MontClairVoyant: Will Montclair Say Hi to Hybrid Instruction?

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
After surveying families during this pandemic time, our school district announced a proposed hybrid plan for the fall. If implemented, what would be the schedule?

Sincerely,
See You in September

The specific days that hybrid students get in-school instruction would depend on whether their parents drive a Prius, with some non-Prius students riding The Magic School Bus in the TV episode in which Pluto was visited.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Um…okay. Seriously, what do you think of the hybrid plan, which would have one set of students attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and another set of students attend school in person on Thursdays and Fridays?

Sincerely,
Days and Confused

A bit risky, and many people understandably feel instruction should remain all-remote for now. But I think the hybrid plan is worth a try, and I want it for my middle-schooler, who wants it, too. An electric plan is out, because we can’t afford a Tesla.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
There’ll be less crowding in schools under the hybrid plan, and students are aching for some live interaction with their peers, right?

Sincerely,
Not Piers

Right. And Wednesdays would be remote instruction only, even though most kids know how to use a remote.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Does the proposed plan also offer an option of all-remote instruction for parents who want that for their children?

Sincerely,
Rooms at Home, Not Homerooms

Yes. But I’m still unclear if teachers and other school staffers would have an all-remote option, too. Many, including those who are older, fear bringing the coronavirus home. Who knows if the virus would even wear a seat belt during the ride home.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Moving to another topic, the Montclair Property Owners Association claims it has enough signatures for a November referendum to kill rent control — after the Township Council this April passed a reasonable rent bill the MPOA then blocked in court. Reaction?

Sincerely,
Targeting Tenants

A referendum is democratic, but the MPOA would pour so much money into winning it that it wouldn’t be a fair fight. MPOA leaders are like cartoon villains, which explains the speech balloons hovering above their heads when they walk around town.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Those are clouds. Anyway, have the MPOA efforts also been misleading?

Sincerely,
Spin City in a Suburb

The organization sent out signature-seeking texts saying they wanted to put rent control on the ballot, as if they were trying to start rent control rather than overturn it. Massaging rates may have applied.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
As in massaging the truth. Speaking of the Council, some people tuning into its remote July 21 meeting said the Montclair Police Department (MPD) is overfunded compared to departments in some other towns in our region. Comment?

Sincerely,
Blue By You

Part of that money could be better used for schools and other social needs — such as responding to mental-health crises with mental-health professionals rather than cops. Plus some dollars for a safety campaign encouraging the coronavirus to wear a seat belt when brought home.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
There was a VERY big audience for a July 19 virtual town hall on police matters, including how cops in many towns and cities use disproportionate force on African-American citizens. Thoughts?

Sincerely,
Hall of Frame

The MPD is better in that respect than many other police departments, but not guilt-free. Meanwhile, Trump’s properties are not gilt-free, but that’s a different story.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
And a different spelling. Then Montclair’s NAACP got involved with a July 28 letter to the MPD and Council recommending reforms such as a civilian review board and all police officers wearing body cameras. Good ideas?

Sincerely,
Rhea Formz

The recommendations can’t hurt, even though the MPD doesn’t have the bad reputation of, say, the New York City and Minneapolis police departments. All the towns between NYC and Minnesota hope those two departments never merge.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Speaking of the Council again, we’re STILL waiting to see if anyone will order all ballots to be counted from Montclair’s May 12 mail election. Heck, didn’t only 195 mayoral votes separate Sean Spiller and Dr. Renee Baskerville?

Sincerely,
Election Dejection

There’s a court hearing scheduled for September 11, but it would be nice, albeit unlikely, if someone (Gov. Murphy?) acted before that. Until if/when all ballots are counted, many will not consider Spiller’s “win” a win, if he were still ahead. And, yes, the two quotes you just saw are not roofing estimates.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Much pricier than roofs is the huge U.S. military budget, which doesn’t shrink even during a pandemic. In a recent vote on legislation that didn’t pass, Donald Payne said “aye” to a 10 percent cut in that bloated budget (yay!) and Mikie Sherrill said “nay” (boo!). Reaction?

Sincerely,
Fight Club

Dickens should write a novel called “A Tale of Two Montclair Congresspeople.” Sure, that author is dead, but with enough vitamins…

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Then there are clothes. Isn’t it wonderful that Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair has opened a thrift shop in Bloomfield?

Sincerely,
Greta Garb, Oh!

It is. Located at 23 Broad — which reminds me that the phrase “23 skidoo” means “get lost.” I sense my readers agree, so this column is now over.

Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.

 

 

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Dave,

    In spite of the new Data Determines Dates IPA by a New Providence brewery, I think the district will open the schools. While not a majority quite yet, we have tested an amazingly large number of residents, employees and school personnel to date. We have a very small, stable positivity rate and a correspondingly small mortality rate. Our numbers are likely the best in Essex County, per capita.

