By Gabriella Squitieri
Teaneck, the town many students drive through on their way to campus or go shop and eat on Cedar Lane, was among the first communities hit hard by the coronavirus in March and April, turning into one of the pandemic epicenters before the spike in cases flattened out in the early summer as New Jersey reopened. Still, the town of some 41,000 residents has had 1,111 of the 20,000 cases for Bergen County, according to recent statistics reported by NJ.com.
Dean Kazinci, Teaneck Township Manager, played a key role in the town’s response to the coronavirus. Kazinci came up with internal policies to guide local government workers in the crisis and educated the public, providing weekly updates via robocall on the signs, symptoms and precautionary measures.
The Equinox spoke to Kazinci as the number of COVID-19 cases in Teaneck have gone down noticeably.
“They’re still trickling in here or there, a case or two, every week or every couple of days — but nothing like we experienced before,” Kazinci said.
“The 106 deaths in town, close to half or maybe a little bit more, were from long-term care facilities and a good percentage of positive cases came from long-term care facilities as well.”
With all this progress, what will happen with Teaneck schools come fall?
The decision made regarding this school year will include Kazinci’s input — and others — to assure the safety of the students.
“Any decisions made for the Teaneck public school systems are made by the Teaneck board and the superintendent,” Kazinci said. “They will consult with my office too, but they are following guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health and from the New Jersey Education Commission.”
While Teaneck’s local government has its own regulations regarding the virus, Teaneck’s regulations also flow from N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy.
“He (Governor Murphy) provides executive orders to all the municipalities that we follow,” Kazinci said. “We, the township, can be stricter with guidelines that the governor gives, but we can’t be less restrictive.”
According to Kazinci, Teaneck was stricter with its guidelines as one of the first communities to close its parks and call for self-quarantine — before the county and state’s orders.
“It wasn’t fun making these decisions … but ultimately it was the right decision,” Kazinci said. “I truly believe we saved lives by doing this and that it could have been worse.”