The following information is based on data received from our Departments of Health on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
The NJ Essex County COVID-19 Activity Level Index (CALI) Score is presently “3” which is orange or high, which it has been since November 13, 2020. Since the week of January 22, 2021, when we began the District Dashboard, we’ve had 81 confirmed reported cases that were contracted from community exposures (outside of school). There is no evidence of SOMSD in-school transmission.
- Click here to download the CDC COVID-19 Who Should Get Tested Flyer (or scroll to the end to view a larger image of the flyer)
- COVID testing Availability in Maplewood Flyer (btw. Yale Street and Springfield Ave.,) from April 5-30th
We have been committed to the layered prevention strategies guided by the CDC, NJDOH and local DOH, and will continue with:
- Universal and correct use of masks
- Physical distancing*
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
- Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities
- Assisting the local DOH with Contact Tracing
Reducing transmission in schools is a shared responsibility. Please remember:
- If you are sick, STAY HOME; also, if a household member is ill with COVID-compatible symptoms and awaiting test results, household members should stay home to await those test results.
- If your test result is positive, staff and parents of students should EMAIL THE PRINCIPAL so we may begin assisting the DOH with Contact Tracing, in order to refer individuals for testing and move them swiftly into quarantine or isolation.
Maplewood Department of Health
- Confirmed cases to date 1405
- New cases in March 275
- New cases just in April (6 days in): 39
- Age range 3-86
- Number of school-age students (ages 5-17 years) 4
South Orange Department of Health
- Confirmed cases to date 868
- New cases in March 159
- New cases just in April (6 days in): 28
- Age range 4-83
- Number of school-age students (ages 5-17 years) 5
The rationale for updated CDC and NJDOH Physical Distancing Strategies
- Several U.S. studies now also show low transmission among students in schools even when student physical distancing is less than 6 feet but other prevention strategies are in place, even at a time of high community transmission. (CDC Science Brief, March 19, 2021).
- Several studies have found that transmission between staff is more common than transmission between students and staff, and among students, in schools. (CDC Operational Strategies, March 19, 2021)
*Physical Distancing in Schools updated guidance (CDC, March 19, 2021):
- In elementary schools, students should be at least 3 feet apart
- Middle and high school students should remain 6 feet apart if cohorting is not possible.
- Maintain 6 feet distance: 1) between adults (teachers and staff) and between adults and students; 2) during short mask breaks; 3) during activities when increased exhalation occurs (singing, exercise); 4) in common areas such as school lobbies and auditoriums
COVID-19: Who Should Get Tested?
Dear 6th and 9th Grade Families,
As a reminder, any family who submitted a change request from virtual to hybrid instruction for their child by the February 22 deadline (and received approval confirmation from their building principal) must electronically sign the Parent Agreement Letter of Compliance for each child attending in-person instruction.
If you do not agree to comply with COVID-19 Guidelines and the agreement is not electronically signed prior to your child’s return to school on Monday, March 22, they will not be allowed in the school buildings and must continue their instruction virtually.
The Parent Agreement Letter of Compliance with COVID-19 Guidelines must be completed utilizing the district’s PowerSchool Parent Portal. You must use a computer or a mobile device web browser to complete the form. The PowerSchool iOS and Android PowerSchool applications are not compatible with our online forms.
Click here for more information: https://bit.ly/CO-19ParentAgreement
BOARD OF EDUCATION
School District of South Orange-Maplewood | 525 Academy Street, Maplewood, NJ 07040
CALENDAR FOR PUBLIC BOARD MEETINGS 2021
Board of Education meetings commence on Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m. held virtually until further notice.
January 25, 2021
February 22, 2021
March 15, 2021
April 19, 2021
May 10, 2021
June 7, 2021 (Staff Recognition / Retirements)
June 14, 2021
July 19, 2021
August 16, 2021
September 20, 2021
October 18, 2021
November 15, 2021
December 20, 2021
January 5, 2022 (Reorganization Meeting)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: South Orange & Maplewood School District Hopes For A Positive Outcome in SOMEA Disagreement
February 19, 2021 – The South Orange & Maplewood School Board hopes to resolve recent disagreements with our local teacher’s association, SOMEA. As the union is scheduled to meet with the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) today for a mediation hearing, the Board is hopeful that an outcome can be reached as it is undoubtedly consistent with the community stakeholders’ interests to resume in-person instruction as soon as possible.
