NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - The West Essex School District will be keeping schools closed and transitioning to all-remote learning from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, Schools Superintendent Damion Macioci announced Tuesday evening.

This is an effort to try to keep staff and student safe after the Thanksgiving holiday. 

""Everyone want to see their kids back in school but the health and safety of the students and staff must come first," said Roseland Councilwoman Jean Perrotti, whose husband, Frank, is a West Essex Board of Education member. Jean is the liasion to the district.

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Macioci's letter to the district reads:

After consultation with our local health officials and at the recommendation of our District Physician, we  have decided to close our schools for in-person learning for the 2 weeks following Thanksgiving, beginning  Monday, November 30 through Friday, December 11. The WERSD Daily Calendar and Bell Schedules have been updated to reflect this change.  

While there is no substitute for in-person learning, we must approach these upcoming weeks with careful  consideration. Our ability to resume our hybrid model and potentially move to increased capacities is  

largely dependent on public health data and the safe and responsible behaviors of our entire community. Furthermore, increased cooperation is essential from our families regarding travel notification and keeping  children home when immediate household members are sick, exhibiting symptoms, or awaiting COVID-19  test results. 

As previously communicated, our Northeast Region (Bergen, Essex, and Hudson) is now in the High Risk category. Under the “High Risk” protocols, all individuals who are COVID-19 positive or those with  

compatible symptoms must follow the same exclusion criteria as outlined by the NJDOH. This process  alone has resulted in a large number of staff and students being subject to quarantine and inhibits our  ability to execute our hybrid model in an optimal environment. Although we are not experiencing  

transmission in our buildings, our schools are experiencing a high degree of impact, including lower student  attendance and a higher number of employees teleworking. 

Additionally, the approaching holiday gatherings, potential travel implications, and family members returning  from college greatly increase the likelihood of transmission. In the event there are cases following the  holiday weekend, school and health officials will complete the appropriate contact tracing without the risk of  exposure in our schools. Typically individuals become symptomatic between 2-14 days following exposure;  therefore, we feel the 2 week closure for in-person learning is prudent. This period will allow us time to  identify individuals who may develop COVID-19 symptoms, as well as time for those individuals to self isolate, as appropriate.  

Please know we support and care about you and your families, and the health and well-being of your  

children and loved ones will continue to be a top priority. 

Thank you for your continued support and happy Thanksgiving.