Director Wesley Chin focused on actions taken by the state and his office over the weekend and today.

On Sunday, March 15, Gov. Charlie Baker announced additional measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The Governor’s Order includes the following restrictions throughout the Commonwealth that will go into effect on March 17.

  • All public and private schools will be closed through April 6.
  • All restaurants and bars will be prohibited from the on-premise consumption of food.  However, restaurants may remain open for now to provide food through take-out or delivery service.  These restrictions extend through April 17 but may be extended based on the spread of COVID-19.
  • Gatherings of 25 or more people are also banned. This includes all community, civic, public, leisure, and faith-based events. It also applies to gyms, private clubs, and theatres.

Chin announced that Belmont is taking additional precautions and instituting the following actions that will be effective on March 16

  • All Town of Belmont public playgrounds (specifically playground equipment) are closed.  At this time, open spaces such as fields remain open. However, the Belmont Board of Health and its staff ask all residents to engage in the social distancing practices detailed below.
  • Field use permits are suspended to discourage social gatherings. We are strongly discouraging activities that promote the gathering of people.
  • Public meetings and hearings will be limited to those that are considered necessary for the purposes of maintaining essential Town of Belmont government functions and that are mandated under federal, state, or local law/regulation.
  • Town Hall Offices are closed to the public. At this time access to these facilities will be limited to staff only.  Residents in need of assistance are encouraged to contact respective Town departments by phone and/or email
  • Important updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Town will be posted at .

The Belmont Board of Health and its staff ask all residents to immediately and seriously engage in the practice of social distancing. Social distancing means staying out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining a distance of 6 feet (minimum) or at least an arm’s length away from others when possible.

This means:

  • NO small gatherings (even though the state has capped gatherings at 25 people).
  • NO playdates (for individuals of any age).
  • NO sharing of childcare responsibilities with other families, unless you have been deemed an essential worker (i.e. Police, Fire, EMS, medical professional).
    • Essential workers should make every attempt to stagger their schedules with partners to allow for coverage of childcare.

Chin is advising residents to:

  • Stay home.
  • Minimize the number of trips you take to the store for food and medicine.
  • Avoid close contact with people who do not live with you.
  • Show compassion for your neighbors.
    • Make a plan with your elderly neighbors to check in with them on a daily basis via phone or email to help monitor their health and to see if you can help them obtain any food, prescriptions, or other basic needs.

Help save lives:

  • It is important that we all take social isolation seriously to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The transmission of this virus grows exponentially and will soon overtake our healthcare system. We must all work together for the common good of society. This is our chance to come together as a community to stem the spread of this virus. If we are all successful at social distancing, we will slow the spread of COVID-19, and this will give our healthcare providers and hospitals a chance to prepare to be able to treat people who may need scarce medical resources to survive the pandemic.  

Easy As 3.14159 … etc, etc

Photo: Making Archimedes proud (Donna Ruvolo photos)

What occurred on the newly constructed walking path at the Grove Street Playground on Saturday morning is what happens during a pandemic when smart citizens have a lot of time on their hands.

Using chalk and a great memory, some residents set forth to notate on the walk the calculation for the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, or as it’s better known, “π” (that would be “pi” for those unfamiliar with Greek graphemes.)

Here’s all that’s known about pi.

It becomes clear why March 14 was selected by writing out the date as numbers: 3/14, the first three numbers of pi.

While most people will know pi to at least five digits – 3.1415 – of this mathematical constant (why go further?), the Grove Street folks decided to start writing … and writing … and writing the sequence of number in the calculation until, in an Shel Silverstein-esque conclusion, the sidewalk came to the end at the curve.

The impressive writing out of this list of rational numbers was accompanied by notations such as “Happy π-day” and “easy as π“. There is one hint of who the author(s) could be from a proud boast written along side Archimedes’ constant:

“all memorized by my 11yr old girl!

Smart, indeed.

Editor’s Note: Credit where credit is due: To Precinct 7’s own Donna Ruvolo for sending these photos along.

CLOSED: Belmont’s Town Offices, Library, Senior Center Shut Down Monday, Meetings Held Online

Photo: Belmont Town Hall which will be closed on Monday, March 16

Belmont has hung up the “Closed” sign.

Belmont’s government including Town Hall, the Public Library, its schools and the senior center will be shut down for the foreseeable future beginning on Monday, March 16, according to town officials.

