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Borough update; Social distancing guidelines

OFFICIAL as of March 17, 2020

  • Public and private schools, pre-schools, and activity centers are closed
  • Borough businesses may operate on reduced hours, with the exception of certain convenience, grocery, and drug stores, as well as gas stations and healthcare facilities. Please consider supporting our local businesses by shopping online or purchasing gift certificates for future use.
  • Restaurants and breweries are permitted to operate for take-out services and delivery only, with proper health and safety precautions, until 8pm each evening.
  • A curfew is recommended from 8pm to 5am, unless your employer or an emergency require you to be outside or traveling.
  • All previously-scheduled public events, including runs/walks, field trips, egg hunts, and other community gatherings are canceled for the months of March and April, and are subject to postponement.
  • No door-to-door soliciting is permitted at this time.
  • Residents should stay at home, limit interaction with others, and only travel for food, medicine, healthcare, assisting family members, or work that is required.
  • Residents should practice good hygiene, including washing hands frequently with soap and water, using hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and avoiding touching their faces.
  • Residents should refrain from congregating downtown and gathering in groups in order to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 to one another, and to limit the risk of exposure to our first responders.

A message from the Police Chief

OFFICIAL from Chief Jason Cutler, on March 17, 2020

The Haddonfield Police Department is taking measures to ensure that the Haddonfield community, our officers and our civilian employees remain safe and healthy amid the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Because of these health and safety concerns, and until further notice, we will be modifying non-emergency police responses and the methods we use to take police reports.

First, we ask that you refrain from physically coming to the Haddonfield Police Department unless you have a true emergency that needs to be addressed immediately. If you do come to the department, a phone is located outside the front door. This phone will connect you to the police dispatcher and they will coordinate with police supervisors to determine if there is an emergency that needs an officer response. If it is determined that an officer is not needed, you will be asked to leave your phone number and an officer will contact you shortly to take your report.

Second, all persons needing to make a police report or who need to discuss non-emergency matters are still encouraged to call (856) 429-3000 and speak with one of our dispatchers. If a police supervisor determines that it is not necessary for an officer to physically respond to take your report, we will still be more than happy to have an officer take your report over the phone and provide you with the same level of concern, professionalism and police service that we would during typical face-to-face contact.

Third, you may file or request a report using our online services by following the links below:

Please understand that these modifications are only temporary and will NOT impact the way that we respond to emergencies or high priority calls for service. Please still DIAL 9-1-1 in the event of a true emergency and our officers will respond with the same urgency as they normally do. This includes but is not limited to crimes in progress, incidents of domestic violence, motor vehicle accidents, and incidents where there is the potential for serious bodily injury or death.

These modifications are to help prevent unnecessary contact and interactions between people to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 from person to person. We remain dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of all residents and visitors of Haddonfield and we will continue to provide you with the best police services possible moving forward. As always, we value the positive relationship we maintain with the members of the Haddonfield community and we thank you for your anticipated cooperation with these new procedures.

Commissioners declare state of emergency

OFFICIAL from the Borough of Haddonfield, March 17, 2020

Last night, the Board of Commissioners and the Borough Emergency Management Coordinator declared a state of emergency in Haddonfield due to the ongoing public health and safety threat posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

A declaration of emergency allows our municipal government to take certain actions to protect the health and welfare of residents, ensure the continued operation of borough government during the emergency, and apply for federal and state assistance. It includes activating an emergency operations plan, authorizing enhances public safety functions, and empowering certain officials and employees to streamline processes and waive rules to address urgent needs during the emergency.

The declaration supplements those announced by federal, state, and county officials and all of them are in force until further notice. As a result, the following restrictions are in place throughout the Borough of Haddonfield, effective immediately.

