Montclair postpones in-person graduations due to possible COVID spread
BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Citing an "abundance of caution" in preventing the spread of COVID-19, school district officials have postponed Montclair High School's in-person graduation ceremonies, which had been scheduled to take place Thursday, July 9.
Superintendent Jonathan Ponds said the district was notified yesterday, July 6, of a possible exposure to COVID-19 at several graduation celebration parties held in Montclair.
"Out of an abundance of caution, it is with enormous regret, that I must announce the postponement of the in-person graduation celebration scheduled for this Thursday, July 9," Ponds wrote in an email to parents and students Tuesday.
Ponds said the ceremonies will be rescheduled, with the new date being announced by the end of the week.
The decision to postpone "was made with the well-being of the Montclair community in mind," he wrote, and in consultation and collaboration with the local health department, the Essex County Superintendent of Schools, and the school physician.
The district had split the graduating class into three separate ceremonies for Thursday, which would allow for social distancing. A virtual graduation ceremony was held for the seniors on June 24.
Ponds congratulated the Montclair High School Class of 2020 on a successful completion of their high school studies and acknowledged the challenges they had faced this year after COVID-19 shut down their schools in March.
"As the incoming superintendent of schools, I am aware of the challenges facing this particular class. These students completed their studies, went on to earn their diplomas and excelled in all areas, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the tensions surrounding race in our country and a stair collapse in their building the year prior. These students are to be commended for their resilience and dedication," he wrote.
Over the weekend, Montclair's health department announced four new cases of COVID-19.
After two confirmed incidents of New Jerseyans traveling to states considered “hotspots” for the virus and transmitting the virus here, on Tuesday, July 7, state officials warned of self-quarantining for 14 days after visiting a state on the hotspot list. Those states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
“Hotspot” states have a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.
The health department did not answer an email asking if anyone who had traveled out of state to a "hotspot" or if any of the new cases had any connection to the parties.
In Hoboken, 13 people aged 20-25 who traveled to states such as Florida and Texas have tested positive after returning; and Sussex and Warren County residents who attended a wedding in Myrtle Beach, S.C., have contracted the virus.