“In accordance with guidance from Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), and in an effort to balance the ability to continue to provide important services and to protect the health and safety of the residents of Belmont, the Town is taking the following measures,” read an email from Assistant Town Manager Jon Marshall dated Saturday, March 14

Effective Monday, March 16, services and closures are as follows:

Beginning Monday, March 16, Belmont Town Complex Offices are CLOSED to the PUBLIC until further notice. Access will be limited to staff only at this time. Essential services will continue but are subject to change as circumstances change. Town Hall and Homer Building office hours will remain the same: Mondays 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Fridays 8 a.m. – noon. If you need assistance please contact Town offices via email or phone.


Police and Fire emergency response will continue to operate as usual. However, administrative services have been amended as follows:

  • Fire Stations are closed to the public. For Fire Prevention issues please call 617-993-2210.
  • Police Headquarters will remain open. No one will be turned away. However, we would prefer that if you need to visit the police station you call first at 617-484-1212In the event of an emergency please call 9-1-1.

The Belmont Public Schools are CLOSED through Friday, March 27. This timeline may change as we learn more from our federal, state and local boards of health. Although school administration central offices will remain open, in an attempt to limit person to person interactions, all questions should be sent via email or phone.

Beginning Monday, March 16, the Belmont Public Library will be CLOSED to the PUBLIC until further notice. Belmont Public Library building access will be limited to staff only at this time. Hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you need assistance please contact the library via email or phone. Information regarding available services can be found on the library website

Beginning Monday, March 16, Beech Street Center will be CLOSED to the PUBLIC until further notice. The Beech Street Center building access will be limited to staff only at this time. Essential services such as food, social work counseling and transportation for seniors will continue to be available. If you need assistance please contact the senior center via email or phone at 617-993-2970.

Beginning Monday, March 16th, Belmont Electric Light will be CLOSED to the PUBLIC until further notice. All questions should be sent via email or phone. Belmont Electric Light building access will be limited to staff only at this time.


The Town is working on modified procedures to allow for the Food Pantry, which is located in Town Hall, to operate and provide this critical service to the community. We anticipate having the Food Pantry open on its regularly scheduled day, Saturday, March 21. Food will be provided by volunteers handing out bags outside of Town Hall. If you need assistance, please contact the Food Pantry at We anticipate further updates mid-week.


The Governor’s Executive Order suspended portions of the Open Meeting Law to allow for remote participation for boards and committees. The Select Board is meeting Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. The Select Board recognizes that this is a public meeting, but given current circumstances is encouraging residents to view the meeting from home. The Town is actively working to provide residents with remote capability that allows for participation at home. We will provide more information on how to access the meeting on Monday, during the day.


The Town is evaluating, in collaboration with the state, the potential impacts of COVID-19 on the local Town Election scheduled for Tuesday, April 7. We will update the community as circumstances change.


Please call or email the informational line if you have questions: Monday through Friday 8am -4pm.



The Board of Health continues to recommend the following actions to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Cover your mouth – when you cough or sneeze use a tissue or your inner elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands – with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel.
  • Practice social distancing – when in public spaces try to remain at least 6-feet away from others.
  • Actively Promote Social Distancing – encourage children to practice social distancing and goodhygiene when interacting with family and friends of all ages.
  • Stay home if you are sick – and avoid close contact with others.

This situation is constantly evolving, and we are receiving updates throughout the day. We will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available on our website.

Two More Cases Of Coronavirus In Belmont, Raising Total To 3

Photo: Belmont now has three confirmed cases of the Coronavirus.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has informed the Belmont Health Department that two more residents have been declared “presumptive positive” for the COVID-19 virus, according to an email dated Friday, March from Wesley Chin, director of the Health Department.

Belmont now has a total of three MDPH confirmed cases of the stain of the Coronavirus which has developed in just four months into a global pandemic. As of March 13, there are 123 cases In Massachusetts.

MDPH defines “presumptive positive” as a person that has tested positive by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory, while awaiting specimens sent to the US Centers for Disease Control for final verification.

Like the initial case, these residents are linked to the Biogen conference held in Boston at the end of February. Statewide 82 out of 108 positive cases are linked to the Biogen event that took place at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel.

The first person who contracted the virus is currently in isolation in their home, staying away from their family members who are self-quarantined in the same location for 14 days.

“Other members of the family, do not have symptoms of COVID-19,” said Chin.

“Local health departments, including the Belmont Health Department, conduct contact investigations of confirmed and presumptive positive COVID-19 cases, in collaboration with MDPH. This helps to prevent further spread by having contacts of cases self-quarantine,” read the email.

Belmont Hockey Sees Epic Playoff Run End As State Finals Cancelled, Named Co-Champs

Photo: Belmont High Head Ice Hockey Coach Fred Allard

In the locker room after a thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 victory over St. John’s (Shrewsbury) in the Division 1 North finals last Monday, Belmont High Head Coach Fred Allard ended his postgame talk to the players proclaiming “Practice tomorrow at 3!”

