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Urgent News

Update Center

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

Michael Ettore

Superintendent of Schools

April 1, 2020

Dear Parents,

Yesterday I released my April Spotlight which confirms our Spring Break is intact from Monday, April 13th – Friday, April 17th.  Since then, I have received several emails inquiring as to whether we can stay open and get out of school a week earlier in June.  As you’ve heard me say many times, we are all experiencing an unprecedented time in our American History. These uncertain times are causing great anxiety and stress for American citizens.  I understand that. PLEASE know decision-making for our district is not made in isolation. 

Over the past three weeks, Monmouth County Superintendents have met weekly via virtual meetings to discuss emerging issues.  Last week, a survey was sent to Monmouth County Superintendents addressing a plethora of issues, one of which was spring break.   The question stated: Please select the option that best describes the anticipated operations of your district: 1. The district will observe spring break (as indicated on the district’s calendar); 2. The district WILL NOT observe spring break (calendar was amended/will be amended) and remote learning will continue; or 3. Undecided. The results of the survey revealed that 90% of Monmouth County School districts were observing spring break, and 10% were undecided.  After my county meeting this morning, it appears that even more than 90% will be closing and observing their approved spring breaks.  It has come to my attention that one of the Peninsula school districts has decided otherwise, resulting in inquiries here in Little Silver.

As with every decision, there are variables on both sides of the issue that needed consideration.  Please know that a plethora of variables were considered.  Some parents expressed concern about the social aspect of idle time for their children.  The social and emotion well-being of our students is of the utmost importance to us, and it was a key variable in deciding to maintain our spring break as scheduled.  While we cannot predict at this time when we will return to school, we are certainly hoping TO RETURN.  School Culture is partially defined by some of the special events that take place at the end of the school year such as 4th Grade Moving Up Day, Graduation, and the Graduation Dance.  In Little Silver, 8th Grade Graduation is not a singular event, but rather a community gathering that epitomizes the very special culture of this community.  The halls of Markham Place are lined with Graduation Pictures.  As an 8th grade student during this pandemic, they are surely wondering if they will have a Graduation picture to add to the history of our district.   Similarly, our 4th grade students look forward to walking to Markham Place to prepare for the second phase of their academic careers in Little Silver.  The excitement builds during their Moving Up Day.  If we were to remain open for spring break, five days would be removed at the end of the year.  While that may sound appealing to some, it lessens the possibility of fulfilling some of the activities noted.  Students may not remember the year they missed spring break, but they will surely remember not having a Graduation ceremony.  Any additional time at the end of the school will helps contribute to the possibility of these activities being unscathed. 

While I am extremely proud of the work our teachers are doing with their remote learning plans, there is no substitute for face-to-face instruction.  Assuming we are able to reopen school this year, it would be more impactful to have an additional week of in-person instruction rather than another week of virtual learning.

There are also numerous operational decisions that impact educational issues at the end of the school year including, but not limited to, class placement, grading, program selection (i.e. advanced math placement, etc.) and more.  Any time that school is in session at the end of the year will assist us with these important issues. 

Having consistent calendars for those parents who have children at RBR is also important.  Up until yesterday, all seven school districts on the Peninsula were closing for spring break as scheduled.  That may have changed for one district.  As one of the sending schools to RBR, Little Silver, Shrewsbury, Red Bank and RBR have all agreed to maintain our spring breaks as scheduled to maintain consistency for those families who have children in an elementary district and at the high school. 

I can understand why some parents feel that maintaining a schedule and routine for their children is important.  “If” you want to maintain a schedule for your child over spring break, there are a plethora of digital resources that our students have access to, many of which are listed in the Remote Learning Center for Little Silver Parents on the website. Students are more than welcomed to use them.  In addition, our Related Area teachers have posted optional activities that students can complete.  They may be a nice opportunity for those students who haven’t completed them to date.  Conversely, some of you may feel that students need a break from “screen-time.”  That is understandable as well.  As educators, we would love to see the children reading daily.  Let’s remind the children that reading is a passport to countless adventures!

