Haverhill School Committee to Reopen School Grounds for Public Use After Hours

Haverhill High School Athletic Director Thomas E. O'Brien speaking to Haverhill City Councilors May 7, 2019. (WHAV News file photograph.)

As coronavirus restrictions are being eased across the state, the Haverhill School Committee agrees after-hours use of school campuses should, once again, be open to the public.

School Committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais raised the matter Thursday, saying she has received reports of people walking on school grounds during the evening or weekends being told they had to leave.

“They understand that, obviously, during school hours they’re not allowed, but they’re talking Saturdays and Sundays, walking around the school campus, doing laps at Haverhill High School, doing laps and Hunking School, using the playgrounds that are at the school. They’ve been asked to leave the property either by custodians or a security guard or somebody at the school,” she noted.

School Superintendent Margaret Marotta explained the grounds were closed to the public due to the pandemic and it is up to the School Committee to decide when the ban should be lifted.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini argued school property should absolutely be available for public use after school hours. He said, in fact, those playgrounds and tracks were actually all public property.

“The track at the high school, the track around the Hunking School—these were not paid for by the school department. These were paid for by the taxpayers of the city. They should be allowed to use it,” the mayor said.

Committee members agreed, saying as long as those areas were not being used for school sports or other functions, the public should have full access. They voted unanimously to return to the pre-COVID-19 policies regarding public usage.

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