Haverhill Educators Call for Testing Students and Teachers Alike Before Consentino Resumes In-Person

Haverhill's Dr. Albert B. Consentino School. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

Staff at the Dr. Albert B. Consentino School, who along with their students are working remotely because of a COVID-19 outbreak, last night asked that students as well as educators be tested before any in-person learning resumes.

Educators said in a letter to Superintendent Margaret Marotta that those who have contracted the coronavirus fear some may be holding them responsible for the exposures even though students have not been tested. Haverhill Education Association President Anthony J. Parolisi said staff want more testing

“The assumption that staff aren’t catching it from students or that students aren’t catching if from staff just doesn’t have any data to support it. We want to gather that data which is why we’ve called for more testing of the student population before the school reopens,” he said.

The letter signed by Consentino School members of the union, said, “Simply put, there is no proof to suggest that infected staff members could not or did not contract this deadly virus from exposure to students, as has been suggested.” It was delivered during last night’s Joint Stakeholder Coronavirus Task Force, which includes union members, parents, administrators and medical professionals.

The union said 10 educators are on leave after contracting the virus, nine are quarantined as a result of being a close contact and 46 students are quarantined as close contacts, but “none as a result of contact with a positive staff member in the schools.”

Members said high class sizes, inconsistent enforcement of the student mask policy and ventilation issues persist that place staff and students at risk.

“It is our opinion that too much of the focus has been on staff behaviors and not enough on the environment in which we are required to work. Many of our rooms are not safe to be occupied at all without open windows (regardless of the temperature outside) and air purifiers, and we still don’t have any indication of when this will change,” they wrote.

Parolisi said Task Force members agreed Haverhill would benefit from more testing. They warned, however, that the kind of testing that was done for staff at Consentino would be difficult to scale up and would look for other solutions.

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