NQHS Mascot Gets Makeover

Mayor Thomas Koch (left) and Dr. Allan Yacubian displayed a new version of North Quincy High’s Yakoo mascot Monday at City Hall. The new look is meant to resemble a Revolutionary War soldier. Quincy Sun Photos/Robert Bosworth.

By SCOTT JACKSON

Yakoo, North Quincy High School’s mascot for the past 63 years, will have a new look inspired by the soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War and will no longer use Native American imagery.

Mayor Thomas Koch and Dr. Allan Yacubian, the original inspiration for the mascot, unveiled changes to the character Monday at City Hall. Koch said it would be up to the administration at North Quincy High School to determine how long the transition to the new image would take and whether the school keeps its team name, the Raiders, or switches to a something else, such as the Patriots.

The old Yakoo featured a caricature of Yacubian, who is of Armenian descent, in Native American attire, including a feathered headdress, and carrying a hammer in one hand and an NQ flag in the other. The new logo keeps the caricature of Yacubian but now portrays him wearing a black tricorne hat and a black tunic with red facings. The logo displayed Monday at City Hall shows the new mascot with a scroll in one hand, but Yacubian said that would be changed to a bell; the flag will stay in the other hand.

Koch, a 1981 North Quincy graduate, said the old Yakoo had been a source of pride for the school since its adoption in 1957, but he and Yacubian had been discussing changes to the mascot for the past several years, recognizing that times have changed.

“Anyone who went through North always looked at that symbol as one of great pride representing a strong spirit, a strong work ethic, and one of excellence. I think over the years it has really been a symbol of pride for the school,” Koch said.

“But, recognizing over times things change and there are opinions on things and how people can be offended, I think it was fair that….we had some chats going back a couple years at least about how we should proceed with Mr. Yakoo.”

Yacubian, a longtime benefactor of the city’s schools, said he was happy with the new iteration of the mascot.

“Yakoo is now 63 years old and in the 63 years has done nothing to shame North Quincy High School or anything to do with the city of Quincy. But, like everything, things change and it is time to do something,” said Yacubian, a 1958 North Quincy graduate who turns 80 on Aug. 17.

“We’ve come up with something that I think is going to be very, very good and I’m very happy that it’s being done.”

Yacubian said the original artist who drew Yakoo, Pete Fredericksen, first suggested changing the mascot’s look six years ago, but Yacubian was worried about letting alumni down. Other iterations of the mascot had been considered in addition to the Revolutionary War soldier, including a pirate, Yacubian said; another proposal would have seen the mascot dressed as a firefighter.

There had been several attempts to change or replace Yakoo since the 1990s because of its use of Native American imagery. Competing petitions were launched on Change.org regarding North Quincy’s mascot this summer. The petition to replace Yakoo garnered more than 12,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon while more than 1,800 people had signed on to a petition to keep the mascot.

Koch on Monday said he had already reached out to Faries Gray, a leader of the Massachusett Tribe, about the revised logo.

“He really loves the new mascot – the new Yakoo – so we’re pleased about that,” Koch said.

Mayor Thomas Koch (left) and Dr. Allan Yacubian unveil the new Yakoo mascot. Yacubian said the scroll shown in the mascot’s right hand would be replaced by a bell.

No Cut In Local Aid This Fiscal Year

By SCOTT JACKSON

Massachusetts lawmakers continue to grapple with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic but will maintain local aid to cities and towns in the current fiscal year and even plan to increase funding for schools.

The legislature has yet to approve a budget for fiscal year 2021, which began July 1, relying instead short-term budgets to keep the state open in the interim. Despite the uncertainty, Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday said he and legislative leaders have agreed not to cut local aid in the current fiscal year.

“Obviously, we’re working to fully understand the impact of COVID-19 and how it will affect the commonwealth’s own fiscal situation. That has caused delay with respect to the release of a final and full fiscal 2021 budget, however, we do know that cities and towns rely on the state’s budget so they can have clarity with respect to state aid to schools and other general government services,” the governor said.

