Coronavirus Update: Hoboken Declares State of Emergency and Closes School District

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Schools across both New Jersey and New York have been rapidly announcing closures as the concern for Coronavirus continues to gain traction. Jersey City public schools has announced that students wearing preventative face masks will be presumed ill and sent home, Stevens Insitute of Technology has canceled all “large gatherings,” and now, most recently, Hoboken schools have officially closed their doors for the next two weeks.

Just days after Hudson County confirmed its first positive case of Coronavirus — a 32-year-old West New York man is currently getting treatment in isolation at Hackensack Medical Center and hours after Hoboken itself declared a State of Emergency, the school district decided to close. The school district announced it will close on Monday and remain shut down for the following two weeks.

hoboken schools closed letter

The official message from the City reads:

Due to the State of Emergency declared by the Hoboken Office of Emergency Management {OEM}, the Hoboken Public School District and the Hoboken Charter Schools {Elysian, HoLa, and Hoboken Charter} will close starting Monday, March 16 for a period of two weeks. The decision to close was made by the Hoboken OEM, as authorized in a State of Emergency, in coordination with the leadership of the four school districts and the Hoboken Health Department. Although there have been no confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Hoboken or among the student population, the decision to close the schools was done out of an abundance of caution. Each school has made preparations for remote learning programs, and will communicate those plans directly to parents.

The message continues:

The Hoboken Public School District will provide breakfast and lunch service to all students who qualify for free and reduced lunch in any of the four public school districts {Hoboken Public School District, Elysian, HoLa and Hoboken Charter School}. Meal service will be available for pick up from 8:30-10:30am and can be picked up from the 9th Street side door {between Clinton and Grand Streets} of the Hoboken High School cafeteria.

Meal service will be available for pick up from 8:30AM-10:30AM and can be picked up from the 9th Street side door {between Clinton and Grand} of the Hoboken High School cafeteria.

Hoboken schools are not the only local district to close; many school districts throughout NJ and NY have been announcing closures.

According to Pix11, the following schools now including the Hoboken district  announced closures due to concerns of Coronavirus:

  • Bergen County Special Services Schools and Technical Schools are closed through Friday, March 20
  • Bergenfield Schools will have an early dismissal Friday, March 13
  • Bogota Schools will hold a single session day Thursday, March 12 to prepare for potential further closures
  • Dumont Schools have a half-day Friday, March 13
  • Garfield Schools will have an early dismissal Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13
  • Glen Rock Schools will be closed Monday, March 16 so the staff can develop plans for long-term closures
  • Lyndhurst Schools will hold a single session Thursday, March 12
  • Mahwah Schools will hold an “emergency, in-service professional day” Friday, March 13
  • Cedar Grove Schools will have an early dismissal Thursday, March 12
  • Fairfield Schools will have a single session day on Thursday, March 12
  • Millburn Schools will be closed Thursday, March 12 so that staff can prepare for the possibility of distance learning due to the Coronavirus
  • Montclair Schools will be closed Friday, March 13 for professional development in case of a prolonged closure
  • Trenton Schools will be closed for students Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13
  • East Brunswick Public Schools will be closed through at least Sunday, March 15
  • Middlesex Borough Schools are closed Friday, March 13
  • South Brunswick Schools will have remote learning Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13
  • South River Public Schools will be closed Thursday, March 12
  • Wayne Schools are closed Friday, March 13 for “extensive cleaning”
  • Hillside Schools will be closed Friday, March 13 for cleaning
  • Monmouth University canceled all classes {face-to-face, hybrid and online} through Friday, March 13
  • Princeton University is moving all lectures, seminars, and precepts to virtual instruction beginning March 23; Students are encouraged to stay home after spring break
  • Wayne Township Public Schools will be closed Friday, March 13 for staff to have dedicated collaborative time to plan for possibility of school closure related to COVID-19
  • Cranford schools will be closed Friday, March 13 so teachers can develop education plans
  • Montclair Public Schools will close Friday, March 13 for a staff development day to prepare teachers for remote learning, should it become necessary to close schools
  • Trenton will close public schools on Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13
  • Rutgers will cancel class from Thursday, March 12 through the end of spring break on Sunday, March 22. Classes will be remote from March 23 through at least April 3
  • Bergen Community College is closed for spring break and will remain closed through March 20
  • Montclair State University is extending spring break through March 22. Classes will resume online on March 23 and remote learning will continue for the rest of the semester
  • Caldwell University is suspending classes through March 23

Hoboken Mayor Bhalla provided an update {made on March 11} to his original statements {made on March 8 and then March 10}, urging parents of children to take certain precautions and announcing that all senior activities in town had been canceled.

“My office, along with the Hoboken coronavirus {COVID-19} task force, continues to closely monitor recent developments regarding the outbreak. Currently, there are no presumed positive COVID-19 cases in Hoboken,” Bhalla said in an official updated statement. “Yesterday, I suspended all senior activities and trips at the multi-service center to protect the health and safety of our seniors. The Meals on Wheels service that delivers meals to our homebound seniors will continue to operate.”

