Haverhill Schools Update Mask, Social Media Policies; Maintain Public Use of Sports Facilities

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

The Haverhill School Committee last week approved a number of policies governing facial masks and social media, while keeping in place current schedules for public use of sports facilities.

Speaking for the Policy Subcommittee, School Committee member Gail M. Sullivan said keeping students safe and in the classroom during the pandemic remains the goal and, accordingly, recommended following established guidelines regarding face coverings.

“A face covering that covers the nose and mouth are strongly recommended to be worn by individuals who remain unvaccinated. Individuals who are vaccinated are not required to wear a mask, but may do so if desired,” she said.

Sullivan went on to say students or staff returning from a positive COVID-19 quarantine will be required to wear a mask for ten days after exposure.

School-based social media accounts will be limited to individual schools, official clubs and athletic groups, but not individuals or classrooms. Sullivan presented the policy based on the recommendations of Douglas Russell, director of technology. The policy also mandates, whenever possible, all public information should reside primarily in the Haverhill Public Schools website and be linked from there to social media.

Those recommendations passed by a vote of 6-1 with Committee member Maura L. Ryan Ciardiello opposed.

The after-hours use of school sports facilities was also discussed. School Athletic Director Thomas O’Brien responded to a question from Mayor James J. Fiorentini about how often the new school track is open to the public.

“The track is open to the public outside of when the school is using it. So, basically, we open it up every evening once our teams are done practicing. I think the hours are five ‘til dusk or 8 p.m. every day,” he explained.

Asked about public use of the high school’s Charles C. White pool, O’Brien said policies won’t change for at least another two years while the administration has a rental agreement with Solo Aquatics. Beyond that, he noted, there is currently a nationwide shortage of qualified lifeguards.

Members also discussed the possibility of eliminating attendance fees for Haverhill students when attending Haverhill school sporting events. No decisions were made, however.

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