School classrooms in Haverhill will look different this fall, but not as unusual as officials first feared.
Haverhill Superintendent Margaret Marotta, a guest Wednesday on WHAV’s morning program, says it appears all students can return at once, according to updated guidance from the Department of Education.
“Providing nothing changes, or gets worse, at this point we’re planning for a sort of a full socially distance return to the school in the fall. So, for us, that’s meant a lot of work. Moving around desks, taking out desks, checking all the windows in all the buildings to make sure all the windows work because they’re encouraging the flow of fresh air. Thinking about outdoor classrooms. Working on our HVAC systems. It hasn’t worked in some of our schools for many years and it always got pushed to the back burner. Now that’s right front and center so that’s all getting fixed,” she said.
Back in May, Marotta told the School Committee she was working with four potential scenarios 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 formed three teams to prepare for all of the above scenarios.
Later, Haverhill school officials considered holding two daily sessions, but Marotta is pleased with the idea of having all the students attend school at the same time.
“That’s really what the Department of Education is encouraging. They put out some research about the spread of the virus in children and how it’s really lessened in children. And, also the impact of the social ills of kids staying at home, and some of the parents’ concerns around that and just getting kids back to school. The learning loss. We’ve all heard the sad stories things that happen when people are frustrated and home for long periods of time,” she explained.
Marotta said Haverhill’s summer school started Tuesday. Generally, there are about 1,200 students attending, but this year there are only about 300 attending in person. Teachers and students are wearing masks, social distancing and spending more time outdoors.
Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.