By ERIN ROLL
Montclair’s three middle schools will reopen on May 10.
Parents were notified in a letter on April 19 that Glenfield, Buzz Aldrin and Renaissance middle schools will reopen in May on a hybrid learning plan.
No reopening date has been publicly announced for Montclair High School, though school officials have indicated that the high school will reopen this spring.
The elementary schools reopened for hybrid learning on April 12, under the terms of a court settlement between the Montclair school district and the Montclair Education Association. Until then, all students had been on remote learning since the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Jersey in March 2020.
The district had sued the teachers’ union over its members refusal to return for a planned start of hybrid instruction in January, alleging an illegal teachers strike. The union’s members eventually agreed to return in exchange for more detailed information about school facilities and safety plans.
New Jersey recently issued updated guidance saying many schools should reopen full-time to in-person instruction unless assessed by the state as in a “very high risk” region for coronavirus transmission — a designation that doesn’t currently apply to any area in the state. Gov. Phil Murphy has also said he expects all schools to offer only in-person instruction in the fall, though allowances would be made for students or staff with particular health and safety concerns.
In the updated guidance, elementary schools in “high risk” or orange zones — as defined by the state’s weekly COVID-19 activity level reports — are recommended to hold full in-person instruction, with a minimum of 3 feet of distance between students in classrooms — though Montclair schools are continuing to abide by an earlier recommendation of 6 feet of distance. Most of the state is classified in orange zones as of the most recent report; Somerset, Hunterdon and Mercer counties are in “moderate risk” yellow zones.
Middle and high schools in orange zones are urged to consider in-person instruction if they can maintain physical distances of 6 feet or more. All schools in yellow zones are urged to have full in-person instruction. The guidance also sets out further precautions for mitigation strategies, including continuing remote instruction for high-risk students or teachers.
The district continues to face a class action lawsuit from a group of parents calling for full, five-day in-person classroom instruction.