NEWTON, NJ—The Newton school district administrators have decided students will continue to learn remotely for at least another week.
“We all want to be in but also safe,” Superintendent Kennedy Greene said. “It’s a balance.”
According to a letter that went out to all Newton District parents and students, the district has decided to remain on fully remote instruction through January 22, instead of the original January 18 date.
Greene said he has been talking with other superintendents in the area as well as county health officials about the status of the coronavirus in the county.
The district has chosen to remain remote because as of the update last week, “the situation has declined rapidly since then. The health and well-being of our students, staff and the entire school community remain of the utmost importance, as we continue to rely on science and date to drive our decision making.”
On November 20, 2020, the district announced “all grade pk-12 students will move to fully remote instructions from Monday, November 23, 2020 through Monday, January 18, 2021. Reopening to hybrid and in-person instruction will be reconsidered in mid-January, based on health data provided by the New Jersey and Sussex County DOH.”
Last summer, the board of education had voted eliminate Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day off. Students were scheduled to be in school on January 18 according to the original calendar, allowing for a professional day for teachers to be added at the beginning of the year.
The guidelines for fully remote instruction remain as outlined in the Restart and Recovery Plan, according to the letter:
- The school buildings will remain open for custodial, maintenance and security work as well as for instructional staff who prefer to use school resources. Staff members, by their choice and with parent permission, may be working in-person with selected at-risk students per their individual needs.
- Athletic and extracurricular activities will not meet or practice in-person before January 25, 2021. Teams and clubs will interact remotely based on schedules provided by their coaches and advisors. The C2C afterschool program for participants in grades 3-8 will also operate remotely.
- The school district will not approve external requests for use of the facilities during this period of time.
- Meals can be picked up at the Newton High School Cafeteria as they currently are on Mondays and Thursdays from 2:15-4:15 pm.
The district's letter to families states according to the covidactnow.org website, “Sussex County is currently experiencing a severe outbreak. Take all possible precautions to avoid exposure. Very dangerous number of new cases.”
“Everyone is doing the best they can,” Superintendent Kennedy Greene said. “It’s not a normal year.”
According to Governor Murphy, as of Monday, January 11 there were 351 districts under a hybrid model, 337 a combination of in-person and remote, 79 all virtual and 44 all in-person.
New COVID-19 Cases
The Newton school district reported nine positive cases among the students and staff, including three individuals at the preschool. This week, there were three confirmed positive cases at Merriam Avenue School as well as one preschool and three others have self-reported as having been exposed or symptomatic and are awaiting test results.
Also, this week, there was one individual at Newton High School who was confirmed to have the virus and two more individuals who self-reported positive, unrelated to the previous case according to the letter.
Finally, there are four individuals who are quarantining currently because a family member of theirs has tested positive, according to school officials.
Greene said they will continue to monitor the situation and will consider reopening to hybrid and in-person options as of January 25.
“We are focused on getting the kids back in,” Greene said. “We hope we are soon seeing over the hill.”