With no COVID cases, H.W. Mountz mulls next phase

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SPRING LAKE — H.W. Mountz Elementary School has thus far been spared of any COVID-19 cases among its staff and students, school Superintendent Stephen LaValva said Wednesday.

Some students and staff members have had to quarantine because of “close contacts” with individuals who had tested positive for the coronavirus, but no positive tests among persons within the school, the superintendent told The Coast Star. 

“We haven’t had anyone actually test positive,” Mr. LaValva said.

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Those who have been in close contact with a persone who has tested postive are asked by the school to quarantine themselves for 14 days, which Mr. LaValva said can cause small variations in the number of remote-learning students. 

H.W. Mountz is currently in Phase Two of four of its reopening plan, meaning students attend school five days per week in-person on a half-day schedule with several new procedures and protocols in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Students also have the option to exclusively learn remotely. 

Previously the board and administration has mulled the possibility of moving into Phase Three, which includes a full, five-day per week schedule. Mr. LaValva had said that there was a possibility that Mountz could move into Phase Three before Christmas, however, with rising numbers he said that while not off the table, could be pushed back.

The school has released a survey to the families of students asking them how they feel about the move right now. The results of that survey will be presented at the Monday, Nov. 23 Board of Education meeting.

“So as we continue to observe what’s happening around us, we see some examples of schools that have gone full-day and they have done so successfully. We see examples of schools that opened part-day and had to close for remote learning,” he said. “This just further confounds the issue, but what we’ve just initiated is a survey for the community to seek their input so we can make the most informed decision at the local level, really really local, meaning Spring Lake only.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s off the table that we could be going into Stage Three in December but we may, based on what’s happening around the world, delay that until we get back from holiday break in December.”

Mr. LaValva said that the school has been running smoothly, and the school so far has been able to replace teachers with substitutes in-house, which he called a “godsend” as there is a lack of available substitute teachers right now.

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

Mr. LaValva said that the school and PTA are going to go forward with the annual tradition of the Holiday Bazaar, which the PTA hosts for students where they can go and buy holiday presents for their families.

“I can happily say that we are going to follow all social distancing guideline and go forward with this event,” he said. 

The Bazaar will be held on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10.

The school was forced to cancel its holiday band and chorus winter concert.

The next Spring Lake Board of Education meeting will be held at H.W. Mountz at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23. Masks must be worn.

Check out our other Spring Lake stories, updated daily. And remember to pick up a copy of The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.

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