Haverhill School Reopening Plans Remain Fluid; Families Retain Opt-In and Out Choices

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

Despite state guidance, favoring students return to classes in-person this fall, Haverhill continues to prepare several options.

Whatever plans emerge, Superintendent Margaret Marotta says, final decisions will be up to students and their families.

“We might not make everybody happy. We’re trying to make as many people feel safe and confident in their child’s education as possible and have as many options that people can opt-into and out of as possible,” she says.

The superintendent, appearing again on WHAV’s morning program this week, says the situation remains fluid.

“We don’t have any official decisions yet for the fall, but we do have to make three plans. And one of them is to see if we can fit all of the students back in the building at three feet social distance, and we can, in fact, do that. It doesn’t mean that we will do that. It means we are physically able to do that. Another is a hybrid plan where kids might go every other week, or maybe two days a week. And a third is to return to a full remote learning,” Marotta explains.

State Education Commission Jeffrey C. Riley issued guidance to school districts June 25, saying “we want to start the school year with as many of our students as possible returning to in-person settings—safely. If the current positive public health metrics hold, we believe that when we follow critical health requirements, we can safely return to in-person school this fall with plans in place to protect all members of our educational community.”

Marotta notified parents by email yesterday of a public forum coming next month. She also asked them to participate in an online “Return to School 2020 Survey.”

Haverhill opened summer school this year with options for families. About 300 students are attending in-person, while other students are staying home by their computers.

“We do, this summer, have a remote learning academy online for all students. We have, like, superstar teachers running it, and it’s really going very well. So, we’ve sort of identified a group of about 20 teachers who are really great at remote learning, and our hope is that they are going train, and support, other teachers to get better at it,” the superintendent explains.

Marotta says teachers and school officials are facing a tough timeline for the beginning of classes. There is just one day of professional development and classroom set up scheduled before students arrive. The school administration is looking at the possibility of discussing with the School Committee, and seeking public opinion, about whether it makes sense to hold school back a few days or a week while providing more training and support for the teachers.

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