SAYREVILLE – Student athletes who tested positive for coronavirus while participating in athletic programs at Sayreville School District facilities have been directed to quarantine.
In a Feb. 1 notice, Superintendent of Schools Richard Labbe said that one individual from the Sayreville War Memorial High School (SWMHS), one individual participating in an athletic program at the high school, and two individuals participating in an athletic program at the Sayreville Middle School (SMS) recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Multiple individuals were determined to be in close contact with the two positive cases from the program at the middle school, according to Labbe. Two individuals were determined to be in close contact with the positive case from the high school’s program. He said that these individuals should have been formally notified by the time of his notice.
The identities of the student athletes and the sport they were participating in has been kept confidential by the district.
According to information provided by the district, there have been 32 reported cases of SWMHS students testing positive for coronavirus as of Jan. 28. Thirty are currently quarantined due to reported positive cases, 36 are currently quarantined due to reported close contact with those who tested positive and three are quarantined for other reasons.
After the student athletes tested positive for coronavirus, the district drew criticism from the Sayreville Education Association (SEA), the union representing teachers. In a press release dated Jan. 28, the SEA questioned why the high remains open for in-person instruction.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the district has implemented a hybrid model of instruction where students receive in-person and remote learning on alternating days. Students also have the option of receiving fully remote instruction.
Most SWMHS students are receiving fully remote instruction as of Jan. 28, according to the district. Of the 1,752 students enrolled, 381 (22%) are receiving hybrid instruction and 1,371 (78%) are attending school on a fully remote basis.
The SEA also stated that the district has been vague in disclosing coronavirus information to staff.
“At a time when schools across the state are trying to move students to fully in-person instruction, failing to close a school building with a significant outbreak in a student population creates an environment of distrust and skepticism,” SEA President Ken Veres said in the press release. “How can we expect our district to keep staff and students safe if they’re unwilling to share potentially life-threatening information?
“Keeping our students, staff and community safe during this pandemic is our priority,” he continued. “To accomplish this, we need transparency and cooperation from the district.”
In response to the press release, Labbe noted that the schools are disinfected and cleaned following usage from sports programs, with an hour separating each team’s use. After the recent positive cases, the superintendent said that the infections were found to be contained and isolated in these varsity and junior varsity teams. These programs have been suspended for at least two weeks, with all players and coaches ordered to quarantine.
Labbe also contested the SEA’s comments about the district lacking transparency, stating that the district has been as transparent as possible and has been providing the community with regular updates and resources to identify the number of students/staff affected.
“We are going above and beyond in keeping people safe,” he said. “To date, no kids on the team that are quarantining were determined to be in close contact with anybody [outside the team] in the student body or faculty. There were no close contacts outside the members of that program.”