Haverhill Council to Hear Plans for Distributing Youth Activities and Mental Health Grants

The fruits of last summer’s Haverhill city budget compromise are scheduled to be discussed Tuesday night when city councilors invite nonprofits to apply for Youth Activities and Mental Health grants. On the last day of June last year, the City Council approved the half-million-dollar fund after then-President Melinda E. Barrett negotiated with Mayor James J. Fiorentini. The arrangement, using money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, also allowed the city’s $217 million spending plan to take effect the next day. Councilors originally defeated the mayor’s budget by a vote of 5-4 last year when the two sides were unable to agree on establishing the fund and how the city would pay for it. At first, Barrett urged the mayor to commit all cannabis money to the revolving fund, saying “You’re really close.

Sen. Edward Markey to Discuss Free Fares During MVRTA Bus Ride Tuesday Afternoon

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, who supported federal COVID-19 relief aid, will be riding a Merrimack Valley regional Transit Authority bus tomorrow that used the money to make rides free to passengers. Markey is scheduled to hop on Route 01 at 3:25 p.m., Tuesday, April 12, at Target, 67 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen. The bus arrives at Buckley Transportation Center in Lawrence around 3:45. “He will be engaging with riders and talking to the press about what the free fares means for Lawrence and the entire Merrimack Valley,” officials said. The Transit Authority is replacing fares lost during the two-year pilot with federal money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and American Rescue Plan Act.

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center Shares in COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Initiative

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center is sharing in $3.1 million set aside by the state to support 42 community health centers to increase awareness and access to vaccines in communities hardest hit by the pandemic. The money is in addition to $5 million being distributed to community health centers for walk-in vaccination services. Greater Lawrence Family Health Center operates clinics in Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence. “These trusted community-based organizations know their communities best,” said state Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke. “They use their knowledge and relationships to expand the efforts of our Vaccine Equity Initiative by helping address the unique health equity needs of the communities and populations they serve—needs that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.”

The grants are the result of an award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Commonwealth, building on the state’s investment to increase vaccine awareness and acceptance.

Haverhill Lifts COVID-19 Mask Requirement for Public at City Hall, Other Municipal Buildings

Citing dropping COVID-19 rates in Haverhill and revised federal guidelines, Mayor James J. Fiorentini says mask wearing by the public is no longer required in City Hall or other public buildings as of Friday, March 4. Fiorentini said he consulted with the Haverhill Board of Health and the city’s medical advisors before making the decision. Face masks remain mandatory in public buildings for non-vaccinated employees and recommended for non-vaccinated members of the public.

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center Offers COVID-19 Vaccines Thursday in Haverhill

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center is providing COVID-19 vaccines for parents, all students at least five years old and school staff during this Haverhill school vacation week and one day in March. First, second and booster doses will be available. Those under 18 must have a signed parental consent and are preferred to be accompanied by an adult.

Clinics takes place Thursday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, March 19, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., in the cafeteria of the Dr. Albert B. Consentino School, 685 Washington St., Haverhill. Walk-ins are welcome or registrations are accepted online here.

Greater Lawrence Tech To Lift Mask Mandate After School Vacation Effect is Known

Greater Lawrence Technical School Committee chose last week modify the district’s school mask mandate, but only after any spikes resulting from school vacation are checked. During its regular meeting, members voted to revise the policy to make masking optional for all students beginning on Monday, March 7. The decision is based on Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley’s statewide school mask mandate would not be renewed after Feb. 28. The ruling was made after consulting with medical experts and state health officials, and considering high vaccination rates and widespread availability of COVID-19 testing for school staff and students.

‘Layered Mitigation’ Marks Haverhill Schools’ Move to ‘Mask Choice’ Beginning Next Week

Haverhill schools are reassuring parents it is using “layered mitigation strategies” to keep students and staff safe as public schools move to “mask choice” a week from today

As WHAV previously reported, the Haverhill School Committee voted Feb. 10 to support Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to lift mandated masking as of Feb. 28. Following suit, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education gave cities and towns the option to keep local mandates in place. “Our layered mitigation strategies include millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades to our HVAC systems, air-scrubbers in rooms without windows, dramatically increased nursing and custodial staffing, ongoing social distancing of students to the extent possible in our buildings and free at-home COVID testing kits for those interested,” wrote Superintendent Margaret Marotta in emails to families.

Haverhill Public Health Director Connolly Receives Accolades for Guidance During Pandemic

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During the darkest days of the pandemic, Cedardale Health and Fitness Executive Director Andrew Gunberg didn’t know where to turn for industry-specific COVID-19 restrictions, best practices for contact tracing or other guidelines. Then, he found Haverhill’s Mary Connolly, who has since moved from public health nurse to Haverhill’s public health director. “Mary was always there to help from her end, share what she learned from the DPH (Department of Public Health) and help us guide, help me guide, help my team of directors guide through the pandemic safely and continue to be open and in operation,” Gunberg told a small group, gathered in honor of Connolly Wednesday at Cedardale. Gunberg, who had relocated to Haverhill for the Cedardale job, said he logged more hours on the telephone during the health crisis with Connolly than with his family and friends back home. Because Cedardale is more than a health club, hosting retail and refreshments, he explained it was difficult to navigate through the maze of rules for each type of business.