County health officer: Morristown High was closed out of ‘abundance of caution’; schools adopt CDC foreign travel protocols

Morristown High School. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown High School. File photo by Kevin Coughlin


In-person instruction was shut down Friday at Morristown High School out of “an abundance of caution,” according to the county official who recommended it.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we recommended that the school district consider shutting down in-person classes for 10 days after several students tested positive for COVID-19, and the district chose to follow that recommendation,” Morris County Health Officer Carlos Perez told Morristown Green in a statement on Friday.

On Thursday afternoon, MHS Principal Mark Manning informed parents and students that the school community had seen an increase in COVID cases “numbering at least 10,” and in-person classes would be halted until Nov. 22, 2021, “as per the direction of the local health department.”

Morristown contracts with the county for its health services, an arrangement that ends next month, said town Administrator Jillian Barrick.

In-person extracurriculars including sports also have been suspended at the high school. The school’s fall drama, Harvey, has been rescheduled to Dec. 3-5. Classes are being conducted virtually.

Manning did not respond Friday to an email seeking comment about the shutdown.  A call to Morris School District Interim Superintendent Thomas Ficarra was referred to the district’s spokesperson, Jennifer van Frank, who did not respond.

We’ll update this story with any response from school officials.

Meanwhile, the district on Friday  announced that, based on direction of the local health department, it was re-imposing federal COVID-19 protocols for international travelers who are not fully vaccinated.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises such individuals not to travel internationally.

Members of the school community in that category who do so over the holidays must have a COVID-19 viral test 3-5 days after travel; stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel, even if they test negative at 3-5 days; or stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel, the district said on its website.

The district also recommends that children ages 5-11 get COVID vaccinations. Zufall Health Centers at 4 Atno Ave. will hold a vaccine clinic for children this Saturday, Nov. 13, from 8 AM-noon. Appointments also can be made with Atlantic Health ShopRite, CVS, Walgreen’s and RiteAid.

Vaccinations are free, and immigration status will not be asked, the district said.

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  1. I continue to be concerned . Its to the death rate that you seem to focus on but the unnecessary spread of Covid due to failure to take simple precautions. Masks also serve to stop the spread of the flu.

  2. @JT et al we have been over this previously.

    The issue is less of risk to children than risk of transmission to other people. I have read the latest report of 11/11:

    Cases in children are extremely high and ‘For the 14th week in a row child COVID-19 cases are above 100,000’.

    Mortality rates in children are very, very low, however – that cannot be extrapolated to the people they come in to contact with.

    Please stop disassociating child infection rates with likely impact on others – they are linked and that is what presents the real risk here…

  3. “Risking children’s lives”…please stop posting this misleading and false comment. I have corrected it multiple times and I will once more. While the death of any child is a tragedy, according to the NJ Covid Dashboard, there have been a total of 3 school aged children who have died from Covid from the start of the Pandemic. You can do your own research to see how many children have died over this same time period from suicide, drug over-dose, auto accident, etc. Also, all children in the HS are required to wear masks while at school, so I fail to see the risk to the other 99% of people who are in that building on a daily basis. Unless this is a veiled admission by the county health officer on the efficacy of masking.

  4. “appear willing to risk their children’s lives in order to make their point”

    You have got to be kidding Margret. What are you talking about??? There is literally more risk of a kid getting hit by lightning TWICE while walking to school than dying of Covid. Stop the complete nonsense and ignorance.

  5. Very curious how lives are being risked-isn’t school the safest place to be? Now these kids are home growing dumber by the day on our tax dollars. Neighboring districts have similar case counts now yet are not closed. People need to stop testing-then this ends. Move on with your lives everyone.

  6. Again on every article “risking children’s lives”. Were you concerned about their lives during the last flu season? Are you aware that flu is riskier to children than COVID? Wow – get out of your alternate fear mongering ridiculous universe.

  7. It sounds to me as though some parents are drawing their own arbitrary “line in the sand” as they appear willing to risk their children’s lives in order to make their point.

  8. Mr. Manning, you were bold enough to come out with a plan to have classes virtual until after Thanksgiving.

    What is your bold plan to get MHS out of the bottom 50% in NJ school rankings as well as elevating math proficiency above 34%

    Virtual learning does not work. The numbers prove it doesn’t work.

  9. Can the county health officer answers the following:
    1- is COVID endemic at this point or do you actually believe there will be a line we can draw in the sand when it ends?
    2- if you answer it’s endemic (which every expert now says it is), then what’s your endgame for closing schools and/or quarantines?
    3- by closing schools, who are you protecting?
    4- if your answer to question 3 is the unvaxxed, wasn’t that their choice? And why should kids and parents suffer the consequences? If your answer is the medically fragile, we can’t protect everyone. And if your answer is unvaxxed children, let’s be real- the majority of healthy children don’t suffer from severe illness from COVID. If your answer is to protect the hospital system from overflow, how many patients are hospitalized and dying of Covid now?
    3- finally, please convince those parents on the fence about vaccinating themselves and/or their children to now get vaccinated, knowing you’ll shut the schools down anyway regardless of your vax status.
    The “abundance of caution” is fear-based decision-making. Not science! Keep the schools open. We are all SO OVER IT. Who is running this health dept?!?!

  10. Wow so none of our high paying administrators responded. Enjoying a long weekend!

    The district has no business making medical decisions. Do they realize no one will get vaccinated if the school shuts down anyway?