Verona Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio has lifted the suspension of extracurricular activities that was instituted on Monday after a weekend party involving a large number of Verona High School students raised concerns for an outbreak of COVID-19. Several football players and sports parents had protested the suspension in front of TV cameras yesterday.
In an email sent to parents this afternoon, Dionisio said that the Montclair Department of Health conducted case and contact evaluations in Verona, and gathered other details about the weekend’s events. While details of that investigation cannot be shared with the public because of confidentiality issues, Dionisio said that the department has determined that the extracurriculars can now resume and he set tomorrow, Thursday, September 17, for that. The suspension involved athletics as well as marching band and school-based clubs.
But Dionisio said that caution was still warranted. “Any student who attends large gatherings should monitor himself or herself for symptoms 2 – 14 days after the event,” he wrote. “COVID-19 symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, sore throat headache, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, stuffy or runny nose, or nausea. If any symptoms appear, the student should stay home and consult their medical provider.”
Under the guidelines set by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), a team can continue to play if one player or coach tests positive for COVID-19 or has been in contact with a confirmed or suspected virus case. A team can also continue to play if two or more students or coaches on the it test positive within 14 days of each other, and the cases are not linked to team activities. But the NJSIAA says that a team should consider stopping its activities for 14 days if there is an outbreak linked to team activities that involves two or more students or coaches. With a shortened fall sports season that begins October 1, that could mean the loss of a substantial number of games.
Dionisio said that Verona would continue to follow the guidance of the Montclair Department of Health. “We have a responsibility to take all necessary measures to ensure that we keep our community safe,” he wrote. “As a school and a community we will continue to be diligent as we navigate this public health crisis. Our ability to reopen schools rests on the decisions that the members of our community make in the coming weeks and months. We need the support of the entire community to keep our schools open. We ask that social distancing guidelines are followed so that future concerns can be avoided. Thank you again for your understanding, continued support, and cooperation.”