Kearny resumes in-person learning

When Kearny public schools opened Sept. 7, it marked the first time the district resumed in-school instruction since the onset of the pandemic.

During April and May of this year, the district operated as a “hybrid” system, with some days of the school week designated for virtual learning and some for in-classroom sessions.

“Now we are 100% in-person,” Superintendent Patricia Blood said, noting the district is adhering to the gubernatorial and state Department of Education mandates directing all students and staff to return to school for classroom learning.

For Thursday, Sept. 9, the district attendance rate was about 94%, which Blood characterized as “average” for the start of the school year. Typically, she said, “we run between 92% and 96%.”

Blood attributed the fall-off to some students having been quarantined due, either to having traveled out of the country, or being identified as having had close contact with someone who tested positively for COVID-19.

She said the Town of Kearny has logged a weekly average of 5.9 new COVID cases.

Additionally, eight families with youngsters from various grade levels have requested home schooling, according to Blood.

For all others coming to school, Blood said, “We are following CDC (federal Center for Disease Control) and local Health Department guidelines” for admitting students and staff into school buildings.

That means everybody entering a school facility must have their temperatures checked by a designated screener who, if the person’s temperature exceeds a certain level, is taken to an isolation area and referred to a school nurse for examination and, if need be, sent home.

The district will ensure any student or staffer exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at the school or who has reported symptoms occurring outside school will be assisted in locating testing.

Once admitted, students and staff are required to wear a face mask, regardless of vaccination status.

Beginning Oct. 18, 2021, all employees in pre-school through grade 12 buildings will be required to be fully-vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to testing at the local Health Department’s mobile lab on Garfield Avenue Monday or Tuesday each week or get tested at a private lab and submit those test results every Wednesday, Blood said.

If an employee gets vaccinated for COVID-19, the employee must wait two weeks to get clearance to report to work, according to the superintendent.

On Friday, Sept. 10, Kearny High School hosted COVID-19 vaccinations for KHS students ages 12 and older with a signed parental permission slip and for any Kearny school district employees.

How many district employees have been vaccinated couldn’t be readily learned this week, nor could the number of families who have elected not to send their children to school for reasons other than home-schooling.

As per state Department of Education guidelines, those seeking a medical exemption from mask-wearing will be required to produce written documentation from a medical professional.

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Ron Leir | For The Observer

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.

He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.

He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York