Haverhill Agrees to Consider Plan to Return All Students to School in April; One Member Dissents

Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta with Mayor James J. Fiorentini. (WHAV News file photograph.)

All Haverhill public school students could be back in school classrooms by April if some School Committee members have their way.

The Committee gave its okay to a proposal by Mayor James. J. Fiorentini to have the superintendent draw up a plan to have all students back in the classroom by April 1.

“I believe that it is time to get our children back into the classroom. Now, I ask that a plan be drawn up. (We) can always vote against the plan, but I would like to see what that plan looks like,” he said.

Haverhill School Committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais. (Courtesy photograph.)

Not everyone agreed with the idea, especially member Toni Sapienza-Donais.

“We don’t even have City Hall opened yet. We’re not even back in person for our meetings here, but yet we’re going to have our students back. It doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

Superintendent Margaret Marotta pointed out any plan of this nature would necessitate scrapping the six-foot social distancing rule.

Nonetheless, by a vote of 6-1, with Sapienza-Donais dissenting, members approved the motion.

Either way, students who take part in spring sports programs must be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. Marotta presented the proposal.

“Some of the communities are having mandatory pool testing for their sports teams. The students would need to test weekly in order to participate,” she said.

The superintendent said the school’s pool testing program has been very successful thus far and, by using the state’s BinaxNow testing plan, they are able to get individual test results back within 24 hours.

School Committee members favored the plan, saying it would help make people more comfortable. Among the supporters was Fiorentini.

“I’m all for pool testing Dr. Marotta. I’ve had some doubts about sports, but this would go a long way to making me feel more confident about spring sports and high impact sports,” he said.

The school spring sports season is scheduled to begin at the end of February.

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