COVID Concerns Pivot Chatham Schools To 2-Hour Delay On Monday

·2 min read

CHATHAM, NJ — With a number of staff members having tested positive for COVID over the holiday break, Superintendent Dr. Michael LaSusa says the school district’s plan to return to classes on its first day back, Monday, will be delayed by two hours.

In a letter to families on New Year’s Day, LaSusa said that all of the district’s schools will be delayed by two hours on Jan. 3, with pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes cancelled for the day, as staff works through the positive cases that have cropped up during the break.

“We have had a number of staff members test positive for COVID over the holiday break and this will affect staffing and instruction this week,” LaSusa wrote.

As the district begins to map out a plan with the new positive COVID cases, he said, transportation and food services could also potentially change, alerting parents to “please be prepared for disruptions in these areas.”

“We hope the delayed opening on Monday will also help in this regard for the first day of this week,” LaSusa added.

Before the holiday break, the School District of the Chathams began live-streaming classes on Google Meet because of the rise in COVID cases, something the district plans to continue for students who are ill or for parents who “do not feel comfortable sending them to school,” said LaSusa.

Other adjustments to the district's regular format:

  • “Open Campus” at lunch will be allowed at the High School, with parent permission, to enable students to pick up younger siblings or head home during lunch, so there are fewer students in the lunchrooms.

  • Parents will have the option to sign out K-8 students during lunch in the coming days, which will also allow for more space in cafeterias.

  • The schools plan to space students further apart at lunchtime and eat outdoors when temperatures are warm enough.

  • LaSusa provided new information in the letter about CDC updates for isolation and quarantining, that happened during the holiday break. He said New Jersey’s Departments of Health and Education haven’t incorporated the guidelines “into school-specific guidance" yet, with school districts told to use isolation and quarantine rules already in place. However, New Jersey Department of Health recommends new measures, which the school district will introduce in the coming week, LaSusa said.

  • The school district is considering a pilot “test-to-stay” model program, that aims to reduce quarantine when students are exposed to COVID-positive close contacts.

Read LaSusa’s full letter here.

Questions or comments about this story? Have a local news tip? Contact me at: jennifer.miller@patch.com.

This article originally appeared on the Chatham Patch