NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Gould and Grandview schools in North Caldwell will close for two weeks starting Monday and switch to all-online classes amid an outbreak of the coronavirus in the region, officials announced.
Part of the reason for the shutdown is that parents and guardians in the district aren’t cooperating with contact tracing efforts, according to a letter from Superintendent Linda Freda.
Both schools started the year with in-person learning last month.
“I am sorry to inform you that both Gould and Grandview schools will be closed for in-person instruction for the next 14 days. The local health officer, Bill Wallace, has asked that we close for in-person instruction based on the number of positive COVID-19 cases present at the West Essex High School. Due to a lack of cooperation with contact tracing, Mr. Wallace has requested that we close as it would appear that the spread of the virus may involve families in North Caldwell. Should the circumstances change and contact tracing indicate that our students and staff are not at-risk we would consider reopening for in-person instruction.”
“While we have a robust remote option available now, most of us agree that, all else being equal, an in-person experience for our students is preferable. A great deal of time, effort and money has been spent to give our children the option of an in-person or hybrid experience. Our children are certainly doing their part – our teachers and staff report that the students have been nothing short of terrific, following the in-school safety protocols. Our ability to continue to provide in-person instruction depends on all of us doing our part. Public health is a shared responsibility, and we all play a critical role in protecting our students, staff, and community members from exposure to this virus. As it appears that this latest outbreak of the virus is a result of exposure at social events and activities taking place outside of the school setting it is imperative that all families continue to follow the recommended safety protocols outside the school setting to limit as much as possible the spread of this disease. The choices we make moving forward can mean the difference between resuming in-person instruction or remaining on our Distance Learning Plan. For the sake of our children’s education, I hope that we can all come together and take these steps.”
“Thank you very much for your hard work so far and for your anticipated cooperation going forward,” the superintendent concluded. “Our educational programs depend on it.”
North Caldwell isn’t the only district in Essex County to see a school close due to COVID-19.
Last week, West Orange school administrators announced that Washington Elementary School will shut down until at least Oct. 21, after three cases of the coronavirus were confirmed among staff and students.
The infections occurred across multiple classrooms and without a clear connection, the district superintendent said.
OUTBREAK IN WEST ESSEX
Multiple towns in the West Essex area canceled recreation activities, and one issued a warning about an “outbreak” of the coronavirus on Friday.
North Caldwell officials canceled all local recreation activities and issued a warning about a COVID-19 outbreak in the West Essex community.
The Township of Fairfield also announced plans to close local recreation facilities
West Caldwell Mayor Joe Tempesta said there have been 11 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the town’s general population since last week.
“Of the 11 new confirmed cases, five individuals are home quarantining and recovering,” Tempesta said. “The other six individuals have already recovered.”
“We want to remind parents particularly parents with young student adults at home or returning home from college, please make sure they social distance and wear a mask whenever possible,” Tempesta added. “Local house parties tend to be an incubator for the COVID-19 virus and we are simply trying to remind all of you to be careful.”
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This article originally appeared on the Caldwells Patch