By JOHN T. WARD
Whipsawed students, parents and teachers at Red Bank Regional High are in for another schedule change starting Thursday.
With COVID-19 cases rising and absenteeism high, the Little Silver school will again suspend in-school instruction at least through December 11, Superintendent Lou Moore announced Wednesday.
In an announcement posted on the school’s website, Moore wrote:
Unfortunately the rate of transmission of COVID-19 in our area continues to be at a high level. It was recently reported that in November almost 400 COVID-19 cases were reported in Little Silver, Red Bank, and Shrewsbury. This is a sharp increase from October when there were 79 cases.
Even though we have avoided school-based infections, the latest data shows that the increased rate of transmission has impacted our school. We have determined that since November 25 at least 22 staff members and students have tested positive for the virus and 29 have been added to the quarantine list and are awaiting test results. It seems clear that this number will continue to grow, impacting both staff and students.
The high rates of transmission and heightened concerns probably contributed to the low rate of student attendance for in-person instruction this week. On Tuesday, December 1, less than 240 of the 653 students who are enrolled in cohort two were in attendance.
Under these circumstances, I have determined that it is best to shift course and to suspend in-person instruction at least until Friday, December 11. I realize this will be a disappointment to many families, students, and staff but I believe it best both in terms of providing consistency in our instructional program and ensuring everyone’s well-being, both emotionally and physically.
I will provide an update on Thursday, December 10 with the hopes that the situation has improved sufficiently for us to resume in-person programs on Monday, December 14. However, under the present circumstances it is appropriate that we brace for the possible extension of full-remote learning.
During this time the School Counseling Department and the SOURCE will continue to be available to all families and students.
RBR has been open for only two days of in-class activity – Tuesday and Wednesday of this week – since late October, with multiple short-notice schedule changes. A student-launched petition seeks more input on the scheduling decisions.
On Wednesday, Monmouth County officials announced that Red Bank has had 703 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic arrived in March, up from 407 on November 1. Little Silver, had 140, up from 84; and Shrewsbury had 171, up from 97.
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