Middletown Schools Delay Full-Time Return To January 19

Carly Baldwin
·2 min read

MIDDLETOWN, NJ — COVID cases are surging again in New Jersey, and the Middletown school district is now delaying its start date for when students can return for regular full-time, in-person classes.

Middletown public school students will not "go back to normal" until January 19. They were supposed to return in mid December.

The change was announced Thursday by superintendent Mary Ellen Walker.

Also, the Friday game of Middletown South vs. Toms River was abruptly canceled at the last minute, and Middletown High School South's football season is "shut down until further notice," according to South head coach Steve Antonucci. It also looks like the much-lobbied-for North vs. South football game on Thanksgiving Day will also be canceled.

"I am devastated to tell you of this news," said Antonucci in a letter sent home to parents Friday.

"We have closed Middletown High School North and South and pivoted to virtual instruction due to the high number of cases and the possibility of transmission of the virus in the school," said superintendent Walker. "We made every effort to keep in-person instruction and activities in place, despite the high number of cases. However, this afternoon, after our investigation of the new cases at both high schools, a review of the current cases in each school, and consultation with the Middletown Township Health Department, we determined we could no longer ensure the health and safety of staff and students. Once we made that determination, all in-person activities had to be suspended."

There have been 40 COVID positives in Middletown schools in the past two weeks. Four schools have had to pivot to all virtual. Many teachers are also quarantining because they were near someone who has COVID, so the district is facing a teacher shortage.

"The anticipated start date for Phase 6 is on or about Tuesday, January 19," said Walker.

Phase 6 is five day a week of in-person, on-campus instruction.

Right now, Middletown schools are on a hybrid schedule, with half the student body in class on rotating days. The rest learn from home.

That will continue until about December 14, when phase 5 starts said Walker. Phase 5 is adding more students to the in-person cohorts. After that, there will be at least 28 days, where the district can "monitor the health data and trends before making the decision to add students to each classroom."

"We would sincerely like to thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we partner to safeguard the health of our school community and navigate these new and complex times," said Walker.

This article originally appeared on the Middletown Patch