“For fiscal 2021, our administration and the legislature are committed to providing cities and towns no less than the fiscal year 2020 funding for unrestricted general government aid and school aid funding.”

In addition, Baker said he and legislative leaders have agreed to provide an additional $107 million in Chapter 70 money, which is used for education, to municipalities.

“This agreement, in addition to the federal aid dollars distributed to all cities and towns, adds up to well over $1 billion in new funds to ensure schools can fund the changes that they need to make to teach kids this fall,” Baker said

The extra $1 billion local communities will receive, the governor added, will more than fully fund the Student Opportunity Act that lawmakers approved in January.

Large Gatherings A ‘Recipe For Disaster’ Baker Warns

By SCOTT JACKSON

Gov. Charlie Baker warned that large gatherings seen lately throughout Massachusetts are a “recipe for disaster” that could help the coronavirus spread.

The governor on Friday noted the state’s positive test rate for COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks from 1.7 percent to roughly 2 percent and said recent large gatherings are to blame.

“Unfortunately, these gatherings are resulting in new COVID case clusters and ramping up the spread of the virus,” Baker said. “These lapses in judgement, these missed opportunities to keep the door that we all worked so hard to close, shut, are contributing to a slight but important rise in positive cases here in Massachusetts.”

The Department of Public Health is investigating clusters arising from a large party for lifeguards in Falmouth, a house party in Chatham, a high school graduation party held in Chelmsford, a large house party in Wrentham, a party aboard a ship in Boston Harbor, a 90-person prom party in Cohasset and an unauthorized football camp in Weymouth, Baker said.

Marylou Sudders, the state’s health and human services secretary, said the Weymouth football camp included participants from 17 communities. Several of the individuals associated with that gathering have since tested positive for COVID-19.

Baker said transmission of the coronavirus is more likely in large groups of people who are neither wearing masks nor practicing social distancing.

“This behavior dramatically increases the likelihood of infecting other people and this virus can and in many cases does take off like wildfire,” he said. “The situations I just recapped are a recipe for disaster and need to stop if we want to continue to re-open and get back to a new normal in everybody’s lives here in Massachusetts.”

The governor said residents who do attend gatherings – whether indoors or outdoors – should wear a mask, avoid sharing food and drink, and use common sense. He noted indoor gatherings are presently limited to 25 people or fewer and cautioned that that limit could be reduced if necessary.

“If we continue to see a rise in new cases and changes in our public health data, we’ll have to consider a number of options, including reducing the gathering size back down to a smaller number,” Baker said.

He also said people, “need to be responsible about traveling,” and noted his new travel order goes into effect Saturday. The new order applies to all travelers arriving in the state, including residents returning home and college students coming to school for the fall semester.

Under the order, all travelers arriving in Massachusetts must fill out a form, which can be found online at mass.gov/matraveler, unless they are arriving from a state designated as being at a lower risk for COVID-19 transmission.

Those travelers subject to the new rules will be required to quarantine for 14 days unless they can produce a negative COVID-19 test result that was administered up to 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts. Travelers would no longer be subject to the quarantine requirement if they receive a negative test result after they arrive in the state.

Those who violate the new rule face a fine of $500 per day.

Eight states are currently deemed lower risk: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. To be designated as a lower-risk state, a state must have a positive test rate below 5 percent and fewer than six new cases per day per 100,000 residents. Both are measured as a seven-day rolling average.

Baker on Friday also announced the start of a new public-awareness campaign, “Mask Up MA!” to remind everyone of the importance of wearing masks or other face coverings. The campaign includes a new website, mass.gov/maskup.

Masks have been mandatory in public when social distancing is not possible since May in the Bay State. Those who violate the rule face a fine of up to $300.

