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Important Message: COVID Update & Impact on F.N. Brown December 20, 2020

December 20, 2020
Dear Parents, Guardians, Students, & Staff:
The current state of COVID continues to evolve and is impacting our school district. The Verona Public Schools has confirmed one (1) new and unlinked individual at F.N. Brown Elementary School who tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This is the second positive COVID-19 case at F.N. Brown Elementary School in less than 14 days. As a result of the current circumstances impacting the Verona Public Schools, in consultation with the Montclair Department of Health and in accordance with NJDOH guidelines, F.N. Brown Elementary School will close to in-person, hybrid learning and will operate on a fully remote instruction schedule from December 21 - 23, 2020 based on the recommendation of the Montclair Health Department. 
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) recommends that school districts should consider closing school to in-person learning for 14 days, based on investigation by the Montclair Health Department, when 2 or more cases of individuals who have been identified in-person in one of our schools within 14 days occur across multiple classrooms, are not linked to exposures outside the school setting, and a clear connection between cases cannot be easily identified (outbreak involving multiple cohorts). This school closure was recommended by the Montclair Health Department. The purpose of the school closure is to keep our students, staff, and families safe from illness as we prevent the possibility of community spread of the virus. Under normal circumstances, a school closure would be recommended for 14 days but this school closure to in-person, hybrid learning will be less in duration based on the upcoming December break. 
The school district is working closely with public health officials and following CDC, state, and local health department guidance in order to ensure the health and safety of our community. The Montclair Health Department is in the process of notifying  any individual who is identified as being a close contact with the positive individual to self quarantine and monitor symptoms as a precaution as per the health department guidance. The District continues to follow the guidelines from the CDC and the State of New Jersey in order to assure the health and safety of our community. All of our schools are cleaned and sanitized daily.
As previously communicated, we anticipate people will travel and/or gather as a family this December and that our COVID numbers may grow. When discussing this possibility, in consultation with the Montclair Department of Health and our district physician, it was determined that all district schools will operate in full remote learning from January 4th - January 15th. January 19, 2021 is the anticipated date for a return to in-person, hybrid learning. The purpose of this remote learning period will allow our district to continue to monitor and evaluate the evolving number of confirmed cases and the impact on our students and staff. 
The following Verona Public Schools COVID-19 Dashboard below provides the current number of positive cases (in and out of school) and quarantine numbers as of today based on students and staff connected to the Verona Public Schools:
District decisions are made in conjunction with administration based on guidance of the Montclair Health Department, discussions with our school nurses, and pertinent information from town officials. The District makes every effort to communicate as much information as possible but is limited in what is permitted to be shared which is guided by health department guidance and applicable law.
Although this news is disappointing and the circumstances are not ideal, we will continue our efforts to return to in-person instructions as soon as it is safe for students and staff. We encourage parents, students, and staff to continue following the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention promoted safeguards, such as:
  • Staying home when you are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Covering coughs and sneezes while properly disposing of tissues;
  • Limiting close contact with people who are sick and not sharing food, drinks and utensils;
  • Maintaining a minimum of 6 feet social distancing;
  • Wearing an CDC recommended face covering while in school;
  • Continuing to monitor your health for symptoms.
Should you have any questions about this situation, please feel free to contact Bob Merkler who is responsible for supervision of our medical and nursing department as the Director of Athletics & Special Programs. Listed below are resources that are helpful when dealing with COVID-19.
You can assist us by remaining vigilant but sensible in your approach to dealing with this health concern. We ask you to do your part and follow all public health guidelines by wearing masks and limiting your interactions in social gatherings so that we can maintain in-person learning for our students and limit the potential of community spread. We need the cooperation of the entire community to be successful in keeping our schools open in a safe manner.
Dr. Rui Dionisio
Superintendent of Schools