Verona public schools open for the 2021-2022 school year on Thursday, September 9, and while all students will once again be learning in classrooms, there will be some new rules to follow there.
In an email sent to school families and staff yesterday, Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio reaffirmed that the district will be following the mask mandate issued by Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this month. Executive Order 251 says that masks must be worn inside all public, private, and parochial school buildings. Masks will not be required outside as long as there is physical distancing. Dionisio said that teachers will be able to call for “age-appropriate” mask breaks.
As for vaccinations, Dionisio noted that the governor’s Executive Order 253 requires all staff members to be either fully vaccinated by October 18 or submit to COVID-19 testing at least once or twice week. As for students, the district will be sending parents and guardians directions for uploading the vaccination records of students ages 12 and older to the school records system, Genesis. “Students who do not have a submitted vaccination card will be assumed to be unvaccinated for contact tracing and travel purposes as well as any other COVID-related matter,” Dionisio’s note said.
The other big change will be to lunch at the elementary schools and H.B. Whitehorne Middle School. Students in grades K to 4 will eat lunch in their classrooms with desk shields, while HBW will hold lunch in the cafeteria, cafeteria annex, or auditorium, again with desk shields. (The shields cost $44,000, which the district paid for with federal coronavirus recovery funds.) Verona High School will again have an open campus for lunch for all students, with parent permission, or students can eat lunch in school. VHS and HBW students can buy their lunch from Pomptonian or bring their own.
Remote learning will only be available to students who must quarantine because of COVID. The email also cautioned that students and staff must continue to follow the quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which can be found here.
“Parents should alert the building principal in advance of their travel in the instance of students who are not of age to be fully vaccinated and as a result must quarantine due to travel,” the note said. “Once notified, building principals in conjunction with teachers, will make a determination in the type of a remote learning plan, if any, that may be implemented. Unvaccinated students who are of age and medically able to be fully vaccinated and choose to travel will not be afforded a remote option due to travel quarantine guidelines.”