  • Residents should stay at home, limit interaction with others, and only travel for food, medicine, healthcare, assisting a family member, or work that is required.
  • Residents should practice good hygiene, including washing hands frequently with soap and water, using hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and avoiding touching their faces.
  • Residents should refrain from congregating downtown and gathering in groups in order to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus to one another, and to limit the risk of exposure to our first responders.
  • A general curfew is in place to stay at home between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. each day unless an emergency requires you to be outside or traveling.
  • All borough buildings and facilities are closed to the public, including Borough Hall offices, Haddonfield Public Library, Mabel Kay Senior Center, 65 Club clubhouse, Crows Woods complex, Public Works complex, Fire House, and all fields, public playgrounds, gardens, and recreation facilities throughout town.
  • Public and private schools, pre-schools, and activity centers are closed.
  • Downtown retail businesses are operating with reduced hours and many are closed, with the exception of certain food, convenience, and drug stores (Acme, CVS, Rite Aid, and 7-Eleven). Consider supporting our local businesses by shopping online or purchasing gift certificates now for future use.
  • Restaurants and breweries are permitted to operate for take-out service and delivery only, with proper health and safety precautions.
  • Most municipal services continue to be offered, with staff in place with proper precautions. Staff will continue responding to telephone and email inquiries. Trash and recycling pickup continue as usual.
  • The Haddonfield Municipal Court, located in the Audubon Municipal Building, is closed through at least March 30, 2020.
  • Suspended services and activities include public library programs, senior citizen programs, recreation programs, youth sports, athletic leagues, and attendance at church services.
  • The Borough has canceled all public meetings through the end of April for all municipal boards, commissions, and committees. If Board of Commissioners, Board of Health, or Public Safety/Emergency Management meetings are required to take place, they will be done by teleconference and livestreamed for public observation and participation.
  • All previously-scheduled public events, including runs/walks, field trips, egg hunt, and other community gatherings are cancelled for the months of March and April. Later events are subject to postponement.
  • Parking at meters and kiosks is free through April 30, 2020 and overnight parking restrictions will be relaxed until further notice.
  • No door-to-door soliciting is permitted at this time.

Residents may contact Borough Hall offices at 429-4700 with important concerns or questions. Police reposts may be called in to 429-3000. For emergencies, dial 911.

The above is not a complete listing of all restrictions and/or closures and is subject to change at any time. More complete information will be posted on the Borough website at www.HaddonfieldNJ.org, including links to federal, state, and county resources regarding the coronavirus and staying healthy. Please also look for additional information on social media, in local newspapers, and in the mail.

Thank you for joining us in putting public health and safety first. Your cooperation as we urge everyone to stay home, stay healthy, and prevent the spread of this virus is essential at this time!

  • Mayor Neal Rochford
  • Commissioner Jeffrey S. Kasko
  • Commissioner Colleen Bianco Bezich

Public Schools update

A School District newsletter published on March 16 included a message (below) from Superintendent Larry Mussoline about how the public schools are carrying out their mission during this extraordinary time. The full newsletter is HERE.

Dear Haddonfield Families:

What an interesting week! Maybe there is another way to describe it. Not sure.

Today, among all the world and national issues related to this bonafide pandemic,Governor Murphy closed all N.J. schools and many other public places indefinitely. No time frame. Two weeks to start but “most likely longer” is what the Commissioner of Education said today.

It seems to be a daunting time. So much of what we hear and see on the news causes anxiety; an understandable reaction to what is certainly an unprecedented interval in all our lives. However, now more than ever, the message has to be one of calmness and composure. Not fear. Here’s an interesting article from UPenn’s Director of Positive Psychology Center, Dr. Martin Seligman, that is worth the read. Let’s let this era in our lives play out by practicing cleanliness and social distancing. Let’s be smart about being in crowds. This too shall pass.

I periodically check the World Health Organization (WHO) website to catch up on the latest information, and last Monday, the Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wrote the following:

“Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic is real. But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled. The bottom line is: we are not at the mercy of this virus. The great advantage we have is that the decisions we all make – as governments, businesses, communities, families, and individuals – can influence the trajectory of this epidemic. We need to remember that with decisive, early action, we can slow down the virus and prevent infections. Among those who are infected, most will recover.”

I was struck by the line “the decisions we all make – as governments, businesses, communities, families, and individuals – can influence the trajectory of this epidemic.” Here in Haddonfield, of course, we already decided it was best to shutter our schools from having so many congregate in one place for a starting period of two weeks. Please know that the latest CDC guidance is to close school systems at least four weeks and possibly for eight weeks. I can’t tell you how happy I am that we have been writing to staff discussing plans for a possible cyber education program due to a closure for the past two weeks. Seriously, we are way ahead of many other school systems that moved on this later.

It was because of that always-be-prepared attitude that I wrote to all of you last Monday afternoon to announce a one-day cancellation of classes, occurring today. As you read this, our faculty and staff are working together to make plans for seamless lesson transitions from face-to-face to online learning in order to keep the pace of instruction smooth over the next two weeks. Undoubtedly viewed as an inconvenience last week, today’s “snow day with no snow” is absolutely necessary to ensure that your children continue their education in the atmosphere of our current school closure. I believe we will all sleep better knowing we can handle this closure, whatever the duration, and continue the business of educating your children through this period.

There are two prevailing philosophies of education during school closures that school leaders around the state and nation are deploying. One is to provide enrichment work through packet-like handouts that students will simply work on during the time off. The other, which defines our philosophy, is to maintain educational continuity by continuing our daily work with your children online. See our Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Colleen Murray’s explanation of this philosophy of education linked here.

