WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield schools will reopen for students on Thursday (and already opened for staff on Tuesday), according to the revised 2020-2021 school calendar passed Aug. 3. Also, schools will be open on Oct. 12 instead of being closed for Columbus Day. The revised calendar is here.
There were no major updates to the reopening plan in the last few days, and it's largely remained unchanged much from a month ago. Some students will alternate days in the buildings while others will learn remotely.
On Friday, Mayor Shelley Brindle sent out an update saying Westfield had reported four new coronavirus cases among residents since Tuesday, bringing the total of resident cases to 368 since the first reported case in March. Two of the reported cases were traced to college students who are out of state, she said.
"The Board of Health continues to work with the schools to provide guidance documents to help ensure a successful transition," Brindle wrote. "They have also been working with the retail food establishments to help prepare them for indoor dining. I am extremely grateful for the ongoing work and diligence of Megan Avallone and her team to help protect public health at this time of critical transition."
In the most recent 27 cases of residents, Brindle said, the breakdown was as follows:
Seven cases had a household contact who tested positive.
Seven cases had no known exposure.
Six cases were not reached.
Three cases declined to be interviewed.
Two cases were associated with travel to a high risk area.
One case had a known exposure.
One case was associated with a long-term care center.
School plan changes
Superintendent Margaret Dolan said on Aug. 27 that integrated pre-K class sizes were small enough that those students may learn on-site for four-hour days, as long as sizes don't increase.
Last Tuesday, the school district posted photos from the Westfield Regional Health Department of "acceptable" and "unacceptable" face coverings that students can wear to satisfy the schools' mandatory mask requirements.
Students may wear clear, surgical, dust, or cloth masks — but not bandanas or masks with a vent.
The CDC had posted last week, "Masks with exhalation valves or vents should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others."
The CDC post also gave scientific evidence about how masks cut the risk of spreading the virus, which has claimed more than 180,000 people in the United States.
Dolan's most recent letter Tuesday also includes a link to a video tour of the classrooms and safety measures.
To read the details of Westfield's reopening, plan, click here.
Past coronavirus statistics
In an update to the town last Tuesday, Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle said Westfield has had confirmation of two coronavirus cases among its residents since Friday, bringing the total to 364 since the pandemic began.
A week ago, Brindle announced that Westfield had gone a week without a new covid case.
Two weeks ago, on Friday, Aug. 14, Brindle had reported that the total was 360.
The total fatalities remain at 43 since the most recent death on June 3.
You can see the mayor's breakdown of coronavirus cases from the entire month of July by clicking here.
Here are some other recent Westfield coronavirus and reopening updates:
HOW TO GET TESTED: WALK-UP SITES
Union County has added mobile walk up test sites in addition to the testing site located at Kean University. Testing is free for Union County residents and is by appointment only with no car required; participants must wear masks and observe social distance. Any Union County resident can make an appointment for a test, whether they have symptoms. To pick a location, date and time, and to make an appointment online, visit ucnj.org/coronavirus-update/walk-up.
Union County residents who need to make an appointment by phone can call 908-518-4307 for assistance. Non-profit organizations and other community groups can call the Union County Office of Emergency Management at 908-654-9881 to request a visit from the Mobile Test Unit.
To find out more, you can also contact your doctor, visit covid19.nj.gov/testing, or call 211.
Tickets for the Westfield 300 Summer Movie Series are free but require advance registration here.
Read about updated Quimby Street events, rules, and street closings here.
Indoor dining is allowed at 25 percent capacity. For a list of rules, click here.
To read about outdoor dining in Westfield, click here.
Gov. Murphy recently signed an executive order allowing gyms, health clubs, and indoor amusement facilities to reopen at 25 percent capacity effective Sept. 1. Equipment must be adjusted to allow a minimum of six feet of distance, and must be sanitized between uses. Everyone must wear masks. More details can be found here.
New Jersey has asked people to quarantine if returning from 31 states and two territories.
More than 186,000 Americans have now died of coronavirus, and more than 5.6 million have tested positive.
HOW TO GET HELP WITH HEAT, RENT, AND MORE
During the State of Emergency in New Jersey, no tenant is permitted to be evicted from their home or apartment for the inability to pay rent. Talk to your local mayor's office if you are experiencing difficulties.
The CARES act has made money available to help with rent in each city. More information is here.
New Jersey residents can get help with heating and energy bills. Information is here.
Various other avenues of relief and benefits have also been made available, including family leave for 12 weeks if you can't work due to your child's school or camp being closed, and changes to unemployment rules to help those who were at a job for a short time, or freelancing.
New Jersey residents have become alarmed at the high number of residents who have passed away in nursing homes, rehabs, and similar facilities. The state announced plans in May to increase testing at some long term care facilities and to bring in the National Guard to help make changes.
The state released death toll statistics for long-term care facilities like rehabs and nursing homes. See the list here.
Some New Jersey long-term care facilities reopened for limited visits, with precautions, in July.
Here are statewide coronavirus resources:
NJ COVID-19 Information Hub: https://covid19.nj.gov/
General COVID-19 questions: 2-1-1
NJ COVID-19 hotline: (800) 222-1222
Got news? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. To be the first to get news alerts with breaking stories in Westfield, or to get a free local newsletter each morning, sign up for Patch breaking news alerts or daily newsletters.