Twelve Orthodox Jewish day schools in Bergen County, N.J., are closed until at least Friday, March 20, in an effort to stem the number of cases of the coronavirus there.

At least 15 people in Bergen County have tested “presumptive” positive for the coronavirus, or COVID-19. (A presumptive positive means the results have not be verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) Nationwide, more than 1,270 people have the virus—a number that experts say is probably not indicative of the true number of people ill because of a limited number of test kits available.

In a joint letter to parents, signed by the leaders of all the schools, the administrators wrote, “In consultation with medical specialists and representatives from the Bergen County school district, local Jewish day-school leaders have been working together to create a community-wide approach to dealing with this rapidly changing and evolving situation, one that will hopefully slow the spread of the coronavirus in our community. At this time, the schools’ closures will begin on Thursday, March 12th and will remain in effect through Friday, March 20th. Our school leaders will remain in regular contact with each other, the Department of Health and other medical authorities, to discuss the impacts of the coronavirus on our community and how best to continue addressing them proactively.”

Because of the nature of the Bergen County Jewish community, families are often affiliated with more than one school, with significant interaction among the teachers and student populations. Several of the schools reported having a parent, staff member or student with symptoms of the virus.

To ensure that education continues unabated, the letter also said that the schools “will be conducting remote learning classes, rather than in-school instruction. Each school will be transitioning to online platforms to conduct classes in a way that best fits the culture of its respective school.”

The letter urged parents to keep their kids at home and “ … not gather together with friends at their homes or in public places, such as malls, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. Experts have shared that social distancing will help to contain the virus, and it is critical to us as a community that we each do our part to slow its spread.”

The New Jersey schools join a number of other Orthodox school nationwide that have closed because of coronavirus concerns. They include Yeshiva Har Torah in Queens, N.Y.; Harkham Hillel Academy in Beverly Hills, Calif.; Salantar Akiba Riverdale Academy in Riverdale, N.Y.; and several schools in Westchester County, N.Y.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.