WALL TOWNSHIP — Four students and two employees in Wall Township schools have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of school, Superintendent Tracy Handerhan confirmed Wednesday, and phase two of the district’s reopening plan is on hold.
Addressing the board of education on Tuesday night, Ms. Handerhan said, “Last week locally, within the Wall Township community — but also within the neighboring communities — it was not a good week as far as transmission numbers. We had an increase in quarantines.”
The district has 3,650 students in seven schools, from primary to high school.
The superintendent confirmed the six cases in an email to The Coast Star on Wednesday, saying that the positive tests came after the start of the school year on Sept. 16, but have been traced to exposures outside of school.
“One employee and three students, who were receiving virtual instruction prior to testing positive for COVID-19, did not have any close or casual contact with anyone in the schools. One employee had casual contact with some individuals,” she wrote. “All individuals believed to have had [or may have had] casual contact with this employee were notified.
One student who tested positive, necessitating notification, is a student at Wall Intermediate School, she said.
“Staff and parents of students that may have had close contact with a student testing positive for COVID-19 at [the intermediate school], were phoned and notified in writing. Parents of students that may have had casual contact with this student were informed in writing.”
“With respect to contact tracing, our district school nurses and administrators have done an outstanding job working with the local area health department and impacted families to ensure proper quarantining. The number of individuals in quarantine is a fluid number as quarantines begin on different days.
“We have had students and employees under quarantine since the start of school for exposure and travel reasons. However, I can say that the number of students quarantining saw an uptick last week … I would also like to stress the importance of quarantining and maintaining an open dialogue with school nurses and principals as we navigate this health crisis,” Ms. Handerhan said in the email.
Ms. Handerhan referenced the presence of COVID-19 cases in an Oct. 7 letter to parents announcing that the district was not yet ready to move fully into phase two of its Restart and Recovery Plan.
“The safety of our students and staff is paramount. While nothing would make me happier than to return to a ‘business as usual,’ full-day, five-day operation of the schools, now, unfortunately, is not the time,” she wrote.