New COVID cases in eight schools, but Morris School District staying open

Why 14-day quarantines are important. Graphic: Morris School District


In-school instruction will continue in the Morris School District, despite new COVID-19 cases at eight of its 10 schools, district officials said Friday.

“The Morris School District and our local health departments take the position, as we have stated previously, that our schools should be open as long as it is deemed safe,” the district said in a statement.

Since Monday, new cases confirmed were confirmed at Morristown High School; Frelinghuysen Middle School; the Alexander Hamilton, Sussex Avenue, Thomas Jefferson, Alfred Vail and Woodland elementary schools, and Lafayette Learning Center.

Individuals directly affected by exposure are being required to complete 14-day quarantines, the district said.

Families are advised to anticipate abrupt closures, and delays or cancellations of school bus routes, if circumstances change.  The message also explains why the district is sticking with two-week quarantines, even though federal health officials have eased guidelines somewhere.  And the district reminds parents about how and when to keep their students home.

The full statement is below.


From the Morris School District:

DEC. 4, 2020
  • Update on Positive Cases in the Morris School District. All ten schools opened this week for in-person instruction. Since Monday, we have had new positive cases confirmed at MHS, FMS, Alexander Hamilton, Sussex, Thomas Jefferson, Alfred Vail, Woodland, and Lafayette Learning Center. Anyone directly affected by exposure has been contacted and will complete the required 14-day quarantine. See the MSD COVID-19 Dashboard for an overview of districtwide data as of this afternoon.
    • While we are in-person, each school community will be alerted whenever there is a positive case in the school, and the MSD COVID-19 Dashboard will be updated three times a week to reflect districtwide trends.
  • The Morris School District and our local health departments take the position, as we have stated previously, that our schools should be open as long as it is deemed safe. We will continue to respond to active positive cases in our schools, not close preemptively in anticipation of an impending increase, unless we are instructed to do so by the local health departments. However, there are consequences to this position that we must be willing to withstand so that our schools can remain open whenever possible for as long as possible. For example:
    • Families whose students use MSD bus transportation must be prepared for sudden and unpredictable announcements that a bus may be delayed (anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour) or a bus route cancelled, due to bus driver shortages and the inability to secure substitutes in time.
    • Everyone must be prepared for sudden and unpredictable announcements that a classroom, a school or several schools, or the entire district is temporarily switching to virtual learning.
    • It is essential that all families have backup arrangements for childcare and transportation.
    • The frustrations and complications that understandably arise from this “moment-to-moment” state of affairs are the unfortunate tradeoffs we must make in order to forestall a lengthy district closure.
  • Important Requests from our Nurses and Local Health Departments: 
  1. DO NOT send any child to school if they are exhibiting ANY symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (a list of symptoms appears on the Daily Student Screening that all parents are required to conduct every day for each child).
  2. Call or email your school nurse to report that you are keeping your child home from school due to symptoms. (Please click here for a directory of nurses.) The conversation with the nurse is important so that more information can be gleaned and so that you can be advised appropriately. If you are unsure whether your child’s symptoms may be consistent with COVID-19, please call the nurse to discuss further.
  3. Please make sure that your child’s school has all current personal contact information for your family, including parents’/guardians’ daytime or work phone numbers as well as emergency contact phone numbers. If your child exhibits symptoms at school, has not submitted the Certification Form on time, or must be excluded from school due to quarantine requirements but arrives at the school building, someone will need to pick them up.
  4. If your child or a member of your household is being tested for COVID-19your child MUST STAY HOME FROM SCHOOL until you receive the test results. Please update the school nurse as soon as you receive the test results, even if negative. If the test is positive, all members of your household are required to quarantine for a total of 14 days. Please note that a person CANNOT TEST OUT OF QUARANTINE–even if a person tests negative during the 14-day period, they must complete the full 14 days in quarantine.
  5. Please understand that a person infected with coronavirus may not develop symptoms until 10-14 days after their exposure to the virus, and they are capable of transmitting coronavirus to other people even if they do not show any symptoms. In spite of the CDC’s recent revision to quarantine guidelines allowing for a shortened quarantine period for some individuals at the discretion of local public health authorities, our local health departments have advised us to continue following the full 14-day quarantine requirement, given the total period of possible transmission. This infographic helps explain why the full 14 days makes sense from a public health perspective.
  • NEW State Requirements for Quarantine. As a result of NJ elevating to the “orange,” or “high risk,” category, the NJ Department of Health has revised its school exclusion criteria to include individuals who show symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and are awaiting test results, as well as any close contacts of those individuals. This means that if there is either a positive OR a pending case in your child’s classroom or bus, quarantine may be required.
    • During quarantine, your child should remain at home and should not be in the presence of other people outside of your immediate household.
    • Please see this flyer for the distinction between quarantine and virtual learning during school closure.
  • Updated Meal Service, December 2020. Please refer to this letter for a revised meal service schedule beginning December 7. If you need assistance with meals but are unable to pick them up at the designated times, please contact Linda Ladolcetta at 973-292-2000, Ext. 2111, or, before December 23.
  • We are pleased to share with all families the inaugural issue of our Pupil Services Quarterly Report! The report provides highlights of what’s happening within the Department of Pupil Services, dates for upcoming events, resources for families, and opportunities for feedback.


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  1. So incredibly irresponsible. What are they waiting for, someone to die? Oh wait, that’s already happened.