MLHS Coronavirus Updates

MLHS Coronavirus Updates
Posted on 03/07/2020
All updates from Acting Superintendent Beth Azar will be posted here in chronological order. Thank you, Mr. Sanchez

Email to Students by Mr. Sanchez Following Gov Murphy's School Closure Announcement from 5/4/20

Hello students,

As you may have already heard, Governor Murphy has ordered schools to be closed for the remainder of this school year.

While I respect the gravity of the situation and the need to keep us all safe, I have to admit I am heartbroken.

When my wife and I told our children the news today, there were lots of emotions, lots of tears. I am sure many of you experienced the same today. That is why I urge you to be honest with what you're feeling and talk with your parents, friends, teachers, and counselors. Also, please reach out to me with any questions, concerns, and special circumstances that may be affecting you. 

Although there is much uncertainty in the world right, let me promise you the following:

1. We will create meaningful end-of-school-year experiences to celebrate your accomplishments

2. We will monitor your academic growth and make sure you are doing well emotionally

3. We will celebrate our Seniors and make sure to send them off in a way they deserve!

In fact Seniors, please know we are already planning for a virtual graduation ceremony, but we want to do even more. That is why we need YOUR input in this Senior Suggestions form

Again, stay strong Laker Nation. We miss you. We love you, and we will be there for you.

Keep your head up, Mr. Sanchez & Mr. Pfister

Governor Murphy's Executive Order Regarding School Closure Issued on 5/4/20
New Jersey school districts are required, under the Governor’s Executive Order, to be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Mountain Lakes School District has placed distance learning in effect for all students.

Governor Murphy's Executive Order Regarding School Closure Issued on 4/16/20

Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday ordered New Jersey schools closed until at least May 15 in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The decree covers all public and private schools, as well as colleges and universities. Murphy on March 15 ordered schools closed indefinitely.

COVID-19 Update by Dr. Azar 4/3
Dear Mountain Lakes Families,

I hope you and your family are in good health and enjoy this beautiful day. 

Over the last week, I remained in contact with local health officials, the County Office of Education, Office of Emergency Management and superintendents around Morris County.  As you know Governor Murphy has closed all schools and recently advised that he would revisit the state of our schools on April 17th.  Therefore, at this time, we will close until April 17.  Spring break will continue as planned beginning Monday, April 6 through Monday, April 13th. We will transition back to distance learning on Tuesday, April 14th.  The Administrative Leadership Team will be collaborating to develop our Phase 2 – Preparedness Plan for our return to distance learning.  As part of this phase, we will include our plans for grading as well as plans to cancel or postpone upcoming events, such as the prom or graduations.  We will collaborate to develop creative solutions so that we might still be able to enjoy these sacred traditions with our students.

Our teachers and staff have continued to do an excellent job!  Please take a moment to peruse some of their work.  Thank you Dr. Bangia for developing the photo newsletter!

During this chaotic and surreal time, we can be reminded by the words of Fred Rogers, that there are “Helpers” who offer hope to those around us.  The title of a recent article says it all, “Don’t just look for helpers, Be a Helper”. The Mountain Lakes Public Schools donated and delivered more than 15,000 gloves and several boxes of masks already to the Office of Emergency Management. Thank you! 

Mountain Lakes High School students, Eric Lee and Adam Lalani have become helpers!  I am so proud that they reached out to me this week with their idea to “help” our community. Please take a moment to read their letter to you.

Dear Mountain Lakes Community, 

We are Sophomores at MLHS who want to directly help those within our community who are on the front lines battling against the COVID-19 pandemic.

With donations from a few generous community members, we have already donated 550 surgical masks to doctors, nurses, and first responders in our community.  Additionally, we have recently been able to purchase over 400 CDC-approved N95 masks made in the USA. They will be arriving shortly, and we will be distributing them to workers at their homes who are directly confronting the virus.  We are halfway from our fundraising goal of being able to purchase another case. Given the national shortage in equipment, we are uniquely able to source these masks though a supplier we know to directly help those in our community on the front lines.  

