BLOOMFIELD, NJ – Thousands of school districts around the nation were forced to move to virtual learning in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that hauled the nation.

On Tuesday, members of the Bloomfield Board of Education thanked students and staff for their efforts in making the virtual learning program in the district a success during their public meeting in the Bloomfield High School Library Media Center.

“Thank you to all our Bloomfield community members, parents and teachers during this difficult time – we appreciate your patience and help,” said Bloomfield Schools Superintendent Sal Goncalves.  “I recommend that everyone go to our district website on a daily basis, as that is the most current information we have.”

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Just like last week’s special budget proposal meeting, this gathering was moved from the School Administration Building across the street to BHS Media Center.

New information and updates are unfolding rapidly, as it was announced Tuesday morning that Bloomfield Schools will extend their original closure timeframe of two weeks.

“To my board members and the public, you should have gotten a letter from Mr. Goncalves that the district will remain closed until further notice – when it is deemed safe, we will reopen and resume in-person classes,” said Board President Jill Fischman.  “As we continue our virtual learning as a district (the next few weeks), we are ensuring your spring break stays intact from April 10th to 19th as we will not be asking students to log on for work or for teachers to log on for assignments.”

Beginning last Monday, March 16, the entire district went to all virtual learning.  The optimistic date to return to the classroom was slated for Monday, March 30.

With virtual learning operating smoothly, the decision was made Tuesday to extend the learn-at-home directive to coincide with the state mandated ‘stay at home’ initiative.

“The feedback we’ve been receiving from students, parents and the teachers is overwhelmingly positive,” said Assistant Superintendent Joseph Fleres.  “On our social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and on our website, we have pushed out a lot of parent and teacher resources.  Our Google Classroom site has special tabs for additional resources.”

No members of the public attended the meeting.  A livestream of the proceedings was broadcast on the WBMA-TV website.

A hearing of the public was requested ahead of the meeting via email, but no comments or questions were submitted to the board.

Board members Skyped into the meeting and were shown on a projection screen in the media center.  Only Goncalves and Fleres were physically present.

“I want to thank all the teachers for the virtual learning that’s been done on such short notice,” said board member Ralph Walker.  “I think its exemplary that we’ve turned this big ship so fast (in moving to all virtual learning).”

Walker is currently under quarantine, but showing no symptoms, after being exposed to a coworker with Coronavirus.

“I’d like to echo the kudos of our staff during this very difficult situation,” Fischman added.  “I urge parents to take advantage of all the resources we have, and if you have a question, just reach out to us, your school or your teacher.”

Food service remains available for breakfast and lunch for eligible students at five different schools.  Both meals can be picked up at the same time.

The next Bloomfield Board of Education Public Meeting takes place Tuesday, April 21 at the School Administration Building with a closed executive session at 6:30 pm followed by the open public meeting at 7:30 pm.