by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
north caldwell AND FAIRFIELD schools close after parents block contact tracing efforts
Fairfield Elementary Schools will also be remote learning for 2 weeks. Parents from both North Caldwell and Fairfield districts are blocking contract tracing efforts by health department officials.
One month after starting school with in-person learning on Sept. 8, North Caldwell elementary schools have returned to remote learning after 1 positive case followed by parents refusing to participate in contact tracing.
On Wednesday, Oct. 7, the North Caldwell Superintendent of Schools Dr. Linda Freed notified parents that a student had tested positive after having been symptomatic for two days. The student was last in school on Friday, Oct. 2 and is currently quarantined for 14 days.
In accordance with the NJ Department of Health's School Guidelines, the school decided to continue operating in-person
Dr. Linda Freda
Using New Jersey's robust community contact tracing program, the North Caldwell health department is identifying any persons who have had close contact with the student and notifying them that they need to quarantine for 14 days and encouraging them to get tested immediately.
Anyone within six feet of infected person for more than 10 minutes:
While the Local Health Department informed the school that persons are only contagious 48 hours before symptoms appear, which is New Jersey's protocol, it's important to note that the timeline for contagion is actually 72 hours before symptoms appear in an infected individual. Additionally, studies have shown that some persons can remain contagious with low levels of coronavirus up to three months after contracting the infection.
NJ Schools are mandated to close for 14 days, however, if 2 or more positive cases occur within 14 days, across multiple classrooms - and the connection between the cases can't be easily identified.
Unfortunately for all involved, the parents did not proceed as planned with the contact tracing program.
Tonight, Dr. Freda notified North Caldwell families that the schools will be operating remotely due to the health department's inability to complete contact tracing which is especially concerning because of the rising positive cases in North Caldwell and the recent outbreak of eleven positive cases in the West Essex School District.
The school therefore will be operating remotely for the next 14 days.
Dr. Linda Freda
There was a huge outcry here on Facebook in July when parents from the Middletown community refused to participate in contact tracing over a community spread which eventually infected over 50 people. Yet when the situation calls for parents here to now do the appropriate, and possibly life-saving action, it seems they are not stepping up to the plate and instead they are allowing their neighbors and family members to be endangered.
It's a moral imperative that all of us protect our community. It's unthinkable that when the lives of children are at stake anyone would even consider blocking the efforts of a health officer during a time of pandemic.
North Caldwell Health Officer: