“... We have noticed a drop in the number of COVID-19 cases reported this week.“

This, according to an email from Montclair schools superintendent Jonathan Ponds on May 15, to parents in the school district. In fact, on May 15, the seven-day average in New Jersey was 4,751, up from 3,566 a week earlier, and we were receiving almost daily COVID notifications from school. So does Ponds believe that an increase of 33% from the previous week is a drop? Or is he lying to make it easy to tell people they don’t need to mask? No other options to choose from.

Some people like to pretend that things are going great when they aren’t, and it’s called magical thinking by psychologists.

Do you want a guy who doesn’t know the simplest facts that a fourth grader knows, or can’t get sliding windows open during a pandemic for six months, to be in charge of your kids' health and safety? Do you want him to be in charge of school security and lockdown procedures in an active shooter situation? These aren’t insignificant decisions like who is throwing the PTA party or what color lockers we will purchase next year, things that parents tend to obsess over. Some things are actually life-threatening and you need a real doctor to make decisions.

Competent adults, starting with the school board, need to get to work and bring real credibility to our district. Bring in an experienced leader who speaks honestly, and with some credentials that show he or she can do this job.

Justin Klabin

Editor's note: A message from superintendent Jonathan Ponds sent to families May 15 said what while New Jersey's weekly COVID-19 Activity Level Report had risen to the high/orange level for Essex County, officials had noticed a drop not yet reflected in those reports. His message didn't specify whether that was particular to the district, county or another area. The school district's online coronavirus tracker reflects a dropoff in known school cases during the week beginning May 16 — 70 student cases from May 16 -20, compared to 138 May 9-13, and 131 May 3-6. The district does not currently conduct in-class testing. As of the COVID-19 Activity Level Report issued for the end of the week of May 21, all New Jersey counties were listed as areas of high transmission.

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