If you are able to support our cause, please consider making a donation through PayPal at ( We will provide updates to the healthcare workers we have supported through email.

If you have any questions, we can be reached at [email protected]

Thank you so much, and best wishes for your health and happiness at this time!

Eric Lee and Adam Lalani

It is important for us to come together as a community to “Be Helpers of Hope”.  While we are on Spring Break this week, please discuss with your family ways of helping others.  We are so incredibly fortunate to live in this great state and in one of the most affluent counties in country.  We are surrounded by so many “things”, so many belongings, that in times like these mean very little..we can reflect on what is truly important ~ family, friends and neighbors.  Perhaps take time to consider what belongings you can part with and develop a plan to make these things available when we come out on the other side for those that are losing everything right now.  Please consider helping our local businesses that have supported our schools through the purchase of gift cards or monetary donations that may help them to survive during this most difficult time.  Students should spend time this week, away from the challenges of distance learning and look to ways to help others that are suffering during this unsettling time.  Our actions now, can certainly impact the lives of others.  We can and should rise to this as a community.

Please also be sure that you are taking care of yourself.  Mental Health professionals have provided the following actions that support self-care.

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting and induce anxious feelings. 

Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, exercise, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and get plenty of sleep. Practice self-care. Make time to unwind and partake in activities you enjoy. Embrace a hobby or take up a new one.

Connect with others and build a social network of positive interactions.  It is easy to get caught up in negativity.  Let’s try to take this time to build each other up.
Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Try to maintain a normal routine. Structure your days with normal meals, break times and time to relax.
Put things into perspective. Think about what you are grateful for and what makes you feel happy in stressful times.
Manage what you can and release what you cannot. Give yourself a break. Acknowledge your stress and focus on what you can control instead of what you cannot. 

Take time to be with your children ~ enjoy each other.   We can get through this together.

Wishing you all good health and a wonderful Spring Break.

Kind regards,  Dr. Beth Azar, Acting Superintendent

School Closing Extension Announcement by Dr. Azar 3/24

Good morning Mountain Lakes School Community,

The COVID-19 Pandemic has jolted everyone across the country and world to consider new ways of living, communicating and learning.  I want to take a moment to acknowledge our incredible staff for their tireless efforts to ensure students continue to have meaningful learning experiences while our schools are closed.  We are in day 6 of our distance learning.  I have received emails, pictures and texts of students, joined zoom meetings and met in google classrooms with staff over the last few days. It is certainly a new way of life for all of us.  I began recording a chapter a day of one of my favorite children's book, The Trumpet of the Swan, for our second graders. It will be posted on the ML Youtube page shortly. 

My heart and respect goes out to families, staff and students as we navigate this crisis together. I also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the parents of our school community for supporting our staff as you become intimately connected to the daily routines of a school day. 

As you know, Governor Phil Murphy signed several Executive Orders over the last few days implementing aggressive social distancing measures to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey. Among the directives, Governor Murphy’s Executive Order closes all public and private preschool, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education, as well as closes all casinos, racetracks, gyms, movie theaters, and performing arts centers. Currently all New Jersey school districts are required, under the Governor’s Executive Order, to be closed until further notice.  I want to confirm that the Mountain Lakes Public Schools will be closed at least through April 13th, the end of our Spring Break.  Spring Break will still take place from April 6th through April 10th with no distance learning planned during that time. April 13th will be a "give back day" with no distance learning planned.  When we will be able to open will depend on the Governor.  It is important to remain focused on the days leading up to Spring Break and, most importantly, the health and well-being of our children, families and ourselves.  

This is a worrisome and stressful time for everyone.  Our counseling staff is also available to our students; many students have been communicating regularly with their school counselors and all students are encouraged to do so.

The New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning, in collaboration with the New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey Department of Health, is asking school districts across the state to participate in A Commitment to Assist.