    Now, if course, we have the benefit of using the Summer, outdoor season to drive achieve our numerical success. And yes, we had more uncertainty and fear motivating us during the Spring so that we did a lot of isolation and ‘distancing AND masks’. Now it more an either distancing or masks…and it is more 1′-3′ distancing and the masks pulled down below the nose or covering the chin. I’m sure everyone will instantly know to change their Summer-long behaviors over to a Post-Labor Day, indoor behaviors.

    I say go for it…mostly because we don’t have a choice. And the more waves are coming regardless of what we do. We don’t have testing capacity anyway. We can’t expect to trace because 70% don’t have confidence in the government to bother voting and 30% won’t answer 10 questions on the Census…and I doubt they will list their interactions to a stranger over the phone. And that is just the adults!

    Seriously, Montclair’s numbers clearly show we can open. Our data determined the dates. First beer is on me.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank. Ha — does IPA also stand for Inept Pandemic Action? After all, Trump doesn’t drink alcoholic beverages, so that might be the more appropriate IPA to associate with him.

    I also favor Montclair schools reopening in the hybrid way that’s been proposed. Montclair, the state of New Jersey, and the Northeast have done a pretty good job dealing with the coronavirus after slow initial reactions in some places.

    Of course, the U.S. overall has done a worse job than many countries in testing, tracing, social-distancing, mask-wearing, etc. — because of poor national leadership, the Republican culture wars, a non-universal medical system that makes many less-affluent people hesitant to incur health-care costs, etc.

  3. While Montclair’s numbers remain great, NJ is now tanking. We will exceed minimum thresholds for positivity and transmission within 10 days. Montclair’s number will then erode into Labor Day. We then likely delay opening all learning channels for 10-14 days. We should develop an alt plan to maximize any “found” time, eg training, curriculum upgrades.

  4. When we open AND offer a hybrid model based on choice, we morally have to offer the same choice to teachers. We might have to end up paying a premium to incent in school teachers. So be it.

    On the other hand, let’s assume I’m totally wrong and the reopening goes great. When can the students that chose remote learning come back?

  5. Frank, I’ve also read that Covid is worsening in New Jersey a bit, and that could indeed cause the proposed hybrid plan to become all-remote again for a while. Hope not, but…

    And if the proposed hybrid for some students and remote for other students remains in place, I agree that, morally, teachers and other school staffers should have that same choice. I’ve brought that up in my last two columns.

    If Montclair beats the odds and the reopening goes great, I assume remote students would be allowed to return to in-person instruction pretty quickly.

  6. What is should be of interest in this pandemic is Montclair School’s existing integration strategy. It has evolved beyond race to include ethnicity, socioeconomic and other attributes.

    The district divides the town into 6 zones. Let’s ignore how these zones are drawn & their sizes. That’s 2 more than the 4 wards the governing body divides us into. Anyway, back to the 6 zones.

    The district’s integration goal is to have children from all 6 zones represented in every school.

    A pretty interesting goal to retain in a pandemic.

    Montclair is not going to change its integration goals just because of some pandemic. I’m a party of 1 that thinks otherwise, but enough of my whining. Do you think – just maybe – the Township health department and the MPSD might share COVID testing and results…and maps it by these 6 zones of children? Nah, that would make sense. Blue skies!

  7. Thank you for the comment, Frank.

    If I’m remembering correctly, the Montclair school district was forced to try to integrate schools using metrics other than race because of some ruling a few years ago (a ruling Montclair didn’t want). Hence the end-around approach.

    I don’t think worthy integration goals should be changed because of a temporary pandemic.

  8. Yes, that darn U.S. Supreme Court. They’re very intrusive.
    Yes, when Montclair thinks it is right, it is not changing for anyone. If we have to do an end-run to get what we know is best for us, then we will find a way.

    I agree. The pandemic will eventually go away. A vaccine is imminent. As long as we don’t over-stress the healthcare system we will get through this. We have to get the economy restarted! Montclair? We are going to get the economy restarted and maintain forced integration.

  9. Well, I’m glad Montclair did the end-around. I like it when schools have diverse populations, while realizing that some Montclair public schools are unfortunately somewhat less diverse than other Montclair public schools.

    I hope you’re right about the vaccine coming soon. I also hope it’s made so widely available that everyone gets it, that Big Pharma doesn’t price-gouge on it, etc. Given the messed-up-for-almost-everyone-except-the-rich U.S. healthcare system, there might still be major issues even with a vaccine. 🙁

  10. Dave & everyone else,

    My last paragraph above was tongue in cheek.

    In plain language – enjoy your Summer as best you can, plan on remote learning for the rest of this year and let’s work towards celebrating New Years a month early.

  11. Knowing when a written comment is tongue-in-cheek can be an inexact science. 🙂

    I realize things can change enough in the next few weeks to make Montclair public schools all remote rather than a combination of hybrid and remote for the start of the 2020-21 term. Hope not, but possible.