December 21, 2021
Dear Columbia High School Community:
The health and safety of our students is our priority. Therefore, under the recommendation of our local health departments (both Maplewood and South Orange), to protect the health of staff and students, we must temporarily shift Columbia High School from in-person instruction to virtual instruction.
Due to a “considerable uptick” in [COVID-19] student cases across all grade levels at CHS, staff absences and the # of absent and quarantining students, beginning on Wednesday, December 22, ALL students and staff will transition to all-virtual instruction for the remainder of the school week.
We understand this may be a hardship for some of our families and can be disruptive to student engagement; however, the health and safety of our students and staff is paramount. Currently our local community transmission is high and the cases are rising. To prevent the possibility of additional cases we are moving to a virtual learning format. At this time, students will return to classrooms after winter break ends as scheduled on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.
Your child will follow their normal/typical academic schedule during virtual learning and should sign into their CANVAS account to access assignments and google meet links for their classes. Students who do not join their class via the google meet link will be marked absent. Some additional important information is below:
- All after-school clubs will be held virtually;
- Athletic events will be handled on a case-by-case basis with the Athletic Department contacting each coach and booster club;
- Bagged to-go school lunches will be provided at the cafeteria doors and available for pick-up during students’ normal lunch hours on Wednesday, 12/22 (Thursday, 12/23, is an early dismissal day so lunch will not be served).
If your child develops any COVID-19 symptoms, please contact your health care provider and request the child be tested for COVID-19. Find COVID-19 testing sites: essexcovid.org. The District’s MediMobile COVID-19 testing will be open on Wed., December 22 from 4 pm – 6 pm, at the BOE building, 525 Academy Street, Maplewood, District Meeting Room. (Note: Due to the holiday break, MediMobile will NOT offer testing on 12/25, 12/29 or 1/1). Please visit [bit.ly/C19Test_Vaccine] for more information on testing and vaccination.
Your actions will affect how well our community prevents the spread of the virus. Please remind your child(ren) to take these steps:
- Wear a mask in indoor public settings;
- Limit their interactions to a small circle of friends and family. It is recommended to test prior to any large gatherings, especially if it includes anyone who is high risk.
- Keep your distance from others. Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distance;
- Get tested for COVID-19 if you are experiencing symptoms.
- Wash your hands, cover your cough, and keep up your best hygiene and sanitation.
- The District strongly encourages vaccination; if your child is not yet vaccinated, please consider doing so.
The District will continue to monitor numbers and is consulting with our local health officials and school health nurses to make any changes to our protocols and delivery of instruction if needed based on the numbers of positive cases. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding.
South Orange & Maplewood School District | Columbia High School, Frank Sanchez, CHS Principal
Watch SOMSD Health Message Video: Seasonal Flu & COVID 19 – bit.ly/3E5uUho
Dear South Orange & Maplewood School Community,
As COVID-19 is still circulating across the country, we’d like to take this opportunity to first thank you for your partnership in ensuring that we follow COVID mitigation strategies to help keep our students and staff safe. Please watch the accompanying, SOMSD Health Message video for all information shared below.
We are now entering into a season where there will be more indoor gatherings, in addition, it is also flu season. On behalf of the District and all school nurses we want to share and remind families of some key points about illness in general.
1. Schedule Your Child’s Flu Shot. If you have not yet done so, please remember to schedule your child’s flu shot. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. In addition, the NJ Department of Health mandates that preschool students up to age 5 receive a flu vaccine by December 23 for the 2021 influenza season. For our preschool parents/guardians please remember to send proof of flu vaccine to your school nurse in order to avoid exclusion from school in the new year.
2. Please Be Diligent, Monitor Symptoms and Keep Your Child Home if they are Sick. The seasonal flu and COVID-19 can exhibit some of the same symptoms and–it may be difficult to tell the difference between them, or the common cold, or seasonal allergies.
- In order to continue to keep our school communities safe, it is important that if your child does not feel well to keep them home, monitor their symptoms, and get them laboratory tested if the symptoms are COVID-compatible.
- Please keep your children home if they have any of the following COVID-compatible or Flu-Like symptoms:
> Fever (100૦ F or greater)
> New onset of Cough
> Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
> Muscle or body aches
> New loss of taste or smell
> Sore throat
> Congestion or runny nose
> Nausea or vomiting
- If your child comes to school and exhibits COVID-compatible or flu-like symptoms in school, the school nurse will call you and you must pick up your child immediately. This is to minimize the potential of additional spread of any illnesses to both our student body and our school staff.
3. Other Reasons to Keep Your Child Home.
- If your child is experiencing COVID-like symptoms, they need a LABORATORY Rapid or PCR test (home-based tests are not acceptable). PLEASE keep your child home until their negative laboratory test result is received and their symptoms have improved.
- After COVID-19 vaccination or booster, children may experience some side effects such as fever, chills, headache, fatigue. These are normal signs that the body is building protection. If your child does not feel well, please keep them home.
Finally, if your child has been vaccinated, please visit the District website and fill out the Student COVID-19 Vaccination Status Form [https://bit.ly/SOMSDSVS]to upload your child’s vaccination card. This will help us identify fully vaccinated students who may NOT have to quarantine after travel or being identified as close contacts (if they are without symptoms).
Thank you for your attention and cooperation to this matter. An additional COVID communication update and protocol reminder will be sent to the SOMSD community before the holiday break.
South Orange & Maplewood School District
SOMSD School Nurses