Sarah Gibson | New Hampshire Public Radio

Sarah Gibson

Reporter, Education & Demographics

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on New Hampshire's demographics and education.

Sarah came to New Hampshire from New York City, where she was a producer at WNYC. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, her stories have appeared on WBAI, Alaska Public Media, and in The Village Voice. Prior to journalism, Sarah worked with non-profits in North Carolina and studied History at Brown University. She grew up in rural Vermont.

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Sarah Gibson for NHPR

As coronavirus cases surge, a growing number of school districts in New Hampshire are closing their doors and offering mostly virtual instruction instead of in-person classes. But Gov. Chris Sununu and state health officials are urging schools to stay open, saying virus transmission in schools is limited and the payoff of in-person learning is high.

NHPR’s education reporter Sara Gibson has been following this and spoke with All Things Considered host Emily Quirk.

Amanda Loder for NHPR

Fewer students in New Hampshire are attending their neighborhood public school this year, according to new data from the state Department of Education.

The state typically sees a one percent drop in public school enrollment each year, due to aging demographics, but this fall’s decline is far more significant: about four percent statewide.

Courtesy of Manchester School District

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a nationwide expansion of the free and reduced lunch program for K-12 students, but unfilled paperwork could mean districts miss out on millions of dollars for low-income students next year.

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

A record number of children in New Hampshire are on waitlists for acute psychiatric services during the coronavirus pandemic.

In an annual report released last week, Moira O’Neill, director of the Office of the Child Advocate, says more kids than ever are in emergency rooms awaiting care for a mental health crisis.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The state's largest school district is going remote, citing a steady rise in coronavirus cases and potential staffing shortages.

The Manchester Board of School Committee announced the decision on Tuesday, as the 7-day PCR Test Positivity Rate hovered around 7%, one of the highest in the state. The move takes effect Monday, Nov. 23.

Courtesy of Facebook/Southern New Hampshire Health

The city of Nashua is revamping 24/7 walk-in services for people seeking help with addiction.

Nashua has been without after-hour addiction services since its Safe Stations programs shut down in July.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

Former N.H. state Rep. Rogers Johnson, who worked for decades to improve diversity, racial equity, and civil rights in New Hampshire, died on Thursday. He was 62.

Among his many official roles, Johnson chaired the Governor's Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion and was president of the Seacoast NAACP. He also served on the State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

Many school districts in New Hampshire are open, at least for now, with a hybrid or fully in-person model. But in Nashua, schools have remained mostly closed since March.

NHPR File

With coronavirus cases rising and Thanksgiving around the corner, some school districts are weighing whether to go remote until after the holidays.

Crowd in Portsmouth, N.H. cheers the news that Joe Biden has won the presidency.
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Supporters of President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden took to the streets in towns across New Hampshire on Saturday, after major news outlets announced Biden had won the election.

Amanda MacLellan of Manchester drove to the State House in Concord to celebrate with other Biden supporters. She carried a sign reading: "Your struggle is bound up in mine."

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

With the results of the presidential race still unknown and all bodies of the New Hampshire State House now likely controlled by Republicans, local progressives are facing an uncertain future.

On Wednesday night, about 150 people gathered in front of the State House, as part of a national post-election effort organized by progressive groups called ‘Protect the Results.’

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

A spike in coronavirus cases is forcing many New Hampshire school superintendents to consider going remote.

So far, state officials say school reopening has contributed very little to the state’s coronavirus numbers, but many districts’ reopening metrics require them to reassess their schedule when community transmission levels reach those seen in the last week.

CDC.gov

This post was updated with new information on Nov. 2.

A youth residential facility in Plymouth is dealing with a cluster of COVID-19 cases.

As of Monday, the state's coronavirus data dashboard repoted 19 active cases. A spokesman for the state health department says the latest number reflects ten cases among academy staff and nine cases among youth.

Courtesy of Julie Turner

 

With many of the state’s largest school districts remote or hybrid, students - including young elementary schoolers - are expected to be online for hours at a time. NHPR asked parents and teachers how they’re managing this increase in screen time.

Click here to tell us your story for COVID & the Classroom about navigating school, COVID-19, and the election. 