Some thoughts on homeschooling during a prolonged shutdown:

● The district is committed to ensuring all of our students eat proper lunches during a mandated closure. To that end, anyone attending any Haddonfield school can come to the middle school cafeteria between 11:00 a.m. and noon each day that we are closed to pick up a brown bag lunch, free of charge.

● Check-in with your children daily about their virtual school learning tasks, activities, and assessments that they are working on.

● Encourage adherence and attendance in the virtual school check-in times offered by each of your children’s teachers.

● Designate a place where your child will work independently on his/her assigned tasks.

● Be a part of this new endeavor by asking your child to provide a brief summary of the learning he/she is engaging in for each class to ensure their understanding of the content and of the process and to demonstrate their learning.

● Ask your children about their deadline calendar and support them, as needed, in submitting assignments in accordance with the established deadlines set up by each teacher.

● Remind your children to email his/her teacher(s) if they have questions and to participate in each teacher’s live office hours (they will send them) for synchronous learning.

● If remote Internet access is required, please see our virus web page for Internet options. Comcast is offering free internet for families who qualify. There are some options in town for free Internet, but check first because of closures of public places.

● Dedicate appropriate time to learning, as guided by your students’ teachers.

● Check appropriate Canvas and Google Classroom teacher accounts and emails for information on courses, assignments, and resources, on a daily basis.

● Attend and participate in virtual school office hours offered by each of your teachers to communicate with them in real time.

● Engage in the virtual school platform with academic honesty.

We have canceled all events including athletics during the time period we are off from school for social distancing reasons surrounding crowds. Again, we will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions that the Board and I feel are in the best interest of our students, the overall school community, our families and our Haddonfield community.

Please take a look at our web page “Cold & Virus Prevention/Coronavirus” for helpful information. This page is fluid; we made changes and/or additions almost every day. There is some great advice from Harvard’s School of Public Health on the meaning of social distancing for parents. Look through the resources; they may be very helpful to you.

Thank you for your patience and understanding while we continue to try to do our very best for you, our students and staff. These are uncharted waters for all of us in a traditional face-to-face school system. We are unlike colleges that have employed cyberlearning options for the past many years. They can close and continue the business of education much more easily than we can. But the silver lining in this foray into cyberlearning for our K12 school system is that we will become better at it. That has the potential to translate into cyber and blended learning opportunities for children and families who are interested in those opportunities to better prepare for college in the future. Of course, that will be up to future school leaders.

Sincerely,

Larry Mussoline, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent to resign

Photo: Matt Skoufalos, NJPen.com

OFFICIAL from the Board of Education, March 12, 2020

At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Education, Thursday, March 12, 2020, Dr. Lawrence Mussoline formally announced that he will resign from his position as Superintendent of Schools effective June 30, 2020.

In June of 2018, Dr. Mussoline accepted the job as Superintendent in Haddonfield after retiring from the Downingtown School District “Dr. Mussoline grabbed the reins of a district in need of major rebuilding and clear leadership,” said Board President Adam Sangillo “I am happy to report that he has righted the ship, built an exceptionally committed administrative team, and put us back on track to move forward effectively, making the progress necessary for continued excellence in education. We knew from the beginning that his broad experience and expertise would identify the remedies for gaps that had to be addressed immediately and would start us down the best path to our strong future.”

At the beginning of his tenure in Haddonfield, Mussoline led a Long-Range Strategic Planning process that identified district goals and that eventually led to significant changes in the areas of social-emotional learning, cultural competency and diversity, and contemporary teaching and learning. “Under Dr. Mussoline’s leadership, the Board, administration, faculty, staff, and community members have worked together to address needs in the areas of school safety, compliance with state regulations and policies, updating curriculum, redesigning academic schedules, improving and increasing technology, completing facilities improvements, and personnel, to name a few,” said Sangillo. “He has accomplished a great deal in a very short time.”

According to Sangillo, the Board of Education has begun working on a plan to replace Mussoline and will update the community in the near future.

Public schools close

OFFICIAL from Haddonfield School District — Starting Tuesday, March 17 up to and including Friday, March 27 all Haddonfield schools will be closed to protect our school community and to do our part to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. All extracurricular and athletic activities are also canceled during this time period. 

There is a possibility that this closure could extend beyond Friday, March 27. Education will continue during this closure period uninterrupted. Your child’s teachers and principal will be communicating with you about your child’s online learning plans on Monday as we meet with staff to plan for our adventure in cyber learning. We know that you have a lot of questions, we will be doing our best to answer those questions in the upcoming week. This is all very new to us also. Best wishes, be safe and we will hopefully see everyone back at school on Monday, March 30.