Frustrated by stalemate, protesters push for in-person learning in Montclair

Parents and families rallied in Montclair, saying it's time for all schools to reopen for in-person learning.
It was one of several rallies held throughout New Jersey on Saturday with the same goal in mind — to demand Gov. Phil Murphy to mandate a five day in-person learning option, create a timeline to get kids back in school by spring and to relax social distancing guidelines to three feet.
Parents say they are concerned the pandemic has taken a mental toll on their children.
"One piece of it is because kids don't have access to school," says Rachel Keane, a parent from West Orange. "They don't have that structure, they don't have that fun place to go to during the day, and they don't get to see their peers."
According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the proportion of mental health–related visits in 2020 for children ages 5-17 have increased on average of nearly 28%, compared with 2019.
Nearly 1 in 5 public schools districts in New Jersey, including Montclair schools, have not resumed in-person learning so far.
The Montclair School District and the local teachers union reached a deal for some in-person learning for pre-K and elementary students next month.