A Princeton Public School District employee has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release issued by the Princeton Health Department on March 19.
The patient is a teacher at Riverside Elementary School, according to reporting from Planet Princeton. The Health Department is “in the process of identifying and contacting all those who may have come in contact with the infected person,” according to their release.
“While this does not document community spread (transmission from person to person in the community with no known source) it emphasizes that exposure is occurring in our community,” the release notes.
The teacher who tested positive is not a resident of Princeton, according to the release.
There have been five confirmed cases of coronavirus in Princeton residents, all stemming from “a February 29th house party where two attendees from the Boston area later tested positive for the virus,” according to the town’s recently-launched COVID-19 website. This statistic does not include the Riverside Elementary School teacher nor University staff members who tested positive and reside outside of Princeton.
Steve Cochrane, the superintendent of Princeton Public Schools, reiterated current procedures and precautionary measures in his own message to the families and staff of the district earlier this afternoon. Additionally, Cochrane wrote that the employee “is currently in the hospital and beginning to feel better.”
“Our thoughts are with that member of our school family,” he added. “We will get through this difficult time together.”
With this case, teachers in at least four New Jersey public school districts have tested positive for COVID-19. As of yesterday, teachers in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District, Livingston Public School District, and Cranford Public School District had tested positive, according to reporting from NJ.com.
Timberlane Middle School, where the Hopewell Township teacher who tested positive works, is also located in Mercer County, less than ten miles from Riverside Elementary School.
There have been 20 positive test results in Mercer County and 742 across the state, as of noon yesterday, and nine New Jersey residents have died from COVID-19.
As of Monday, the Princeton Public School District is participating in “distance learning.” Most district and educational functions have become electronic, with nearly everything from lessons to facilities committee meetings made virtual.
This was originally scheduled to take place through March 27. However, Monday afternoon, Governor Phil Murphy closed all in-person schools across the state “until such a time as deemed by health officials to be safe for classes to resume.”
Cochrane has since described the school district’s situation as “incredibly fluid.”
In the meantime, Cochrane is urging students and families to wash their hands, disinfect surfaces, and continue to “social distance.”
“Avoid non-essential trips, and maintain a six-foot distance between other people if you must go out,” he wrote yesterday. “For children this is not a time for sleepovers, play dates, birthday parties or congregating of any kind.”