SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - After two weeks of virtual classes, South Brunswick Public Schools is on track to reopen for in-person learning on Jan. 18, the district said Friday.
On Dec. 31, the school district announced it was going virtual due to COVID-19 related staffing shortage.
But with the Township reporting a significant decline in COVID-19 positive cases, the school district is confident of returning safely to in-person learning.
"The trends we are seeing both in the district and the town point to a decline in COVID impact. Don't get me wrong, we are still higher than prior to break, but the trend is in the right direction. The township reported a 50% decline in Covid numbers from last week to this week, and our District is in much better shape as well based on the reported information we have received," Superintendent Scott Feder said in an email to parents and guardians on Friday. "While there is no perfect solution, we are moving forward in the hopes of getting back to that normalcy that we all know is out there."
Feder also shared some important information to keep in mind, as schools reopen for in-person learning:
Keep sick students at home. If you're unsure, reach out to the school nurse for more information.
Students who are COVID-19 positive (but well enough to learn), close contact or need to quarantine due to travel, will continue to receive remote instruction. The district is expanding online learning to include students who have taken a PCR test and waiting for a result. This change will be revisited if the district encounters issues.
The New Jersey Department of Health recently provided optional "guidance" on reducing quarantine times from 10 days to five days in certain situations. But the district will take time to implement this change. "We are working through all the details and will be watching to ensure that the positive decline in COVID trends continues in the right direction before implementing this change," Feder said. The district will revisit this guidance in early February.
Masks are mandatory in schools.
Feder thanked the community for their "patience, understanding and sheer resilience" during this time.
"I am sure we all wish we were fully back to normal, but in absence of being able to fully return to normal, our goal is to keep moving us in that direction. Omicron certainly threw a monkey wrench into that, but it is time to begin the journey again, and hopefully stay on this "yellow brick road" all the way back home," he said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy extended the K-12 mask mandate due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, on Tuesday.
Murphy declared another public health emergency in New Jersey on Tuesday, citing the extremely high numbers of COVID positives. Read More: NJ Public Health Emergency Extended To Fight 'Omicron Tsunami'
By declaring the state of emergency, Murphy is able to unilaterally extend a number of his emergency executive orders, all of which were set to expire at 11:59 p.m., this includes the mask mandates.
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This article originally appeared on the South Brunswick Patch