BELMAR, NJ — Belmar Elementary School plans to resume classroom instruction on Monday, November 30, following a two-week coronavirus-related closure that resulted in full remote learning for all students.
However, school officials are asking families to consider keeping their children home for another week — and continue with livestream instruction — if they were part of a large Thanksgiving get-together that included family and friends beyond their immediate household.
“As there continues to be no evidence of community transmission of the virus within our school, minimizing exposure will assist in keeping our school open,” School Superintendent David Hallman said in a November 19 letter to families. “Everyone’s ongoing vigilance is critical to reducing the spread of the virus. Please enforce social distancing protocols and refrain from hosting or attending large gatherings outside of school, so that we can collectively work to maintain a safe school environment.”
He stressed that families awaiting a COVID-19 test for a household member or have a child who is showing symptoms should not send any children to school and should contact the school nurse. Those symptoms include: cough, shortness of breath, difficult breathing, new loss of smell or taste, fever, chills, shivers, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion/runny nose.
“It is the responsibility of the entire community to communicate any positive cases or exposures,” he wrote.
School officials also said that parents who are generally uncomfortable at this time about sending their children to school may also continue with remote learning.
As coronavirus cases continue to surge throughout the state, school officials are making another change to ensure the safety and well-being of students, staff and families: Families are now required to complete online COVID-19 screening forms that will be sent each day before the start of classroom instruction.
This action announced on November 26 comes after the state Department of Health reported that the central-east region of the state, which includes Monmouth County, is now experiencing a high level of COVID-19 activity. Click here for the department’s most-recent COVID-19 Activity Level Index report for November 21, which places the entire state in the “orange” or high-level zone, based on various measures of coronavirus activity.
On November 10, BES officials initially suspended in-person learning for three days after several students who were exposed to family members testing positive for the virus began experiencing symptoms. At the same time, it was learned that numerous students attended a house party in the community where they may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.
The decision to switch to full remote instruction through November 25 — up until the two-day Thanksgiving break — was made after an individual at the school tested positive for the coronavirus, although the case did not result in any exposure to the virus withing the school.
With the recent start of the second marking period, nearly 400 BES students opted for full in-person learning — an increase of about 70 students over the first marking period. About 70 students have chosen to continue in full remote learning.
Under its comprehensive Restart and Recovery Plan, Belmar started the school year with hybrid instruction — with the majority of students receiving a blend of classroom and remote learning until October 12 when full classroom instruction began. Since then, these students have been coming to school five days a week for half-day sessions.
School officials stress that the plan is fluid and can change based on exposure to COVID-19 in the school community.
Click here for the entire BES Restart and Recovery Plan.
For more information, email the school district at firstname.lastname@example.org
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