Haverhill Schools Now Plan to Open Mostly Remotely for First Two Weeks Due to Building Issues

HVAC work at Haverhill Public Schools in 2020. (Courtesy photograph.)

Revised plans now call for Haverhill schools to reopen mostly remotely to students Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Superintendent Margaret Marotta told School Committee members Thursday night the plan is being driven by ongoing ventilation repairs. She explained talks with an HVAC contractor suggest that while the schools would be safe with a limited number of people, it is probably be best to keep the number to a minimum for the first couple of weeks.

“So those two weeks between Sept. 16 and Oct. 1 would be largely remote for students with some opportunities to meet with their teachers under the tents that we have at the school and to do some introduction to the school. Maybe some information from the school nurse in small groups around COVID-related policies and sort of information sessions for students and families in very small groups during that time,” Marotta said.

The superintendent said an ongoing assessment of Haverhill’s school buildings revealed some issues, specifically with Pentucket Lake, Silver Hill, Golden Hill, Bradford Elementary, Nettle School and the High School.

“We have had a company by the name of Left Field out assessing our buildings. We are awaiting a written report regarding our HVAC systems and the air flow in the buildings and the quality of air. So, based on some of the preliminary comments from Left Field, we spoke to Cox-Maroney, an HVAC vendor that the city uses, and they have submitted to us an estimate to replace and repair any needed items in each of those six schools. It’s running about $450,000 for the repair of the ventilation units in those schools,” She said.

The School Committee approved spending the additional $450,000.

In addition, Assistant School Superintendent Michael Pfifferling told the Committee that once the work is completed, the contractor will post a notice in each classroom certifying that they meet ASHRAE guidelines for COVID-19.

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