“What that meant was our season is still going on and we still get to be together,” Allard said in an empty White Field House on Thursday afternoon, March 12, with the North trophy and title banner on a nearby table.

It also signified the team had punched its ticket to the TD Garden this Sunday to play for the program’s first ever state championship title.

But the the season-long goal of just having the opportunity of skating to the Belmont student section with a state championship trophy in hand would end with an email.

Two hour previous, after hard practice at the “Skip”, the starkness of the outside world entered the hockey sphere when, due to the growing threat of a global pandemic, the MIAA announced it had cancelled the Division 1 state finals against Walpole.

The consolation for the Marauders was being declared co-champions with the Rebels. But it wasn’t much solace for the Belmont players to share a title that they couldn’t play for.

“We had just gotten off the ice so everyone was in the room,” said Allard. The squad’s reaction to the announcement was heartbreaking.

“These guys were more crushed than past teams who lost to St. John’s Prep four years ago and to Waltham (losing in overtime in the North semifinals in 2018). And they were just announced as co champs of the state!” said Allard. “That’s how all in they were because it’s such a special experience.”

“It was emotional and they were devastated. We talked our way through it. We shared some memories, we reminisced on what we accomplished and hopefully the healing process of the initial pain is starting to wear off.”

As late as Thursday morning, Allard still believed the team would be on a bus Sunday heading to the Garden in Boston’s North End.

“I was thinking we got practice on Friday and Saturday and hopefully the dust will settle and we’ll get this [game] in,” he said.

On Tuesday, the powers that be were hell bent on playing the six state finals on Sunday, but all that changed Wednesday when the Coronavirus was accelerating through all segments of society including sports. In just a day, professional sports leagues announced the cancellation or suspension of their seasons.

“That’s when the [MIAA] were obviously becoming more concerned for the safety of the kids, which was the right thing,” said Allard.

By early Thursday afternoon, the NCAA cancelled their winter championships including the entire “March Madness” basketball tournament, the Boston Marathon was looking for an autumn date to the run the race and states were prohibiting large gatherings.

“Our hope was that the worse case would be playing the finals at [six] separate sites and not just at the Garden,” Allard said.

“The kids worked so hard to get to this point. They just wanted to play.”

Belmont Spring Sports Halted Tentatively ‘Til March 30; First Games April 9

Photo: Three-time state champions Girls’ Rugby, one of the spring teams whose season has been

The first day of practice for spring sports has tentatively been delayed until March 30, according to Belmont Athletic Director James Davis.

The decision by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association as a response to the spreading pandemic Coronavirus could be revisited prior to March 30 if conditions of the virus change.

“The past couple of weeks has certainly provided our member schools with challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Davis in a press release dated March 12.

Up until the 30th, out of season coaching is not allowed during this period. The first games of the season can commence 11 days after the first practice, the earliest on April 9.

Sports include boys’ and girls’ tennis, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ outdoor track and field and the boys’ and girls’ rugby, both defending Division 1 state champions.

Breaking: Belmont Schools Closed For Two Weeks Due To Pandemic Concerns, Joining Neighboring Towns

Photo: The Belmont School Administration Building

In an extraordinary action to stem the spreading Coronavirus pandemic in the Boston area, the Belmont School District is joining with five towns in the Middlesex County in closing their public schools for two weeks beginning Friday, March 13.

Belmont is collaborating with superintendents from Arlington, Bedford, Burlington, Lexington and Winchester after being “informed by our local boards of health, as well by expert epidemiologists who recognize that the time to act is now,” said a joint press release from the superintendents dated March 12

“We know we can have a greater and more positive impact on public health and safety if we do this together,” the release said.

The superintendents noted the joint closure may be extended or shortened at the direction of state authorities.

Belmont and the other schools are joining the rapidly growing “social distancing” movement “a term that epidemiologists are using to refer to a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people and hopefully stymie community transmission of the virus,” as described in The Atlantic.

Examples of “community mitigation strategies” include nearly all Boston area colleges and universities sending student home for the remainder of the school year, a growing number of businesses are asking employees to work from home and the cancellation of large gatherings from classical music concerts, lectures to sporting events from the professional level to high school championships.

“We do this out of an abundance of caution, particularly out of sensitivity to families and staff who have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to complications should they become infected,” said the superintendents.

“We also do not do this lightly, as we know that this will impose a hardship on families who do not have childcare options,” said the release.

The “timely and unified decision” to shut down public education for the fortnight comes a day after the first confirmed case of a Belmont resident infected with the Coronavirus was made public by the Belmont Health Department.