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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Mar 05, 2020

Middletown Among Local School Districts Preparing for Coronavirus

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to increase in the tri-state area, local districts are preparing contingency plans if the virus were to spread locally. In the case of quarantine, the Middletown Public Schools district (MTPS), Rumson-Fair Haven, as well as local private schools are prepping their districts for at-home instruction.

The MTPS administration is partnering with the New Jersey Department of Education in discussing updates and guidance on prevention and preparedness for the novel coronavirus. The district’s curriculum and technology teams are currently working together to put a plan in place if the case of quarantine or if home instruction is needed.

In a letter sent out to the district on March 3, MTPS Assistant Superintendent Mary Ellen Walker said, “Planning for the instructional needs of students when not in school, such as students in quarantine on home instruction or a larger scale need for instruction outside of school, is currently taking place. Our curriculum and technology team is working to develop protocols and provide guidance to staff if the need arises.”

The district also noted that while school attendance is an integral part of a student’s learning, it is highly recommended to keep children home from school when they present symptoms of any communicable disease. Safety measures within the schools are also being taken to avoid the spread of any illness on a daily basis. The MTPS emphasized the diligence of the custodial staff in combating and preventing the spread of communicable disease.

“Our staff uses electrostatic sprayers to disinfect doorknobs, push bars, water fountains, bathroom fixtures, elevator buttons, railings, light switches and other surfaces frequently touched by students and staff,” Walker said in the letter. “The disinfectant is effective on coronavirus and other seasonal cold and flu viruses. In addition, desks, cafeteria tables and other flat surfaces are sanitized daily.”

The Rumson Fair-Haven School district has announced an early dismissal on Monday, March 9 to prepare for virtual learning. In a letter sent home to the Rumson-Fair Haven district, administrators are preparing to work with faculty and staff to refine the details of the online instructional plan.

On Wednesday night, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that a male patient in Bergen County has been hospitalized and tested positive for the virus.

“My administration is working aggressively to keep residents safe and contain the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey,” Murphy said. “We take this situation very seriously and have been preparing for this for weeks. I urge residents to remain calm and use resources from the New Jersey Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control to prepare and prevent the spread of infection. Safeguarding the public’s health is one of my highest priorities and my Administration is prepared to respond swiftly to any additional positive cases of COVID-19 here in New Jersey.”

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the risk of infection remains low for others in New Jersey.

Just last week, a patient at Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel was tested for coronavirus, but results came back negative. As of now, there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in Monmouth County.