Parent Volunteers Return to Haverhill Schools as Coronavirus Infections Subside

COVID-19 test kits. (Courtesy photograph.)

As it is in the country at large, cases of COVID-19 among Haverhill Public School students are down significantly this year.

Director of Health and Nursing Services Katie Vozeolas told the School Committee last week that, as of Sept. 20, there have been a total of 103 students with the virus out of 8,000 students enrolled citywide. She said while the basic formula for avoiding the disease remains the same, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, fresh air, working HVAC systems and staying home when one is sick, guidelines provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are much less stringent than one year ago.

“From a DESE perspective, we no longer needed to contact trace, case count, do reporting of data to them. There was no mask mandates from them. There were no testing mandates and districts were really, it was up to them really about how they chose to move forward,” she said.

Vozeolas said testing is still provided in the schools and test kits are being provided to families of students sent home due to illness. She also advocated for getting the vaccinations and booster shots.

Committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais asked if the loosened guidelines are reflected in school policy regarding parents and others being allowed back into school buildings. Superintendent Margaret Marotta answered “yes” they are.

“We are moving back to normal. Parent volunteers are welcome back in the schools. Hopefully, holiday musical performances, all those sorts of things. That is where we are going and I think we are pretty much there,” the superintendent said.

While the topic of COVID-19 was being discussed, Mayor James J. Fiorentini took the opportunity to announce that the Omicron variant booster is being made available free to Haverhill residents.  He said the boosters are available Thursdays, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., and 4-7 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Citizen’s Center.

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