‘Test and Stay’ Keeps Haverhill Students in School; State Eases Restrictions on Remote Learning

Haverhill Public Schools' Physician Dr. John Maddox and Director of Health and Nursing Services Katie Vozeolas previously addressed the City Council. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Although schools are back in session and traditional lesson plans are in use, the COVID-19 pandemic remains part of the curriculum.

School Superintendent Margaret Marotta, presenting the latest infection rates to the Haverhill School Committee on Thursday, said there are 56 active cases among students and eight cases among staff members. She said, however, the “test and stay” policy, initiated earlier this year, is helping to cut down student absenteeism.

“Fortunately, we have test and stay, so kids who are close-contact, if they are vaccinated, are able to remain in school and continue to attend school provided that they are close-contact in school and not in the home,” she explained.

She added the pool-testing program is returning soon. That program saves time and money by testing clusters of students. Director of Health and Nursing Services Katie Vozeolas explained how the procedure differs slightly this year.

“We’ve established a relationship with Healthcare IT Leaders and the way we’re doing testing this year is what’s called a dual swab, where individuals swab twice. If the pool ends up being positive, then they run the individual swabs, so that would negate the need for us to do that reflex testing,” she said.

Vozeolas said parents will be receiving notification of the resumption of those tests this week. Notifications include a link to click in order to grant permission for their child to take part.

Additionally, Marotta reported there has been some give on the part of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding no remote learning. She said that agency has loosened their stance on that policy to some degree.

“DESE has changed their regulations a little bit, that if students are COVID positive and at home, then we could potentially offer some remote learning at home,” she explained.

Marotta said although it is a very limited number of students that cannot attend in person, she hopes to offer the option soon.

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