LIVINGSTON, NJ — Although there have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Livingston thus far, Livingston Public Schools has acknowledged that large-group gatherings “can perpetuate the spread of the virus” and has therefore made the decision to close until March 27 beginning after Friday’s early dismissal.

“We have worked hard over the past several months, in the face of a challenging situation, to keep our schools as healthy and safe as possible,” Superintendent Dr. Matthew Block said in a statement on Thursday afternoon. “As of today (Thursday), we have received a great deal of information about the importance of taking significant measures now, before the virus spreads further, to minimize the spread of the virus.”

In consultation with the New Jersey Department of Health and other local officials, the district will initiate its newly developed Remote Learning Plan (RLP) beginning on Monday “in order to mitigate the fast spread of the coronavirus in [the] broader community.”

Sign Up for Livingston Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

All athletic practices and events after March 13 have been canceled and Livingston High School’s production of “Shrek the Musical” has been postponed until school is fully back in session.  

In order to allow students to touch base with their teachers, gather materials and practice for remote learning, Livingston Public Schools will follow the early dismissal schedule, which can be found HERE.

“We are holding a single session day, so that principals can meet one more time with teachers, and teachers can make final preparations for remote learning, which will begin the following Monday,” said Block.

Remote learning will begin on weekdays starting Monday, at which time all Livingston Public Schools facilities will be closed and all extracurricular, athletic and social activities will be cancelled. 

A letter distributed on Wednesday outlined student expectations for remote learning, and all information regarding Livingston’s RLP can be found HERE.

All remote learning days will count as a day of school for the 2019-2020 school year, according to the New Jersey Department of Education.

“Please know that we take this decision to close school with the utmost seriousness,” said Block. “This plan was not reached lightly or easily. The health and safety of our students and staff have to come first, and we believe this plan does just that. In light of the potential health risks, we felt strongly that we need to be proactive and responsive in light of the emerging information.

“If we waited for known cases, or a spread through our schools, we certainly would look back with regret. We believe this is the best time to put this procedure in place…. We all hope that the members of our community remain in good health and that we are able to be together again in our schools as soon as we can.”

Block reassured the community that he, school administrators, counselors and other Livingston educators will continue to communicate with parents and students throughout the remote learning period.

Health officials confirmed the first COVID-19 case in Essex County on Thursday after a 66-year-old female from Montclair tested positive for the virus. CLICK HERE to read more. 

More information will be shared as it becomes available.