Lakehurst School Closed To Students After Controversial Reopening

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  LAKEHURST – District officials announced Lakehurst Elementary School will be closed until after President’s Day weekend due to COVID-19 cases. This comes after some parents and staff petitioned the district not to reopen.

  The district posted a message that it will be closed to students starting January 29. Students will have 100 percent virtual learning until they return on Tuesday, February 16.

  “Due to circumstances beyond our control and an increase in COVID positive cases within the district, the Ocean County Health Department has advised a two week remote learning schedule for the entire school district,” the message stated.

  However, critics of reopening have said that it was within the district’s control to slow the spread of cases and that this comes as no surprise.

  The district, which has k-8th grade students, went to full remote learning on December 9 due to increased cases of the coronavirus noted in the community. They returned to in-person education on January 19. Now, they closed 10 days later, which was actually eight school days.

Lakehurst Teachers Association President Cherie Menchini speaks to the audience and the Lakehurst Board of Education during an emergency meeting held at the Lakehurst School gym. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  An emergency Board of Education meeting was held the week before the January 19 reopening which drew more than 30 people.

  Cherie Menchini, who heads the school district’s Teachers Association addressed how the teachers want to come back and they love teaching in person, but it has to be safe. They also had concerns about finding substitute teachers, the district’s protocol for if a staff member can’t return to the building, how to enforce children staying home when sick, and a lack of contact tracing.

  She said resumption to full instruction at the current time would be “reckless for students, staff and all who they come in contact with.”

  At the time of the emergency meeting, January 13, there were 167 positive tests in Lakehurst.

Former Lakehurst Board of Education member Joann Septor addresses audience members and the Board of Education during a recent emergency meeting of the Board. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  On the first day that the school went back to remote, January 29, that number was 192.

  These numbers come from the Ocean County Health Department’s website ( It shows the number of positive cases since the start of the outbreak last year. So, to clarify, Lakehurst has had 192 positive cases since March of 2020, not 192 active cases today. However, these figures also show that they doubled in cases since they first closed in December.

  At the emergency meeting, the Board of Education had decided to reopen on January 19. Board President James Malden said “We will see how we can make it safer with the procedures we have in place and if something goes wrong within the next two weeks or if we see things starting to go awry, we will revisit this.”