(Editor’s Note—Newport School District staff members and parents of students in Newport schools received the following communication Sunday afternoon from Superintendent of Schools Brendan Minnihan relative to the immediate closing of schools throughout the state directed by Governor Chris Sununu. The text of his communication follows.) 

On Sunday, School Superintendents and other educational leaders had a conference call with the New Hampshire Department of Education. This was followed by a press conference headed by Governor Sununu.

We have been directed by the Governor and the New Hampshire Department of Education to prepare for and implement a remote learning plan.

Based on those events, the Newport School District will be closed starting today, Sunday, March 15, 2020.

This first week will be spent training our staff on the use of remote instruction. Remote learning will begin, the following Monday, March 23rd. The plan is that the schools will remain closed, and instruction will take place remotely until at least April 3rd. There is certainly the possibility that this date may be extended. As the situation continues to evolve, I will be providing additional information and guidance. 

As you are no doubt aware, our community, state, and country are responding to the ongoing and rapidly changing COVID-19 pandemic. The School Board and School Administration have been working with our staff and our community partners including the Selectmen and the Town of Newport.

This past week the School Board Chair reached out to the Chair of the Selectmen and the Superintendent began working with the Town Manager to coordinate our efforts. The School Board recognizes that this potential disruption affects more than just the schools and the children but rather the whole community. 

There are currently a number of presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in New Hampshire. The indication though is that the number of possible cases is likely to increase exponentially in the coming days and weeks. One of the leading recommendations to help prevent the widespread passing of the virus is through social distancing, namely keeping large groups of individuals from gathering. 

During this remote instruction period, all buildings will be closed, and most staff will be working remotely. A small number of SAU employees and our dedicated custodial staff will be maintaining district functions and cleaning the buildings. 

We are working closely with our state and local partners to provide resources, information, and support during these challenging times.

Be well and take care.

Brendan Minnihan

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