MONTCLAIR, NJ — Many Montclair families probably know that face masks are now optional in the local public school district. But there are several other coronavirus updates that parents and students should know, according to Superintendent Jonathan Ponds.
Ponds recently offered several COVID-19 updates as part of his weekly report to the community. They included:
QUARANTINE/TRAVEL GUIDELINES – The district recently made updates to its quarantine and travel guidelines, to align with current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New Jersey Department of Health and the district’s medical team. The new guidance can be seen online here.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – The district has posted a list of frequently asked questions about COVID-19 protocols, which was updated on March 7. It can be seen here, and includes information about social distancing, contact tracing, desk shields, parent-teacher conferences, outdoor lunch, water fountains, visitation and COVID testing.
SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS – Ponds said that staffing was a challenge during the pandemic. To cope, the district worked with nearby universities to hire student teachers as substitutes that could help staff after-school programs, as well as the regular school day. The district also increased the pay rate for substitutes to attract more candidates. Ponds said the district prioritizes the recruitment of diverse candidates by attending college fairs including Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU). The department also consults with local organizations to ensure the district has access to highly qualified minority candidates.
VENTILATION – Ponds wrote: “Buildings and Grounds personnel have been hard at work since the pandemic addressing the needs of very old buildings. We are happy to report that the Phase I plan for ventilation in our buildings is complete, and our next step will be writing a bond referendum to continue the infrastructure work and also include structural enhancements that impact instruction.”
“There is much to learn from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are focused on keeping a positive light on what we’ve accomplished and looking forward to doing more,” the superintendent wrote.
“Our students, staff, and families have all been impacted by the virtual, hybrid, and then return to in-person learning,” Ponds stated. “Everyone pitched in to do extraordinary things to meet student needs, and I am incredibly proud of our accomplishments thus far.”
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