Montclair families rallied Wednesday at Edgemont Park in support of Montclair Public Schools bringing learning outdoors and moving quickly to offer a hybrid model. A group of more than 50 – comprised of parents and children — attended the event, organized by Montclair parents and outdoor learning advocates Faye Lederman and Carolyn Corbran.
“We know that other districts all around us have gone back successfully in hybrid models, some outdoors, some indoors,” said Lederman, citing the Montclair Coop school utilizing tents as an example. “I know our family is really far from alone in experiencing the negative effects of remote learning. And despite all the negativity and the opposition that I am still a little bit surprised to experience, we do know that 70% of parents responded to the district survey saying that they wanted the hybrid option. I know that Montclair can bring kids back to school safely in person.”
One parent, John Rosenberg, spoke about the challenges the district faces.
“I run a small system of public charter schools. It has not been easy to launch hybrid, but we knew all summer that we needed to revamp our HVAC systems. And we did it. We did it in two schools in Brooklyn, one school in Harlem. We started remote and opened hybrid two and a half weeks ago. We didn’t have the luxury because we’re in New York city of using outdoor spaces. You just look at this park, look at the parks near every single of the schools. Bullock is recently constructed. It could be open right, and serve kids at 50 percent capacity. We are really frittering away opportunities. And the fact is at some point, as infection rates start to rise, the option of even launching hybrid will be taken away at that point.”
Another parent, Rachel Rosenberg, who described herself as both a parent and a physician, said people are correct to be afraid of COVID, but added that science shows that schools can open safely
“If safety measures are put in place, we can do this. We can bring our children back in a safe and effective way, while still maintaining the safety of our teachers and our community. It really breaks my heart that this is turning into a ‘bring students back versus teachers’ safety issue’ because we truly can do both things.”
Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Ponds announced at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting that he is aware of parents who are interested in outside learning and look forwards to meeting with them on October 16th.