Quincy Officials Eyeing Hybrid Approach For New School Year

By SCOTT JACKSON

School officials in Quincy prefer a hybrid learning model – with students learning in-person two days a week and remotely at home three days a week – for the start of the new academic year next month.

Kevin Mulvey, the school system’s interim superintendent, reviewed the return-to-school options during the School Committee’s meeting Wednesday night. The committee approved a preliminary re-opening plan Wednesday and will review a more comprehensive plan next week.

The re-opening plan includes three different models – in-person instruction, remote learning and the hybrid option – and will be submitted to the state for approval. The committee was not asked to choose between the three models when it met Wednesday.

Mulvey had assembled a task force to map out those three options; task force members included school officials, teachers, parents, and the heads of the city’s health, public buildings and traffic departments. The task force has determined that a return to full-time in-person instruction is not feasible, Mulvey said.

“Full in-person at this point isn’t really doable at this time, but a hybrid approach…absolutely is,” he said. “So is remote learning for those students and parents who wish to remain remote when we return in September.”

There is not enough space within the city’s school buildings to accommodate six feet of physical distancing, even if alternative spaces were used, according to the preliminary plan submitted to the state.

There would be enough room at most schools – 70 percent of elementary schools, all five middle schools and both high schools, with the use of alternative spaces at some of those buildings – to accommodate three feet of physical distancing, the minimum required by the state. According to the submission to the state, however, both the district and the Quincy Education Association, as well as the Massachusetts Teachers Association, have “significant health and safety concerns” with the three-foot model.

Under the hybrid model the district is proposing, students in all grade levels would be split alphabetically between two cohorts. One cohort would attend school in-person on Mondays and Tuesday and then learn remotely Thursdays and Fridays. The other cohort would learn remotely on Mondays and Tuesdays and in-person on Thursdays and Fridays. Certain high-need students would receive in-person instructions all five days.

Under the proposed hybrid model, both cohorts would learn remotely on Wednesdays, during which time the schools could be cleaned. Because of that, half days would be moved to Wednesdays from Tuesdays this year.

The hybrid model would work differently based on grade level.

Each elementary class would be split in two – half in one cohort and half in the other – with two teachers assigned to each class. Each cohort would have the same teacher four days a week with both teachers leading a combined remote class on Wednesdays.

A similar approach would be taken in the middle schools, though students would have different teachers for different subjects. Class times would be longer than they would be in a typical school year, but students would spend roughly the same amount of time learning each subject as they normally would.

The remote learning portion for both elementary and middle school students would be live.

“We really felt strongly that the days that children are remote, they still need to have that live instruction from a teacher,” said Erin Perkins, the district’s elementary curriculum coordinator. “We could not assign asynchronous activities.”

High school students would continue taking all classes, including electives. High school classes would be split into two cohorts, with the same teacher for both groups. Under that model, students would receive live instruction on the two days they attend class in-person and on Wednesdays, while the other two days they are at home would include asynchronous activities.

School Committee member Emily Lebo said she was concerned high school students would only receive a half year’s education using that approach.

“It looks like we’re going to have enough time to teach kids half of the content that we normally would with some remote supplement,” she said. “I’m not blaming anybody for this, I’m just very worried.”

North Quincy High School Principal Robert Shaw said he and Lawrence Taglieri, his counterpart at Quincy High School, would have to work with teachers on lesson planning to prepare for the hybrid model. Shaw suggested an English teacher could focus on a book or a literary unit during the in-person sessions and then give students a writing assignment for the remote days.

“I’m addressing a different part of my standards through the remote sessions than I did with the live sessions,” he said. “Not as easy for a math teacher, I don’t think, or a vocational teacher. That is a challenge and I think we just call on the creativity of people to get there as much as we can.”

Committee member Doug Gutro said he was concerned about a potential lack of structure for high schoolers during the two days of remote learning that are not Wednesdays, based on his sons’ experience last school year.

“So much of it just felt like homework that they could whenever they choose throughout the day,” Gutro said. “The lack of structure was not good. I’ve got pretty disciplined kids…but it matters. It helps.”

