Younger Haverhill Students Begin Full, In-Person Learning April 5; Other Grades to Phase In

Haverhill school bus. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Note: This story has been updated to reflect a revised school calendar provided to WHAV.

Haverhill students will be returning to their classrooms beginning in April.

The Haverhill School Committee last Thursday approved a plan submitted by Superintendent Margaret Marotta to phase-in full-time, back-to-classroom learning beginning Monday, April 5. Marotta said the schedule was based on the recommendation of state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley.

Specifically, Haverhill’s phase-in will have all kindergarten and grade one students in the classroom beginning April 5, while all cohort A students in grades 2-12 will attend in person on April 5 and 6. All students will attend remotely on April 7. On April 8 and 9, all students kindergarten through grade four will attend in person along with cohort B students grades 5-12.

Beginning April 12, all students in kindergarten through grade six will attend in person along with cohort A students grades 7-12. On Wednesday April 14, all students in grades 7-12 will attend remotely. On April 15-16, all cohort B students grades 7-12 will attend in person.

Following Spring break, on Monday, April 26, all students in kindergarten through grade eight will return to full, in-person learning.

Marotta said she expects guidance from the education commissioner regarding the return of high school students before the end of April.

The superintendent said that students will continue to maintain three feet of social distancing which will result in class sizes of 21-25 students. She explained other safety precautions that will be in effect.

“Masking will continue in all grades for students and staff. Our kids will face forward in one direction. There will be no singing or activities requiring exertion. We will be having outdoor classrooms, tents and picnicking.”

Marotta said the biggest challenge will be how to handle lunch. Unmasked to eat, the students will need to remain six feet apart. She said some ideas include extra lunch periods, using the gym as an additional cafeteria and eating outside when the weather permits.

Committee member Scott W. Wood, Jr. raised the only objection to the plan, asking the superintendent to develop something more concrete regarding getting high school students back as soon as possible and present it to the committee at their next meeting on March 25.

With that addition, the committee voted unanimously to accept the plan with committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais absent.

In a related matter, the Committee gave its okay for students enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant program, all of whom have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, to return to in-person training at the Hannah Duston Healthcare Center.

That program, called a critical part of the student certification process, was discontinued last September due to coronavirus concerns. At this point, all residents and employees at that facility have also been vaccinated.

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