It's a rainy morning in North Adams as I write this message, one of several rainy days we have experienced as summer officially has turned into fall, and September gives way to October.

After a long, dry summer the rain is welcome and necessary, and it has been interspersed with some truly wonderful early fall weather alongside bright foliage that reminds us once again of the natural beauty that surrounds us in this valley nestled among these Berkshire Hills we call home.

We also have awakened to darker and colder mornings, and are reckoning with shorter days, all reminders that according to the calendar the end of 2020 is in sight. At the same time, we know that viruses - and the public health, economic, social, and educational challenges that come along with the novel coronavirus in particular - don't obey the turning of the datebook page or the change of seasons.

We know that the COVID-19 will continue to define and shape our experience for the foreseeable future, here in North Adams, across Massachusetts, and throughout the nation and the world.

As I said in the last newsletter, we've done a good job in North Adams following public health guidance to keep our local case counts and community spread at the levels lower than the hardest hit communities in Massachusetts.

That’s why I want to remind and ask you all to help reverse this trend by doubling down on the public health guidance that we have followed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has published printable fact sheets with a range of public health guidelines. I'll share a few of these here (and have shared many of them before), the rest are available online.

I'll start with the easiest and most effective one first...

Wear a Mask or Face Covering: Always wear a mask or face covering when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others. You could have COVID-19, have no symptoms, and still infect other people. Masks can help prevent the spread of the virus. Masks protect other people.

  • Wash your hands often with soap, and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your inner elbow, not your hands.
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Call/Facetime/online chat with friends and family.
  • Stay home as much as you can.
  • If you must go out:
    • Don’t gather in groups
    • Stay 6 feet away from others
    • Don’t shake hands or hug
  • And please continue to wash your hands frequently
  • Take care of your body.
    • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
    • Exercise regularly
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
  • Virtually connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Please continue to take care of yourself and those around you. Thank you.
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