Thank you, as always, for your incredible support and understanding as we collectively maneuver through many challenging decisions.  Be well!

                                                                       

Sincerely,                                                                                              

Carolyn M. Kossack

                                                                                                            Superintendent of Schools

March 17, 2020

Dear Parents and Community Members,

We hope this letter finds you and your family WELL.  This is an extremely challenging time for all individuals, families, businesses, organizations and of course students, teachers, and their schools.  We are reaching out to assure you we are continually monitoring the evolving situation in our state and local community, and will make the best decisions for our children and school staff each step of the way.

Please know the decision to close Little Silver Schools was made with much thought and deliberation.  Many social, economic, academic and health issues were considered, but ultimately we decided to act with utmost caution on behalf of our children, their families and our staff.  To that end, we respectfully remind you that the goal of “containment” and minimizing the impact of COVID-19 will only be achieved with full community cooperation. It is imperative that we practice “social distancing” and that children actually stay home during this period of remote learning, so that we can get back to the classroom as soon as possible.

We are proud of our teachers and administration for launching our district’s remote learning programs so efficiently. This was a multi-layered task requiring incredible coordination between departments and staff. We credit the success of this process to the policies and materials that were already in place, the leadership of our administrative team, and the diligence of our teachers. We anticipate that our students will continue to thrive and return to school seamlessly. Parent involvement and patience with this process cannot be underestimated or underappreciated. The Board of Education is grateful for both the dedication of our teachers as well as the commitment of our students’ parents. 

We realize these are stressful and uncertain times. As parents we have a tremendous opportunity to teach our kids how to handle an event of this magnitude. While our schools and community are making a concerted effort to provide some level of normalcy and routine for our students, please don’t feel pressure to replace every aspect of life with a virtual substitute. Little Silver is a strong, smart community that will not only survive but thrive through this crisis. Our good example today will help future generations navigate challenges with confidence and grace. 

The Board of Education is proud to serve Little Silver in these trying times. Again, our thanks for your continued patience and support. We look forward to a healthy return to school as soon as it is deemed safe.

 

Sincerely,

Andrew Walsh, President - Little Silver Board of Education

March 13, 2020

Dear Parents,

Today was a hectic day, but your children should be all set for our first day of remote learning beginning Monday.  This is another reminder that there is a COVID-19 UPDATE CENTER on our webpage as well as a REMOTE LEARNING CENTER for Little Silver Parents.

Two new documents were posted to the COVID-19 UPDATE CENTER today.  The first is a letter from the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission (Updated 3/12/20).  This letter speaks to the RBR case.  The second document is the COVID-19 Exposure Risk Category Chart(also linked here).  If you have not seen this chart before, PLEASE take a look at it. 

Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools, the Board thought it was appropriate to take the proactive measure of closing the schools for the safety of the district and the community at large.  In the coming days many school districts will be following suit.  These precautionary measures are defeated if the students continue to gather in groups outside of school.  Please keep in mind that best and most effective means of preventing the spread of the virus is through social distancing.  

 Sincerely,                                                              

Carolyn M. Kossack

Superintendent of Schools

MONMOUTH COUNTY REGIONAL HEALTH COMMISSION NO. 1

1540 WEST PARK AVE., TINTON FALLS, NJ 07724

  • www.mcrhc.org 
  • For Immediate Release
  • Contact: David Henry
  • Phone: 732-493-9520

March 11, 2020

Presumptive Positive Case Of COVID-19 (UPDATE 3/12/2020)

The Monmouth County Regional Health Commission No. 1 reported a presumptive case of coronavirus COVID-19 yesterday.  A student at Red Bank Regional High School presented with symptoms and was in close contact with a previously identified presumptive case.  The student was evaluated by Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center. The US Centers for Disease Control will be verifying the result of this test.

