CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Superintendent Michael LaSusa has notified parents and school district staff that Chatham schools will close for at least two weeks, starting Monday, March 16, due to the concerns related to the Coronavirus pandemic.

No case of the virus has been detected in town at this time. Schools will be open Friday, March 13th, and will run on an early dismissal schedule.

LaSusa's letter states: "Effective Monday, March 16, all schools in the School District of the Chathams will be closed for a period of at least two weeks.  All extracurricular and school-related activities and events are suspended during this time. At the end of the two-week period--by Friday, March 27--a decision will be made regarding either the continued closure of school or the resumption of school and after-school activities.  We will also continue to monitor all events associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and consider additional alterations to the school calendar if necessary."

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The Senior Center of the Chathams and the Library of the Chathams will also be closed during the same time period.

LaSusa's full letter can be read below:

Dear Parent and Staff,

This has been an extraordinary time and I would like to thank all of you who have emailed me to share your thoughts and concerns over the past weeks.  I have been in contact with local health officials, Department of Education officials, a network of superintendents, and others in order to arrive at the most responsible decisions and course of action for the students and families in our school district with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the guidance from the CDC and the federal government has changed, so must our response.  While I am unaware of any suspected case of Covid-19 in Chatham, the recent NIH recommendation to avoid large crowds and recent CDC guidelines for schools, which include the recommendation to avoid the mixing of grade levels and classes, make clear that the most prudent decision at the present time is to close our schools and transition to remote learning.  In addition, just this afternoon Governor Murphy recommended the cancellation of all events statewide with more than 250 people.

Effective Monday, March 16, all schools in the School District of the Chathams will be closed for a period of at least two weeks.  All extracurricular and school-related activities and events are suspended during this time. At the end of the two-week period--by Friday, March 27--a decision will be made regarding either the continued closure of school or the resumption of school and after-school activities.  We will also continue to monitor all events associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and consider additional alterations to the school calendar if necessary.

Tomorrow, Friday, March 13, schools will operate as scheduled, with an early dismissal for students.  Tomorrow will be an opportunity for teachers to communicate additional instructions for remote learning to students, enable students to retrieve their belongings from school, and give us the chance to distribute any items that students will need during the prolonged closure.

We will provide packed lunches during our closure for those families who qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program.  We will communicate directly with those families in the coming days.

We will be communicating additional information to you via our schools as we venture into these uncharted waters.  Some of these communications will include how to access counseling support for students, how to get help with technology-related matters, and other details.  There will be many questions and challenges that arise in the coming weeks, and we will all work together to do everything we can to support our students and help them progress.  This will not be perfect, but we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good under the circumstances.

The closure of school is not something that any of us wants, but it is something that we are now faced with as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  As a parent myself, I feel the worry and concern that we all feel for our children and their well-being. The actions we take now will hopefully lead to a better outcome in the long run for our kids and for all of us, despite how distressing and overwhelming they may seem.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation and flexibility as we find our way through this unprecedented set of events.

Sincerely,

Michael LaSusa