Despite a national pandemic and rising Covid-19 cases in New Jersey, the Lakewood School District has responsibly continued to provide in-person instruction to its students, with few positive cases found simultaneously among its teachers and student body, and no reported cases of in-school transmission amongst students.
A school official who spoke to TLS said that the precautions taken by Lakewood public schools are to thank for the continued smooth operation of classroom instruction. The official noted that the School District has taken upon itself to implement precautions that go beyond those required by the New Jersey Department of Health.
“The precautions we have taken, including the plexiglass we put up, requiring masks to be worn in school and on buses, lowering the maximum number of students on buses, temperature checks, and creating separate student cohorts, are why we have had so few cases and zero cases of transmission in the schools themselves,” the school official told TLS.
Approximately 85% of Lakewood’s public school students are currently receiving instruction in person, with the rest receiving remote instruction, as well as food packages, at home.
“Our partners in health at CHEMED and Ocean Health Initiatives, as well as Dr. Margaret Fisher and Dr. Shmuel Mandelman are the heroes here. They created and continue to monitor every aspect of our health plan, and they have assisted us above and beyond what we have asked of them,” another school official remarked to TLS.
Dr. Margaret Fisher is Medical Director at the Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center and a world-renowned pediatric infectious disease specialist. Dr. Shmuel Mandelman is an Educational/Neuropsychologist who has worked at Columbia University, Yale University, and Weill Cornell Medical Center. He is also the psychiatric coordinator for Hatzolah of Central Jersey. (See the attached video from Dr. Mandelman on the importance of students being able to receive in-person instruction)
“An overlooked aspect of school attendance is the ability to participate in sports,” the school official continued. “A not-insignificant number of our students are able to afford to go to college because they receive sports scholarships. Denying them the right to participate in organized sports activities literally takes this opportunity away from our students.” (See the attached video from Lakewood School District’s Supervisor of Guidance and Athletic Director Oscar Orellana regarding the schools’ sports protocols)
Just one of Lakewood’s approximately 400 students who are on sports teams had previously contracted coronavirus, but the infection did not occur at school or from an immediate family member, but from a visiting aunt, according to the Lakewood School District.
“Lakewood’s public schools are and have been a model of excellence in safety and health,” a school administrator told TLS. “It’s why Governor Murphy singled out Lakewood’s public schools as a model for other school districts. We will continue to set the standard and nothing will stop us from providing our students, our children, with the education they need and deserve.”