Charter School In Hoboken Goes Remote For Now Due To Coronavirus

HOBOKEN, NJ — Elysian Charter School, one of the city’s three charter schools, confirmed over the weekend that it’s going all-remote for now. Sources said that the decision was made after a student at the K-8 school tested positive for coronavirus.

Vijay Chaudhury, a spokesman for Mayor Ravi Bhalla, said over the weekend, “Elysian Charter School has made the decision to go remote given recent developments and in consultation with the Hoboken Health Department. We are confident their precautions will help keep our children safe.”

A representative for the school, located at the north end of town, declined to discuss the matter further or say how long they’ll be closed, but said that they had informed the school community. This story will be updated if more information is received, such as a reopening date.

Charter schools in New Jersey are considered public and do not charge tuition, but receive state funding distributed through the public Board of Education. Each charter school is considered its own school district, although they are subject to state regulations.

Elysian’s reopening plan and coronavirus safety protocol can be found on their website here.

Hoboken’s regular public school buildings remain open for parents who chose the on-site learning option. They also offer the option of full-time remote learning, as required by the state.

Hoboken Superintendent of Schools Christine Johnson said on Sunday that she didn’t have more information on Elysian, but that the Hoboken School District has a protocol to respond if a student within the Hoboken community, but attending another district, tests positive.

“We have a plan that we are following with fidelity,” she said. “The plan includes directives for when there is a positive case of one of our district students or staff members. When it comes to a positive case of a child from another school in town that is outside of our district, we follow the very clear guidelines set forth by the Health Department. They conduct the contact tracing and inform those families required to quarantine a child on the basis of those who have been in contact with the individual that has tested positive within 6 feet and for 10 or more minutes. That means that we do not quarantine classes of students that are not in direct contact. Principals will inform parents in the classroom of a student who is quarantining (out of precaution) and parents may certainly take measures if they so choose to do so, but it will not kick us into a closure unless there is a direct positive.”

She added, “We did have an individual in one of our [pre-K] cohorts at St. Francis that tested positive. That cohort will quarantine for 14 days. We checked the sibling list and there aren’t any siblings that attend our schools in the upper grades. The Department of Health was notified.”

She noted, “At this time, we are not aware of a K-12 student or staff member who have tested positive for covid 19.”

How kids are spreading the virus

Meanwhile, Mayor Bhalla said he’s concerned about kids’ indoor birthday parties as transmission rates rise locally and statewide (see below).

He noted, “Children are not immune from COVID-19, and are the least likely to social distance when around others. Indoor birthday parties could not just affect the health and safety of those attending children, but could very well lead to positive cases that could jeopardize in-person learning in our schools.”

He said, “If hosting any get-togethers with children, please ensure that face masks are utilized at all practical times, and prioritize outdoor spaces as opposed to indoors.”

On Friday, Bhalla updated the city’s coronavirus case numbers, saying the city had confirmed 28 new cases in the previous five days, a larger increase than in months.

For more on that story and Hoboken statistics, click here.

To read a Patch report from last week about where you can be tested in town, click here.

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This article originally appeared on the Hoboken Patch

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