December 18, 2020

Dear SWSD Families,

SWSD has been very successful in managing the current health pandemic since the start of the school year, and this is all due to the efforts of our entire learning community: ALL of our staff, SWSD families, and our students. Communication and adhering to the NJDOH guidance (i.e. staying home when you do not feel well, quarantining when required, and quarantining when recommended) have been essential components. THANK YOU!

As a result of all of our efforts, the District has only had to transition to an all-remote status for a short period of time around Thanksgiving, and we have been able to remain open up until the winter break. This is not the case for most Districts in Gloucester County, in our own regional school district, and in our surrounding counties. Thank you to EVERYONE for all of your cooperation. SWSD is doing everything within our ability to remain open for our families, students, and staff. WE WANT TO BE OPEN and WE WANT OUR CHILDREN ON-SITE!

However, upon our return to on-site learning on December 7, 2020, the District very quickly realized how effective the two week remote learning period actually was in our ability to remain open. Although very coincidental, our District’s need to quarantine after Thanksgiving aligned to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Policy Lab’s guidance. Unfortunately, it became very clear to the District the real possibility of an extended closure if we did not have that two week period of time. In true transparency, without it, there is NO WAY we would have been able to remain open throughout December.

SWSD wants to avoid an extended closure if at all possible.

In an effort to avoid extended transitions to remote learning once we resume in 2021, the District has made the decision to adhere to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Policy Lab’s guidance and enact a two-week remote learning period following the New Year’s Eve/Day holiday when indoor gatherings will take place. As such, the District will begin an all-remote learning plan for ALL STUDENTS on Monday, January 4, 2021 which will continue through Friday, January, 15, 2021. The District will resume on-site learning for Hybrid Group A on Tuesday, January 19 and 20 and Hybrid Group B on January 21 and 22.

Students attending school on Monday, December 21st (Hybrid Cohort A) and Tuesday, December 22nd (Hybrid Cohort B) will bring their materials home for remote learning to resume for all students from 1/4/21 – 1/15/21. Additional material pick-up days for students absent from school on 12/21 or 12/22 and for our all remote learners will be scheduled at the discretion of your building principal. Please be on the look-out for that information.

It is IMPERATIVE our families continue to keep us informed of any positive test results pertaining to both students and family members as well as quarantine requirements of students and family members.

Currently, the county is identified in the HIGH RISK ("ORANGE") COVID-19 activity level. As a result, the contact tracing practices in our district have been modified. Please be aware ANY student or staff member who demonstrates symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be sent home from school and contact tracing will take place even though the student or staff member is not confirmed Covid-19 positive. As soon as it is determined someone has been in close contact with the symptomatic person they will be sent home and required to quarantine, too. The decision to return back to school will be dependent on the ill person’s medical evaluation and/or COVID-19 test results. The school will serve as the central communication point between the families and the schools. Remember – this information is confidential and protected.

Please realize students or staff who report to school exhibiting Covid-19 like symptoms WILL be sent home by SWSD and will be asked to quarantine until cleared by a medical doctor or the student/staff member receives a negative COVID-19 test. It is imperative families have an established back-up plan for childcare in the event your child exhibits these symptoms or is identified as a close contact of students who exhibit these symptoms. It is essential staff and our families adhere to the following guidelines:

• Stay home when you are sick; do not report to school if you exhibit the above symptoms

• Wash hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds;

• Cover coughs and sneezes and properly disposing of tissues;

• Limit close contact with people who are sick and not sharing food, drinks and utensils;

• Practice social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart);

• Wear a face covering while in school; and

• Continue to monitor your health for symptoms.

This information is posted on our District Reopening Website using the following link:

COVID-19 Regional Risk Matrix The following matrix will be used when identifying students or staff who demonstrate symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Big picture

•On December 15th, the rolling 7-day average for the nation has increased again. It is currently 66 new cases per 100K population, the highest yet. (Rutgers University, 12/15/20)

•At its lowest point this summer, New Jersey was averaging about 2,000 new cases per week. At its highest point his spring, New Jersey was averaging about 4,200 cases every day. Today, the rate of new cases is about 55/100K, compared to 2.8/100K in July and 48/100K in April. This means that the rate of new cases today is 19 times higher than it was in July, and 1.2 times the rates at the previous peak in April. (Rutgers University, 12/15/20).

• Our region, Southwest Region, continues to remain the highest region in the state for both case rate and percent positive. (NJDOH Covid-19 Activity Level Index, 12/17/20)

This (orange) “High Risk” category calls for schools to “consider” all remote learning; however, when the county is identified in “orange” schools are not required to transition to all remote learning. If our county moves into the next tier (red) “Very High Risk,” SWSD will transition to all remote learning. Please be aware SWSD is working hard trying to keep our schools open. Maintaining communication with our families and working together is the only way we can meet this goal. We need the complete cooperation of our entire community.

If the District's circumstances change between now and next Tuesday, January 19, 2021 the District will keep the community updated and informed as soon as possible.


This letter was sent to all families on Friday, December 11, 2020:

Wishing all of our SWSD Families a wonderful holiday season, winter break, and a very happy and healthy new year!


Dr. Kristin P. O’Neil

Swedesboro-Woolwich Superintendent