HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Hasbrouck Heights Superintendent of Schools addressed the abrupt change to remote learning for one of the district's elementary schools and the possibility of temporarily returning to remote learning for the upper schools during Thursday night's Board of Education meeting held virtually.
"This morning we had a situation at Euclid School that required us to go remotely in accordance with our reopening plans," said Dr. Matthew Helfant, as part of his Superintendent's Report. "The reopening plan requires us to go remote for five days whenever there is a positive case in any of the schools."
"We had to give parents very late notice and certainly understand such late notice presents a significant hardship for some parents, guardians and staff. However, we do what we need to do to insure the safety of all of our students, and adhere to our reopening plan."
Helfant said they received notification that an individual tested positive at approximately 11 p.m. Wednesday night, and the district reviewed the email at 7 a.m. Thursday morning. The county health department and school nurse were notified. Parents on social media Thursday morning indicated they received the email from the district at 7:40 a.m.
Helfant said Euclid would return to in-class learning on Monday, November 23, and observed that abrupt closings may again occur in the future.
"It is important to note that if we intend to continue with in class instruction, that there may be more situations where there is late notice to the district that may ultimately result in late notice to parents," he said. "It is also important to reiterate that there have been no cases that have originated in the schools in Hasbrouck Heights. All cases have been tracked and have been as a result of activities outside of the school."
"How long we continue in-person learning is dependent on what students and families outside of school, as it has a significant impact on our schools and how long we can be in-person."
Helfant explained that 43% of high school students are voluntarily learning remotely, with 33% of middle school students remote. There have been 16 positive cases at the high school/middle school, "plus a number of staff." There are currently 18 students in quarantine waiting test results. He also noted that Bergen County is currently at "Orange Level" - which is high risk.
"As a consequence of this, we are reviewing the possibility of going to remote at the middle school/high school until January 15, with a return to hybrid learning January 18," Helfant announced. "This in no way affects the elementary schools at this time."
The decision will be made next week, prior to the Thanksgiving break, said Helfant.
He also explained that the NJSIAA had announced the new start dates for winter sports, and, if the high school goes to remote learning, it would not affect high school sports.
Helfant also addressed the stress and anxiety experienced by students and staff due to the ongoing pandemic and remote learning.
"I understand and appreciate the frustration the COVID pandemic has caused," he noted. "Many of our students and staff have reported increases in anxiety and depression. Please understand our actions are always based on students and staff, and their health, first and foremost."
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