Jersey City School District announces early dismissal to prepare for possible school closures due to COVID-19

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Superintendent of the Jersey City Public School District Franklin Walker issued a letter to parents announcing the district’s preparations for the Coronavirus also known as COVID-19, including the early dismissal of students in all district schools on Wednesday, March 11.

“Although there have been reported cases in the United States, as of this time, there is only one confirmed case in our county,” wrote Franklin. “However, we want you to know that our district is actively engaged in preparing for any potential impact.”

He said the district is following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, state Health Department, and the state Department of Education regarding prevention and the district “is staying informed and actively preparing for potential situations that could arise as a result of the virus.”

Precautionary measures include “enhanced” daily cleaning and sanitizing of district schools, encouraging frequent hand washing for all students and staff, and advising those who are ill to remain home.

“As recommended by the CDC, face masks are not a protective measure and are meant to be used for those who are ill or experiencing symptoms,” wrote Walker. “Please do not send your child to school wearing a mask. If your child comes to school wearing a mask, we will assume they are ill and contact you to retrieve your child immediately.”

He said the district was in the process of preparing for the possibility that the virus could impact school attendance and require school closures but in that event, the schools will provide a combination of educational packets and electronic learning opportunities.

“If it becomes necessary to close we will share the information through our communication system Blackboard Connect, the district’s website at https://www.jcboe.org/, Facebook, Twitter, the district’s cable channel JCETV,” wrote walker who asked that parents ensure that their children’s schools have a current telephone number and email address with which to reach them.

“The district is working closely with the appropriate authorities to ensure that we are following best practices and the most current recommendations regarding COVID-19… In the event that the daily operations of our school are impacted in such a way that we need to close schools, communication to our families and community will be a priority,” Walker said.

He said the district is currently developing a contingency plan to continue instruction and provide learning opportunities for students if schools close.

He said schools will dismiss students early, at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, to “initiate plans and coordinate with staff for satellite learning options.”

He noted an additional early dismissal for students could be added in the future for more planning if need be.

He asked parents to contact school principals and nurses if their child had traveled to an area impacted by the coronavirus before sending the child back to school, noting that parents should notify the district only about their own children because the district cannot discuss the health concerns of other students due to confidentiality restrictions.

To prevent the spread of disease he said people should avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth; stay home when they are sick; don’t return children to school unless they are fever free without medication for at least 24 hours; cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces; wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

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