BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- Classes at Governor Livingston High School (GL) will continue to be remote until Monday, Dec. 7, according to an email to “Families and Staff” sent by Superintendent Melissa Varley at 7:04 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14. Plans for full implementation of Plan A in grades 1 to 5 have been delayed until Jan. 19, 2021.
The switch from Plan B to full remote at GL was announced by the superintendent on Wednesday, Nov. 4, and began Monday, Nov. 9, after seven GL students tested positive for COVID-19. GL was expected to reopen on Thursday, Nov. 19, with a hybrid plan B on a six-period rotate and drop schedule. That isn’t going to happen, because as of Saturday, Nov. 14, there were “48 students in our district who have tested positive for COVID-19,” Dr. Varley wrote. No new cases were reported in the district on Thursday or Friday, but there are “297 GLHS students currently quarantined” because each has had contact with someone with a positive case, and 48 K-8 students with positive tests, who are mostly siblings of students who tested positive. There are also 68 staff members in quarantine because each has been in contact with one or more students who tested positive, according to her email.
According to the latest data, currently there are 74 active COVID-19 cases within the Berkeley Heights community.
The continuation of all remote instruction for GL students means there will be no in-person events, which means all athletic, extra-curricular and academic events will not take place.
Dr. Varley wrote that the district “will not move to remote instruction for our other schools.” Students in grades 1-8 will remain on the current Plan B model: 50% of students in-person, alternating weeks, no lunch, and an early dismissal. The Pre-K and Kindergarten schedule will remain unchanged.
Mayor Angie Devanney said, “it appears that parents are contacting the school nurse and are not calling the health officer.” Devanney wants parents to contact Berkeley Heights Health Officer Annie McNair at 908-518-5620. Reporting procedures can be found on the township website.
The complete text of Dr. Varley’s letter is below:
Dear Families and Staff;
Over the past several weeks, I have regularly received emails from parents and staff offering a broad spectrum of opinions as to how the district should proceed with our school reopening plans. With the most recent outbreak of COVID-19 in our community, the correspondence has increased. At one end of the spectrum there are those who are advocating for all schools to be fully open, with all students attending every day. At the other end, there are those who want all schools to remain completely remote for the duration of the pandemic. In between these two extremes there are multiple combinations of suggestions for hybrid and remote instruction.
We all know the limitations of the hybrid model and that nothing can truly replace in-person instruction. We also know that the emotional well-being of our students dictates that they be in school as much as possible. And, of course, we must prioritize the health and safety of our students and staff. COVID-19 is still with us and the infection rates are starting to surge. There are multiple competing and equally valid concerns that must be weighed in making the decisions concerning how to move forward with our schools.
As of today, there are 48 students in our district who have tested positive for COVID-19. There are no new district cases to report in the past two days. In addition, there are 297 GLHS students currently quarantined due to contact with one of the positive cases, as well as 48 K-8 students who are also quarantined. For the most part, this is because they have a sibling who has tested positive. There are also 68 staff members who are currently quarantining because they came into contact with a student who tested positive. Finally, within the broader Berkeley Heights community, there are currently 74 active COVID-19 cases.
Let me take a moment to clear up some confusion, GLHS as a school is not quarantining. GLHS as a school is in remote instruction. There are GLHS students who are quarantined, meaning that they should remain in their houses because they have either tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19. However, the majority of GLHS students are not quarantined and can move about with no restrictions.
Over the past several days I have had numerous discussions with Mayor Devanney, public health officials, the district pandemic team, and the Board of Education. Given the severity of our outbreak, and the increasing numbers in both our community and in the state at large, the most prudent course of action is to keep Governor Livingston High School in remote instruction until Monday, December 7. In grades 1-5, the implementation of Plan A, all students attending for half days, will be delayed until January 19, 2021. As of right now, we will not move to remote instruction for our other schools. Accordingly, grades 1-8 students will remain on the current Plan B model: 50% of students in-person, alternating weeks, no lunch, and an early dismissal. The Pre-K and Kindergarten schedule will remain unchanged.
We will, of course, stay vigilant and re-evaluate the situation and our plans as needed. We have all seen how quickly things can change and how letting our guard down for just one weekend can have a tremendous impact on everyone. As we enter the late Fall and the Winter, we need to redouble our efforts to stay disciplined with our masks and social distancing.
Remains Remote until 12/7
Plan A -Delayed to 1/19/20
Remains on Plan B - 50% in-person instruction, alternating weeks, no lunch, early dismissal
Pre-K & K
No change to schedule
Dr. Melissa Varley