Accountability in Massachusetts’ Remote Learning Regulations

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This policy brief and public comment argues that the COVID-19 pandemic-related revisions to Massachusetts’ remote learning regulations should restore state and local accountability by specifying that any remote academic work shall, to the same extent as in-person education, prepare students to take MCAS tests, and that grading criteria should be the same across in-person, remote, and hybrid learning environments.

Public Policy Guide for Economic Recovery from COVID-19 in the Retail and Hospitality Sectors

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This new guide to economic recovery in the retail and hospitality industries published by Pioneer Institute calls for the federal and state governments to consider consumption-based refundable tax credits for brick and mortar businesses; the federal government to conduct a detailed study of the costs and benefits of suspending employer-side payroll taxes; businesses to pay special attention to developing and marketing their cleanliness, hygiene and contactless procedures; and third-party customer review sites to include comments about the implementation of COVID safety measures to provide options and reassurance to safety-minded consumers.

How Should Massachusetts Reopen Its K–12 Schools in the Fall? Lessons from Abroad and Other States

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This report asserts that, with the fall semester fast approaching, Massachusetts should provide more specific COVID-19-related guidance for school districts about ramping up remote learning infrastructure; rotating in-person cohort schedules; diversifying methods of communication between students, parents, and teachers; and investigating physical distancing capabilities.  Districts must determine whether to adopt in-person, remote, or hybrid schooling options, and they will not be ready for the fall unless the state provides clear direction.

Open Letter: COVID-19 Study and Recommendations Task Force established pursuant to Massachusetts Bill H.4672

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Recently, Governor Baker signed legislation, H. 4672, that would create a Covid-19 task force, appointed by the legislature,  to study and make recommendations to the general court that address health disparities among certain populations based on certain characteristics, including age, and which also asks the future task force to recommend other impacted populations for further study.  Pioneer has prepared a public letter to that future task force that contains a list of specific recommendations regarding Covid-19 and the state’s nursing homes. 

Class Dismissed: Massachusetts’ Lack of Preparedness for K–12 Digital Learning During COVID-19

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This white paper contends that the shutdown of Massachusetts schools due to the COVID-19 virus and the shift to online education have exposed the uneven nature of digital learning in the Commonwealth, and calls for state officials to develop programs to create more consistency. The study urges state officials to create a plan for the 2020-21 school year that will address the education gaps that occurred during the final semester of this school year. It also encourages a plan to address how future extended closures would be managed.

As the COVID-19 Pandemic Spurs Consumer Shift to E-Commerce, the Massachusetts Sales Tax Collection System Deserves Renewed Scrutiny

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At a time when state tax revenues are plummeting, a plan to modernize sales tax collection could get money into state coffers more quickly. This report analyzes the merits of a two-part proposal Governor Baker included in his January state budget submission to streamline state sales tax collections. Sullivan and Mikula find that the first part of Baker’s plan makes sense and is entirely feasible because advances in electronic data processing and electronic funds transfer have eliminated the need for protracted remittance timetables.

Shifting Special Needs Students to Online Learning in the COVID-19 Spring

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This report by Pioneer Institute and ASU Prep Digital addresses the problem that school closures due to COVID-19 have separated more than seven million K-12 special needs students from support they receive in the classroom, and shows how online learning can be appropriate for most of those students if teachers and parents work as a team to provide each one with what he or she needs.

Going Up: The Challenge of Reopening Shared Office Buildings in a COVID-19 World

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This report finds that safely bringing employees back into workplaces presents a significant challenge for employers located in office buildings, particularly when it comes to elevator operations and building entry and exit.  To address the challenge, managers must develop plans to control the flow of workers.

