Haverhill Schools Cancel International Trips, Develop Other Contingencies, if Needed

Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta, standing, answers questions at the first meeting of the Consentino School Building Committee in February 2020 as Allison Heartquist, mayoral chief of staff, listens. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill Public Schools has cancelled all international field trips in light of the coronavirus outbreak and is reviewing other measures should they become necessary.

As of yesterday, one presumed case had been identified in Essex County by the state Department of Public Health.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are reviewing and preparing our district emergency plans for the possible threat of the coronavirus spreading to our area,” Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta wrote in an email to staff yesterday.

She said the schools are also “monitoring closely our field trips scheduled for both local venues and overnight trips” and considering measures, if necessary, to continue student learning in the event of long-term school closures.

Options include Google Classroom, used currently by about 40% of faculty. She is also asking staff to package teaching materials in advance in the event of faculty absences. Marotta said the school department is also “looking to find out the needs of our families such as students without internet, a computer and supplies at home and families with one computer and more than one child.”

Marotta advised staff with questions about their own of students’ health to contact Director of Health and Nursing Services Katie Vozeolas. “She is in constant communication with our leadership team, local, state and federal agencies and will assist you in any way that she can.”

“We are going into this with our eyes wide open. We know there are many obstacles ahead of us in the event of long-term school closures,” the superintendent said.

Typically, schools are required to provide 180 days of education.  However, she said, “health, weather, or safety emergencies between April 1 and June 1 must be made up to ensure a 180-day school year or until the district has reached its previously scheduled 185th day, whichever comes first. If all five snow days have been used prior to this point, the district is not required to scheduled additional school days.”

Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency yesterday after the number of suspected COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts more than doubled to 92 overnight, joining about a dozen other states with a formal emergency declaration as the coronavirus-caused illness continues to spread in the United States.

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