Our Communicable Disease Team continues to conduct an intensive ongoing public health investigation of all close contacts reported by the presumptive positive student. (A close contact is considered a person who was within 6 feet of a COVID-19 presumptive case for a prolonged period of time) A limited number of students and teachers have had contact with the presumptively positive student. MCRHC is in the process of calling those individuals and further evaluating their potential exposure which would have only occurred on March 6, 2020.  These close contacts fall into two distinct classifications: Medium Risk A and Low Risk A (please see the NJDOH definitions). Based on our investigation we are reviewing approximately 30 students and teachers who the New Jersey Department of Health considers close contacts.

If you feel you were in close contact with someone who is considered a presumptive case, we ask that you monitor symptoms. If you become ill with a fever, a cough, and shortness of breath AND were in close contact with someone who was confirmed as a positive presumptive case, call your health care provider.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that those at high risk for developing serious illness are older adults and those with underlying conditions. We stress that the public use social distancing techniques and commonsense hygiene to help stop the spread of the virus. These include:

  • Practice prevention measures like frequent hand washing, staying home when sick and covering coughs and sneezes
  • Maintain distance (at least 6 feet) for others when possible
  • Avoid crowded public places during common hours and mass gatherings
  • Avoid food sharing

Currently New Jersey has 29 positive presumptive cases and one death. MCRHC is working closely with our partners and will continue to update Monmouth County residents of the evolving situation.

For more information about COVID-19 and the public health procedures visit https://www.nj.gov/health and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/. If you have any questions about COVID-19, call the NJ State Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

The Monmouth County Regional Health Commission provides shared public health services to nineteen (19) towns: Allenhurst, Brielle, Deal, Fair Haven, Interlaken, Little Silver, Loch Arbour, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright, Sea Girt, Shrewsbury Borough, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Tinton Falls, and West Long Branch.

March 12, 2020

Dear Parents,

As you know, a letter was sent out yesterday explaining that after consultation with the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission and medical professionals, there was no recommendation to close any of the PK-8 sending school districts at this time.  To the contrary, a concern was expressed that if parents are not prepared to quarantine their children for an undermined amount of time, then there is a potential greater risk to the community at large.  Further, even those individuals who may have come in “close contact” with a “presumed positive” individual may still be determined “low risk.”  As an educator, I heeded the advice of the medical professionals.  That said, community concern ultimately influenced the decision to close our school district.  At this time, there are no “presumptive positive” cases in our district nor have we received any notification from the Health Department that there are any cases being investigated for children in our PreK-8 district.  I am well aware of the fact that the COVID-19 issue changes hourly and our situation could change at any time. 

For now, the district will be utilizing our unused snow days for today and tomorrow.  Beginning Monday, March 16th, the district will begin to implement a remote learning plan.  We have been preparing for the possibility of implementing a plan for quite some time.  There are many layers to this issue that non-educators may not have considered, but these issues have added to the complexity of our challenges.  At this time, I have no way of predicting when school will re-open.  There is no date in the foreseeable future.  This decision is dependent upon whether the “presumptive positive” cases remain contained. 

I am working closely with the Executive County Superintendent, Senator O’Scanlon, and the Commissioner of Education to gain approval for remote learning constituting “school days” when our district does not have any COVID-19 cases.  In the absence of that approval, we will be required to make up school days.  While I respectfully understand that everyone has an opinion, guidance from the NJDOE, MCRHC, and NJDOH will continue to inform the district’s decision-making. 

The Remote Learning Device Survey informed the district in terms of how many devices need to be deployed.  Chrome Books will be distributed tomorrow, March 13th in the school gymnasiums.  Parents will enter the respective gymnasiums through the direct entrances to those facilities according to the following schedule:

  • 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Grades K-2 PR Gym
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Grades 3-4 PR Gym
  • 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Grades 5-6 MP Gym
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Grades 7-8 MP Gym

If you have children in multiple grade levels in one school that span both timeframes, please come to the earlier time slot.                         

The district website has a Remote Learning Center for LS Parents.  This can be found on the Parent Quicklink on the homepage. 

This resource provides parents with guidelines to support your children as we implement our Continuity of Learning Plan. 

The Point Road Interventionists will provide Tier II and Tier III students with books and materials that can be picked up along with computers. 

