Closures Meant to Promote Social Distancing
EAST BRIDGEWATER — Town Administrator Brian S. Noble and the Board of Selectmen report that the Town of East Bridgewater is closing several Town buildings in response to the evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis.
Effective Wednesday, March 18, all Town of East Bridgewater buildings will be closed to the public. This is being done to promote the concept of “social distancing” by reducing the number of in-person interactions that staff and residents have with each other on a daily basis. Reducing those interactions helps to reduce the chances of spreading and transmitting COVID-19.
The staff at all Town facilities will continue to perform their duties and be present to assist residents via telephone or e-mail during normal business hours.
Residents and others will be able to pay bills by check or money order by placing the bills, along with the checks and/or money orders, in an envelope and dropping them in the drop box located at the entrance of Town Hall. In addition, payments can be made via the Town’s website (click on “Online Payments,” and both credit cards and electronic fund transfers can be used).
If the only option is cash and money orders are not an option, contact the Treasurer-Collector’s Office at 508-378-1604 to make arrangements for a cash payment.
Residents looking for copies of documents, such as birth certificates, septic system plans, assessor records, etc., can call the appropriate office and the staff will work out a method to obtain the necessary documents.
Anyone looking for information, whether general or specific, can contact that department and Town staff will provide information using a variety of methods. If you are unsure who to contact, call the Selectmen’s Office at 508-378-1601.
For questions about COVID-19, follow the link to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) on the Town’s website, or contact the East Bridgewater Health Department at 508-378-3946.
To file documents, applications for permits, etc., contact the proper department to discuss a solution.
Board and Committee members will have access to Town Hall to transact Town business. Most meetings will be held in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room in the Town Hall or in the second floor large meeting room where the larger space affords some ability to provide more physical distance between attendees.
The Town does have the capability of broadcasting meetings live, and will continue to broadcast meetings to the extent possible. In addition, the Town has to allow for public participation in meetings involving public hearings.
The Town is in the process of establishing a process to allow public participation in town meetings via remote access and will make that information available as soon as possible. In the meantime, all public meetings that do not have agenda items of an immediate or urgent nature will be postponed for the foreseeable future.
Additional decisions about how the Town conducts its operations will be made as the situation evolves. The hope is that residents and others will work with the Town to facilitate these changes. The Town will continue to provide the services that residents and others expect during this unprecedented period.
What the Town Is Doing:
Several weeks ago, town officials established a working group to begin to address how the coronavirus may impact East Bridgewater. The team includes Public Health, Police, Fire, Schools, DPW and the Town Administrator.
The team is in daily contact with various state and federal agencies. Below is a brief summary of the major activities to date:
Board of Health
- The Board of Health is in constant contact with DPH to receive the latest advisories and information specific to East Bridgewater.
- Staff is providing guidance to Town departments and agencies regarding appropriate protocols and actions and actively monitoring the Town for any cases of the virus.
- When there are individuals that are in self-quarantine, Board of Health staff will have the responsibility of contact and counseling.
- Acting Police Chief Paul O’Brien and Fire Chief Timothy Harhen and their staffs are deploying new protocols on how to serve residents who may have the virus.
- The Chiefs are focusing on how to keep police officers and firefighters safe while assisting residents that could be showing symptoms of coronavirus.
- Contingency plans are being drawn to maintain a superior response rate if staffing is diminished due to a police officer or paramedic being quarantined due to contact with someone who does not advise them of coronavirus symptoms.
- School Superintendent Elizabeth Legault and staff are working closely with all Town agencies to monitor the school system and plan for adjustments to operations if needed.
- Daily cleaning has been increased, and sanitizers and other proactive measures are in place.
- Communication for relevant information from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is taking place. School staff is staying in close contact with counterparts in other communities to coordinate a regional response.
- The schools have made plans to provide lunches to those students who qualify for free or reduced price lunches. This plan will be communicated by the School Department.
Council on Aging
- Council on Aging Director Nancy Hill and staff are in communication with the Mass Department of Elder Affairs as well as other area Directors to monitor the situation and plan for service changes as needed.
- Provisions are being made to provide necessary transportation to seniors for medications, critical doctor’s appointments and groceries.
- Meals on Wheels will continue to operate.
- Questions have been raised if coronavirus can be passed by drinking water. The CDC has stated that conventional drinking water treatment kills the virus and tap water is not a mode of transmission.
- The Town has a limited number of employees in the Water Department who make and distribute drinking water to the Town for fire protection and public safety. As such, the Town will be limiting the exposure of these employees to the Public so that the water supply operations continue to be staffed to supply the Town with drinking water.
- Water Department Offices are closed to the public. Water Department staff are available by phone to assist residents at 508-378-1619.
- All water shut-offs are cancelled until further notice.
- Meter replacements and reading appointments will be cancelled until further notice.
- The Town of East Bridgewater DPW is a member of Plymouth County Water Works, W.A.R.N. (Massachusetts Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network) and is part of the State Mutual Aid Program.
- Residents are asked to keep water conservation in mind, as it limits the demands of our water resources.
- The center is closed until further notice.
In addition to these examples, many other staff members from other departments are working on how to best provide services and to plan for any disruptions that will most likely occur.
Although Town departments are closed to the public, employees are working to continue to serve the residents of East Bridgewater.
Updates from the Town of East Bridgewater relating to COVID-19 will be provided when available.