Verona High School is back to fully remote learning today, Thursday, November 19, after someone there tested positive for COVID-19. Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio made the announcement in an email sent just before midnight last night.
“Since the notification of the positive COVID-19 case was received in the late evening on Wednesday, November 18th, the Montclair Department of Health has not yet had sufficient time to conduct proper contact tracing to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” Dionisio said. VHS was the last of Verona’s six schools to return to in-building instruction this fall, on November 9.
“Based on the late notice of this information and our inability to verify everyone’s safety prior to the opening of school, we need an opportunity to evaluate the possibility to what extent close contacts may potentially exist under the current circumstances of this particular incident,” Dionisio added. “We are not willing as a District to risk the safety and well-being of our students and staff until we have more information before an informed decision can be made.”
Extracurricular activities and athletics are on for now, the email said, although that could change once the contact tracing is completed and the district knows who else might have been exposed. All other Verona schools are operating on their regular hybrid learning schedule.
The case is the first COVID case at VHS, although there have been others at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, Laning Avenue School and Forest Avenue School. As of Wednesday, Verona had 252 positive cases of the virus since Essex County began keeping records in March. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Verona has risen 20% since the start of November. The number of positive cases in Essex County has increased 23% during that time.