People sent us stories of creativity, frustration and profound anxiety. Some parents were so concerned about screen time and "Zoom fatigue" that they had opted to homeschool or enrolled in a private school with in-person learning. Here’s a sample of what we heard, and some best practices from local experts on how to manage screen time more effectively.

 

Courtesy of Gorham Middle & High School Facebook page

Schools in the Androscoggin Valley have avoided COVID-related quarantines and shutdowns so far, but COVID-19 cases at the federal prison in Berlin have school leaders on alert.

courtesy of Federal Bureau of Prisons

The federal prison in Berlin says inmates who tested positive with the coronavirus earlier this month have all recovered, but the prison has continued widespread testing to monitor for more cases.

Prison spokesman Aaron Posthumus says that after eight inmates tested positive earlier this month, they and inmates who had close contact with them were placed in quarantine. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

In June, young Black people organized some of the biggest gatherings for racial justice in New Hampshire’s history. Newly formed chapters of Black Lives Matter won praise from the state’s most powerful elected officials. 

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“We are with you,” Gov. Chris Sununu said at the time. “Let us be a tool and resource to be that agent of change.”

But in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election, politicians of all stripes appear to be paying less attention to the concerns of Black Lives Matter and their supporters.

NHPR Staff

Researchers from the University of New Hampshire say political candidates who see voters as merely rural or urban are missing a big part of the story.

Courtesy of Dan Goonan

Manchester officials and the state are once again sparring over how to fund homelessness response efforts in the city.

Via Facebook

The New London Police Department says it's investigating complaints about a pickup truck in town with signs threatening members of Black Lives Matter. Multiple residents reported the truck after seeing it in a Hannaford parking lot over the weekend.

The National Guard

Positive COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire are becoming harder to investigate and manage, state health officials say.

Courtesy Nicole McKenzie

Time has nearly run out for the U.S. Census Bureau to complete its 2020 population count, which will determine trillions of dollars in federal funding and political representation for the next decade.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Schools in New Hampshire are getting an additional $45 million to help with coronavirus-related expenses.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced the funding at a press conference Thursday, following recommendations from lawmakers on the Governor’s Office for Economic Relief and Recovery Legislative Advisory Board.

Most of the money - which comes to the state from the federal CARES Act - will go to school districts directly, at a rate of approximately $200 per pupil.

Credit Courtesy of Cheryl Gaffney

Classrooms in New Hampshire have changed dramatically to reopen safely in the pandemic, and some of the biggest changes are in music class. Gone are the days of belting out songs shoulder to shoulder, sharing music stands, and swapping instruments. Instead, as NHPR’s Sarah Gibson reports, some schools are following new protocols to bring music back but keep COVID-19 risk low.


Photo Credit woodleywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons

The Nashua School District is responding to pressure from parents and some school board members to hasten reopening plans after weeks of being almost entirely remote.

At a school board meeting on Tuesday night, Superintendent Jahmal Mosley presented the district’s metrics for moving between remote, hybrid, and in-person models. With transmission levels of COVID-19 now among some of the highest in the state, Mosley said Nashua meets the state's criteria for staying fully remote or hybrid.

The exterior of the New Hampshire Department of Justice in Concord.
NHPR File Photo

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office says the use of non-deadly force in a highly publicized arrest of a Black man in the town of Albany earlier this year was justified.

Empty classroom
Pickpik

Superintendents across New Hampshire are warning of budget shortfalls and staff shortages as they navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtesy Nicole McKenzie

After months of confusion and legal challenges over when the 2020 census count should end, a federal judge says the deadline is Oct. 31.

Census officials had said they would wrap up a count by Monday. Census watchers and advocates said this would lead to an inaccurate count that could deny communities political representation and federal money.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu was absent from a forum hosted virtually by the Greater Nashua Area Branch of the NAACP and Black Lives Matter Thursday evening, but his stance on criminal justice reform, voting rights, and racial justice came under fire nonetheless.

NHPR File

Some of the state's largest school districts – including Concord and Manchester - are moving from a largely remote model of instruction to a hybrid later this month.

Many schools in New Hampshire have already been experimenting with the hybrid system for several weeks, with varying degrees of success. 

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