School officials had surveyed parents to gauge their opinion on re-opening schools in the fall; 3,456 parents, representing 4,404 students, completed the survey.

Overall, 37.5 percent of parents said they preferred in-person instruction, 32.3 percent favored remote learning, and 30.2 percent chose the hybrid model.

Parents’ preference varied by grade level. A plurality of high school and middle parents said they preferred the hybrid model; 39.3 percent of high school parents and 34.2 percent of middle school parents chose that option. The favorite at the elementary school level was in-person instruction, with 40.7 percent of the vote.

Teachers were also surveyed as part of the process; 690 teachers had completed the survey as of July 27. Roughly half of those who completed the survey teach at the elementary school level with the remainder split between middle and high school.

Teachers preferred the hybrid model; 40 percent of teachers chose that option, 35.4 percent favored remote learning and 24.6 percent selected in-person instruction.

Committee member Paul Bregoli asked if it would be possible to provide in-person instruction full-time at the elementary level, given that 40.7 percent of elementary parents supported that approach.

“Keeping their attention with an online model, I think, is very difficult,” Bregoli said. “I’ve been there as a teacher and as a counsellor and I know those kids.”

In addition, Bregoli said students in that age group are less likely to contract and spread COVID-19.

“The science says that those kids are the least likely to contract the virus and the least likely to pass it on, so I don’t think there is an issue in terms of putting people in danger – either students or staff,” he said.

Mulvey, the interim superintendent, said roughly 50 percent of elementary parents would have to opt into full-time remote learning in order to create enough space that the remaining could receive in-person instruction full-time.

“We’re not giving up on it,” he said. “We would love to see in-person for elementary, just because [of the] difficulty of doing remote learning, even in the hybrid model, for the younger grades.”

Mulvey said the district does have enough teachers to move ahead with the proposed hybrid model – as well as a remote-only program for students whose families opt to keep their children out of schools this year.

The district, Mulvey added, is looking to hire additional certified teachers as substitutes in the event they are needed in case a teacher becomes ill or otherwise needs to take time off. The district does have some specialists – such as literacy and math specialists – who could shift into teaching roles. Assistant principals and certain members of the superintendent’s leadership team could potentially be pressed into service as teachers if necessary.

The first day of classes for students in Quincy is currently Sept. 9.

The state is allowing districts to push back the start of the school year to as late as Sept. 16 so teachers can receive extra training on remote instruction.  Mulvey said Quincy Public Schools should delay the start of the school year to Sept. 16 to allow for the additional professional development. That would equal a delay of five school days.

Three Finalists Chosen In Quincy Superintendent Search

By SCOTT JACKSON

The three finalists to become the next superintendent of the Quincy Public Schools have been identified and will interview with the School Committee over the next two weeks.

The three finalists are Omar Easy, the executive assistant principal for business engagement and innovation at Everett High School; Jahmal Mosley, superintendent of the Nashua, N.H., school system; and Kevin Mulvey, the interim superintendent in Quincy.

The School Committee will interview Easy on Tuesday, Aug. 4; Mulvey on Tuesday, Aug. 11; and Mosley on Thursday, Aug. 13. Each of those interviews will begin at 6 p.m. and will be open to the public.

The committee will then convene on Friday, Aug. 14, to select the new superintendent.

The school system is looking for a new superintendent for the first time in two decades. Richard DeCristofaro, the superintendent since 2001, left that position in June to become the president of Quincy College.

Twenty candidates applied for the open position. A 13-person search committee narrowed the field of applicants down to eight semifinalists who the search committee interviewed behind closed doors. The search committee had been tasked with picking three to six external candidates as finalists; internal applicants automatically qualified as finalists.

School board member Frank Santoro, who led the search committee, said there had been a fourth finalist chosen but that person withdrew their name from consideration.

