Antrim school goes virtual until Feb. 8

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The G. Harold Antrim Elementary School transitioned its students to remote learning Jan. 25 after more COVID-19 cases were reported in the district. Students will remain remote until Feb. 8.

According to Superintendent William Smith, the move came swiftly after officials learned of a positive COVID-19 test result at Antrim in which the infected individual had a large number of close contacts at the school as recently as Jan. 22. According to Mr. Smith, those contacts are now quarantining.

“This case was unique for Antrim because contact tracing could not be restricted to individuals in a single classroom space,” Mr. Smith told The Ocean Star Tuesday. 

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The superintendent would not say whether the individual is a student or a staff member.

“Guided by our Restart and Recovery Plan and our health care professionals, we determined that closing the school building to in-person instruction for two weeks would be our most certain path to ensuring the health and safety of all staff and students,” he said.

This is the second time the district has had to shut its doors to in-person instruction since the onset of the pandemic. Both Antrim and Point Pleasant Beach High School made the proactive decision to close in the days leading up to the holiday break. 

Since returning to school after the holidays, the district has reported 15 cases, nearly a third of the district’s total number of cases, 36.

Given that uptick, along with the large number of close contacts identified after contact tracing, the district had to act fast. 

“This significant step to temporarily pause in-person instruction is both reactive and proactive,” said Mr. Smith in a district news release. “We neither make the decision easily, nor take its impact on students and their families lightly.”

Mr. Smith said the transition also coincides with information from the county.

“Given Ocean County’s ‘orange’ zone status and the virus’ high activity in our immediate community, our response to this situation must be appropriately precautionary,” said Mr. Smith. 

“I am hopeful that a 14-day pause will allow our in-person instruction at both schools to recommence in a most healthy way on February 8th,” said the superintendent. 

“I must also reiterate that it is critical for families to keep ill students home and to keep all family members home if a household member is being tested for COVID,” he said. “Thank you for your ongoing support.”

The district consulted with area health care professionals, Mr. Smith said, after responding to each identified COVID-19 case. 

“This process, outlined in our return-to-school plan, is an important safeguard built into our pandemic schooling program,” he said. “Our regular consultations ensure that we are taking every appropriate measure to protect the health and wellness of our staff and students.”

For more information and updates from Point Pleasant Beach schools, visit ptbeach.com.

Check out our other Point Pleasant Beach stories, updated daily. And remember to pick up a copy of The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.

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