COVID-19 rips through HS sports team, N.J. superintendent says

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At least 14 members of a Glen Ridge High School athletic team have tested positive for COVID-19, the schools’ superintendent said in a letter to the school community.

And over 20 people in total have tested positive for the virus in the past two weeks, prompting the five-school district to close school buildings for the past two weeks for remote learning, Superintendent Dirk Phillips said in four letters sent to the community.

The specific athletic team is not mentioned in the letters. Phillips did not immediately return a request for comment Monday evening.

“The number of cases at the high school is alarming,” Phillips wrote in a Nov. 29 letter, reporting seven positive cases – six members of the same athletic team.

The next day, Phillips wrote in a second letter that eight more members of the same team tested positive. “The district is once again encouraging parents to limit social gatherings for their children and follow other safety recommendations to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 within the community.”

On Dec. 2, Phillips reported five more cases, and said schools would have to stay remote for another week, starting Monday, Dec. 7. Three of the positives were from the high school, and one each at the Linden Avenue and Central schools.

“With each new issue, additional positive COVID-19 cases and quarantines of peers or family members are possible. Hopefully, during the next ten days, the number of COVID-19 related incidents will decrease,” Phillips wrote.

On Friday, Dec. 4, Phillips wrote, “The district continues to receive information about multiple individuals within our school community who have tested positive for COVID-19.”

Phillips said in the letter that four cases were reported since Thursday, two at the high school and cases at the Ridgewood Avenue and Central School. Three out of the four new cases are connected to previous cases, Phillips wrote.

New Jersey is publicly reporting outbreaks at schools, but by county and not by district or school.

As of Sunday, that number stood at 70 outbreaks, with 285 linked cases. None have occurred in Essex County, home to Glen Ridge.

Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy halted all indoor high school sports and other leagues for four weeks in an effort to battle the second wave of COVID-19 cases that have been crushing the Garden State for several weeks.

On Monday, New Jersey reported another 3,573 cases of the coronavirus, with 313 in Essex County.

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Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com.