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In N.H., Hampton Beach guidelines are passed, and back-to-school talk starts

A woman ran with a dog along a nearly empty Hampton Beach in Hampton, N.H., on Wednesday, March 25.
A woman ran with a dog along a nearly empty Hampton Beach in Hampton, N.H., on Wednesday, March 25.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A task force approved guidance for reopening Hampton Beach on Thursday and another group started fall back-to-school discussions.

Coronavirus-related developments in New Hampshire:

BEACHES

Guidance on walking, swimming and other activities at Hampton Beach were approved Thursday by a task force on reopening New Hampshire during the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance initially had a June 1 starting date, but the Governor's Economic Reopening Task Force omitted that for now. Instead, members decided they would submit separate correspondence about a specific timeline to public health officials and to Gov. Chris Sununu, who would make the final decision.

The plan, which also was discussed and approved by Hampton officials, calls for closing a portion of the main road parallel to the beach to vehicle traffic and cutting available parking in half. Sunbathing and congregating in small groups on the beach would eventually be allowed.

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Sununu said earlier this week he wanted to wait and see what neighboring states planned for their beaches before making a decision.

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SCHOOL PLANS

New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut kicked off a task force on school recommendations Thursday by suggesting any proposals will have to be flexible, prioritize safety and consider the possibility that districts won’t have access to their school buildings in the fall.

Edelbut said any plans must consider that schools would open in full, partially open or not at all. He also said proposals must factor in the possibility that schools could reopen and then be forced to close again in October or November, should there be a new surge in coronavirus cases.

Edelbut also said this process is an opportunity to “raise the quality of education across the board.” He acknowledged that the remote learning has worked for most, but not all, students in New Hampshire. As a result, the commissioner said he is hopeful that there could be the creation of “common learning platforms” that would ensure all district can succeed.

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VOTING-POLITICAL PARTIES

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has issued an emergency order allowing voters who want to change their political party affiliation in time for the Sept. 8 state primary elections to mail in or drop off an application to their town or city clerk’s office, rather than apply in person.

Applications will be accepted through June 2. Voters who submitted an application but aren’t listed as a member of the party in which they thought they were registered may complete an affidavit on Sept. 8.

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CLOSED MOUNTAIN HUTS

The Appalachian Mountain Club closed its high huts in New Hampshire's White Mountains for the rest of the year because of the coronavirus, the first time all eight of them have been closed, a spokesperson said.

About 50 staff members work in the hut system during the summer.

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UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

Nearly 9,500 initial unemployment claims were filed in New Hampshire last week, down nearly 3,000 from the previous week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The latest number covers new claims through May 9.

The number of new claims in a week peaked at 39,000 in early April and has since been declining.

New Hampshire has paid out $400 million in claims in the last two months, “more than we paid out at the highest benefit year during the Great Recession," Richard Lavers of the Department of Employment Security told WMUR-TV.

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THE NUMBERS

As of Wednesday, nearly 3,300 had tested positive for the virus, an increase of about 60 from the previous day. Eight new deaths were announced, for a total of 150.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.