Amid the COVID-19 statewide pandemic, our medical professionals are tasked with performing their daily duties to care for those impacted by a medical condition. As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, the basic supplies for the medical professionals are dwindling. Therefore, they are asking all superintendents and school leads to evaluate their school inventory for contribution of the following items: latex/surgical gloves, surgical type face masks, protective face shields/eyewear, rubber/surgical boots, temporal/thermal scan thermometers and examination swabs. We will be donating more than 50 boxes of gloves to the OEM today.  Please consider making a donation if you have inventory.  Please email me at [email protected] to coordinate a pick-up.

I ask that you please be patient with me and each other as we navigate through these uncharted waters, and remember this is a new role for me and I am still learning too.  I care deeply about our staff, students and this community as you all do. We will get through this stronger, more connected and with renewed gratitude.

Please email me at anytime with questions, suggestions and concerns.

Kind regards, Dr. Beth Azar, Acting Superintendent

Sports Update by NJAC 
UPDATED NJSIAA STATEMENT -- Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – March 16, 2020

Status of Spring Sports - On March 16, 2020, the governor issued Executive Order 104, which requires that “all public, private, and parochial ... secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, shall be closed to students beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 and shall remain closed as long as this Order remains in effect.”  

There will be no interscholastic athletic competition until schools reopen.  When they do, the NJSIAA will make every effort to take advantage of whatever part of the spring sports season remains, including holding championships.  The NJSIAA remains committed to providing student-athletes as many opportunities as possible. 

The following FAQs address questions about the spring sports season.  Events are changing rapidly, and we will amend and supplement these FAQs as we continue to assess guidance from the federal government, the CDC, the governor, the NJ Department of Health, and the NJ Department of Education.

Can a school, school district, or coach continue with practices, scrimmages, or games during the statewide shutdown of all schools?

No.  During the governor’s statewide shutdown of all schools, no NJSIAA member school, school district, or coach may conduct practices, scrimmages, or games (which includes all official interscholastic contests).  This is a mandatory, no-contact period for all coaches and student-athletes.

Can practices, scrimmages, or games for spring sports be organized or directed by parents or student-athletes?

No.  During the governor’s statewide shutdown of all schools, practices, scrimmages, or games may not be held.  This includes any event organized by a parent, captain, or other student-athlete. 

Can school facilities be used for practices, scrimmages, or games?

No.  During the governor’s statewide shutdown of all schools, school facilities may not be utilized in any manner for practices, scrimmages, or games. ...

What is the status of NJSIAA State Championships for spring sports?

A decision on NJSIAA State Championships for spring sports has not been made.  Our goal is to provide championship opportunities, if schools are reopened.  If we cannot accommodate the traditional post-season tournament structure, we will look at other options and other opportunities.  The health, safety, and welfare of student-athletes will always be our top priority.  As we continue to assess all available options, please note that the dates, locations, and qualification requirements currently included in each sport’s tournament regulations will be subject to change.

Online Guides for Parents & Students - Posted by Mr. Sanchez 3/14/20

No SATs at MLHS on March 14th - Dr. Azar
SAT Testing for March 14 at Mountain Lakes High School has been cancelled.  Please check your college board account for future test date options.

School Closed 3/16 - 3/27 Message from Dr. Azar

Good morning Mountain Lakes Community,

As I mentioned in the update last night, developments across the county, state and country are changing very quickly.  

I continue to be in contact with Dr. Chris Angelillo, Boonton Township Superintendent, our County Superintendent, local health officials, Department of Education officials, a network of superintendents, and others in order to arrive at the most responsible and proactive measures for the students and families in our school district and community with regarding Covid-19.

At this time, I am unaware of any suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Mountain Lakes. The recent NIH recommendation to "avoid large crowds and the most recent CDC guidelines for schools includes the recommendation to avoid mixing of grade levels and classes."  In addition, Governor Murphy recommended the cancellation of all events statewide with more than 250 people. It is expected that the Governor will make additional recommendations today regarding school closures.

On Monday, March 16, all Mountain Lakes Public Schools will be closed using an emergency snow day. Beginning Tuesday, March 17 through March 27, we will be enacting our Distance Learning Plans. All extracurricular and school-related activities and events are suspended during this time. At the end of the two-week period we will reassess and make a determination as to whether a continued closure of school is necessary.  We will also continue to monitor all events associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and consider additional alterations to the school calendar if necessary.

