Superintendent shares school reopening process

District+Superintendent+Erik+Gundersen+said+district+nurses+will+meet+with+representatives+from+the+Northwest+Bergen+Regional+Health+Commission+to+determine+whether+students+can+return+to+school+on+Monday%2C+Dec.+14.+

Ilmie Xhaferi

District Superintendent Erik Gundersen said district nurses will meet with representatives from the Northwest Bergen Regional Health Commission to determine whether students can return to school on Monday, Dec. 14.

Ilmie Xhaferi, Staff Editor

District Superintendent Erik Gundersen said district nurses will meet with representatives from the Northwest Bergen Regional Health Commission by the “middle to end” of this week to determine whether students can return to school on Monday, Dec. 14. 

“[The district] is going to receive representatives from the Northwest Bergen Regional Health Commission sometime in the middle to the end of next week to take a look at what our current situation is like,” Gundersen said. 

This comes after Gundersen sent an email to students and parents on Nov. 25 announcing that Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills will participate in fully remote learning until Dec.14. 

“The most important thing is that we stick together and we all make the best effort we can to follow all the guidelines and help control this virus because the more we do that, the more likely we are to be back in the building,” PV Principal Glenn deMarrais said. 

Gundersen said that the district became aware of “a number” of positive COVID-19 cases with an overlap to both PV and PH, which caused the Health Commission to recommend that school be held remotely for two weeks after the Thanksgiving break. 

“I urge students to be smart in how they are behaving and interacting with other people and to let the school nurse know when [they’re] exhibiting symptoms or if [they] have tested [positive] for the coronavirus,” Gundersen said. 

Before the district can confirm either school’s reopening, Gundersen said that a “correspondence” will be sent to parents early this week so that parents can share whether their children are quarantining or exhibiting coronavirus symptoms. 

“[After PV and PH nurses] meet with representatives from the Health Commission, they’ll talk about the details [from the correspondence] and then they will formulate an overall recommendation that they will bring to me and the Regional Director for Northwest Bergen,” Gundersen said. “Then, we’ll collectively make a decision about what is in the best interest of the schools.” 

With winter on the horizon, Gundersen said that inclement weather could allow for the district to shift to remote learning. Gundersen also noted that staffing complications can affect whether or not schools reopen. 

“If [the district] has staff members who have to quarantine, and we don’t have enough substitutes [available] to come into the building, then that would lead us to go [to] remote [learning] for a longer period of time,” Gundersen said. 

Gundersen noted that there is a chance either Valley or Hills could reopen while the other school remains remote.

“My advice [to students] would be to be very mindful about your health behaviors, making sure that you’re masking, social distancing, [and] washing your hands,” Gundersen said. “All those kinds of things that we’ve heard time and time again from the Health Commission [and] the CDC are all really important recommendations.”