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School districts in North Hudson temporarily shift to virtual instruction

The districts making the shift include North Bergen, WNY, Union City and Weehawken

Students in districts across northern Hudson County will operate under virtual instruction, returning to in-person instruction on Jan. 10.

Students across Hudson County school districts are currently home for the holidays. And it appears they won’t have to go back to the classroom for another week. But it is no celebratory matter, as the reason is due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in local municipalities, Hudson County, and across the New Jersey.

On Dec. 29, multiples districts across the county, including a number of North Hudson towns, announced they would shift to virtual instruction from Monday, Jan. 3 until Friday, Jan. 7. The plan is to resume in-person instruction on Jan. 10.

Currently, the list of districts going virtual for the first week of January includes North Bergen, Union City, West New York, and Weehawken.

North Bergen

The move in North Bergen had been anticipated since the week before. Prior to the district’s announcement that it would shift to virtual instruction, it had announced on Dec. 23 that it would make a decision as to whether or not students would return in-person after winter break by Dec. 29. Now the district is going virtual for the week, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Solter.

Lunches will be given out from 12 to 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 3 and Thursday, Jan. 6. COVID-19 tests will be available in the schools on Thursday, Jan. 6 and Friday, Jan. 7. More information will follow on times and locations. Parents will receive emails, texts, and automated calls concerning the schedule change. The virtual plan can be found online at the district’s website at northbergen.k12.nj.us.

Union City

“As you are undoubtedly aware, we are experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases in our area due to the highly contagious Omicron variant,” said Union City Superintendent of Schools Silvia Abbato. “Being mindful of the health and well-being of our students, staff, and community, and out of an abundance of caution, the Union City Board of Education, in conjunction with Mayor and State Senator Brian P. Stack, the Hudson County Health Department, and the New Jersey Department of Education, has decided to implement virtual learning upon our return from the holiday break… We will keep you updated as more information becomes available. Please be assured that our school community’s safety remains our highest priority.”

West New York

“As always, safety is in the forefront of all decisions we make,” said WNY Superintendent of School Clara Brito Herrera. Due to the increase of COVID-19 cases after this holiday season, and in consultation with the WNY Department of Health, the West New York School District will be on remote instruction from Monday, January 3, 2022, through Friday, January 7, 2022.”

The district will continue to serve breakfast and lunch to all students from 1 to 3 p.m. outside of all schools for the week. The district urges parents and students to check the district’s website and social media platforms for updates.

Weehawken

“The district will enter a completely remote learning environment so we can administer tests and notify positive students, parents, and or staff upon receipt of results approximately 48 to 72 hours after testing is complete,” said Weehawken Superintendent of Schools Eric Crespo. “All schools will resume in-person learning on January 10th. If students test positive for COVID-19, those students must immediately isolate and quarantine from school and await further notification from the school district or local health department. More information will be provided regarding our virtual week from your principal. Should you have questions about the virtual learning week, please contact your child’s principal.”

During the week, the district will offer free COVID-19 testing at each school in conjunction with the state and local Departments of Health. Students can get tested at the school they are enrolled at, with testing being offered in two sessions from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. The testing will be at Daniel Webster School on Jan. 3, Theodore Roosevelt School on Jan. 4, and Weehawken High School on Jan. 5. For more information and to register, go to weehawkenschools.net.

“In order to ensure that our school environment is as safe as possible, we have decided to provide an optional and free PCR testing program next week,” Crespo said. “All students are encouraged to participate in this optional program to help safeguard the well-being of our entire school community after the holiday season. This is one of the tools we are using to mitigate this virus and keep our schools open.”

Secaucus

Meanwhile, the school district in Secaucus will remain in-person but shift to half-days for the first week back following winter break.

“Many families have reached out to ask why the district decided to transition to half days for the first week of January,” said Secaucus Acting Superintendent of Schools Daniela Riser. “Without direction from the county health department and state authorities, our school district is not allowed to transition to virtual instruction. Our cases have risen recently but do not warrant a total closure of our school district. To limit the removal of masks in the classroom, we have decided it is in the best interest of our school community to transition to a week of one-session days upon returning in January.”

There will be no lunch provided and there will be no snack breaks in the classroom during these four-hour school days. However, students who would like breakfast will be provided one from the cafeteria. In addition, the students who will attend aftercare in the elementary schools can bring their lunches to eat in a designated area after school lets out. The aftercare program has been informed of these half-days and the district is working with them to prepare for that week.

Other districts

Meanwhile, both the Hudson County Schools of Technology School District and the Guttenberg School District, which consists of the Anna L. Klein School, will also embrace half-days during the first week of January.

According to HCST Superintendent of Schools Amy Lin-Rodriguez, the Middle School will be dismissed at 12:15 p.m. and the High School at 1 p.m., with the staff being dismissed at 1:30 p.m. Evening activities and after school enrichment programs are also cancelled. Everything including school hours will return to regular hours on Jan. 10.

The Anna L. Klein will have dismissal at 1 p.m. from Jan. 3 to Jan. 7, and then again from Jan. 10 until Jan. 14. The pre-K a.m. session will run from 8:27 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and the p.m. session will run from 10:57 a.m. to 1 p.m. Teachers will have virtual office hours from 1:50 to 3:12 p.m. every day after dismissal.

Outside of North Hudson, the Bayonne and Jersey City school districts have followed the trend of virtual instruction for the first week of January, with Hoboken opting for three days of virtual instruction while it tests its students.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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