Outdoor Activity Restrictions Lifted at Some Local Schools

HAMPSTEAD – Temporary restrictions on outdoor recess and after school activities were lifted Tuesday, Sept. 24, in some schools in School Administrative Unit (SAU) 55 – the Hampstead and Timberlane School Districts.
Timberlane consists of Sandown, Danville, Plaistow and Atkinson schools. The restrictions continue at Sandown North School but have been lifted at Sandown Central School and in Hampstead’s two schools. Timberlane’s other schools were not impacted.

SAU administration took a strict stance on the dangers posed by mosquitoes this year. In addition to imposing restrictions on outside recess and after school activities, the schools were provided as much information as the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has available regarding the mosquito threat and what can be done to protect against its dangers.
The SAU had stopped outdoor recess and after school activities as well as field trips last week at Hampstead Central and Middle schools and both Sandown schools because of the threat posed by mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus.
The restriction was lifted Tuesday morning at Hampstead schools and at Sandown Central School, so long as parental permission had been received for the students to be outside with or without insect repellent applied. Parents also could opt to have their children stay inside during recess.
Outdoor activity at Sandown North remains suspended until further notice because mosquitoes with EEE were found in the area of that school.
The SAU went through the process of procuring sufficient insect repellent that administration said is safe and affordable for students and staff to use. Hampstead Central and Middle Schools sent home letters Friday that said the outdoor restriction would be lifted as of Sept. 24, providing certain reasonable accommodations were met: activities would only take place between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., there was confirmation of commercial spraying, and insect repellants are available and used.
The letter states, “Starting on Tuesday, insect repellants will be available at both Hampstead Middle School and Hampstead Central School to be used as desired. As recommended by the New Hampshire Department of Health, the product that will be available is Off! Family Care Insect Repellent IV Spray… Hampstead School District Health Services will be instructing staff members to apply the product on students for whom we have parent permission and only on exposed skin from the neck down. Staff members and/or School Nurses will apply the insect repellant before first recess in a safe location, and before after school activities commence.”
In the days prior to lifting the restrictions, the two school districts took the position of erring on the side of caution for the protection of the students and staff. As early as Sept. 11, Sandown and Hampstead schools were told to stop all outdoor activities by SAU Superintendent of Schools Earl Metzler, and outdoor recess was cancelled, along with some after school sports.
On Sept. 18, Metzler issued an alert to both districts saying, “In the spirit of keeping our students safe, we have suspended all outdoor activity scheduled to occur in towns testing positive for three mosquito diseases. This order will remain in effect throughout the weekend. Beginning next week we will conduct a risk analysis on a regular basis and make decisions about outdoor activities as needed. It is likely that some previously planned activities will be impacted as we monitor the situation.”
On Sept. 19, a letter went home to parents clarifying Metzler’s position. He said outdoor activity had not been cancelled district-wide but only in locations and towns detecting EEE or West Nile Virus, and as of that date, that only applied to Sandown and Hampstead.
On Tuesday morning, the insect repellent was available at the affected schools and parental permission slips were being returned. Parents can opt out of any activity the district has approved.
No surrounding towns had cancelled outdoor activities, despite a horse that was found infected in Derry and identification of mosquitoes carrying EEE and West Nile Virus in several communities. All recess and outdoor sports activities continued in Derry, Londonderry, Windham and other surrounding towns and school districts.
Hampstead and Sandown’s mosquito vendor, Dragon Mosquito, sprayed both towns’ school and town fields on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Hampstead Civic Club outdoor athletic activities continued after the spraying took place.
With the arrival of colder weather, the required insect repellent, and the spraying, the schools are back to more normal activities, with repellent available to students whose parents have given the schools permission to apply it, and parents able to give permission for their children to go outside without the repellent. SAU officials are hoping for a hard frost soon.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.