New Hampshire

Here's How NH Plans to Respond to COVID Outbreaks in Schools

Gov. Chris Sununu said information on the number of cases, clusters and outbreaks will be posted on a website run by the state

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Gov. Chris Sununu provided an update Thursday on how New Hampshire will respond to coronavirus outbreaks in schools this year.

If an outbreak is identified, the governor said schools might transition to a period of remote learning for 14 days. Once the school is deemed safe, it would be allowed to reopen.

Sununu said these decisions will be made at the local level, in consultation with state health officials. He said an outbreak will "not necessarily" result in the closure of a school building. If it's a large school like Manchester Central or Nashua, he said the school might still be able to remain open if there are six or 10 cases.

"We know it can be a little confusing," he said. "We're just trying to lay out the groundwork."

The governor said the school community will be notified of any outbreaks, and information on the number of cases, clusters and outbreaks will be posted on a centralized website run by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

"Rumors can go very quickly throughout the system," Sununu said. "We want to make sure the data that's been confirmed is very available to parents."

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Gov. Chris Sununu has ordered people to wear masks at all New Hampshire events with more than 100 people. This week features the Big Tent Revival and Laconia Motorcycle Week.

He said that he is finalizing an emergency order for districts to implement their reopening plans, whether they be remote-only, entirely in-class or a hybrid of the two. The order also makes clear the importance of making sure that special needs students aren't left behind.

The state also announced new reopening recommendations for long-term care facilities on Thursday. Effective immediately, residents of these facilities will be able to start receiving limited visitors.

"It's a very exciting time," DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette said. "Many residents have gone months without seeing a loved one. This is our path forward. It really gives residents an opportunity to engage with their families again."

Earlier this week, Sununu issued an emergency order requiring people to wear face coverings when they're part of organized gatherings of 100 people or more.

The change that comes ahead of the annual Laconia Motorcycle Week set to begin Aug. 22. Sununu said Thursday that fines could be imposed for anyone violating his new order.

The state announced two new deaths and 34 new positive cases as a result of the novel coronavirus on Thursday. There have now been 422 fatalities and 6,921 cases of COVID-19 in New Hampshire.

NBC10 Boston and Associated Press
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