Haverhill Schools Ponder June Graduation, Senior Activities if Social Distancing Remains in Effect

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

If social distancing is still in effect when Haverhill High School seniors are scheduled to graduate, June 5, a special celebration will still take place as well as formal summer event.

While May 4 is still Gov. Charlie Baker’s official day for returning to normalcy after COVID-19, Superintendent Margaret Marotta says she is “suspicious” of the date. Appearing live on 97.9 WHAV FM Tuesday, Marotta says special events such as senior activities, the prom and graduation will be observed one way or another.

“We talked with some of our vendors. We were going to be having our prom—about pushing those sorts of things out further into the summer. We don’t want kids to miss those rites of passage,” she says.

Otherwise, Marotta says the first few days of remote learning are working well. She explains the schools had received some practice earlier and were largely ready.

“For the most part, I’m hearing really, really good things about it. Our teachers are working hard. They’re being creative. Obviously, as you say, there are some struggles. People, particularly for those who may have young children, it is difficult obviously if you have young children,” Marotta says.

More importantly, the superintendent notes, is to keep an eye on students during this possibly stressful time.

“What we are really working on doing is making sure we have contact with our kids—that we have eyes on them, that we see them at least a couple of times a week, so we can know they’re ok physically and emotionally. It’s a little scary time right now,” she explains.

Going into remote learning, the schools didn’t just rely on parents to report technology issues. They checked records to see what students were plugged in. Of 8,000 students, the school department has distributed 3,000 Chromebooks. With Comcast making its Xfinity hotspots freely available without passwords, Marotta notes, those without internet at home have been able to join in.

The entire interview with the superintendent is available on WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts, available at WHAV.net as well as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google, TuneIn and Alexa.

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