Early evening on Monday, February 15, our local Association that represents many of our educators, SOMEA, directed its members to not report to schools to continue in-person hybrid instruction. On February 17th the Association expanded its stoppage to include bus drivers that refused to drive completely unoccupied buses and support staff, including secretaries and registrar personnel that work alone or with limited other personnel in large workspaces where they are socially distanced well-beyond the minimum six feet.
The Board previously negotiated with SOMEA regarding the building-related concerns they raised in their January 25 letter. The Board’s labor counsel has been in contact with SOMEA representatives regarding the current circumstances and since their Jan. 25 letter, the Board and Administration have chosen to work with the Union to do all we can to negotiate in good faith and be empathetic to the concerns that teachers and other employees have during the Pandemic. However, we were disappointed and blind-sided by SOMEA’s decision to not have teachers’ report for in-person teaching for Tues., February 16. After reviewing SOMEA’s most recent letter, the District respectfully disagrees with regard to SOMEA’s assessment regarding rooms, safety measures, and other issues presented.
SOMEA agreed that concerns could be addressed through our grievance process, but that was not allowed to continue to fruition. Our building administrators have been responsive to the needs put forward. While the District facilities are old, they are safe. Even in the best years, systems break down, it gets hot or cold in a room and we take action to fix it. We’ve had poorer weather this year than the last three years combined, which is unfortunate. But because so few students are in the buildings and we have a Sidebar Agreement, principals were relocating a small population of teachers as needed on a daily basis to put them in suitable rooms. Just like with anything else, we had to prioritize our responses to complaints and grievances, and there needed to be some patience to allow our facilities staff time to look into the issues presented.
We are continuing forward with a professional mediation process and we will also pursue any other legal options as agreed upon by our District counsel. We do this not because we are angry with our teachers, but because we love our students and are committed to serving our families who have been not only patient but very supportive.
In addition, we have been committed to being transparent, developing and launching a weekly dashboard of COVID-19 infections, and publicly acknowledging when there have been missteps along the way. The District has and continues to prepare rooms consistent with guidelines established by The Road Back, the New Jersey Department of Health, Federal CDC Guidance, and Industry standards. We take this work very seriously and we would not open the schools if we did not believe we could do it in a safe and healthy manner for both staff and students.
Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, SOMSD Superintendent, states, “We’re not doing anything unique by returning for in-person instruction. Hundreds of schools are doing this to a greater degree than we are. In our instance, we have chosen to implement a measured reopening approach consistent with what we’ve determined is safe for our community and staff.”
As a District, we stand by science and data. Unequivocally, the science and data both nationally and from our Phase 3 days in-person, support what we already know…if students and staff follow mitigation steps (masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene) the chances of school-based transmission of COVID-19 are very unlikely. We designed our reopening re-entry approach to be phased so that we would be able to be nimble and shift/pause if necessary. We designed our approach to get our most vulnerable students in first (Pre-K-2nd, 6th, and 9th) and most often (Special Services and English Language Learners). We were conservative, as most classes had 5 or fewer students in them.
Dr. Taylor also shares, “The NJ Department of Education has given every family a choice as to whether to be fully remote or to go in-person consistent with the District’s plan. The families that have chosen to have their children resume in-person instruction have relied on us to provide safe in-person instruction, and in good faith, we have been providing that.”
The District’s primary goal at this point is for students and staff to return for in-person instruction safely within the rooms that have already been designated by the District as “ready”, meaning they meet safety standards. We want to bring students back to school and most importantly serve them during a time when they are most vulnerable.
About the South Orange & Maplewood School District
The School District of South Orange and Maplewood serves close to 7,000 students in ten schools, including one early-childhood center, six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. The community and its schools are racially and economically diverse with more than 90 percent of Columbia High School graduates planning to attend college each year. The mission of the South Orange Maplewood School District is to empower and inspire each student to explore and imagine, to pursue personal passions, and to collectively create a better future by creating a learner-centered environment through multiple pathways; re-imagined structures, systems and supports; innovative teaching; partnering with families; and maximizing community expertise and resources.