Students receiving services via Related Service providers (i.e. Speech, OT, PT) will not receive services until school re-opens.  Legally, we are not permitted to provide any of these services virtually.

This issue will continue to evolve every day.  As educators, we recognize this is a challenging time for all of us.  I will continue to provide information as it becomes available to me. 

 

 Sincerely,                                                            

Carolyn M. Kossack

Superintendent of Schools

March 11, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

This afternoon there was a joint meeting including the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission (MCRHC), personnel from Riverview Medical Center, school personnel from Red Bank Regional, Little Silver, Shrewsbury, Red Bank Borough, and Red Bank Charter as well as town officials, OEM, police, and a legislative representative.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the newly discovered “presumptive positive” case of COVID-19 at RBR and the proactive plans for our communities moving forward.

After consultation with the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission, RBR has closed.  However, “there is no recommendation to close any of the PK-8 sending school districts at this time.” 

The Monmouth County Regional Health Commission will lead a proactive effort to identify “close contacts” of the “presumed positive” RBR student.  We are working in conjunction with the local school districts, the MCRHC, and local hospitals who are working directly with local physicians. We expect to have mitigation discussions on a daily basis. 

Limiting the impact of COVID-19 will require a shared response from everyone.  We will continue to provide updates and information.  Families should continue to consult these resources for information and advice.

As this issue is both uncharted and developing, we will continue to provide information as it becomes available.  

                                                                       

Sincerely,                                                                                              

Carolyn M. Kossack

Superintendent of Schools

 

 

March 10, 2020

Dear Parents,

As indicated in yesterday’s letter, we cancelled all afterschool activities (excluding Aftercare) for the week so that we can conduct systematic cleaning procedures.  Each building has been divided into three sections that are being deep-cleaned between tonight, tomorrow and Thursday nights.  On Friday, we will revisit all of the “touch spots” that have the highest traffic areas. 

While I do not want to be redundant, I implore you to discuss handwashing with your child.  As educators who watch the children walk out of the bathrooms without washing their hands, we need your help in reinforcing best practices for minimizing the spread of germs.  While we could not have anticipated dealing with COVID-19, as a district, we proactively installed hand sanitizers in every classroom and other locations throughout each building this past Fall.  Please encourage your children to utilize these stations as well. 

We have created a “Continuity of Learning Plan” that will be released to parents in the near future in the event that we need to employ a remote learning plan.  In order for us to successfully implement this plan, teachers need advanced training in some remote learning methods.  Therefore, this Friday, March 13th, we will have an early dismissal so that teachers can receive professional development in the afternoon. 

The COVID-19 issue will continue to evolve.  We cannot anticipate if or when we will need to close school.  We cannot anticipate if future events will be cancelled.  At this time, our buildings will be open for use beginning this Saturday following our deep cleaning protocol.   School will remain open unless the situation necessitates otherwise. 

I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we maneuver through uncharted territory.                                                                                                  

Sincerely,                                                                                                   

Carolyn M. Kossack

Superintendent of Schools

March 9, 2020

Dear Parents,

On Friday, March 6th, I sent a letter regarding COVID-19. In that letter I conveyed that the New  Jersey Department of Health’s (NJDOH) published guidance emphasizing that the most important thing for schools to do is plan and prepare. Among other planning procedures, the guidance advised that “schools may be asked to close preemptively or reactively, therefore schools should be making plans for what to do if there are recommendations for closing schools or cancelling events.” Our  plans continue to evolve.

Today, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders issued a statement regarding two presumptive positive coronavirus cases in Monmouth County, one of which is in Little Silver. The 27- year-old male has a sibling at RBR, but there are NOT younger children within our school district.

This afternoon, I participated in a local meeting with a Monmouth County Health Official, town officials, EMT, LS Police, and the RBR Superintendent. The Department of Health is strongly recommending that symptomatic individuals should immediately contact their primary health care physician regarding testing measures. PLEASE utilize the CDC website to obtain up-to-date information.

