Haverhill Schools Make Final Preparations for Students’ Remote Return Next Week

Chromebooks, similar to what is shown here, are used by Haverhill students. (Courtesy photograph.)

School bells will be ringing once again next week, but it will be a few more weeks before traditional classroom teaching gets underway.

Last Thursday, Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta told the School Committee parents will be receiving specific information for each school.

“But on the whole, I just want to let people know, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…are remote learning days. They will also be kindergarten screening days, largely under the tents and outside. Then we’ll be entering the full hybrid back to school on Oct. 5,” she said.

Marotta explained Monday, Sept. 21, remote learning will begin in earnest and continue for two weeks. During that time, small groups of students will be allowed into the schools to orient themselves to the new layouts and procedures. She also said that school start times will be the same as they have in previous years and school buses will be available.

Progress is taking place on readying school buildings to meet COVID-19 standards. Assistant Superintendent Michael Pfifferling said the department hired two companies to update and repair all of the school’s ventilation systems.

“So, Cox-Maroney is finishing their assessment and, at the same time, they’re also cleaning every uninvent system, vacuuming them out, changing the filters, if they haven’t been already done. So, we do have every building covered and planned. We certainly expect that we will be able to get a report, by school, very shortly,” he said.

For schools that do not have standard ventilation equipment, air scrubbers have been ordered and will be placed in those classrooms. When all of the work has been completed, a separate company called Left Field will inspect the work as to whether the systems meet ASHRAE guidelines. School leaders said they were prohibited by state coronavirus rules from entering buildings earlier this spring to undertake the tasks.

The superintendent also told the Committee that the coronavirus has been a wake-up call to the need for more preventive maintenance. To that end, she said the school department needs to hire 10 more custodians. After some discussion about whether it would be better to contract the work out, the Committee agreed to hire 10 more maintenance personnel for one year or until Gov. Charlie Baker lifts the state’s COVID-19 emergency order.

The Haverhill School Committee meets again Thursday, 7 p.m., in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers in City Hall, 4 Summer St. As a public service, the meeting will be broadcast live by 97.9 WHAV.

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