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Lower Township, Linwood, Mainland schools go virtual amid COVID-19 concerns
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Lower Township, Linwood, Mainland schools go virtual amid COVID-19 concerns

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School Shortages

School buses lined up at the school district's transportation center in Egg Harbor Township Thursday Aug 20, 2020. Shortages of bus drivers, substitute teachers and school nurses prior to the pandemic. Edward Lea Staff Photographer / Press of Atlantic City

At least three South Jersey school districts are changing their instruction plans as COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout the state.

In a letter to parents Thursday, Lower Township school officials said they will be switching to 100% virtual instruction as of Friday.

“The district will remain closed for in-person instruction through winter break,” according to the letter. “We will monitor the impact that this virus is having on our community and provide an update on Dec. 21, 2020, to our families regarding the reopening or extended closure of our schools for in-person instruction.”

Similarly, officials at Mainland Regional High School in Linwood announced the school would be closed for in-person instruction Friday, but only for the day.

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“We are making this decision because we have just been informed that a non-classroom staff member that was in the building today has since tested positive for COVID-19,” according to a Thursday letter to parents. “Due to the late hour, we are taking the precautionary measure of closing the high school to students, faculty and staff tomorrow. If anyone is identified as a close contact, the Department of Health and/or the school nurses will be following up.

“We are working with the Atlantic County Department of Health to ensure a safe return to in-person instruction after the Thanksgiving break,” the letter continues.

Linwood school officials said two of their buildings would be closed for three days next week, with students on a virtual schedule.

Both the Belhaven Avenue and Seaview Avenue schools will be closed to students Monday through Wednesday, according to a notification sent to staff obtained by The Press.

“This decision did not come easy or without many considerations,” according to the letter. “Due to the rise in cases in our area, positive cases reported in both Seaview and Belhaven today, the approaching holiday break, staff coverage and time (to coordinate) contract tracing in conjunction with the NJDOH, we have decided the safest decision for all students and staff is to close the buildings through next week.”

The note goes on to encourage staff not to tell students at this time, but to have them bring home any necessary supplies for virtual learning, and encouraging staff to work from home next week.

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