As we enter the winter break and we gather with our friends and family to celebrate the holiday season, I want to prepare you all for the change in our school schedules that we will be making when we return from winter break in January.
As you know, New Jersey, as well as our nation, is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by more transmissible variants and the colder weather. Despite taking all the recommended precautions, our schools are not immune to the recent spike with COVID-19. Since Thanksgiving, the positive cases and quarantining of both students and staff have more than doubled. Even though we have not directly linked the cases to school transmission, it is becoming more and more difficult to manage. My goal, from the very beginning of the year, has been to keep our schools open and have our students attend school in person on a daily basis.
But I am also very conscious that I need to balance that goal with making sure our students and staff are safe. I am communicating today to you to let you know that a change in our school schedules has become necessary. Upon our return to school on Monday, January 3, 2022, we will be implementing an early dismissal schedule that will eliminate our lunch periods. Lunchtime is the obvious time during the school day when our students and staff are most vulnerable to exposure to the COVID-19 virus. This schedule will allow us to continue daily instruction. Grab-and-go lunches will be available for students every day at dismissal. Your building principal will be communicating schedules via their website. This early dismissal schedule will be in effect for the first two weeks after we return from winter break (January 3, 2022 through January 14, 2022). My hope is to return to our normal daily school schedule on Tuesday, January 18, 2022.
Finally, I want to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. As I have said in the past, I am hopeful for the future, and I feel positive that we can overcome any obstacles that we may face in the upcoming months.
As always, thank you for your support.
Nikolaos C. Koutsogiannis
Superintendent of Schools