MONTVILLE, NJ – Principal Doug Sanford sent out an email to MTHS students and staff to notify them that an “individual” at the school has COVID. This was following an email on Oct. 19 stating that there was a “presumptive positive” case at the school. Lazar Middle School Principal Michael Pasciuto sent middle school parents and staff communication that an individual there also had a confirmed case of COVID on Oct. 19.

“Because of the actions taken by MTHS and the local board of health on or about Oct. 19, there are no additional steps to be taken,” Sanford stated in an email on Oct. 22.

The school district is coordinating closely with public health officials and following CDC, state, and local health department guidance in order to assure the health and safety of the community, Sanford said. All appropriate parties were notified and state department of health quarantine protocols were put into place, he said. No other information was released.

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Sanford assured everyone that “all exposed areas” had been cleaned and disinfected.

“The school is also taking precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of viruses and other germs and is cleaning frequently touched surfaces daily,” he said.

When asked what the plan for closing schools or modifying instruction if cases of COVID are found in students and/or faculty, Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar directed TAPinto Montville to the state board of health website.

"The NJ Department of Health has given school districts the following parameters for making decisions about shifting to full remote learning,” she said in an email. The site states that with one confirmed case, schools remain open and students and staff who were in close contact with the positive case must stay home for 14 days. A temporary closure may be considered for 2-5 days if a student or staff member attended school while potentially infectious, the website says, before being confirmed as having COVID.

If two or more cases are in the same classroom, schools remain open and the exposed students and staff must stay home. Recommendations as to whether the entire classroom would be considered exposed “will be based on public health investigation.”

The website doesn’t mention specific numbers of cases that would shut down schools, using terms like “a significant community outbreak,” but it does say that investigation by the local health department will guide school closure. Further, if “two or more cases are identified within 14 days that occur across multiple classrooms and a clear connection between cases cannot be easily identified (outbreak involving multiple cohorts),” it would definitively close school for 14 days. See the chart of possible situations in the photo gallery or go to NJ State Health COVID chart and see page 15.

“I would certainly [also] be consulting with the Montville Department of Health in any situation that would involve closing schools or the district,” Rovtar confirmed.

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