To establish the selection criteria for the new superintendent, the School Committee partnered with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees to develop a leadership profile. Nearly 1,000 residents and other stakeholders responded to an online survey as part of that process, and 120 people participated in focus groups.

‘We Can’t Let Our Guard Down,’ Health Commissioner Says

By SCOTT JACKSON

Health Commissioner Ruth Jones on Tuesday said residents cannot let their guard down and need to keep taking steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 with Quincy seeing an uptick in cases in recent weeks and three restaurants now closed after employees tested positive for the virus.

Jones said residents need to take the steps that helped lower the case rate in the first place, including wearing masks correctly and social distancing.

“I think people need to be responsible. They have to wear masks and wear them correctly so that their nose and mouth is covered,” she said, noting she has seen people wearing masks only over their nose or on their chin.

“People need to keep social distancing,” Jones added. “COVID-19 is still here and it is going to be here for a while, so we can’t let our guard down.”

On Tuesday afternoon, city officials said the total number of confirmed COVID-19 in Quincy since March reached 1,391, up 22 since Friday. Of those cases, 1,140 have recovered and 135 have died.

There were 64 active cases in the city as of late Tuesday. Jones said there had been as few as eight active cases in the city earlier this month. The bulk of cases seen in recent weeks have been individuals in their 20s and 30s, she added.

Three restaurants have now closed after employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Malachy’s Saloon, located at 51 Granite St. in Quincy Center, became the latest to close on Monday. City officials said anyone who visited Malachy’s on any of three occasions, whether they were seated inside or outdoors, should contact the Health Department at 617-376-1286. Those three occasions are July 21 from 2 to 10 p.m.; July 22 before 3 p.m.; and July 23 before 11:30 a.m.

Manet Lunch, located at 1099 Sea St., closed last week after an employee tested positive. Patrons who were there on July 11 from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; July 12 from noon to 5 p.m.; July 18 from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; or July 19 from noon to 5 p.m. are asked to contact the Health Department.

The Hofbrau, located at 400 Sea St., also closed last week. City officials said three employees of that restaurant tested positive.

Jones said each restaurant would be closed for two weeks from the last known date of exposure. In each case, she said the restaurant was required to sit empty for 24 hours with windows open to provide ventilation. The space must then be deep cleaned.

In addition to the cases at city restaurant, a parent who attended the Saturday morning commencement ceremony for Quincy High School tested positive for COVID-19. School officials in a statement Sunday said the Health Department had completed contact tracing for individuals potentially exposed to the virus then. Anyone who assisted with a medical emergency during the ceremony was asked to call the Health Department.

“There is a low risk of transmission to the majority of those attending the ceremony,” Kevin Mulvey, the interim superintendent said, because of the precautions that were in place for the event. Everyone inside the stadium was required to wear a mask or face covering, seats were assigned to ensure guests were spaced six feet apart in the stands, and ingress and egress to and from the stadium was staggered.

Mayor Thomas Koch, in his daily update on Monday, said the parent had been feeling ill when they went to the ceremony and urged residents to stay home if they feel unwell, even if they suspect it is only a cold.

“If you’re not feeling well stay home,” Koch said. “Don’t put other people in jeopardy please.”

He also stressed the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and proper hygiene.

“Folks please use good judgement. If you’re out walking or riding your bike at night, you don’t have to wear a mask but if you’re going to be around people, please wear a mask. Wash your hands and do your best to social distance,” Koch said.

“We’ve got to get through this together as a community. I ask for your continued cooperation.”

Quincy Dog Park On Quarry Street Opens

Mayor Thomas Koch welcomes pet owners and their dogs Tuesday at the new Quincy Dog Park on Quarry Street. Here Katie Livingstone and her pup, Luna, share a moment with the mayor. Photo courtesy Lisa Aimola, Mayor’s Office.

Mayor Thomas P. Koch announces the official opening of Quincy’s first City dog park. The park is centrally located on Quarry Street and includes three separate areas for active dogs of all sizes, small dogs and senior dogs.  It is equipped with shelter pavilions, benches and watering stations.

