By ERIN ROLL
Montclair students won’t know until mid-April, at the earliest, whether they will be going back to school or finishing out the school year at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Montclair schools will remain closed at least until April 20. At that time, the district will decide whether the schools should re-open or remain closed for an additional period of time. At the state’s COVID-19 debriefing yesterday, Gov. Phil Murphy said that he would not even discuss the reopening of schools until April 17.
Montclair’s initial plan for remote learning was for two weeks, but to anticipate that students might not return until April 20, said Interim Superintendent Nathan Parker.
“Presently we are extending remote learning until the beginning of spring break with the possibility of returning April 20. We will reassess prior to April 20 to determine whether or not remote learning will be further extended,” Parker said in a statement released to parents and caregivers.
“Let me be clear: The decision to reopen school districts rests with me. We will not be prepared to revisit the closure until at least April 17, at the very earliest,” the governor said on Twitter on March 26. “The decision to reopen will be based on careful discussion with our public health and safety experts, and with our educators and districts. We will be guided by the facts on the ground.”
Spring break scheduled for April 13-17 will be observed, however, Parker said.
“Our hope is that families and staff will have a chance to relax and rejuvenate that week, free from classroom obligations,” he said.
As of Thursday afternoon, Montclair had 41 reported cases of COVID-19, according to state and local health officials. Nine people have died.
The Montclair schools decided on March 13 that the schools would close for at least two weeks starting on March 16. However, in a notice sent out to parents that day, the district advised families to be prepared for a much longer closure, including going into April.
The remaining school districts in the state that had not already shut down were ordered to close by March 18.
Students and staff have been relying on remote learning since that time.
The state is applying for a federal waiver to cancel all standardized testing for the year. Murphy said it was unreasonable to expect parents, who are already overseeing their children’s online learning, to have to act as test proctors as well.
The cancelation of testing will not have any effect on students graduating from high school, Murphy said.
Some states, including Kansas, Virginia and Alabama, have opted to close their schools for the remainder of the school year. Florida has canceled all of its standardized testing, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom said March 17 that it was unlikely that the state’s schools would be able to re-open before the end of the school year.