SALEM, MA — While staying home was a necessity for those who had coronavirus symptoms and positive tests coming out of the holiday break, it was not a district-wide option for North Shore superintendents, administrators and staff who persevered to keep the classrooms open this past week.
The week started with Gov. Charlie Baker praising Salem as an example of a district that managed to keep in-person learning a priority throughout the past year of the pandemic as several North Shore superintendents shared with Patch how their respective districts were taking extra steps to keep schools, sports and extracurricular activities operating amid the massive omicron surge.
In the end, perhaps the most perfectly timed snow day ever gave staff, students and administrators across the state an extra day to relax, catch their breath and hopefully get healthy heading into next week.
Here are those stories, and a few others you may have missed, on Patch this week:
Updated Salem Public Schools' guidance amid the current coronavirus surge includes the recommendation that students and staff wear at least KN95=level respirator masks in school buildings and vaccination proof to attend indoor school sporting events and concerts starting this month.
Gov. Charlie Baker praised Salem Public Schools as a "terrific" example of how to keep students in school in person through waves of coronavirus challenges during a stop at Saltonstall School on Monday.
Endicott College is joining a growing list of Massachusetts schools that will require in-person students and staff to have a coronavirus booster shot to be on campus in 2022.
Beverly Mayor Mike Cahill touched on several issues facing the city — including promoting diversity and smart development that focuses on public transportation, the work to help businesses and residents recover from the two-year pandemic and combating greenhouse emissions — in his inauguration address.
Saying Salem is at an "inflection point," the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus crisis, the urgency of climate change and the responsibility to provide affordable housing were among the major themes of Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll's address at the city's first virtual inauguration Monday morning.
While the "dark days" of the coronavirus crisis have yet to pass, Mayor Ted Bettencourt said Peabody is poised to emerge from the pandemic strong with the help of dedicated city employees, strong municipal services, relatively low property taxes and upcoming projects that will improve the qualify of life.
Beverly Public Schools experienced double-digit absences among students Monday, but relatively few among teachers, as the district kept classrooms open and activities running with minimal disruption during the post-holiday coronavirus surge.
Ninety-five percent of Peabody Public Schools staff was in the buildings and classrooms across the district Tuesday in what Superintendent Josh Vadala told Patch was a testament to staff dedication, vigilance and the district's efforts to provide masks and coronavirus tests.
Swampscott Superintendent Pamela Angelakis said this week has largely been "business as usual" with the help of coronavirus rapid tests and some tweaked mitigation measures despite a virus spike in the region and throughout the country.
Marblehead Superintendent John Buckey said that district leaders are "committed to maintaining in-person learning" as they meet each day to discuss updated data and discuss protocols amid the post-holiday coronavirus spike.
Danvers Public Schools welcomed back most students and staff following the holiday break this week despite a rise in absenteeism amid a spike in coronavirus cases regionally and nationally.
Salem Superintendent Steve Zrike said the district is taking "every step we can" to preserve in-person schooling as districts across the state face coronavirus-related staff shortages coming out of the holiday break amid the omicron spike.
The historic Peabody Essex Museum in Salem will stay closed until at least Jan. 13 amid the coronavirus spike in the region.
The final hospitalized member of a Salem family hit hard with coronavirus this fall has been released from the hospital.
The coronavirus spike has forced the suspension of all in-person programs at the Swampscott Public Library at least through the end of January.
The Salem Relief Fund is now accepting donations to help the nearly two dozen residents displaced in the Lussier Street fire on Dec. 27 and the Boston Street apartment fire on Dec. 29.
It was far more orderly — but also far from a consensus —when the Beverly Board of Health met to reconsider a renewed mask order for all indoor public spaces Wednesday night.
A week after the first attempt to debate the order devolved into a chorus of interruption that eventually forced the Board of Health members to abandon the meeting when there was no mechanism to mute unscheduled speakers in the virtual session, the Board approved the mask order in a split vote.
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) stood in a congressional "safe room" one year ago surrounded by dozens of rattled colleagues and their frightened staff members amid the haze of the unthinkable.
The U.S. Capitol had been breached. The House Chambers was being desecrated. Hundreds of rioters wearing body armor, carrying weapons and some waving Confederate flags were ransacking offices throughout the country's beacon of democracy.
(Scott Souza is a Patch field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at Scott.Souza@Patch.com. Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)