October 29, 2020

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West Orange Schools See More COVID-19 Cases; Transportation Down

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Public School District has seen more cases of the coronavirus among its staff and students, officials reported Monday.

Superintendent Scott Cascone issued a social media notification to the school community on Sunday with a COVID-19 bulletin. He wrote:

“This notice is to inform you that the district was notified today that there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the district’s transportation department. Pursuant to the recommendations of the local public health and medical authorities, transportation services will need to be shut down on Monday, October 12 and Tuesday, October 13. Classrooms remain safe for the return of students. Preschool classes at the Betty Maddalena Early Learning Center, as well as those identified special education classes scheduled to start on site instruction tomorrow, unfortunately, will be postponed until Wednesday, October 14. Also, please be advised, that afternoon athletic buses to the high school will also not run Monday and Tuesday and will resume on Wednesday, October 14. I thank you in advance for your understanding and wish you a good evening.”

Cascone offered an update on the situation on Monday.

The superintendent wrote:

“This correspondence serves as follow up to yesterday’s message concerning a confirmed case in the district Transportation Department. Please be advised that today, I was informed that another member of that department has been confirmed positive with COVID-19. This staff member was in the transportation facility, not driving, on Friday, October 9 prior to learning of the initial confirmed case. Present were 22 drivers and monitors as well as all office staff and the department leadership.

“This triggers a separate quarantine timeline for all those staff members which will now extend through Friday, October 23. To be clear, to date, the contact tracing procedures have concluded that no students have been impacted or will need to be contacted and/or quarantined. Classrooms remain safe for the commencement of on-site instruction this week. We have corroborated this approach with the district Physician and the West Orange Department of Health today.

“In the absence of a sizable percentage of our driver corps, office staff, and department leadership due to the mandated self-quarantine, the Transportation Department will be shut down and be unable to offer any transportation services through October 23.

“The autistic and preschool classes which are scheduled to start on Wednesday, October 14 will continue as planned. Transportation will not be offered at least through this Friday, October 16. However, families may self-transport students. Program administrators will be reaching out directly to the families of all impacted students today.

“Athletic activity buses previously running will not be operational for the remainder of the week. The district’s Transportation Director will be working with Hunterdon ESC to determine the feasibility of operating our autistic, pre-school, athletic activity, and athletic team buses starting Monday, October 19 until the resumption of district transportation services on October 24.

“Separately, today at approximately 3 p.m., a confirmed case on the West Orange High School Boys JV Soccer Team has been brought to our attention. Contact tracing has been conducted and notifications to students and staff have been taking place over the course of the afternoon. Our ability to provide a safe in-person experience depends on the effective implementation of the safety protocols we have established, and thus far our staff and students have done an excellent job adhering to them. As always, we appreciate our community’s support and cooperation in that regard. Please continue to follow social distancing, mask wearing and hygiene protocols both in and outside of the school environment, as this is essential to keeping our programs operating.”

Last week, district administrators announced that Washington Elementary School will close for 14 days after three cases of the coronavirus were confirmed among staff and students.

The cases occurred across multiple classrooms and without a clear connection, officials said.

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This article originally appeared on the West Orange Patch

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