Londonderry School Board Gets COVID Update

By Alex Malm

During the Jan.11 Londonderry School Board meeting the School Board heard an update regarding COVID-19.

Superintendent Scott Laliberte explained that recently there were a lot of changes made in the guidance from the CDC which was eventually adopted by the State.

“The changes to the five day period was certainly one of them,” Laliberte said.

On the same day that the new guidance came out, Assistant Superintendent Dan Black said that they happened to have a private meeting scheduled with the District’s Medical Advisory Group and the District AD Council which consists of school principals and District Office staff.

“It was probably a group we should’ve pulled together 21 months ago,” said Black about the Medical Advisory Group.

Once the new CDC guidance was adopted by the State Black said that the District began to figure out what the new guidance would mean for the District.

“Really the whole team found themselves scrambling here and trying to adjust to this,” said Black.

Black said that it was really hard but they found a way to make it work.

“We have a great team, we have a dedicated team that finds a way to make it work for our families,” said Black.

One of the biggest changes to the guidance is that students can return to school on day 6 after testing positive for COVID however, they need to return with certain restrictions.

“Students and staff that are back within their schools from days 6 to 10 from the start of their quarantine period will need to follow a strict independent masking requirement while inside the school building,” guidance from the District Administration stated.

For parents and guardians not comfortable with sending their students to school with the restrictions in place for days 6 to 10 they have the option of staying home until day 10 when they can return to school with no restrictions.

As part of joining the Medical Advisory Group, Black said many of the people who volunteered asked to have their identity hidden.

“They are afraid of the verbal abuse they get for helping us, they are afraid of the harassment they may get from other members of the public,” said Black.

School Board member Nancy Hendricks pointed out that while she understands the concerns that people have about their privacy when it comes to being on the Committee she said that it’s still a Committee that reports to the Board.

She asked if there is a RSA that allows a committee to meet without disclosing names of who is on it.

“This is a Committee that has been convened by Administration and is more of a technical advisory committee,” said Laliberte.

Because of that it doesn’t fall under the same regulations under RSA 91 A, Laliberte said.

During the public comment period of the meeting Tim Porter said that he thinks that it was expected that if they were going to have a medical advisory group for the District it would be voted on by the Board and members of the public would know who is on it.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate at all,” Porter said about the public not knowing who is on the medical advisory group.

Black said that they reached a “sad state,” as a community where people will only help them as long as they can stay anonymous.

School Board member Bob Slater said that he is frustrated with the fact that the guidance is constantly changing from the State and the CDD and feels that right now it’s contradicting itself.

“It feels like they are playing games with us,” said Slater.

He also said by the guidance constantly needing to be sorted through and implemented its taking staff away from what they’re supposed to be doing.

“It’s just not fair to these schools,” said Slater.

As part of their conversations with the Medical Advisory Group, Black said that they were told that the best way they can think about the endemic for COVID is that it’s probably not going to go away but it becomes more manageable.

He said he would challenge the New Hampshire Department of Health and the New Hampshire Department of Education to tell them “how do we get to be more manageable.”

As of 2 p.m. on Jan.11 Director of Public Services Kim Carpinone said that they had over 429 positive cases of COVID-19 since Dec. 23.

A full list of the new COVID regulations can be found on the School District’s website.

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