With COVID outbreak, another NJ school district announces virtual learning

The Elizabeth School District, one of the largest in New Jersey, announced Thursday that the first two weeks of classes after winter break will be virtual only, joining a growing list of districts moving to the distance option as COVID-19 cases multiply across the state.

Elizabeth’s students will learn remotely from January 3 to 14, according to a letter from Commissioner Olga Hugelmeyer to parents. In-person classes will resume on Tuesday, January 18, following Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Hugelmeyer recognized that the situation is not ideal and that, under normal circumstances, learning in school is preferable.

“The increased positivity rates in our school community have significantly tested our ability to educate our students in person,” she wrote.

COVID-19 cases have increased in New Jersey and across the country. The state broke another daily record on Friday, reporting 28,512 new positive tests and 37 more confirmed deaths – the record seventh day since December 22. Prior to that date, the state’s single-day case record was 6,922, set on January 13.

And infections have increased in schools, according to figures released on December 23. Another 9,808 confirmed cases were reported among staff (2,029) and students (7,716) for the week ending Dec. 19, with just 61% of schools in the state providing data. This is an increase from 6,947 cases – 41% more – the previous week.

Gov. Phil Murphy said on Friday he would not force schools to close and switch to distance learning. On the contrary, it will leave the decision to the school districts.

Among the districts that have already announced their intention to return to distance learning in January: Paterson, Irvington, South Orange-Maplewood, Camden, New Brunswick, Carteret and most districts in Hudson County.

Elizabeth’s preschool through grade eight students are expected to log into school on their computers starting at 8:20 a.m., while high school students are expected to return at 7:30 a.m. Hugelmeyer said students should practice signing in before the first day of virtual school.

Hugelmeyer said district officials would be ready to help students with any technical issues, but she asked parents to be patient.

“We must continue to be there for each other as we navigate the continuing effects of this pandemic,” she said. “We must continue to remember that we must give our students the highest quality education possible as they deserve, but also do so in a responsible manner that ensures the safety and health of our families, members. of our team and a larger community.

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Josh Solomon can be reached at [email protected].

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