Remote option demanded at Woodbridge, NJ school amid brain tumor fears
WOODBRIDGE — A number of families with children attending Colonia High School are calling for a remote learning option as investigations into a possible brain cancer cluster continue.
Twenty people from 16 families signed the letter sent to Mayor John McCormac and Woodbridge Superintendent Joseph Massimino. Dated April 30, it states that the signees are "concerned Colonia High School parents, alumni, and township members."
"Our children enjoy attending school and many prefer in-person learning to remote. We are not insisting that the school close down completely, but why isn’t remote learning an option?" the letter asked. "As it is, there are parents who have been keeping their children home because they do not want to take any chances."
It comes amid an investigation into a possible brain tumor cluster found by Colonia graduate Al Lupiano.
New Jersey 101.5 first reported that Lupiano had found dozens of rare brain tumors among graduates and former staff at the school. That number has grown to over 115 people, according to Lupiano, a former EPA emergency responder who has decades of experience in environmental cleanup.
With the number of possibly connected brain tumors still growing, concern among the Woodbridge community is growing as well. And the township is unable to take further action until the results of radon and radiation testing, as first reported by New Jersey 101.5, come back, Mayor McCormac told New Jersey 101.5 Tuesday.
The letter further expressed concerns that these tests are not enough. It also calls for a community and school board meeting dedicated to the issue, along with the demand for remote learning.
"Make remote an option. You have the power to do this," the letter stated.
But Massimino wrote back that he does not have that power. The superintendent told New Jersey 101.5 that he responded to the families in a letter Tuesday.
In his response, Massimino wrote that the state created a remote learning option amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Then last year, Gov. Phil Murphy mandated all public schools to return to in-person classes.
"I have made several inquiries with the New Jersey Department of Education, in an effort to determine whether there could be any exception to this rule, but was informed that remote instruction is only available in the event of an active health crisis or emergency," Massimino said.
"At this time, the Woodbridge Township Board of Health has informed me that there is no substantiated public health concern related to Colonia High School."
While many Woodbridge residents have expressed concerns about the possible brain tumor cluster, there is still no solid evidence backing it. That will depend on testing results and further investigation.
The results of the radon and radiation testing are expected later this month.