Mary J. Donohoe Community School in Bayonne has begun contact tracing after an individual at the school has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Superintendent of Schools John Niesz.
The announcement came via a letter from Principal Philip Baccarella on Sept. 14. The principal, nurse and or health department are contact tracing, or identifying those who were in close contact with the COVID-19 positive individual.
If a child or parent has been exposed, they will be contacted by the school. According to Niesz, Mary J. Donohoe Community School is currently the only school in the district with a positive case.
“It’s just that school right now,” Niesz said in an interview with the Bayonne Community News.
Niesz said students and staff are regularly quarantining at schools across the district if they show symptoms.
“At this point, we are just constantly testing,” Niesz said. “That remains a challenge, but it’s something we have to deal with every day.”
Feel sick? Stay home
Niesz urges students and faculty who don’t feel well to stay home.
“We’re still encouraging everybody, if you’re not feeling well, stay home,” Niesz said. “If you think you have symptoms, or you are asymptomatic, go get a test.”
If a student does not feel well at school, he or she would be sent to get tested and quarantine until a negative test result is obtained.
According to Niesz, the district still plans to go forward with in-person instruction at the school as well as throughout the district. He reconfirmed that any remote learning would be on a case-by-case basis depending on the virus outbreak.
If the district is directed by the health department to quarantine a group of students due to a virus outbreak, only then could it offer remote learning. According to Niesz, the entire district using virtual instruction again is not likely.
No big outbreaks yet
Niesz said that the district has not seen any massive virus outbreak yet.
“There hasn’t been widespread COVID-19, as of this date and time,” he said.
According to Niesz, if there is a positive case in a school, the district will send a letter to the community.
“We can’t stop rumors of outbreaks, that kind of stuff,” he said. “If there is a positive in a school, the school will send a letter home. We will notify the entire community.”
Niesz hopes the district can continue to forge ahead under in-person instruction.
Mask guidelines back to normal
Recently, the district loosened mask restrictions amid the heat wave. On Monday Sept. 13 and Wednesday Sept. 15, students in non-air conditioned rooms had numerous mask breaks. The duration of mask breaks was up to faculty, but masks had to stay on in the classroom.
Gov. Phil Murphy has mandated that all occupants of school buildings wear masks, that employees be fully vaccinated or face regular testing, and that remote learning is not allowed.
Niesz said that unless there is another heat wave, the mask breaks are over
“Everything is back to normal as it was,” Niesz said of masking guidelines.
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