Back to School

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July 31st, 2020- Dear Haverhill Families,

Thank you for your patience while we work to reopen our schools as safely as possible. This has been an incredibly challenging task.  We currently have very low COVID-19 numbers currently in our community,  We have conducted a number of surveys and held planning committees in each school for input and feedback. We understand the data could change and are preparing to review the data regularly and make adjustments as needed..

Because of the number of students in our schools, we quickly realized we’d need a hybrid model to reduce the number of students in school each day and the number of students in class at one time. We will be following state and CDC guidance with daily health screenings, masks required for staff and students, hand hygiene and space for social distancing (6 feet between desks). Our goal is to keep schools open and keep the virus out of our schools, while being prepared for illness if necessary. As the year progresses, we can add more school time if the data supports it.

At the Haverhill School Board meeting last night, the board approved the following:

  • A reopening plan that includes three models: in person, hybrid and remote. At some point, we may need one or all of these three options.
  • We will reopen on August 31 (a calendar voted on in June) using a hybrid model:
    • With 3 teachers per grade, K-3 parents will have the option to return face to face or have remote instruction with a WES teacher. A survey will be going out for families to make their choice. K-3 families may also enroll in the Virtual Learning Academy after August 3. In school or remote classes will be M, T, Th, F with Wednesdays for remote instruction in the morning, deep cleaning of the building, planning and preparation time for teachers. Family choices will be in effect for the first marking period.
      • The Preschool remains the same: two days for 3 year olds and three days for the 4 year old program (am and pm)
    • Families with students in 4th and 5th grade will also have a choice of in school or remote with a HCMS teacher as there are 3 teachers per grade. A survey will be going out soon for families to make their choice. 

Survey results will be organized and the goal is for students to attend 4 days per week, M,T,Th,F with W being a day for remote instruction in the morning, deep cleaning of the building, planning and preparation time for teachers. Based on the surveys, if the enrollment for the in-school classes exceeds available space, a hybrid model will be scheduled for these grades to reduce the number of students in class at one time (attend M/T or TH/F with W remote). 

  • Grades 6-12, to reduce the number of students in the building at one time, student cohorts will be divided by alphabet..  Students with names ending A-J will attend on Mondays and Tuesdays and students with names ending K-Z will attend on Thursdays and Fridays. On Wednesday, teachers will teach courses in the morning and have the afternoon for office hours, training, planning and preparation. All assignments and rubrics will be on Google Classroom for the days students are not in school. Accommodations will be made for families with children with different last names so the students from the same household attend on the same day..
  • Families with K-12 students will also have the option to take all or some of their courses with the Virtual Online Academy (VLACS). This is free for all NH students. A school chromebook will be made available for students taking VLACS courses/modules as long as they don’t withdraw from the public school. 

I know that this is an incredibly challenging time for our families and staff. Please look for and respond asap to surveys for K-5 students as that will assist us with our planning. The next school board meeting is on Monday, August 10 at 6:00 at HCMS. The public is invited to attend. We will be screening all who want to enter the school building, masks will be required and chairs will be spaced 6 feet apart. 

We will also plan parent forums at each school and will be sending out additional information for families. It is essential that families screen students at home before coming to school in the morning. The recommended state protocol is to send students and staff home if they exhibit new symptoms related to COVID-19: temperature of 100, coughs, runny nose, etc. Students and staff will be required to have a negative test for COVID-19 to return to school or quarantine for 10 days. 

Many students transitioning to a new school have not had the traditional spring opportunity to visit the new school or meet new teachers. We will make that happen.  

I appreciate everyone’s patience and support.  We will get through this and I look forward to the day we have a good vaccination and can move on without so many precautions.

Thank you.


Laurie Melanson

Superintendent of Schools, SAU #23

July 30th, 2020 – Virtual Reopening Meeting in conjunction with the School Board simulcast on Facebook
July 28th, 2020 – Virtual Reopening Meeting simulcast on Facebook

SAU 23 Update – July 27, 2020
What is VLACS and is it an option for my child this year? With all the return to school planning going on, schools are asked to develop three plans: one for all students to return to school, one for all students learning remotely and one hybrid or combination of some days in school and some time learning remotely.

What’s new this year is the option for K-3 students to participate in the Virtual Learning Academy or VLACS. This has been an option for students in grades 4-12 in the past and the State Board of Education has approved adding a K-3 program.