We understand the significant impact that a change like this can have on our community, and did not come to the decision lightly.  Social distancing is known to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and we want to take every precaution to protect the safety and wellness of all community members.  Local health officials have strongly advised that students should continue to practice social distancing even when schools are closed.

This afternoon, you will receive further guidance from the building Principal regarding specific expectations and procedures for the continuation of instruction over the next two weeks. We will also provide an update regarding school related events such as Board Meetings in the next few days.

Please contact me at anytime if you have questions, suggestions or concerns.

I wish you all good health and thank you again for your support and patience.

Kind regards, Dr. Beth Azar, Acting Superintendent

Delayed Opening on Thursday, March 12th. MLHS classes will begin at 10, but students are welcome in at 9:30am. There will be NO zero period. 

Important Coronavirus Update (3/6/2020) by Dr. Azar

Dear Mountain Lakes School Community,

I am writing to you to update you on recent developments regarding the novel coronavirus Covid-19.  Over the last several days, I have participated in meetings or conference calls with area superintendents, state-wide officials including the Commissioner of Health, Executive County Superintendent, building principals and the Board of Education.  Based on these conversations and ongoing developments and preparations, I would like to share the following updated information with you.

We have been advised to continue to remain in close contact with our local Health Department and to follow their direction in regards to protocols and procedures.  We continue to emphasize the importance of practicing personal hygiene routines that reduce transmission of illness.  This includes:

  • Washing hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after touching common surfaces
  • Avoid touching one’s face
  • Avoid shaking hands
  • Cover cough and sneezes
  • Stay home if you are sick

For more information, please visit the CDC website at

We will continue to be flexible with student attendance.

Yesterday, we received notice that should the Department of Health provide a written directive for a health-related school closure, the Board of Education may utilize home instruction to provide instructional services to enrolled students.  This provision of home instruction services will be guided by N.J.A.C. 6A:16-10-1 and may include direct services, online instruction, or any other means developed by our district to meet the needs of our students. Any day in which students impacted by a public health-related closure have access to home instruction services provided consistent with the guidance from the Commissioner will count as a day in which the Board of Education has provided public school facilities toward its compliance with the 180-day requirement in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-9.

We have already begun planning in case of a health-related school closure.  Each building principal has met with staff to plan for flexible instructional days to provide a degree of normalcy while at home. Mountain Lakes High School and Briarcliff will utilize Canvas as a means of providing instruction.  Google Classroom will be used as the online platform at Wildwood School.  Elementary staff are also preparing “Go to Bags” which will include materials and resources for students to continue instruction at home. 

We would like all families to prepare for the possibility that schools could close and that if they do close, there may not be forewarning.  As a result, students should bring home important belongings and work items each night.

We will continue to develop plans which will need to be approved by the County Superintendent to ensure any closures will count towards the 180-day requirement.  We will send the completed plan to you upon approval from the County Superintendent.

All district-sponsored field trips or programs that entail air travel or international travel will be cancelled for the remainder of this year.  I recognize this is disappointing for our students and families, but I believe it is a necessary step at this time.  We are hopeful the travel agencies will provide reimbursement to families.  The Advisor of each trip will be in touch with families.

We will monitor domestic trips and other local field trips and will make determinations about them as we continue to receive guidance and further information.  Any decision to cancel a trip or an event will be made as early as possible in order to secure refunds if possible.

We will continue to disinfect our schools and encourage required hand washing.

I also want to consider that students may feel worried or frightened about this health issue. Please be sure to encourage your child to see the school counselor, case manager or other professionals you think your child needs additional support from.

I want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these unusual circumstances.  I would not want to cause panic or alarm, but want to reassure you we will be prepared.

I will continue to update you with additional information as it becomes available.

If you should have questions, please contact me at anytime.

Kind regards, Dr. Beth Azar, Acting Superintendent

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