SOMEMRVILLE, NJ - Schools Superintendent Timothy Teehan has informed parents, teachers and staff that the high school, middle school and Van Derveer Elementary School will close, with a distance learning plan implemented effective March 16 through Spring Break to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A letter was sent March 12 outlining the district's plans going forward:

"Dear Somerville Families,

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Our district’s number one priority continues to be the health and well-being of our students, teachers, and staff members. Though we currently have no confirmed cases of Coronavirus at Somerville Public Schools, as you know, we have been proactively preparing to continue delivery of instruction through flexible instruction learning (Distance Learning).

"The NJDOE has indicated that if we have a plan in place for consistent home instructional services while closed, such days would still count toward our 180-day requirement.

"Public health officials continue to advise that social distancing is the most effective strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We recognize that school closures will create challenges for our families and our community, but we also recognize our responsibility to address this public health concern.

"In an effort to meet this responsibility, we will be closing our buildings and implementing a distance learning plan effective Monday, March 16, 2020 through Spring Break.

"All field trips, school events, and activities are also postponed, effective Monday March 16, 2020. We will continue to monitor the situation. If the situation positively changes, we will make every effort to bring students back to school earlier, if possible.

"We will send updates every Friday so all are aware if the plans change in any way.

"We appreciate your support and understanding of this decision. We will be providing families with the details of our distance learning plans and expectations for students shortly.

"For parents of students in 2nd through 5th grade, please be aware that we will be sending home devices tomorrow with students. We will continue to maintain regular communication with our local public health official and with our learning community during the school closure. Thank you for helping us keep our community safe."

Dr. Timothy M. Teehan

Bridgewater-Raritan public schools have also announced it would close all buildings and implement a distance learning regimen.

Health officials yesterday announced a presumptive case of (COVID-19) in Bridgewater, which if confirmed by further testing, would be the first case in Somerset County.

Five states including Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Oregon have shut down their schools; Kentucky is also close to doing the same.

New Jersey has 29 confirmed cases of (COVID-19), with one death in Bergen County. Nationwide, there are over 1,000 cases, with 40 deaths reported; the first case was reported in Alaska yesterday, becoming the 44th state to confirm the virus.

With more than 135,000 cases of (COVID-19) worldwide, closures, shutdowns and cancellations continue to mount - The NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball have canceled games; Disneyland and Disney world are closing their amusement parks; The NCAA and the NJSIAA have canceled basketball tournaments. The Diocese of Newark canceled masses this Sunday. Broadway shows are shutting down.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has recommended against gatherings of more than 250 people while New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared a state of emergency.