COVID-19 has spread to a student within the Bayonne school district.
The Office of Emergency Management announced on March 25 that three additional residents of the city had tested positive for the virus. One is a 14-year-old girl who is recovering at home.
Shortly afterward, Superintendent of Schools John Niesz released a letter to the community confirming that the girl was a student at John M. Bailey School.
School officials were notified that the eighth grader tested positive for COVID-19. The city Health Office confirmed the case.
According to the Board of Health, the girl was in school on March 12, the last day before schools were closed and virtual learning began. However, the Board of Health said the girl was asymptomatic at the time.
In an update, Superintendent Niesz reconfirmed that the student became symptomatic several days after schools were dismissed for virtual learning.
More students sick?
While this may seem like a confirmation that other students at the school were not put at risk, Superintendent Niesz stated it is not that clear.
“This information could very well suggest the exposure did not happen in school,” Niesz said. “However, to be abundantly safe, we cannot be 100 percent sure.”
As a result, Bailey School will be temporarily closed as the school district seeks a NJ Department of Education approved sanitization service to disinfect every building in the district before students return to school.
Niesz reiterated recommendations from the Board of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that parents contact their local healthcare providers if they or their children are experiencing fevers, coughs, and or shortness of breath.
According to the Department of Health, if a student tests positive and they have siblings in another building in the district or out of the district, the DOH must await test results before alerting the community.
No further information is being released about the girl due to medical privacy laws. The district will follow Board of Education policy regarding the release of medical information.
In the wake of the infected student, school district officials defended Bayonne’s quick response to the virus. According to Niesz, the district was proactive at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the March 24 Board of Education meeting, Niesz received praise from parents and teachers for the district’s response, which included closing schools and shifting to remote instruction through virtual learning.
“I’m proud the district has been proactive and not reactive,” resident Anthony D’Amico said. “Teachers have been amazing in the virtual learning process.”
Niesz closed the schools on March 12, six days before any cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the city.
It appears the strategy to shift to virtual learning will pay off in Bayonne, as the 14-year-old recovers at home. Instead of being in a crowded classroom, she will be in isolation, preventing the further spread of the virus among students.
According to Superintendent Niesz, the Bayonne School District is scheduled to resume in-person classes on April 20. Yet that may change as the COVID-10 pandemic intensifies.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.