The Hopewell Valley Regional School District administration has made the decision to temporarily switch to fully remote learning throughout the district since COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state.
The six school district schools – Hopewell Valley Central High School (HVCHS), Timberlane Middle School (TMS), Toll Gate Grammar School, Hopewell Elementary School, Bear Tavern Elementary School and Stony Brook Elementary School – will begin the full switch to remote learning on Nov. 25, which will continue through at least Dec. 6.
“Based on conversations with the Department of Health, we decided to implement a proactive closure. The district’s case rate is significantly lower than the local, state and county numbers, but we are worried about the potential for spread around the holidays,” Superintendent of Schools Thomas Smith said. “We are working exceptionally hard to uphold all safeguards while providing a meaningful education, but we recognize that a lot of family members will be returning from college and/or traveling out of state.”
The district administration anticipates a return to in-person instruction on Dec. 7, but will continue to re-evaluate the return to in-person date and watch data of COVID-19 cases in Hopewell Valley.
As of Nov. 20, in the previous two weeks, the district has had nine confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. According to the district, to date, the district has experienced 14 confirmed cases since Sept. 16, which have involved three staff members and 11 students.
Since beginning the school year with in-person instruction, the district’s protocol if a confirmed case appears with a student, teacher or staff member has been as follows: the school where the individual attends or works will close for two to five days for deep cleaning and contact tracing. Class instruction transitions to remote learning during that period. No other schools in the district are to close, only the school where the individual attends or works.
“We have had fewer disruptions than we anticipated; however, any transition interrupts the flow of instruction. Our staff and students have done an excellent job through these transitions and the transitions have become easier each time we are faced with each short-term closure,” Smith said. “I think we all recognize that nothing beats the experience of in-person instruction, but we are doing it the best that we can.”
With Thanksgiving and the potential travel over the holiday, the 14-day district mandated travel quarantine is still in effect during the district’s temporary closure for any student or staff member, who travels from U.S. states experiencing increased COVID-19 cases.
When asked specifically about if a student/students do not travel, but a member of their immediate family does and is coming from a state with increased cases, Smith added that those students would not have to adhere to the 14-day quarantine.