SOMERVILLE, NJ - Public schools in the borough will be closed Tuesday, March 17th for teachers and staff to continue formulating contingency plans that would be put into effect if state and/or county health officials are forced to close the schools because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

A letter announcing the closure was sent to parents March 10th by Dr. Timothy Teehan, superintendent of schools.

Dear Somerville Families,
 
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Somerville Public School District recognizes the concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus and the implications for the safe operations of our schools.  We continue to follow the guidance of the New Jersey Department of Education and the Somerset County Health Office. 
 
Recently, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) provided additional guidance to schools that emphasized that the most important thing for schools to do now is plan and prepare.  Among other planning procedures, the guidance advises that “schools may be asked to close preemptively or reactively, therefore schools should be making plans for what to do if there are recommendations for closing schools or cancelling events.” 
 
It is important to remember that a health-related closure could only come under the written direction from the Health Department.
 
In order to give our teachers and administrators time to develop a plan of instruction that supports equitable access to instruction for all students in the event of a health-related closure, the Board of Education will be adopting a revised school calendar that designates Tuesday, March 17, 2020 as a professional development day for staff, with no students in attendance.
 
We will be using one of our built in unused emergency snow days.  Students will not be required to make-up this day, as we will still be meeting the New Jersey mandated student attendance requirement of 180 days.
 
Please note that our custodial staff has been and will continue to perform extensive cleaning throughout the district on a daily basis, which includes disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and objects.


 
Please accept my thanks for your flexibility with our calendar as we look to ensure the continued education and good health of our students and staff, while we prepare for the possibility of a health-related school closure.  While we understand that this ever-changing landscape can cause a certain amount of stress and anxiety for everyone, please know that we will continue to monitor new information as it becomes available and will make any decisions accordingly. 

 
Regards,
 Dr. Timothy M. Teehan Superintendent
 
- Early Thursday morning, the organizers and sponsors of the 29th annual St. Patrick's Parade in downtown Somerville announced cancellation of the parade, citing the potential impact of the virus on the crowd and participants. In years past, the parade has drawn crowds of 20,000 people, packed five and six-deep on the sidelwalks along the Main Street parade route.
 
- Meanwhile, the Somerset County Department of Health has begun providing daily COVID-19 updates online.

“At this time, there are no cases of the coronavirus in Somerset County,” said Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson.  “The county continues to closely monitor this evolving situation. We want to ensure that residents are being informed with accurate and timely information, so we are providing daily updates on our website and residents can also access a recorded message.”

“We have posted slides on the Somerset County home page that link residents directly to our health department’s coronavirus website where we have information about the current status of COVID-19, as well as links to trusted resources such as the CDC,” said Freeholder Brian G. Gallagher, public health liaison.

Recorded Messages - Residents can call 908-231-7111 to listen to daily updates about the status of the coronavirus in Somerset County.

Status Chart - For information about the number of presumptive and confirmed coronavirus cases that have been reported in Somerset County, New Jersey and the United States, a chart has been posted on the website.

Video - A video is available that provides an accurate overview of the coronavirus and includes information about how the virus spreads and what precautions to take to help prevent the illness.

Anyone who needs information can contact the Somerset County Department of Health at coronavirus@co.somerset.nj.us.  The New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Poison Control Center have a 24/7 public hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

Further information is available online at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov, the World Health Organization at www.who.int, the New Jersey Department of Health at www.nj.gov/health and the Somerset County Department of Health at www.co.somerset.nj.us/health.

- Also COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of events in Somerville and Franklin and throughout New Jersey.

- SpringFest 2020, which was scheduled on Saturday, March 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Van Derveer Elementary School has been postponed. The new date has not yet been determined but will be relayed to residents as soon as possible. 

For more information about SpringFest 2020, call Somerset County Community Development at 908-541-5756.

- The sixth annual Free Job Fair hosted by state Assemblyman Joe Danielsen scheduled for April 15th at The Imperia, located at 1714 Easton Ave. Somerset has been canceled.

- The Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission announced that the Culture Counts! Pysanky Egg Workshop, which was to be held Saturday, will be rescheduled. A new date will be announced in the near future.

The event was planned for 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 14, at the Ukrainian History and Education Center in Franklin Township.

For more information, contact the Cultural & Heritage Commission office at (908)231-7021 or CulturalHeritage@co.csomerset.nj.us.

- All 10 branches of the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey, including Somerville, will remain open, but services will be curtailed from March 16-March 31.

- The Somerset County Sheriff's Office is warning residents of a scam with people identifying themselves as workers from the federal Centers for Disease Contril knocking on doors and telling people that they are  conducting a study referencing coronavirus.

The sheriff's office is advising residents to contact the local police department immediately.