March 2, 2022

Dear School Community Member:

Good afternoon. I hope this note finds you well rested after the winter recess. Last week we received the updated guidance from the NJDOH. After reviewing the new recommendations and consulting with the Park Ridge Board of Education, administration, teacher leadership and our school nurses, we have developed a plan that will keep healthy children in school. Please be advised of the following:

  • Masking in school and on all school transportation is optional as of Monday, March 7, 2022. A student/staff member may choose to wear a mask or choose not to. District staff will not monitor the wearing of student masks. We ask that parents have a conversation with their child about their mask expectations while attending school. Also, please remind your child that families will be making different masking choices and that’s okay. We want all school community members to be comfortable, regardless of whether or not they are wearing a mask.

  • In consultation with the BCDOH, the Park Ridge School District may decide to reinstate mask requirements temporarily at any time, but particularly when/if community virus spread is high, or when the CALI score is red or orange.

  • Students and staff will be required to wear masks upon return to school after testing positive and quarantining, or if they become ill during the school day with COVID-19 symptoms and are waiting for a parent to take them home. Therefore, as the case is now, a student or staff member who returns from the five-day quarantine would be required to wear a mask in school for days 6-10.

  • Needless to say, contact tracing in a mask-optional environment will be extremely challenging. It is important to note that we will continue to maintain 3 feet of distancing in all classrooms and keep in place all of our current mitigation practices. However, we will only quarantine COVID-19 positive students or individuals who are exhibiting symptoms. If your child is sick, please do not send him/her to school. (Note: Students with symptoms will still need a negative COVID-19 test to return to school.)

  • Distancing mitigation efforts during lunch will not change. We will continue to eat in classrooms at the elementary schools and utilize additional space at the high school. Once the weather warms up, we will reinstall tents at all schools and eat outside on a regular basis.

  • This year very few parents, especially at the elementary schools, have requested that their quarantined child views a livestream from the classroom during the school day. As a matter of fact, a large majority of parents have simply requested to pick-up the missed work or have it brought home by a sibling. To that end, starting on March 7th, we will no longer offer livestreaming for COVID-19 positive students or symptomatic students who are awaiting test results. Teachers will be available to communicate with older students about missed work via email and/or Schoology. Elementary parents will need to contact the school to arrange for collecting missed work and assignments. 

At Governor Murphy’s press conference on February 23, 2022, he spoke about moving to a new normal and transitioning from a pandemic to an endemic. The next step in our new normal is to place the onus on parents to keep symptomatic children at home, so everyone else can remain healthy and in school. Suffice it to say, the Park Ridge Board of Education is committed to keeping healthy students and staff members in the classroom … that is where they belong.

In closing, the pandemic has created many challenges for all of us during the last two years. I know we are all looking forward to normalcy and the changes on March 7th will go a long way in getting us there. Thank you for your support, patience and assistance since March 13, 2020. This has been a long road with many twists and turns.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions.


Robert M. Gamper, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools