I know this has been a difficult school year for everyone. I understand feelings of frustration that many parents are feeling, and I recognize the mental health implications that are very real and very dangerous for vulnerable students. I also recognize a new superintendent who is working hard to make multiple parties happy under incredibly difficult circumstances.

There is no playbook for any of this. However, the teachers are not to blame for what is happening right now. Teachers have been showing up and adapting to new realities all year long.

We owe them a debt of gratitude for their commitment. We are still in the middle of a deadly pandemic with a particularly contagious strain circulating. COVID-19 is spreading in our schools, without any students even in the building. It is a scary, deadly, highly contagious virus.

I am hoping as a community that we can extend patience while we ensure all of our teachers and staff get vaccinated before returning to in-person instruction. We are close to that milestone.

In the meantime, perhaps the district and teachers can be flexible with students that are truly struggling. Maybe make electives elective for those that can’t sit at a computer for that length of time and explore ways to care for the mental health of students that are having a difficult time with the enormously tall order we’ve asked of them.

They are young and need us all working together to make the best of a truly impossible situation. Teachers, parents and students have shown remarkable patience and flexibility during an incredibly challenging year. Let’s come together as a community to care for one another as we near the finish line.

Deirdre Birmingham


Montclair Local's Opinion section is an open forum for civil discussion in which we invite readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair, or previously published letters. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent the views of Montclair Local.

Letters to the editor: To submit a letter to the editor, email letters@montclairlocal.news, or mail "Letters to the Editor," 309 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ, 07042 (email is preferred). Submissions must include the name, address and phone number of the writer for verification. Only the writer's name and town of residence will be published. Montclair Local does not publish anonymous opinion pieces.

Letters must be no more than 500 words in length, and must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be eligible for potential publication in that week's Thursday print issue. Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for grammar and style. While our goal is to publish most letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to decline publication of a letter for any reason, including but not limited to concerns about unproven or defamatory statements, inappropriate language, topic matter far afield of the particular interests of Montclair residents, or available space.

Town Square: Montclair Local also accepts longer-form opinion essays from residents aiming to generate discussion on topics specific to the community, under our "Town Square" banner. "Town Square" essays should be no more than 750 words in length, and topics should be submitted to letters@montclairlocal.news at least seven days prior to publication.