Breaking the Code: The State of Computer Science Education in America’s Public Schools

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Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has further transitioned education…

Telecommuting Survey Reveals Potential for Greater Shift Towards Remote Work After COVID-19 Pandemic

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Citing an avoidance of the commute and more flexible scheduling, nearly 63 percent of respondents to Pioneer Institute’s survey, “Will You Commute To Work When The COVID-19 Crisis Is Over?” expressed a preference to work from home one day a week, and a plurality preferred two to three days a week, even after a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

The Negative Impact of COVID-19 Upon the Biopharmaceutical Sector

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Contrary to conventional wisdom that says the coronavirus pandemic will generally benefit biopharmaceutical companies, a new Pioneer Institute study finds many companies will emerge from the pandemic commercially weaker, dealing with delays in new product launches and with fewer resources to invest in research and development.

Understaffing at Long-Term Care Facilities Is Not Unique to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. It’s Embedded in Federal Standards.

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This study shows that standards enforced at the federal and state levels are insufficient to address chronic staffing issues reported by staff and residents’ families at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, making that facility particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 will likely lead to a recession. Can Massachusetts municipal budgets handle one?

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Using municipalities' experiences during the Great Recession, a new policy brief examines the likely impact of COVID-19 on local property taxes, as well as political implications for state aid. We list the municipal revenues by category among the least tax-reliant communities in MA, show the trajectory of tax revenue growth rate in Massachusetts state and local governments, and rank stabilization fund assets per capita among Massachusetts Gateway Cities.

Case Studies on Re-Opening National Economies, and What to Expect in the U.S. and Massachusetts

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Based on case studies from Europe, Massachusetts’ strategy for beginning to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic may include allowing businesses to open in phases and extending social distancing guidelines that include mask-wearing and maintaining distances between individuals. This report compares the reopening approaches of three European countries – Austria, Denmark, and Germany – to highlight approaches that could inform the Commonwealth’s reopening strategy.

U.S. Transit Systems and COVID-19: How does the MBTA Compare?

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The MBTA is taking a number of important steps to mitigate risks associated with the coronavirus, but some transit agencies around the country - from Philadelphia to San Francisco - have done significantly more.

A Look at the Massachusetts Industries that are Most Vulnerable Due to COVID-19

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A new report using recent data provided by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development shows that hospitality, retail trade, healthcare and social assistance, and construction are the industries that have suffered the most unemployment as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Massachusetts Crises Of Care Guidelines Need Re-Thinking

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This new study contends that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (DPH’s) Crises Standards of Care (CSC) issued earlier this month bear the earmarks of a state bureaucratic effort. The guidelines need to be rethought under a process that includes a thorough vetting by Massachusetts citizens.

Shifting to Online Learning in the COVID-19 Spring

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This new Pioneer Institute and ASU Prep Digital policy brief offers five important considerations for schools and districts dealing with the shift to online education in response to COVID-19.

Unprecedented Massachusetts unemployment projections set the stage for a state budget crisis

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The COVID-19 recession could cause Massachusetts’ unemployment rate to skyrocket to 25.4 percent by this June, according to a new policy brief published by Pioneer Institute.  The Commonwealth’s unemployment rate was 2.5 percent in February.

Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY): The Threat to Older Americans

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This report examines how the QALY methodology to determine drug treatment value threatens to discriminate against older adults by placing a lower value on treatments that would extend the life of or improve quality of life for older patients.  This clear bias against providing access to therapies to seniors comes at a critical and especially vulnerable time for older Americans given the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

The Federal Coronavirus Relief Act impact on Massachusetts

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Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, providing $2.2 trillion in financial relief to laid-off workers, hospitals, and distressed industries. The bill provides an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits to each recipient for up to four months and extends benefits to previously ineligible categories of workers, including independent contractors, those with limited work history, and self-employed persons.

Keeping Students Academically Engaged During the Coronavirus Crisis - Part One

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Pioneer Institute calls on the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to quickly establish comprehensive but concise guidelines for federal law around school closures.  Because of the COVID-19 virus, schools have been closing rapidly around the nation, and they are trying to transition to alternative, largely online, learning programs.