Superintendent Suspends Extracurricular Activities After Weekend Party Raises COVID Concerns

By on September 14, 2020

Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio has suspended all school extracurricular activities after a weekend party in the woods off Howell Drive allegedly involving a large number of Verona High School students raised concerns for an outbreak of COVID-19. The suspension includes athletics, marching band and school-based clubs and will last until Monday, September 28. The district had been proceeding with extracurricular activities even though most students are learning remotely until November 6.

The West Orange Police responded to the Howell Drive gathering at the so-called Split Rock site, which is in West Orange, but there were no arrests. The Verona Police responded to other gatherings elsewhere in Verona.

“It was reported that this gathering, which involved a number of Verona High School students, did not follow social distancing or face-covering guidelines,” Dionisio wrote in an email to parents. “It was also reported, however not yet verified, that at least one person at the gathering may have tested positive for COVID-19. This is an allegation the Verona Public School District takes very seriously. The Verona Public School District does not have verified details at this time as to the students who were at the gathering or who may or may not have COVID-19. If your student was at this alleged gathering, please consult your family physician and monitor your student for the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in addition to self-quarantine for 14 days.”

Verona’s fall sports schedule was to have started tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15, with a cross-country meet in Branch Brook Park. Girls tennis was to have its opening match on Friday, September 25 and football was booked for a scrimmage at home against Hoboken that same evening.

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Jim Cunningham, director of community services said by email this afternoon that Recreation Department programs are still operating. But he cautioned that Veronans need to follow the social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering. “Our actions will give us the opportunity to keep the Rec programs running,” he wrote.

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