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District Update on School Reopening Schedule - March 26, 2021

Expanding In-Person Learning Spring 2021
The Verona Public Schools District is finalizing plans for Spring 2021. Our progress is the result of community input and feedback from committee meetings with our teaching staff. Thank you to our administrators, staff, and parents for their efforts and the contributions of all of the members of our reopening committees who have helped evolve our reopening school schedules.
 
The updated NJDOH guidance for the elementary schools, “recommends full in-person instruction. A minimum of 3 feet of physical distancing between students should be maintained in classrooms with strict adherence to mask-wearing,” while in Low Risk (Green), Moderate Risk (Yellow), or High Risk (Orange) levels on the Regional Risk Matrix. 
 
For Verona High School and H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, the NJDOH guidance for Districts, “recommends full in-person instruction. A minimum of 3 feet of physical distancing between students should be maintained in classrooms with strict adherence to mask-wearing,” when the Region is NOT in the High Risk (Orange) category. Verona is currently in the High Risk (Orange) category by the COVID-19 Activity Level Index (CALI). Therefore, 3 feet of physical distancing is NOT recommended at this time in the middle and high school settings. We will continue to monitor the Regional Risk Matrix weekly and make decisions based on public health guidance.  
 
Elementary Schools
Beginning Tuesday, April 6, 2021, the District elementary schools will move to one cohort for in-person learning while maintaining 3 feet physical distance between students based on the recently updated guidance from the CDC and NJDOH. The elementary school in-person schedule will continue to be 8:30 am - 12:30 pm daily with remote asynchronous and/or live streamed activities in the afternoon from 1:15-2:45 pm.
 
Monday, April 5th will be an asynchronous learning day for elementary students working remotely from home. Teachers and staff will use this day for teacher planning time and room preparation to accommodate students in the 3 feet physical distancing configuration. Principals will follow up with parents as needed regarding additional communications related to school schedules.
  
H.B. Whitehorne Middle School
Beginning April 5th, H.B. Whitehorne Middle School will be increasing in-person learning by shifting from 3 cohorts to 2 cohorts. The updated HBW schedule will still maintain 6 feet physical distancing per CDC/NJDOH guidelines under the current risk level status for our region. The remote learning option is still available for students for the remainder of this school year. Please click here to read more about the updated HBW schedule. 
 
Verona High School
Beginning April 22nd, Verona High School will be expanding opportunities for in-person learning by offering a full day option in school by cohort. Students will be provided the opportunity to select one of three options for the fourth marking period. The updated VHS schedule will still maintain 6 feet physical distancing per CDC/NJDOH guidelines under the current risk level status for our region. The remote learning option is still available for students for the remainder of this school year. Please click here to learn more about the Verona High School plans to expand in-person learning in Spring 2021.
 
Travel Quarantine Reminder
Self-quarantine for students and staff will be required following travel to a location outside of the immediate region. At this time, self-quarantine also applies to individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Parents should contact their school nurse directly with any questions and to report any travel plans. New Jersey strongly discourages all non-essential interstate travel at this time.
 
Travelers and residents returning from any U.S. state or territory beyond the immediate region (New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) should self-quarantine at their home, hotel, or other temporary lodging following recommendations from the CDC:
 
  • If travel is unavoidable, travelers should consider getting tested with a viral test (not an antibody test) 1-3 days before the trip and again 3-5 days after the trip.
  • If travelers test positive, they should self-isolate for at least 10 days and should postpone travel during that time.
  • If travelers test negative, they should quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  • If testing is not available (or if the results are delayed), travelers should quarantine for 10 days after travel.
 
Please click here to review the complete New Jersey Travel Restriction Guidance.
 
Fast Facts - Updated NJDOH Guidance
Under the revised guidance, “outside of classrooms, 6 feet of physical distancing should be maintained to the maximal extent practicable for all grade levels. 6 feet of physical distancing is particularly important in the following scenarios: 
 
  • For middle and high schoolers when regional risk is high (orange). 
  • Between staff members in the school building and between staff members and students.
  • In common areas, such as school lobbies and auditoriums. 
  • When masks can’t be worn, such as when eating. 
  • During activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as singing, shouting, band practice, sports, or exercise (even if masks are worn). 
  • In community settings outside of the classroom.”
 
Public Health Reminders
The updated guidance will help our schools move forward safely. However, we must remain vigilant but sensible in our approach to dealing with this health concern. Everyone needs to do their part to reduce the high transmission in our region. We encourage all community members to continue following the Centers for Disease Control and 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 a CDC recommended face covering while in school;
  • Continuing to monitor your health for symptoms.
 
Verona Community Health Town Hall
The Township of Verona hosted a Community Health Town Hall via Zoom on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 7:00PM. Please click here to watch a recording of the forum. Township officials answered questions from the community regarding public health and COVID-19. Panelists for the Community Health Town Hall included:
 
  • Susan Portuese, MA, BS, Director Montclair Health Department
  • Dr. Thomas McCarrick, MD, Vanguard Medical
  • Dr. Rui Dionisio, Superintendent of Schools
  • Matthew Cavallo, Township Manager
  • Chief Kiernan, Verona Police Department
  • Maya Lordo, Essex County Health Officer
 
Please click on the video below to watch the recorded webinar which is located on the Township of Verona Youtube Channel.
 
Referendum
The school referendum construction project update can be viewed at the following link. The HBW window project is substantially completed and the F.N. Brown window project anticipates substantial completion in March. The HVAC project is in process and substantial completion is planned for August 2021. 
 
For more information, please visit our website at www.veronaschools.org