The Audubon Board of Education reports that Superintendent Andrew Davis is recovering from the virus. Since returning to in-person instruction November 9, several cases have been identified within the district.
By Matt Skoufalos | November 21, 2020
UPDATE: Nov. 22, 2020 – 11 p.m. — Audubon School District has switched to a fully remote learning model for its junior-senior high school and for Mansion Avenue School through at least Wednesday of this week.
The district announced a flurry of new cases in the past five days, including two at its junior-senior high school and three at Mansion Avenue School.
The decision to close came late Sunday evening, with administrators citing information received after the announcement of those COVID cases over the weekend as well as “the need to contact-trace.”
Both schools will switch to remote learning for Monday and Tuesday, November 23-24; Wednesday is a district-wide remote learning day. Haviland Avenue School will remain open for hybrid learning Monday and Tuesday.
Stick with NJ Pen for updates.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit Audubon schools, as Superintendent Andrew Davis has been hospitalized with complications from the virus and five other cases were identified within the district: three at Mansion Avenue School and two at the junior-senior high school.
In a statement provided to the local board of education, Davis said he began feeling symptoms of the virus during the first weekend of November, and was self-quarantining when he received a positive test result.
“The timelines were fortunate, since I was not in contact with anyone in the district over the 48-hour period prior to and after the onset of my symptoms,” Davis wrote.
In the days that followed, his condition worsened, however, and the superintendent checked himself into a hospital for treatment. Nonetheless, Davis reported that he is continuing to work remotely while he recuperates.
“Please know that it is not a question of if I will be well enough to return home and to work, but rather when,” Davis wrote. “I have been and will continue collaborating with district leadership and the board to keep the district in order.
“As a passionate servant leader, it is difficult not to work,” he wrote; “it is how I express my love.
“Please remain vigilant in this fight against this pandemic and in the true support of one another,” the superintendent wrote. “I look forward to a speedy return.”
Audubon Curriculum Director Shamus Burke confirmed that Davis has been in regular contact with the district and its administrative team since contracting the virus.
“As much as we tell him, ‘Go get some sleep, go get better,’ his dedication to the district is still shining through,” Burke said.
Audubon began the year in a fully remote instructional model; students did not return to in-person instruction in a hybrid model until November 9. Since then, however, at least five people within the district have tested positive for the virus, excluding Davis. Three of those—the Mansion Avenue School cases—were announced Saturday.
In the interests of individual privacy, the district did not identify those people sickened by the virus, nor whether they may be students, staff, or faculty.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard, Camden County leads the state in school-related COVID-19 cases, with 54 cases linked to nine county schools. Throughout New Jersey, 56 school-associated outbreaks have led to 239 COVID-19 infections.
In a letter to the school community, Burke and Audubon Board Secretary Deborah Roncace urged residents to “remain prepared” and “keep in mind that outside activities (evenings and weekends) impact our schools.
“Whether it affects student or staff attendance, these impacts result in mandatory quarantines that negatively impact schools,” Roncace and Burke wrote.
“In fact, many surrounding districts have already had one or more buildings shut down onsite instruction for a variety of COVID-19 related impacts.”
School officials also reminded parents and guardians that if conditions worsen, the district could return to a fully remote learning model with little advance notice.
“If too many in our school community are forced to quarantine, it will become difficult to safely supervise your children,” the letter continued.
“We are doing our best to stay open, but this spike is taking its toll on our ability to staff our schools appropriately,” it reads.
“With this in mind, please make a plan for your family should we have to close one or more of our schools with little notice.”
Burke said the district is in regular communication with the Camden County Health Department and, as of Friday afternoon, did not have cause to revert to a fully remote learning model.
“Our staff has been really creative on how it is that they work with the kids through all of this,” Burke said. “The kids are learning, and that’s one of our primary objectives here. Whether it be fully remote or in a hybrid model, I would say that our staff has risen to the challenge.”
Audubon Mayor John Ward offered his concerns for Davis’ health and wished him a speedy recovery.
“This just proves that no one is immune to this disease,” Ward said.
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