Update: Haverhill Public Schools, Whittier Tech Closings Friday Related to Same Coronavirus Exposure

Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta displays disinfecting wipes at a meeting of the School Committee. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill Public Schools and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School are closed today after receiving word that students may have been in contact with an infected person from another community.

Haverhill Superintendent Margaret Marotta confirmed for WHAV the contact involving both schools is related. She said “there is overlap in friend and family groups exposed to the presumptively positive person.” Marotta said she was in touch with Whittier Tech Superintendent Maureen Lynch around 9:30, Thursday night. The possibly infected student did not attend either Haverhill High or Whittier Tech, she added.

In Haverhill, parents were notified by a robocall. School Committee members, who had just received a coronavirus update at its regular meeting, were notified shortly thereafter.

The superintendent’s office said in an email, “As we left the School Committee meeting, we received a call from a parent that their child was in close proximity to a child that is presumptively positive from another community. We are gathering more facts now but because it is late and we did not receive immediate feedback from the Mass. Department of Epidemiology.”

Parents were told two Haverhill High School students were in “close contact” with a non-Haverhill High student. That person has now tested “presumptively positive.”

An electrostatic germ blaster was on display. (WHAV News photograph.)

Marotta had just updated the School Committee on the status of planned cancellations, postponements and other measures being taken to protect students and staff.

Marotta said that field trips have been cancelled, including one to Italy, another to Europe and a third to Washington D.C. Local sporting events are also being curtailed as are all Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association spring sports programs.

Haverhill Public Schools pediatrician John L. Maddox told the committee he believed decisions made by the superintendent were duly cautious in a fluid situation.

Marotta said the school department was looking to the state for guidance and, meanwhile, was considering ways to keep students learning in the event that the schools themselves were forced to close for any length of time. One of those ways would be by using the internet and a Google device allowing the students to learn from home. She said that she would be contacting students and their parents to learn who did and did not have internet access.

Marotta also said that school maintenance personnel had been using germ blasters to sanitize the school buildings.

The school committee also approved a ban on the use of school recreational facilities by outside groups, at least for the next two months.

The number of local cancellations and postponements are growing as organizations take precautions against the COVID-19 outbreak.

State public health officials said yesterday, Essex County has two suspected or confirmed cases of infection, while the state as a whole reports six confirmed cases and 102 “presumptive” cases. Northern Essex Community College yesterday closed both its Haverhill and Lawrence campuses after officials learned a student may have come into contact with a person infected by coronavirus disease.

The college also cancelled “out of an abundance of caution,” its Haverhill health and wellness fair, scheduled for Monday, March 23, and its spring open house on the Lawrence campus, planned for Saturday, March 28.

The 12th annual Haverhill Athletics Comedy Night planned for tonight has been postponed.

Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission also postponed its “Speak Easy” fundraiser which had been planned for May 16, Chairman Ralph T. Basiliere said the event is now scheduled to take place Saturday, Sept. 26. He explained, “Out of an abundance of caution and fiscal prudence, we delayed our biggest fundraiser.” Basiliere added, however, construction at Mill Brook Park remains on schedule with this season’s work beginning May 1.

The Haverhill Chamber of Commerce has rescheduled its Winning Opportunities for Women’s Conference for Thursday, June 25, and cancelled its Brand Launch Party and April’s Leads Lunch.

WHAV Staff Writer John Lee Grant contributed to this report.

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Update 3: Haverhill public schools and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School are closed today after receiving word that students may have been in contact with an infected person from another community.

Haverhill Superintendent Margaret Marotta confirmed for WHAV the contact involving both schools are related. She said “there is overlap in friend and family groups exposed to the presumptively positive person.” Marotta said she was in touch with Whittier Tech Superintendent Maureen Lynch around 9:30, Thursday night. The possibly infected student did not attend either Haverhill High or Whittier Tech, she added.

In Haverhill, parents were notified by a robocall. School Committee members, who had just received a coronavirus update at its regular meeting, were notified shortly thereafter.

said in an email, “As we left the School Committee meeting, we received a call from a parent that their child was in close proximity to a child that is presumptively positive from another community. We are gathering more facts now but because it is late and we did not receive immediate feedback from the Mass. Department of Epidemiology.”

Parents were told two Haverhill High School students were in “close contact” with a non-Haverhill High student. That person has now tested “presumptively positive.”

This is a developing story. Listen to 97.9 WHAV FM for more information as it becomes available.

The number of local cancellations and postponements are growing as organizations take precautions against the COVID-19 outbreak.

State public health officials said yesterday, Essex County has two suspected or confirmed cases of infection, while the state as a whole reports six confirmed cases and 102 “presumptive” cases. Northern Essex Community College yesterday closed both its Haverhill and Lawrence campuses after officials learned a student may have come into contact with a person infected by coronavirus disease.

The college also cancelled “out of an abundance of caution,” its Haverhill health and wellness fair, scheduled for Monday, March 23, and its spring open house on the Lawrence campus, planned for Saturday, March 28.

The 12th annual Haverhill Athletics Comedy Night planned for tonight has been postponed.

Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission also postponed its “Speak Easy” fundraiser which had been planned for May 16, Chairman Ralph T. Basiliere said the event is now scheduled to take place Saturday, Sept. 26. He explained, “Out of an abundance of caution and fiscal prudence, we delayed our biggest fundraiser.” Basiliere added, however, construction at Mill Brook Park remains on schedule with this season’s work beginning May 1.

The Haverhill Chamber of Commerce has rescheduled its Winning Opportunities for Women’s Conference for Thursday, June 25, and cancelled its Brand Launch Party and April’s Leads Lunch.

An earlier list appears here and here.

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