VERONA, NJ — One of Verona's fire stations has been closed temporarily after COVID-19 exposure that occurred following an unauthorized party at that location.

"The township administration is aware of a COVID-19 exposure that has affected several members of the Verona Fire Department that attended a holiday gathering at Fire Station No. 2," said Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Matthew Cavallo in a statement Sunday evening. "The holiday gathering was not authorized by the township and actions have been taken to ensure similar incidents will not happen in the future. Out of an abundance of caution, the use of Fire Station No. 2 has been temporarily suspended. All members who may have been exposed directly or indirectly are required to quarantine pursuant to the guidelines promulgated by the CDC and NJ Department of Health."

While Fire Station No. 2 is closed indefinitely, fire protection in the township will continue to be provided by Fire Station No. 1 and from the establishment of formal mutual aid from neighboring towns. 

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"Such arrangements are standard practice when available responding personnel may be limited," Cavallo said. "The Verona Fire Department is working in conjunction with the Verona Office of Emergency Management, the township manager’s office and the Montclair Health Department on implementing a plan to return to full service. This will include measures to avoid future exposure incidents. Our utmost concern is always the safety of our residents and the members of this department. With these deliberate steps, residents and businesses will remain safe and protected."

The Verona school district will be operating on a fully remote schedule at least for Monday, Dec. 14, schools Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio announced Sunday night in response to the news about the fire station COVID exposure.

"Contact tracing on this matter will be conducted tomorrow, December 14, 2020, by the Montclair Health Department with the support of our school nurses,' Dionisio said in an email to district families Sunday night. "Although we do not yet have enough information through contact tracing to open our schools for in-person instruction, it is our hope that the contact tracing will allow us to make a determination regarding resuming in-person instruction. The District will provide an update to our school community on the status of this situation once we receive more information.”

Another potential impediment to in-school learning is a forecast for possible heavy snow Wednesday into Thursday.