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VIRUS UPDATE: SCHOOLS SCRAMBLE AGAIN

fair-haven-little-silver-red-bank-covid-cases-010322-500x309-4024887The trend in lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases for three towns since November 1. (redbankgreen chart from Monmouth County data. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-220x138-7378486Sharp increases in COVID-19 cases scrambled schedules for some Red Bank-area schools as they emerged from their year-end 2021 breaks Monday.

Here’s a rundown.

COVID-19 cases have increased throughout New Jersey in recent weeks. (Chart by New Jersey Spotlight.)

• Citing “a severe uptick in virus transmission rates” in New Jersey and Monmouth County, Red Bank Regional High School announced Friday that the district would not hold classes, either in-person or remotely, on Monday.

Instead, the Little Silver school will use an emergency day “for planning purposes and to update our COVID-19 response procedures,” Superintendent Lou Moore wrote in the notice. The lunch program “will be modified to reduce transmission risks,” and the closure will provide time for the school’s health office to update records, he said.

The move “does not mean we are shifting toward remote instruction,” Moore wrote. “We are simply using one of the closure days in our calendar to prepare.”

Athletic practices and games will proceed as planned Monday, and “we will be open for in-person programs and the regular school day on Tuesday, January 4, 2022,” Moore wrote.

The district comprises Red Bank, Little Silver and Shrewsbury.

• Red Bank borough’s primary and middle schools will use one of three available emergency days to close Monday, Superintendent Jared Rumage said in an announcement posted Sunday.

“Due to the high volume of reported COVID-19 related issues, we are unable to implement our normal operating schedule,” Rumage wrote. “We expect to have more feedback tomorrow from families and staff and will utilize the day to plan our course of action for a Tuesday reopening.”

The district may “pivot,” however, to minimum school days, remote instruction or the use of additional emergency closure days, Rumage said.

Rumage and other area administrators asked parents to keep children home if they or any household members exhibit any signs of illness.

Red Bank’s cumulative COVID-19 case total since the pandemic began in March, 2020, stood at 2,214 Friday, an increase of 240, or 12 percent, since November 29, according to the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners.

• Little Silver’s two-school district, citing COVID-19’s “impact on staffing, along with the current number of student positives,” announced plans Sunday for half-days of remote instruction starting Monday and continuing through Friday.

The district plans, “as of now,” to resume full days of in-person instruction January 10, Acting Superintendent Eric Platt wrote in the announcement.

“As stated in earlier communication, this was never our intention, but in light of the number of positive student and staff cases, as well as those who are symptomatic and awaiting test results, it is the most prudent course of action,” Platt wrote.

The borough’s case total was 935 as of Friday, up 147 since November 29, according to county data.

• The Red Bank Charter School is closed Monday under a pre-existing winter break schedule, with no immediate word of impact on its planned reopening Tuesday.

• As of early Monday, Fair Haven and Shrewsbury district websites showed no changes in planned resumptions for in-person instruction.

Fair Haven’s case total was 797 as of Friday, up 158 since November 29, the county reported.

Shrewsbury’s case total was 741 as of Friday, up 104 since November 29.

• Red Bank Catholic High School is closed Monday, but cited “the impending early storm and disruption to bus routes” in a notice on its website. The National Weather Service forecasts a possible snowfall of two to four inches Monday.

Last Thursday, Monmouth County reported 3,661 new positive cases and eight confirmed deaths from the virus over the preceding four days. Updated data is expected Monday.

According to the New Jersey Health Department, the county has experienced 124,591 confirmed and probable cases throughout the pandemic, and 1,820 confirmed and probable virus-related deaths.

The county has reported 42 of those deaths since November 29.

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