COVID-19: Newport orders masks in town’s schools through Oct. 14

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/24/2021 9:46:42 PM
Modified: 9/24/2021 10:11:55 PM

NEWPORT, N.H. — School officials are taking steps to deal with a growing number of COVID-19 cases in Newport schools.

The Newport School Board voted, 3-1, on Thursday to require masks in the town’s schools at least through Oct. 14, said Brendan Minnihan, Newport’s superintendent.

The vote came as the schools have a total of 32 COVID-19 cases, including 15 at the middle school, 10 at Richards School and preschool, and seven at the high school, Minnihan said.

The board voted, 3-0, last month to begin the year with masks optional, moving to a requirement in individual schools once three or more cases were identified there. The middle school instituted masks last week as cases began to crop up.

Elsewhere in Newport, Woodlawn Care Center also has an ongoing outbreak. As of Thursday, Woodlawn’s outbreak consisted of a total of 12 cases, including seven residents and five employees, according to the nursing home’s Facebook page. Three workers and four residents have recovered.

Testing at Woodlawn showed no new cases this week. If the facility goes another week without new cases, it will be able to leave outbreak status and return to more normal visiting routines.

Newport sits in the top spot on the New Hampshire side of the Upper Valley in terms of COVID-19 case rates. As of Thursday, Newport had 53 new cases in the past two weeks, for a rate of 834 cases per 100,000 people, according to the state’s online information dashboard. Charlestown was the runner-up with 38 new cases in the past two weeks, for a rate of 752 per 100,000 people.

Newport also is among the Upper Valley communities with lower vaccination rates. About 48% of Newport residents have been fully vaccinated and just 22% of those between the ages of 12 and 19. Statewide, 54% of Granite Staters have been fully vaccinated.

Sign-up for boosters starts in Vermont

MONTPELIER — Vermonters ages 80 and older can now sign up for a Pfizer vaccine booster shot against COVID-19, and eligibility will be expanded in a week to those ages 18 to 64 who have underlying medical conditions, state officials said Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans six months after receiving their second dose.

Vermont has set up a registration schedule for statewide clinics broken down by age groups.

Vermonters ages 75 and older can start signing up for booster shot appointments on Monday, followed by 70 and up on Wednesday and 65 and older next Friday, Oct. 1.

Booster shots are available where Pfizer vaccines are offered, including at a Health Department clinic, pharmacy or health care provider, state officials said. People must make an appointment to get a shot at a state clinic and are asked to bring their vaccine cards with them. Information can be found on the Vermont Health Department website.

“Even though COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are highly effective, a booster dose gives your body extra protection,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said in a written statement. “Getting vaccinated — and receiving a booster shot when you are eligible — is especially important as the world continues to face the delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

New Hampshire plan for boosters pending

WEST LEBANON — It is, as yet, unclear how people will access COVID-19 booster shots in the Granite State.

No plan for the boosters was available on the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ website as of Friday afternoon, but DHHS spokesman Jake Leon said the agency “is currently reviewing the CDC’s recommendations in an effort to help health care providers ... prepare to begin providing boosters early next week.”

Audra Burns, a spokeswoman for Dartmouth-Hitchcock, also said she expects the state to release information about boosters by early next week.

Earlier this week, the Food & Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine, allowing for a third booster shot six months after a second Pfizer dose for people 65 years and older, as well as younger people at high risk of serious illness or exposure to the disease.

Mascoma superintendent asks for community’s help

CANAAN — Mascoma Valley Regional School District’s superintendent is seeking the community’s help in preventing cases of COVID-19 from affecting the schools.

Superintendent Amanda Isabelle announced the 11th current case at Indian River School in a message to families on Friday. She said the cases are spread across 10 classrooms, indicating that the virus is not being transmitted within the school, but within the community.

“Your behavior outside the school setting impacts our schools,” she said.

She asked that community members avoid large gatherings, noting that positive cases have been traced to birthday parties, family gatherings and concerts.

All 11 cases at Indian River had symptoms, she said. So she urged people to stay home from school when sick even with mild, “cold-like” symptoms.

Because 10 of the 11 cases are in unvaccinated students, Isabelle also urged members of the community age 12 and older to get vaccinated.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.

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