VLACS is free for NH residents. Our students could remain enrolled in our schools while taking all or some of the courses with VLACS. They are competency based with all the skills for each module clearly listed. Because of the pandemic, families can take some or all courses and still be enrolled in the local public school. Enrollment for K-3 will begin August 3 and students can start August 17 or when our schools start on August 31. Enrollment for grades 4-6 is ongoing and ready for enrollment now. Courses include Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Art, PE and Technology. Students in grades 3-5 have a Spanish option. These courses are self paced and we have been assured that young students will not be on the computer all day. A student taking courses with VLACS is welcome to return to our schools during the year. VLACS is able to print out a transcript, listing all the skills and competencies the student has completed.

For more information, go to or call 603-778-2500. Please let the superintendent and your school office know of your intent to enroll in VLACS or if you have any questions.

Thank you.

Laurie Melanson
Superintendent, SAU #23 603-787-2113, X 118

July 23rd, 2020 – Virtual Reopening Meeting simulcast on Facebook
July 23rd, 2020 -Everyone is eager to hear what the plans are for reopening our schools. The Haverhill Advisory Committee has been meeting to help sort through the DOE’s and Governor’s guidance and to operationalize that guidance for our schools. Each school is working on three plans: one for all students to return to school, one for a hybrid model with some in school and some remote instruction (to reduce the number of students in our schools at one time) and one fully remote model. We may need all of these models this year, until a vaccine is widely available for all students and staff.

To assist us with planning, I’m enclosing a link to a brief parent survey to help us know your intentions and with final recommendations for the board. Please take a minute to complete the survey and reach out to me if you have questions.

Thank you.

July 21st, 2020- Virtual Reopening Meeting simulcast on Facebook
July 14th, 2020 –
NH Grades K-12 Back-to-School Guidance

July 14th, 2020- Superintendent’s Update:
Governor Sununu is releasing the eagerly awaited guidance for reopening our schools today at 3:00 on WMUR. We will review the state guidance and make local plans and decisions for our communities. Our first priority is the health and safety of our students and staff.
Calendar: Teachers return August 24
Students begin August 31

7/8/20- An update on reopening our schools for the 20-21 school year. We wanted you to know that SAU Administrators have been meeting and reviewing other school and state guidance plans. At this time, we are planning for returning to schools face to face, with many extra precautions and cleaning/disinfecting protocols in place.  The DOE released 10 general recommendations last week and we hope Governor Sununu, along with the Department of Health and Human Services provides more specific guidance early next week.

All our schools have sent out parent and teacher surveys to provide input for our school plans.

Haverhill will have an advisory committee of representative school staff, parents, school board and community members to review state guidance, survey data as well as a current draft of plans to help our effort to reopen our schools in the safest means possible.  Each school will also have a planning committee working to make the state guidance and our plans work for the developmental ages of the students at WES, HCMS and WHS.

The first meeting of the Haverhill Advisory Committee for Reopening Schools is Thursday, July 16 at 6:30 via Zoom. At this point, we would love to have 3 more teachers, a support staff member, 2 more parents, 2 community members/first responders, a physician and a mental health provider. Our first meeting will be organizational and will only be a half hour to do introductions, provide materials and set the calendar for the following few weeks.

If you are interested in serving on this Haverhill committee, please email me at
At this point, I will be posting weekly updates on the SAU Facebook page as well as on the WHS Facebook page and reaching out to the media to communicate our work. Thank you and take care!

7/7/20- Returning to school update. Everyone wants to know what to expect. We hope Governor Sununu releases guidance from the state for NH schools this week. SAU Administrators have been meeting, reviewing other school and state guidance and planning for in person return to schools, with many extra precautions and cleaning/disinfecting protocols in place. The DOE released 10 general recommendations last week and we hope the state along with the Department of Health and Human Services provides more specific guidance asap.

All our schools have sent out parent and teacher surveys to provide input for our plans. Each school will have a planning committee of stakeholders as each one has unique facilities of varying sizes and developmental needs of students. Haverhill will also have an advisory committee to provide direction for our largest schools.

We will begin meeting as soon as the state guidance comes out, hopefully starting next week. If you haven’t already let your school know of your interest to serve on a planning committee, please send your principal an email. We are also looking for parents and community members to serve on the Haverhill Advisory Committee with representative school board members, administrators, teachers, instructional assistants, custodians, counselors and nurses. Please send Superintendent Melanson and email with your interest:

Please check back for weekly updates – take care!