Updated: Schools Now Closed 3 Weeks; Here’s Where to Get Children’s Meals; Cancellations

Dr. William Goldman, Holy Family Hospital’s chief medical officer, addresses the Haverhill City Council. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Stay tuned to 97.9 WHAV FM and WHAV.net for changes and continuing developments. Related stories here.


Greater Haverhill has begun a new normal with schools closed for three weeks and most public events cancelled as state public health official say, as of Sunday, Essex County has six confirmed or presumptive corona virus disease cases.

An executive order from Gov. Charlie Baker Sunday extends school class cancellations until at least Monday, April 6. Baker’s order also prohibits gatherings of 25 or more people, closes bars and mandates restaurants offer only takeout or delivery. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s state of emergency declaration also closes schools in that state for three weeks.

Statewide, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports 45 confirmed and 119 presumptive cases for a total of 164. Of these, 108 cases are being traced to the Biogen leadership conference late last month at Boston Marriott Long Wharf. New Hampshire says there are 13 confirmed or presumed cases in the Granite State. There have been no reported deaths.

In Haverhill, Mayor James J. Fiorentini asked residents this weekend to avoid coming to City Hall, advising people to pay bills or request permits online at cityofhaverhill.com or to call 311 with issues.

He said police will enforce bar and restaurant rules. “We will do what we can to help those most vulnerable. I am urging those who go to restaurants to continue, but use takeout or delivery. (The City) is looking for ways to help the waitstaff,” he added. The city’s health nurse is also ensuring nursing homes are restricting visitors.


Meals for children of any age and attending any school—public, charter, regional or private—are available at four sites daily, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Locations are Consentino School, 685 Washington St.; Nettle School, 150 Boardman St.; YMCA, 81 Winter St.; and Boys and Girls Club, 55 Emerson St.

Elementary and middle schools are providing “Go Bags” for students. Individual schools will provide details for its students. For those eligible low-income families without internet access, Superintendent Margaret Marotta says Comcast is providing free “Internet Essentials” service for two months. There is no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee for equipment. The sign-up is at internetessentials.com/covid19.

Teachers are being asked to report Monday and Tuesday to tend to such tasks as supervising meal distribution, planning or photocopying lessons or setting up access to some curated online activities for families. There is no requirement for staff to explain absences, but all are encouraged to communicate with their principals regularly. No one is required to report to work at any time if they do not feel it is safe or appropriate for them to do so.

Besides classes, all Haverhill school-related activities and events, sports practices and try-outs have also been postponed. Marotta said she expects to provide parents a status update within a week.

Comcast is giving low-income families two free months of its Internet Essentials internet service. Households receive an easy-to-use self-install-kit that includes a cable modem and a WiFi router.

Haverhill promise also plans a reading challenge. More details to be announced.

Methuen is also providing bagged breakfast and lunches beginning tomorrow, March 17, from 9 a.m.-noon, at Tenney Grammar School, Upper School side.

Timberlane Regional School District is cancelling classes from at least March 18 to April 3. Parents and students should expect assignment information by Wednesday, at 9 a.m., via Google classroom or parent email. St. Anne Food Pantry is operating a modified program during Remote Learning, providing bagged breakfast and lunch to anyone under 18, living in any of the district towns, in a drive-thru format from 10 a.m.-noon, Monday through Friday, behind St. Anne Church, 26 Emerson Ave., Hampstead, N.H. No proof of need is required. The food pantry is also accepting financial donations.

Public Services

Fiorentini said all recreation league games have been cancelled. “We will be making an effort to make certain kids do not congregate in playgrounds which defeats the purpose of the ban,” he added.

Haverhill’s Citizens Center is also closed to events, including community meals, Bingo, gym and other activities. Community meals will be changed to Meals on Wheels.

Haverhill and Newburyport District Courts are closed Monday and Tuesday.

The Essex County Sheriff’s office also suspended all public visits to Middleton House of Correction, Lawrence Pre-Release Center and Salisbury Women in Transition facilities. The suspension remains in effect until at least Saturday, March 28.

West Newbury Fire Chief Michael Dwyer and Police Chief Jeffrey Durand are suspending walk-in and non-emergency services the Police and Fire Departments at 401 Main St. They ask residents to contact the police and fire over business lines or send an e-mail for non-emergencies.

Civic, Health and Business

Holy Family Hospital in Haverhill and Methuen is allowing only two visitors over age 12, per patient, in the hospital until further notice. Likewise, Anna Jaques Hospital, Newburyport, is restricting visitors. Hospital officials say exceptions may be made to allow for no more than one healthy visitor at a time, per patient, in certain limited circumstances, such as in the event of the birth of a child, to support a patient at the end of life or to accommodate a caretaker for essential needs. Decisions regarding visitor exceptions will be made by the patient’s care team on a case-by-case basis. The hospital is also cancelling Senior Meals, prenatal classes and mother/baby support groups and Breast Cancer Support Group and Cancer Support Group – “Surviving and Thriving.” Its Great Chefs’ Night has been postponed to June 11.

The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce is also collecting data to determine how best to provide assistance to businesses. Working with Fiorentini and state Rep. Andy X. Vargas, it has assembled an online “Haverhill Community Support Form.” There is a link at WHAV.net.

Emmaus has postponed its annual spring gala, “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars,” to Sunday, June 7, at Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury. CEO Jeanine Murphy is also asking for donations to offset $14,000 in unanticipated costs for extra beds and cleaning supplies as well as an expected surge in feeding children who will not be in school.

The Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Spring Business Expo, Trade Show, and Wellness Fair, scheduled for April 1, is being postponed to Wednesday, June 3.

The YWCA’s White Ribbon Day Celebration, originally planned for Thursday, has been cancelled.

Stay tuned to 97.9 WHAV FM and WHAV.net for changes and continuing developments.

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