New Jersey’s Schools Switch To Remote Learning Before Winter Break As COVID Cases Surge

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Paterson Public Schools, the fourth-largest school district in New Jersey, will move entirely to remote learning for two weeks after the holiday break as the number of COVID cases in the state surges.

The district said Wednesday, December 22, 2021, students and staff will be all-virtual from Jan. 4 to Jan. 18.

“The rising numbers of COVID-19 cases due to multiple variants are cause for concern for all of us. A surge of new cases has occurred in northeastern New Jersey, and it is expected that the trend will continue through the holiday break,” Paterson Superintendent Eileen F. Shafer said in a statement.

On Monday, at least three New Jersey schools announced they would move to virtual classes as COVID cases continued to climb in the state.

Plainfield Public Schools said remote learning is set to begin Tuesday and last through Thursday, while a decision was pending about returning to the classroom next year.

In an announcement, Plainfield Superintendent of Schools Diana Mitchell pointed to “an increase in COVID cases throughout New Jersey.”

“We will continue to work with the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to decide the best and safest way to return to school in January,” Mitchell said in the statement.

South Orange-Maplewood School District schools said South Orange Middle School was going to remote learning for the rest of the week after a “considerable uptick” in student coronavirus cases across all grades.

“We understand this may be a hardship for some of our families and can be disruptive to student engagement, however, the health and safety of our students and staff are paramount. According to current data, the cases at SOMS are not due to in-school transmission. However, our community transmission is high and the cases are rising. To prevent the possibility of additional cases we are moving to a virtual learning format,” officials said in an announcement on the school website.

Also on Monday, Hunterdon Central Regional High School said it was switching to remote learning for Tuesday because of a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We take this route because of the need to conduct contact tracing on over 40 student cases that were reported on Monday,” the school said on its website. “We are hopeful that we will be able to complete contact tracing on Tuesday and be back to an in-person schedule for the remainder of the week.”

More than two dozen schools around the state have temporarily moved to virtual classes after a winter surge in cases of the coronavirus. New Jersey on Monday reported 6,505 cases, the sixth straight day the state reported more than 6,000 positive tests.

In-school coronavirus cases in New Jersey spiked the week of Dec. 12, with 6,947 cases reported between students and staff, an increase of 79% from two weeks prior.

That’s 5.25 cases per 1,000 students, and 6.81 cases per 1,000 staff. A month ago, there was a rate of 2.06 cases among students and 2.65 cases per 1,000 staff members.