Haverhill Superintendent Explores Four Scenarios for Opening Schools This Fall if Virus Persists

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

While Haverhill schools are utilizing remote learning for now, the question on the minds of educators and administrators is “What happens next year?”

School Superintendent Margaret Marotta told the School Committee last Thursday four potential scenarios are under study for September. A return to traditional classes while continuing to practice social distancing, continuation of remote learning, some combination of the two or either of the first two interrupted by a second wave of the pandemic. She said she formed three teams to prepare for all of the above scenarios. The first team she called a physical re-entry team.

“We’ve already started measuring our buildings, our classrooms—each and every one to determine how many students we could fit in each classroom with six feet of social distance. What about the common spaces? What about the buses, recess, hygiene, health screening measures as people come and go into the building? So there’s a lot that we need to think about in the best case scenario for September,” Marotta said.

She says the second team has also begun work, looking at social, emotional support for the neediest students.

“They’ve begun trauma training with our teachers. They’re looking at attendance tracking. Where are our kids? How are they doing? Who are the kids that we haven’t contacted? How will we contact them? We’ve begun having some folks go out and make some home visits, just to make sure that the kids are okay,” she said.

Marotta says she has a team that will soon begin surveying parents, teachers and students to see what is working and what is not.

“And finally, we have a team that we’re calling ‘Rethinking Academics.’ What does academics look like long-term in an era of remote learning? How do we know if our kids are learning what we’re teaching and how do we know that we are teaching in a meaningful way?” Marotta asked.

The superintendent said the situations are far from ideal but noted we cannot stick our heads in the sand and wish it away. She also said this year’s summer school program will likely be a testing ground for all of these scenarios.

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