LIVINGSTON, NJ — In recognition of the rise in COVID-19 cases both within the Livingston Public Schools (LPS) district and the Livingston community at-large, the district has announced its decision to return to all-remote instruction for the two weeks following holiday break in order to prevent the spread of any cases that may arise from holiday gatherings or travel plans.

The Livingston community at large had a cumulative total of 795 cases as of Wednesday, including 20 new cases since Monday and 127 new cases in the last 14 days. 

Superintendent Dr. Matthew block announced on Monday that several employees within the LPS Transportation Department as well as one individual at Heritage Middle School have tested positive for the novel coronavirus this week.

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So far, two Livingston schools have been temporarily closed due cases found among both students and staff members, including Livingston High School, which reopened for hybrid learning on Tuesday, and Burnet Hill Elementary School, which is scheduled to reopen for hybrid learning on Nov. 26.

Livingston Health Officer Lou Anello reported that although there has been an increase in cases among students at both the public and private schools in Livingston, the majority of recent cases are being reported among residents between the ages of 21 and 41 years old. According to the township's most recent age report, which reflected the 86 cases reported between Oct. 1 and Oct. 27, nearly 30 percent of positive test results are coming from residents ages 20 to 40, while 26 percent are under the age of 19.

With the Thanksgiving holiday only one week away, the Livingston Health Department and LPS officials continue to urge all community members to be responsible about gatherings and to follow COVID-19 protocols when venturing out in public. 

Although LPS is currently scheduled to reopen all schools for hybrid learning after the two-week period in January, Block reiterated that this will only be possible with the full cooperation of the Livingston community.

“In light of increasing COVID-19 cases in our community, and with the recent impact on our schools, we continue to strategize to determine ways to keep our school facilities safe and open for in-person instruction long-term,” said Block, adding that the district is looking ahead to holidays in hopes of being able to “minimize the impact that holiday gatherings and out-of-state travel will have on [the district’s] ability to continue delivering in-person experiences” for Livingston students. 

Although health experts do not recommend discretionary travel out-of-state, Block stated that the administration acknowledges that students and staff members may need to travel “for various reasons” over holiday break, which will be held from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3. In order to allow for a 14-day quarantine period for anyone who travels outside of New Jersey during that time, Livingston will reopen its schools in a remote setting on Jan. 4 and return to the hybrid model on Jan. 19. All schools will be closed on Jan. 18 for Martin Luther King Day.

“In order to be proactive in our efforts to remain open for in-person instruction between now and winter break, we are encouraging those who must travel over the holidays to wait until winter break to do so,” said Block. “We continue to prioritize having our schools open for in-person instruction.

"Nonetheless, the potential challenges of contact tracing and quarantining after winter break—based on our expectation that families will be traveling out-of-state—could create an untenable situation and additional or extended facility closures…We must continue to put the health and safety of our students, staff, and community first, and we expect that anyone who travels will adhere to the [New Jersey Department of Health] recommendations.”

In order to better communicate with the community about COVID-19 information related to LPS, the district has created a COVID-19 Dashboard that will be updated periodically with two-week case counts and quarantine numbers for each of Livingston's nine public schools. CLICK HERE to visit the LPS COVID-19 Dashboard.

The Livingston Health Department also regularly updates its statistics on the township website, which can be found BY CLICKING HERE.

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