Covid-19 outbreak shuts down Paterson school district offices | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Covid-19 outbreak shuts down Paterson school district offices

By Jayed Rahman
Published: October 20, 2020


A coronavirus outbreak at the Paterson Public Schools headquarters has forced the closure of an entire floor.

School officials said two people tested positive for Covid-19 last week and a third person, a subcontractor, tested positive on Monday.

Superintendent Eileen Shafer quietly quarantined the entire first floor. School board members said they were never told about the outbreak.

“I can’t tell you anything. I don’t know anything about it,” said school board president Kenneth Simmons on Tuesday morning.

“We should have been informed,” added school board member Emanuel Capers. “We’re putting the community at risk by not telling them.”

School board member Jonathan Hodges, the longest serving member of the board, said he was not notified about the outbreak. School board member Corey Teague said he has not received any communications from the district about the outbreak.

Teague said he only saw the district transportation office had been closed on Facebook.

“Not by any means,” said Teague when asked if it was acceptable.

“That’s not acceptable at all,” said Simmons.

But Shafer’s spokesman Paul Brubaker said Simmons was notified when the first case was reported on October 13. He said Shafer informed all central office employees on the case and advised them to monitor their health.

The entire building was sanitized that night, said Brubaker.

On October 16, another employee on the first floor tested positive for the virus. Deputy superintendent Susana Peron informed the employees of the second case via a virtual meeting.

Shafer and her team put out a notice that the transportation and registration, two departments that have positive cases, will be closed until October 29. The notice posted on the district’s website and social media does not state why the offices were closed.

School officials said Shafer had her staff at 90 Delaware Avenue working at the headquarters during the pandemic. She herself worked out of the office as well, officials said.

Brubaker said parents who had appointments were contacted and told offices were closed temporarily. Shafer held a virtual meeting with all employees who work out of 90 Delaware Avenue to inform them about the cases on Monday.

“The public was notified of these cases to the extent allowable by public health officials’ protocols. If a member of the public had been in contact with any of the employees who tested positive, they were notified by the Paterson Health Department.  Otherwise, the communications to the general public pertained to the closing of first floor offices and rescheduling of appointments,” said Brubaker.

Brubaker said both Simmons and the Passaic County schools superintendent were notified of the cases.

Schools in Paterson have been operating remotely because of the pandemic. Schools are expected to remain all-remote until January 19.

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