CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Superintendent Michael LaSusa announced Friday afternoon that Chatham High School will remain closed for in-person instruction until Sept. 29 after further consultation with the NJ Department of Health about students contracting the Coronavirus.
The Chatham Education Association had contacted state attorneys about the confirmed Coronavirus cases at CHS and sent out a message to its membership about the possibility of a school closure.
LaSusa, in his update to parents and staff, noted that it was "unlikely" that the students contracted the virus in school. He said it was more likely that the transmission occurred at a non-school event over the weekend.
"Based on the ongoing nature of this turn of events, Chatham High School will remain on virtual instruction for the next two weeks," LaSusa said in his email. "We will plan for in-person instruction to resume on September 29, which is the day after the Yom Kippur holiday. All extracurricular activities are also suspended during this time. We will continue to sanitize and ventilate all classroom and other spaces in the school over the next two weeks."
LaSusa's full message can be read below:
September 11, 2020
Dear Staff Members and Parents,
I am writing to provide you another update on the status of events at Chatham High School.
I have remained in close communication with Department of Health officials over the past 24 hours. During this time, additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among high school students. Based on its contact tracing process, the Department of Health believes there was likely active transmission of the virus at a non-school event over the weekend, though it is possible that there may have been other gatherings during or before the weekend where transmission could have occurred.
Based on the ongoing nature of this turn of events, Chatham High School will remain on virtual instruction for the next two weeks. We will plan for in-person instruction to resume on September 29, which is the day after the Yom Kippur holiday. All extracurricular activities are also suspended during this time. We will continue to sanitize and ventilate all classroom and other spaces in the school over the next two weeks.
The Department of Health officials indicated that they believe the mitigation strategies implemented in school, particularly the wearing of face coverings, make it unlikely that transmission took place within school this week. They also indicated that they believe the early action and response on the part of a number of students and parents has been helpful in addressing this situation quickly. However, it is important to remain vigilant of one’s health status and to contact your or your child’s doctor should you have concerns. The Department of Health will also continue its contact tracing procedures to verify contacts of individuals testing positive and provide them with direction. The school district is continuing to assist with contact tracing efforts of the Department of Health. Finally, the Department of Health has verified that at the present time our other school buildings should continue to operate as they have.
I reiterate that the above information has been composed with and vetted by Department of Health officials. The school district will not provide additional information about those who have tested positive, including details about their age, affiliations, siblings, and so forth. I understand that it is frustrating to not have more information, but we are working closely with health officials to try to address this problem as quickly as possible.
I also reiterate that I remain in close communication with the leadership of our teachers’ association and that we continue to work collaboratively to ensure the best learning experiences we can for our students.
Thank you again for all of your understanding this week. I hope that you are able to reflect on the solemnity of this day and then are able to enjoy the weekend. I will continue to provide updates as necessary.