The Stanton Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting the welfare of dogs and strengthening the human/dog bond, granted the City of Quincy $247,500 towards the park’s design and construction costs.

“The new dog park offers our community a dedicated and safe environment for dogs to exercise and for people to socialize with other pet owners and enjoy time outdoors,” Koch said. “The park is situated at the top of the hill so the area has a beautiful view and peaceful feel.”

As a reminder to the community, in accordance with Governor Charlie Baker’s guidelines for the state of Massachusetts, the City of Quincy requires face masks and the practice of proper social distancing while enjoying this new space with their pets. The use of a mask does not replace important social distancing measures. Individuals must continue to maintain more than six feet of distance from other people, wash hands regularly with soap and water and stay home when sick.

The 20-acre parcel will also be home to the future Quincy Animal Shelter/Quincy Police Canine Unit and Animal Control.

TRYSTAN CHAN of North Quincy and his dog, Luna, play at this Quincy Dog Park Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy Lisa Aimola, Mayor’s Office.

Baker-Polito Administration Highlights EEE Preparedness Measures

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito  joined Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel and local officials Tuesday to highlight steps the Commonwealth is taking to prepare for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) this year. Preparedness measures include ongoing and increased surveillance testing, an updated public awareness campaign, and mitigation efforts such as larvicide, spraying, and horse vaccination. The Administration also highlighted its recently-filed legislation that would authorize a coordinated, proactive, statewide approach to mosquito control activities.

EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. EEE is generally spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. There were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts in 2019 with six deaths. There were also nine cases in domestic animals.

“After Massachusetts experienced a significant outbreak of EEE last year, our Administration has been taking proactive, early steps to prepare for the virus this year, especially as the Commonwealth continues to confront the ongoing public health challenges associated with COVID-19,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are implementing early mitigation efforts and reminding residents to take steps to protect themselves and their families. We also look forward to working with our legislative colleagues to pass our legislation authorizing a statewide, coordinated approach to EEE.”

“As we prepare for an outbreak of EEE this year, our Administration has been working for months on early preparedness efforts to combat mosquito-borne illnesses,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “These steps will complement our work to facilitate a coordinated statewide approach through our recently-filed legislation and the work we all must do to keep ourselves and our families safe.”

Regional mosquito control projects and districts provide mosquito control services to member communities, and have been engaged in proactive, preventative activities since early spring. Spring larviciding applications were conducted by regional mosquito control districts covering 10 counties, from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, and targeted over 19,600 acres. These larviciding operations specifically targeted the mosquito species that drive the EEE disease cycle, with the goal of reducing the risk of EEE.

Regional mosquito control districts also coordinated to conduct field trials using three different larviciding products to determine their effectiveness in early spring treatments. Additionally, truck-mounted spraying using adulticiding products started in June and will run through the end of the summer.

“After last year’s significant spike in EEE cases, it is critical that the Commonwealth take aggressive, proactive measures to prepare for another potential outbreak,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “We are pleased to work closely with mosquito control districts across Massachusetts to support the early planning and deliberate action needed to mitigate the threat to public health presented by mosquito-borne diseases like EEE.”

The Department of Public Health (DPH) recently launched a new website for updated information and an expanded public awareness campaign reminding people to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses like EEE. To prepare for mosquito season:

  • Drain standing water in and around your house or yard to prevent mosquito breeding.
  • Repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Use a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient according to the directions on the label.
  • Wear clothing to reduce exposed skin when weather permits.

DPH is also conducting surveillance testing on mosquitos as it prepares for the 2020 EEE season. Yesterday DPH confirmed EEE in a mosquito sample collected on July 5 in the Franklin County community of Wendell, raising the risk level to “moderate” in Wendell and New Salem. On Friday, state officials reported the state’s first EEE positive mosquito sample in the Franklin County community of Orange, raising risk levels to “moderate” in Orange and Athol. No human or animal case of EEE has been detected so far this year. Current information and maps for risk levels can be found here.

