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school reopening
COURTESY ELIZABETHAFERRY/PIXABAY Montclair school officials have released more details of the anticipated reopening of school on Sept. 10.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

Students re-entering the Montclair schools in September for the two half-day, in-person option will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken at the door, among other safety measures. The first day for students has been set for Sept. 10.

Although plans for K-2nd graders have not yet been released, at least 15 hours of in-school time in self-contained classrooms will be offered to special education students. 

Parents will have access to a virtual “university” with videos and online workshops to help assist their children with virtual learning. 

Those are some of the additional details of the Montclair schools’ reopening plan, described in a letter that Superintendent Jonathan Ponds sent to parents and guardians on Friday, July 31.

The proposed plan involves dividing students into two groups, known as Mounties and Bulldogs, with the two groups alternating in-person two days a week, with remote learning the rest of the week. Families can also opt for all-remote learning without withdrawing their children from the district. 

The Mounties will first attend on Sept. 10, attending school in-person, and Bulldogs attending remotely. The Bulldogs’ first day will be Sept. 11, with Mounties attending remotely. The hybrid schedule will begin the following week, starting with Mounties attending school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the Bulldogs attending in person on Thursdays and Fridays. 

Students who are choosing the all-remote option will also begin on Sept. 10. 

Special education students in self-contained classes will attend school in person three to four hours a day, five days a week: 15 to 20 hours a week in total. For all other students who receive special education services, their schedule will follow the general education schedule as much as possible. Students who receive outside services such as occupational and physical therapy, speech therapy or counseling will receive services outside when possible, in spaces that can accommodate social distancing requirements. 

Pre-K students will receive three hours a day, five days a week: 15 hours in total. 

K-2nd grade plans are expected to be released by Friday, Aug. 7.

Anyone entering a school building will have their temperature taken. If a child has a temperature of 100.4 or more, they will be isolated until a parent or caretaker can pick them up. 

Masks will be mandatory for all students and staff on school property at all times, including during class time, in hallways, on buses, and during extracurricular activities. Students who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons must have a doctor’s note saying so, and will be granted permission to wear a face shield. Hand sanitizer will be provided at all school entrances and in each classroom, hand washing breaks will be included in the schedule, and each sink will have paper towels. Classrooms will also be configured to have six feet of space between desks. 

Ponds also indicated that the district was open to the idea of outdoor classrooms, as was suggested by some parents and community members. 

For students attending the all-remote school, the following will be provided:

  • Standardizing the virtual platform used across all grades in all schools;
  • Providing live instruction;
  • Maximizing Instructional minutes in core classes to ensure rigorous, meaningful instruction;
  • Incorporating time for interventions/support and social-emotional checkins and;
  • Including related arts/electives in instruction, either remotely or in-person.

The district is putting together Parent University: a series of instructional videos and virtual meetings for parents. “We will include best-practice ideas for how to encourage your children, materials that explain what your children should be able to do at a given level, and supportive resources for social and emotional aspects of this experience. We realize that these times are not easy, and we are here to support you and want you to know how to navigate the system to get the help you need,” Ponds said. 

All students, from Pre-K to senior year, will receive testing and evaluation. Pre-K students will be tested in the Child Study Team office at Hillside and at the Developmental Learning Center, while all other students will be tested at Charles H. Bullock School. 

During the next week, in an effort to ensure accurate district enrollment, parents will receive email/text/phone communication reminders pertaining to any changes in addresses. 

Another survey will be sent at the end of next week, by Aug. 7.