FLEMINGTON, NJ - The Flemington-Raritan Regional School District has announced that all schools will hold an early dismissal March 13 and March 16 to prepare for electronic virtual school if the district needs to close to students and staff because of coronavirus.

In a letter to families, Superintendent Kari McGann said that on March 13, students will bring home paper-based instructional materials in case the weekend requires decisions that necessitate a school closing.

"The coronavirus continues to be an evolving situation across the world and our country and concern continues to grow locally as an increased number of confirmed cases are being reported in New Jersey and across the nation every day," she said in the letter. "The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority."

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The YMCA after-care program will operate March 13 and March 16 at Barley Sheaf School, Copper Hill School, Francis A. Desmares School, Robert Hunter School and Reading-Fleming Intermediate School from afternoon dismissal through 6 p.m.

Reading-Fleming Intermediate School does not serve lunch on early dismissal days, so parents should pack a lunch for students attending the after-care program on both dismissal days.

McGann said the district is monitoring the New Jersey Department of Health, the Hunterdon County Health Department and the Center for Disease Control for updates, and is in regular contact with the district physician and the district school nurses.

"The guidance provided here is based upon current knowledge of COVID-19," she said. "It is important to note that the district has a response plan for pandemic outbreaks, which contains guidelines on monitoring attendance and illness for staff and students, as well as a plan of care for anyone who becomes ill."

At this time, McGann said, if a child becomes sick at school and fever is confirmed or respiratory illness is suspected, the child will be asked to wear a disposable face mask and will be sent home. Parents will be instructed to contact their healthcare provider for further instructions, and triage procedures are in place to separate sick and well students.

"School nurse offices and classrooms continue to be cleaned daily in buildings where students are experiencing high levels of the common flu," she said. "Tracking attendance has allowed us to focus extra attention on classrooms of high absenteeism so that these areas can be disinfected at night. Each evening, our cleaning staff is extra vigilant about disinfecting desks, doorknobs, school bus seats, phones and all public areas."

"Even with these precautionary measures in place, we realize that a school or district closure might become necessary," she added. "While I am hopeful this will not occur it is important that we plan and prepare in the event that it does happen."
 
In the event of a shutdown, McGann said, the faculty will do its best to facilitate student learning and support students through virtual, electronic instruction.
 
McGann said students will be bringing home supplies on Friday, and parents should send a plastic or reusable bag to bring home supplies that may not fit in the backpack.
 
McGann provided answers to a number of expected questions regarding the potential for a school closing. The goal, she said, will be to take advantage of technology resources, and teachers will be asked to provide activities using communication tools in the event of a prolonged absence.
 
The provision of 180 school days, McGann said, is being addressed by the New Jersey Department of Education. She said the DOE has said that any day in which students who are impacted by a public health-related closure have access to home instruction services will count as a day of school toward the 180-day requirement.
 
The district is continuing to recommend a number of basic preventative actions to keep students and others healthy, including"
  • Washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Covering coughs or sneezes with elbow or tissue.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfecting surfaces frequently.
  • Keeping children out of school if they are running a temperature of greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit until they are fever free for 24 hours.

"We will continue to update you as new information becomes available," McGann said. "I will continue to update you as new information becomes available.  I know that the situation has heightened everyone’s sense of nervousness. As a mother of four, the spouse of a member of our armed services and your superintendent, I share your concerns.  I will do my very best to keep you all informed and continue to be transparent with the decisions that require my attention."