“People have an important role to play in protecting themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses, which can be very serious,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “We have already launched a robust public awareness campaign with messages to continue throughout the season to remind our residents early and often about the specific measures to take to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites.”

For more information about preventing mosquito and tickborne illness, visit www.mass.gov/mosquitoesandticks or watch this video from DPH about how you can protect yourself and your family.

Massachusetts To Allow Voting By Mail

By SCOTT JACKSON

Every registered voter in Massachusetts will be able to vote by mail this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday signed into law a bill that will authorize voting by mail for both the state primary on Sept. 1 and the general election on Nov. 3. The new law also creates an early voting period ahead of the state primary for the first time.

All registered voters will receive an application to cast a mail-in ballot for the state primary by July 15 and another application to vote by mail in the general election by Sept. 14. The applications and ballots will have postage costs already paid for. Applications must be received four days ahead of the election – Aug. 26 for the primary and Oct. 28 for the general election.

The law also tasks the secretary of state to create an online portal where residents can apply to vote by mail. The online portal must be available by Oct. 1 but could be up and running ahead of the primary election.

Ballots cast by mail need to be postmarked on or before the day of the election in order to be counted. Counting of ballots will continue through 5 p.m. on the Friday after the day of the election. Local election officials will have the ability to tabulate ballots prior to the day of the election.

Massachusetts has allowed in-person early voting ahead of the 2016 and 2018 general elections, as well as the presidential primary held in March. Early voting will be offered ahead of the state primary for the first time this year. Early voting ahead of the primary will take place from Aug. 22 to Aug. 28. Two weeks of early voting, from Oct. 17 to Oct. 30, will take place ahead of the general election.

The law also allows municipalities, with proper notice, to consolidate polling places and eliminate the check-out table at these locations, allowing for a more efficient process and fewer poll workers. It also expands who is eligible to serve as a poll worker, knowing that many current volunteers are seniors who may feel less comfortable working in public during COVID-19.

Members of Quincy’s delegation on Beacon Hill applauded the new legislation.

“Voters should not have to choose between exercising their right to vote and their health,” Rep. Ronald Mariano, the House majority leader, said in a statement. “This bill preserves the integrity of our voting process while giving voters several safe options to cast their ballot, both by mail and in person.”

“While COVID-19 can bring much uncertainty, this bill offers a safer, more reliable election process and gives voters several options on when and how to vote,” said Sen. John Keenan. “By giving our election clerks flexibility in how to run the election, this comprehensive legislation will result in an election with greater voter access and will ensure the integrity of the results.”

“As we continue to adapt to the ongoing pandemic, I am proud to stand alongside my colleagues to pass important voting legislation here in Massachusetts,” said Rep. Tackey Chan. “Voters will not have to choose between executing their constitutional right to vote and risking their health and safety. This legislation ensures secure voting options whether by mail, early voting or on Election Day.”

“The right to vote is sacred and must be afforded to all citizens of Massachusetts no matter what obstacles stand in our path,” said Rep. Bruce Ayers. “Creating more feasible ways for people to vote has become an issue of paramount importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m proud Massachusetts has once again led the way by protecting and extending the right for our citizens to vote while also staying vigilant in regards to public health.”

Travelers To Massachusetts Must Self-Quarantine

By SCOTT JACKSON

Starting on July 1, travelers arriving in Massachusetts – including residents returning home – will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Travelers from seven northeastern states – Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont – will be exempt from the new rule. Workers designated by the federal government as essential critical infrastructure workers are also exempt from the requirement.

Travelers who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are asked not to come to Massachusetts.

Visitors are also reminded that masks or face coverings must be worn in public places where individuals cannot socially distance from others.

The announcement by Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday comes as several states in the southern and western parts of the country – including Florida, Texas and California – have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.