Tisbury to consider town meeting; health fair canceled

Coronavirus concerns mount on Island.

Tisbury officials are considering what to do about town meeting, scheduled for March 31. Last year's meeting drew hundreds to the Tisbury School gym. - Gabrielle Mannino


Tisbury’s board of selectmen and the board of health will meet jointly Friday morning to discuss what to do about town meeting, which is scheduled for March 31, amid growing concerns about coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

The Times first raised the question about whether town meeting, which brings together hundreds of voters into the Tisbury School gym, with town moderator Deborah Medders on Tuesday. Medders reached out to town officials, which prompted the call for the Friday meeting at 9 am at Katharine Cornell Theater, town manager Jay Grande said in a message to The Times.

“We thought it would behoove us to have that meeting,” Grande said.

There are three items on the joint agenda — an update on coronavirus, a review of recommendations, and possible contingency plans.

Town meeting voters will consider, among other things, the town’s spending plan, which goes into effect July 1.

Meanwhile, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH) announced in a press release Wednesday morning that it would cancel it’s upcoming health fair scheduled for Saturday, April 4.

“In order to protect the safety of patients, staff and visitors, the Partners Healthcare system rolled out a strategy to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases, including the coronavirus (COVID-19). Our clinical and emergency preparedness leaders ask that we cancel or postpone public events hosted at our local hospitals as part of our mitigation strategy,” the release states. “Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of our community, both internal and public, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has made the difficult decision to cancel the MVH Annual Health Fair originally scheduled for Saturday, April 4, 2020. Though there have been no positive COVID-19 tests in Dukes County at this time, we are taking the precautionary measure to avoid hosting a large community gathering in the halls of MVH and Windemere. The health and safety of our patients, residents, staff and community are our highest priority and we see no other option but to cancel this wonderful community event this year.”

While the Island has only had one test sample taken as of Monday and has no presumptive cases, hospital officials couldn’t be sure that would continue. “The situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) is constantly evolving and we cannot be sure that our community will not be directly impacted in the coming weeks,” the release states. “MVH will announce the date for the 2021 Health Fair in the coming months.”

And, in the growing list of cancellations, Night Out for Nonprofits, which was scheduled for Friday at the PA Club, has been canceled.

Students lives uprooted

The lives of Islanders away at college are being uprooted as cases of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, continue to rise across the country and around the globe.

Ava Thors, who is the sister of Times reporter Lucas Thors, is a student at the St. Louis University Madrid, Spain campus and is grappling with whether or not to return home to Edgartown as Madrid institutes closures and cancellations. 

Speaking to The Times by phone, Thors said notices were sent out several days ago offering students the option of returning home if they were uncomfortable staying in Madrid. Then on Monday, the city declared it was closing all schools from kindergarten to college for 15 days starting on Friday. Thors is contemplating a return home, but said with her apartment lease and visa her situation is complicated.

“If I go back to the states, it would raise more problems,” she said. “But staying here would be stressful.”

But after the 15 days, Thors said there are still too many unknowns. “We’re having to make some pretty serious decisions on a lot of unknowns and rumors.”

In the United States, students are also wading through uncertainty.

Speaking to The Times by phone Wednesday, Mackenzie Condon, a Harvard freshman and 2019 Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduate, said the situation on campus is “chaotic” after students were told Tuesday they had to be out of their dorms by Sunday and to not return after spring break which is next week. Instead, students were told to use Zoom, a software for taking classes remotely.

“I love it here, but all the decisions are being made with everyone’s best interests,” she said.

Condon, who is on the track team, said a spring break team trip to Houston had been cancelled. She added that she sympathized with seniors whose semesters were now done and international students who had to spend money on flights, luggage, and taking online classes in different time zones.

“There are so many unknowns,” Condon said.

Another Harvard student and MVRHS alum Whitney Schroeder said she was sad to be missing out on the last few months of her junior year. She invited one of her roommates from Texas to stay on Island with her until she could figure out flights home

“I also know of many people on campus who do not have stable homes to return to, so this is especially difficult for them,” Schroeder said.

Reporters Brian Dowd and Rich Saltzberg contributed to this story. Updated to include information about college students from the Island being uprooted.


  1. Since when do the Tisbury selectmen care about people’s health? They don’t care about our children’s health.

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