By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank Regional High will be off-limits to students and staff through next week over concerns about COVID-19, Superintendent Lou Moore announced Wednesday afternoon.
While there continues to be “no evidence of community transmission” of the virus on the Little Silver school’s campus, a defacto closure now in effect is being extended one week “to minimize the risk of possible spread,” Moore wrote on the school’s website.
RBR has been effectively closed this week, in part because four students tested positive for the virus last week, and in part because of previous scheduling. On Thursday and Friday, teachers are slated to attend, virtually, the New Jersey Education Association’s annual convention.
Virtual instruction has continued, however, and officials had anticipated resuming in-person learning on Monday, November 9, Moore said earlier this week.
Meantime, sports practices and games had been permitted to continue.
That came to an abrupt end Wednesday, as athletes were warming up, when those who had not yet arrived at team practices were told via text that all activities have been cancelled until November 16.
In his update that followed a short while later, Moore wrote that the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission “has reevaluated their position and advised me this afternoon to suspend all in-person instruction and activities, including athletics, until Friday, November 13.”
He did not say what factors prompted the change.
“I realize that this news is unsettling and disruptive,” Moore wrote. “However, it is my hope that by taking this preventative action we can avoid further spread of the virus and additional disruptions to our in-person programs.”
The four students who tested positive included two siblings who “did not contract the virus at” the school. But their test results prompted to Monday’s closure for in-person instruction, Moore said Friday.
According to the New Jersey Heath Department, the number of cases statewide has been increasing in the past month, after declining through the late spring and summer.
On Wednesday, Monmouth County officials said there were 111 new cases throughout the county. They included three new cases since Tuesday in Little Silver, for a cummulative total of 88 in the borough since the start of the pandemic in March, and four new cases in Red Bank, for 419.
Those two towns, along with Shrewsbury Borough, are RBR’s sending districts. Shrewsbury has recorded 98 cases in the pandemic, but no new cases were reported Wednesday, the county said.
RBR became the first school in New Jersey to close because of the pandemic when a student who later recovered tested positive for the virus. Eventually, all schools and most economic activity were halted by an order of Governor Phil Murphy.
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