Dear Eatontown Public Schools Community Member:
As Superintendent of Schools, I wanted to communicate some important information as we approach the New Year and make our way back from Winter Break. As you already know, our State is in the midst of another wave of COVID-19. This wave began before Winter Break and has continued through the holidays. Today, I received the latest COVID-19 Activity Level Report for the week ending December 25, 2021 and Monmouth County has changed from Orange (High) to Red (Very High). Eatontown Public Schools expects to open for in-person learning on Monday, January 3rd. However, between now and then, there are many variables the district is monitoring.
On December 22nd, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) stated that both agencies were closely tracking the current impact of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant on in-person education throughout the State. Districts must consult their local health department to determine if a closure is necessary due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Prior to closing any school building(s) due to COVID-19, districts must first consult with the local health department to determine if building closure is the most appropriate response to the circumstances in a given school building. These determinations will be made on a building-by-building basis, depending upon the impact of COVID-19 in each building. Once a district has consulted with the local health department and if a determination has been made that remote learning is the best option for students and staff, the County Office of Education will be promptly notified of the decision and the district will begin using the NJDOE-approved remote learning plan for the school buildings impacted.
Over the next few days, Eatontown Public Schools will be working closely to monitor this situation and make the best decision possible for our school community. Although in-person instruction is the best model for student learning, other variables need to be accounted for including availability of students, availability of staff, as well as guidance from the Monmouth County Health Department.
The fact that 85% of the faculty and staff in Eatontown Public Schools are vaccinated as well as the almost non-existent transmission rate of COVID-19 in schools helps to keep in-person learning in play during a very tough time for our area. As the Duke study has demonstrated, mask wearing can help to limit the transmission of COVID-19, especially in schools. These factors helped our district maintain a consistent full-time schedule from September to December.
School community members, there are a few steps you may take to help our cause in the weeks ahead. First, wear a mask indoors in public settings. Second, social distance to the greatest extent possible. Third, if you or your child is feeling ill, please stay home and consider taking a COVID-19 test. Please report a positive test result immediately to the school nurse and/or school principal. Fourth, if you are not vaccinated or your children are not vaccinated, consider getting fully vaccinated or obtaining a booster if appropriate. This is clearly a personal decision and is not mandatory. However, vaccinations, although not perfect, can reduce the chance of getting COVID-19, can limit quarantine times, and can limit the impact of the virus on one’s health. Last but not least, stay informed. Over the next few weeks, there will be many communications and updates sent as the district receives them from the NJDOE and NJDOH. One area of investigation for the district is making COVID-19 testing more readily available to both students and staff on a consent or voluntary basis. Please check your email regularly.
If there is a need to pivot to the Remote Learning Plan in the future, the district will communicate this information via phone message, text, email, and the school website. Again, as of this writing, the district’s goal is to open for in-person instruction on Monday, January 3rd.
Please stay well. Thank you again for your cooperation and support. These are challenging times; however, we will get through this situation once again, together. Happy New Year!!
Scott T. McCue
Superintendent of Schools