Bhalla advised:

  1. If your child is sick, has a fever or flu-like symptoms, do not send him or her to scheduled practice or games. If our coaches are concerned about the health of your child, he or she could be sent home;
  2. If your child is sick and cannot attend school, he or she should not participate in a scheduled practice or game;
    Please keep your child home for 24 hours after there are no longer signs of a fever or other flu symptoms {cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches};
  3. Players should practice good hand hygiene by washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before and after scheduled practices or game;
  4. Players should avoid touching their face, eyes, nose or mouth;
  5. Please encourage your child to remember to cough and sneeze into their elbow to help prevent the spread of germs, and to wash their hands after anytime they cough, sneeze, or blow their nose;
  6. Players should not share drinks or snacks with each other;
  7. Players should avoid high-fives and handshakes;
  8. Sanitize hard surfaces and shared equipment that leagues utilize; If volunteers are uncomfortable or cannot attend league or district meeting{s}, utilize free phone/web conferencing service.

Bhalla also added that the City was taking special precautions to sanitize. Hop buses are cleaning and sanitizing the interior of each bus multiple times a day, municipal garages are cleaning and sanitizing ticket machines and pay stations, licensed taxi drivers must clean and sanitize the interiors of cabs multiple times per day, and City Hall, Multi-Service Center, Police Headquarters, Jackson Street Gym, and restroom facilities in parks will be “further enhancing implemented sanitizing practices of cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, and adding and refilling additional hand sanitizer dispensers when needed.”

So far, the 32-year-old West New York man is the only confirmed case of Coronavirus in Hudson County. The man was admitted to the hospital on March 9. Surrounding counties have also reported confirmed cases of COVID-19, including Bergen County and Camden County; New York City and Fort Lee have also seen positive diagnoses of Coronavirus.

Prior to the City of Hoboken declaring its own State of Emergency, Governor Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency throughout New Jersey on March 9. Declaring a State of Emergency is a way for municipalities to gain access to resources and financial help that can aid in assisting communities affected by the emergency event.

“The State of New Jersey is committed to deploying every available resource, across all levels of government, to help respond to the spread of COVID-19 and keep our residents informed,” Gov. Murphy said in an offiical statement.

The State has also set up a Coronavirus hotline for anyone who has questions or concerns. As of this writing, New Jersey has confirmed 29 cases of Coronavirus.

The message from the City of Hoboken continues:

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that include the common cold as well as much more serious diseases. The strain that emerged in China in late 2019, now called COVID-19, is related to others that have caused serious outbreaks in recent years, including severe acute respiratory syndrome {SARS} and Middle East respiratory syndrome {MERS}. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was on Jan. 21.

Jersey City has also been tackling concerns of Coronavirus head-on. Earlier in the week, the JC school district announced that any student who arrives to school wearing a preventative face mask will be presumed ill and sent home. {The Centers for Disease Control has issued a statement that face masks should only be worn by those who are affected by a disease or illness and should not be worn as a preventative measure.} The school district also added that all schools are implementing rigorous cleaning and sanitizing schedules.

cleaning products coronavirus

Jersey City schools also advised that parents of students who have recently traveled to an area in the world significantly impacted by Coronavirus should reach out to the school principal or nurse before sending the child to school again.

Hudson County View is also reporting that an after an employee of Pershing LLC, a branch of Bank of New York Mellon, was believed to have contracted COVID-19, some Jersey School districts are informing the parents of students via phone call that there might be a possible exposure. Several seniors at Dickinson High School and Ferris High School could have come in contact with the employee as part of an internship.

“This is Gekson Casillas, principal at Dickinson High School, and this call is to inform you that we received information that students in an internship at a Downtown company are working at a business with a possible case of COVID-19,” Dickinson said over a robo phone call that went out today. “The students have been advised to remain at home at the recommendation of the health department. We are currently working with the Jersey City Health Department to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Please remain calm as we continue to take steps to follow the recommendations and will continue to update you as we receive more information.”

In light of the situation, 20 seniors at Ferris High School have opted to self-quarantine.

Earlier this week, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop also announced the cancellation of all city-sponsored and city-involved events for the foreseeable future.

As of Thursday, Fulop has also enacted a curfew on local nightlife. While restaurants are currently allowed to remain open, all bars and nightclubs will close at a not-yet-determined time starting this weekend. The curfew will extend, for now, until next week.

If you have questions or concerns, New Jersey has set up a statewide Coronavirus Information Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. You can also contact the West New York Health Department at 201-295-5070.

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Stephanie Osmanski writes honest things about health, the planet, and being a woman. Her words have appeared on Business Insider, Parade, Eat This Not That, Dogster, Scary Mommy, Green Matters, Parents, Seventeen, Life & Style, InTouch Weekly, and more. Her articles have been syndicated on World Economic Forum, MSN, MSN UK, and MSN Canada. In her free time, Stephanie and her registered therapy dog, Koda, volunteer at local hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.