State Says No More Remote Days for Haverhill’s K-1 Students Once They Return April 5

The state says Haverhill’s kindergarten and first grade students will have no remote days at all once they return to in-person learning Monday, April 5. Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley largely approved Haverhill’s phased-in classroom return plan, but nixed a waiver for a planned Wednesday, April 7, remote day. Haverhill school Superintendent Margaret Marotta told WHAV Wednesday Haverhill’s request was a “minimal waiver to begin with,” requesting the phase-in take place over two weeks. “We were hoping to have a full remote day for all students on April 7, which means our K and 1 students would have returned in full for the fifth and sixth and had a full remote day on the seventh, but he asked that we not do that,” Marotta explained. The superintendent said the order does not present any difficulty and may offer benefits.

Mayor: Haverhill on Track to Have 75% of Residents Receive COVID-19 Vaccinations by July 4

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini says the city has weathered a difficult storm over the past year but he fully believes better days are on the horizon. The mayor presented his annual State of the City address Tuesday night, calling the event “A Salute to the City’s Health Care Workers.” His speech, which ran about 25 minutes, was broadcast from the Citizen’s Center, lately a hub of coronavirus vaccinations. “I wanted to be here tonight to say, in person, to all of you who have worked so hard during this pandemic, thank you. Without their hard work and sacrifices, our losses would have been so much greater,” he said. The mayor recognized many of those frontline workers by name, including Haverhill Public Health Nurse Mary Connolly.

VA Bedford and Haverhill Veterans’ Services Administer COVID-19 Vaccine to 240 Veterans

VA Bedford Healthcare System and the Haverhill Department of Veterans’ Services vaccinated 240 veterans during a clinic Sunday at Dr. Albert B. Consentino School in Haverhill. Haverhill Veterans’ Service Officer Luis Santiago said administration of COVID-19 vaccines was a success because of the well-coordinated efforts of all, including Haverhill Police and Fire Department personnel. The collaboration that I had with the Veterans, VA, Healthcare System was flawless. It was something that was working like clockwork. Individuals came in, got their vaccines and got to go home in an about 22-minute turnaround,” Santiago told WHAV.

Vargas Says Effort Helps 2,500 Residents Get Vaccine Dates; Educators to Complete First Doses

Rep. Andy X. Vargas said Friday, he and his team have helped more than 2,500 Haverhill residents and workers make COVID-19 vaccination appointments—partly by using novel smartphone apps. As more Spanish-speaking residents become eligible this week, he said, bilingual outreach continues via WhatsApp—a text messaging platform popular in the Latino and immigrant community—as part of his “Get Out the Vaccine” effort. By the end of this week, he added, every Haverhill school teacher or staff member who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will have received at least one dose. “Thanks to our targeted efforts and strong partnership with (Greater Lawrence Family Health Center) GLFHC, Haverhill is one of the first school districts to have all teachers and school staff receive a first dose,” Vargas said, adding, “…our outreach to eligible Haverhill residents and workers has ensured that vulnerable folks who can’t sit around refreshing a web page all day, actually get appointments.”

Vargas thanked the Health Center, which operates Haverhill Family Health Center on Main Street and established a clinic at Central Plaza on Water Street, and Mayor James J. Fiorentini. Greater Lawrence Family Health Center Senior Vice President Rich Napolitano returned the accolades.

UMass Lowell, Northern Essex Take Different Approaches to Returning Students This Fall

Area state colleges are making plans for the fall semester with UMass Lowell planning a full return to classrooms, while Northern Essex Community College offers four different options. Northern Essex students will have a choice of online courses without required online meetings; online courses with required online meetings; hybrid courses, combining in-person socially-distanced classroom meetings with online work; and on campus, socially-distanced, face-to-face courses. UMass Lowell said in a statement that while campus operations may not look identical to 2019 when the semester begins, the school is making plans in the coming months to move “as close to normal as possible.”

UMass Lowell Provost Joseph Hartman said the school has already increased on-campus populations in classrooms and our residence halls. “With vaccinations accelerating nationwide and multiple semesters of COVID-19 lessons learned and effectively implemented behind us, we believe we will be able to create a safe, social and interpersonal living and learning experience for all our students on campus,” Hartman said. UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney said in a message to employees, the university is “emerging from this pandemic in a far stronger place than many of our peers across the country.”

Northern Essex recently offered 90% of courses online without required online meetings and 10% face-to-face.

To Help Restaurants Rebound, Haverhill Council Seeks to Ensure Parking Space Availability

Haverhill restaurant owners, hoping to revive their businesses in the aftermath of COVID-19, are expressing concern over the potential lack of parking downtown. City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua told his colleagues Tuesday night he has spoken with several downtown business owners who have said they are afraid that customers will turn away if they cannot find parking. He said this applies to on-street parking as well as the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority garage. “Many people have told me that when they’ve gone there, many of the residents are actually back in the garage now from work and they’ve consequently taken up many of the spaces,” he said. Bevilacqua presented two ideas to the Council which he said may help them get a handle on how to address the issue.

Sen. DiZoglio, Mayor Perry Say it Will Take a Year to Vaccinate Methuen Residents at Current Pace

State Sen. Diana DiZoglio and Methuen Mayor Neil Perry yesterday called on Gov. Charlie Baker’s Administration to send more COVID-19 vaccines to Methuen, saying at the current rate it will take a year to vaccinate residents. Their pleas come on the heels of Methuen being again designated one of the state’s high-risk, “red” zones. “While we appreciate the Administration recently, finally providing the City of Methuen with some vaccines, the allocation needs to be significantly ramped up now, at a time when the community needs it most,” said DiZoglio. “We are continuing to see the bulk of vaccines go to the mass vaccination sites, which are inaccessible to many residents, especially among our most vulnerable populations.”

Perry said he is “grateful” the city received 600 vaccine doses during the last several weeks, but is concerned about the continuing high rate of coronavirus transmission. “That, combined with the announcement yesterday of near-term eligibility dates for remaining citizens, makes it imperative that we are able to increase the supply to match the demand.

Reminder: VA Bedford and Haverhill Veterans’ Services Plan COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Locally March 21

(This item first appeared on this page March 2.)

VA Bedford Healthcare System and the Haverhill Department of Veterans’ Services plan a local Veteran COVID-19 vaccination clinic later this month. VA will administer the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by appointment to local veterans Sunday, March 21, at 9 a.m., at the Dr. Albert B. Consentino School, 685 Washington St., Haverhill. The vaccines are provided for those who are currently enrolled in VA health care, with no age restrictions. Veterans may call VA Bedford’s COVID-19 vaccination line at 781-687-4000 to schedule appointments. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses given approximately 21 days apart.