The Department of Health has shared that the combined time period for an individual to be symptomatic AND post symptomatic can span 2-24 days. Therefore, while we already implemented increased cleaning protocols, we are officially cancelling all afterschool activities (excluding Aftercare) for the week so that we can conduct systematic cleaning procedures. To date, we have  been using a hospital-grade product to more extensively clean classrooms and environments, with special attention being paid to those locations where absenteeism has been high. Beginning this week, we have created a plan to deep clean every classroom and common areas.

While we are actively monitoring the guidance from State and National Public Health Agencies regarding cleaning protocols, we continue to implore you to reinforce best practices for minimizing  the spread of germs with your own children including but not limited to:

  • Washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Students and employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are advised to stay home and not come to work/school

Information will continue to be posted regularly as it becomes available.

Sincerely,

Carolyn M. Kossack Superintendent of Schools

March 9th, 2020

Dear Parents of students in Mrs. Wittenberg’s Homeroom,

On Friday I sent a letter to all parents regarding the current outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and our district’s efforts to plan accordingly in the event that school closure becomes necessary. There are many layers of preparation. With regards to “remote learning”, the district needs to “test” the potential issues that could arise if we send students home with their Chromebooks. Mrs. Wittenberg was kind enough to volunteer her homeroom as a “test class.”

Students currently log on to our district’s network. There may, or may not, be issues when they try to log on to a home wifi. Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 10th, your child will  be bringing his/her Chromebook home to do homework. He/She will be asked to log on to Google Classroom for each of his/her content areas. He/she will also be asked to access on- line resources such as i-Ready. In addition to bringing the Chromebook home, your child will bring home a charger. PLEASE ensure that the device is fully charged upon returning to school on Wednesday.

We will send home troubleshooting guidelines as well entitled, “How to connect your Chromebook to a Wireless Network.” For your convenience I have attached a copy to this email as well. Mrs. Wittenberg’s homeroom is our first test class. I wanted to ensure that you are aware that your child will be bringing home his/her device. I ask that the device be used solely for your child’s remote learning and that the computer be wiped with a disinfectant wipe before returning to school on Wednesday.

 

Thank you in advance for your support as our district prepares for an event that we pray will never come to fruition.

Sincerely,

Carolyn M. Kossack

Superintendent of Schools

March 6, 2020

Dr. Kossack's Letter to parents:

In my March Spotlight, I wrote an article entitled, “The CDC is Urging Schools to Prepare for the Coronavirus.”  As of the release of my Spotlight last Friday, the New Jersey Department of Education had not yet provided specific guidance on this matter.  That said, the Little Silver School District had already begun to take a proactive approach. 

The New Jersey Department of Education released guidance regarding requirement for public health-related school closures following the New Jersey Department of Health’s (NJDOH) published guidance for K-12 schools regarding the impact that the current outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) might have on their communities.  That guidance is available on the NJDOH’s COVID-19 Information for Schools and Businesses webpage.

The guidance emphasizes that the most important thing for schools to do now is plan and prepare. Among other planning procedures, the guidance advises that “schools may be asked to close preemptively or reactively, therefore schools should be making plans for what to do if there are recommendations for closing schools or cancelling events.”

To better assist boards of education, NJDOE has provided the following guidance regarding requirements for public health-related school closures. Specifically, only in the event that a board of education is provided a written directive by either the NJDOH or the health officer of the jurisdiction to institute a public health-related closure will any form of “remote learning” be counted toward our 180 day school requirement.  Should a school opt to close independent of a written directive from the NJDOH or health officer of jurisdiction, we would essentially be using a “snow-day-type” closing. 

This virus is of concern and comes with many layers of issues.  I am working with Monmouth County Superintendents to ensure we collectively plan accordingly.  In order to communicate regarding this issue, we have placed a separate Quicklink on the district’s homepage.  As information becomes available, it can easily be found there. 

Thank you for your patience as we maneuver through this challenging situation. 

Sincerely,                                                                                                     

Carolyn M. Kossack

Superintendent of Schools

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