All of Verona’s public schools will be back on remote learning only on Monday, December 14, in the wake of COVID-19 exposure at an unauthorized holiday party at Fire Station No. 2. Operations at that firehouse, one of two in Verona, have been suspended as a result of the exposure.
Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio said in an email this evening that the remote day is needed “out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our students and staff based on the circumstances related to this gathering.” Verona High School and H.B. Whitehorne had to switch to fully remote from two days before Thanksgiving to December 8 after rising COVID-19 cases at both schools; all elementary schools were remote from November 30 to December 4. The district had planned on having all schools operate on the “hybrid” model, which combines in-person and remote learning, until the Christmas break and then staying remote after the break until January 15.
What happens now is unclear. “Due to the late notice of this information and our inability to verify everyone’s safety prior to the opening of school, the District will need an opportunity to evaluate the possibility to what extent close contacts may potentially exist under the current circumstances of this particular incident,” Dionisio said. “Contact tracing on this matter will be conducted tomorrow, December 14, 2020, by the Montclair Health Department with the support of our school nurses. Although we do not yet have enough information through contact tracing to open our schools for in-person instruction, it is our hope that the contact tracing will allow us to make a determination regarding resuming in-person instruction. The District will provide an update to our school community on the status of this situation once we receive more information.”
Dionisio’s email also noted that the district has learned of two new COVID-19 cases at Verona elementary schools, one at Brookdale and the other at F.N. Brown. According to statistics from Essex County, Verona’s number of positive COVID-19 cases rose by seven to 377 today. Verona had 302 cases on December 1.