All K-12 schools must return to full-time, in-person learning as of April 19, although a remote option will still available for parents and students that request it, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.
Schools had already returned to offering in-person learning at least two days a week as of March 8.
Sununu said about 60% of schools are already offering in-person classes five days a week.
“We have said all along, and it has been proven, that schools can reopen safely, and that remains as true today as ever,” Sununu said at his weekly news conference on coronavirus pandemic updates. “In a few short weeks, all teachers and school staff who want the vaccine will have received their second dose.”
He said doing this before the start of the scheduled school vacation week on April 26 gives schools a chance to work out some of the “kinks” and identify any changes they need to make during the break.
Sununu said during the pandemic, remote learning was a good backstop, “but doesn’t come nearly close to providing the fulfillment and enrichment” that being in the classroom more provides.
As of Friday, students age 16 and up can register to get the vaccine. They would have to go to sites that have the Pfizer vaccine in stock, currently the only one approved for use for teens. They would need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Those without a driver’s license or non-driver’s state ID must bring a birth certificate or passport. Parents or guardians must also bring documentation.
The state replaced the federal Vaccine Administration Management System with its own VINI sign-up website. Thousands of people experienced problems with the previous system, particularly in scheduling their second doses, and officials had expected the new system to avoid those woes.
In other coronavirus-related developments in New Hampshire:
The mayors and administrators of eight college towns have asked the state to develop a plan to give vaccines to students who are from out of state, but Gov. Chris Sununu said the timing and vaccine supply are currently obstacles.
“The logistics of students leaving the state for vaccinations and returning to our communities creates the potential for increased spread of the virus among our citizens,” the letter dated Thursday said. It was addressed to Sununu and signed by leaders in Manchester, Nashua, Keene, Hanover, Plymouth, Henniker, New London and Durham.
Sununu said New Hampshire residents “have to come first,” and that the out-of-state students are “not included in the mathematics that the federal government uses to provide us with the vaccine.” He wouldn’t rule it out for a later time.
Sununu said that even if the students got into the vaccine registration system as of tomorrow, they would probably get their second shot in May or as they were leaving. He also said that the students are one of the lowest-risk populations.
New Hampshire communities are resuming outdoor sidewalk and street dining during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cities such as Portsmouth and Concord began serving outdoors on Thursday. They are allowing restaurants to put tables and chairs on public areas such as sidewalks and parking lots.
One place that hopes to set up outside soon is Revival Kitchen & Bar in Concord. Corey Fletcher, owner and chef, said he built an outdoor deck last year to help with business.
“It’s pretty important, with decreased capacity inside,” Fletcher told the Concord Monitor.
In Portsmouth, crews have installed concrete barriers for outdoor restaurant spaces. More than 40 restaurants applied for new or renewal outdoor dining permits for sidewalk and street space dining.
More than 84,000 people have tested positive for the virus, including 433 cases announced Thursday. Seven new deaths were announced, bringing the total to 1,245.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has risen over the past two weeks from 272 new cases per day on March 16 to 379 new cases per day on Tuesday.
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