MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Students in Montclair have been out of the classroom since last March. The school’s superintendent says he has a plan to get grades K-5 back in next week, but teachers say they may be no-shows due to safety concerns.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported Wednesday, two mothers and more than 700 others have signed a petition to start in-person instruction.

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“Almost an entire year now of having our children doing school over a screen,” Deirdre Carlough said.

“Feeling an overwhelming disconnection, so disconnection to friends, structure and school,” Catherine Russell said of her children.

Schools: The New Normal

Nathalie Zimmerman said one-on-one guidance is essential for kids with special needs.

“Otherwise, they’re not learning. They’re just struggling,” Zimmerman said.

But Petal Robertson, president of the Montclair Education Association, wondered why open schools now when COVID-19 cases continue to escalate.

“This is hard for parents. This is hard for students. This is hard for teachers. We can all work together to push to ensure that teachers are able to be vaccinated,” Robertson said.

CONTINUING COVERAGE: Schools: The New Normal

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Teachers say some of the buildings are more than 100 years old and unsafe.

“They weren’t built for the levels of ventilation that are necessary to keep us safe during this pandemic,” Robertson said.

She said a private inspector found windows that won’t open and old filtration systems.

Superintendent Dr. Johnathan Ponds would not go on camera, but said the district has met the health and safety standards set by the state and is asking teachers to come in person next week.

“We are doing this for the safety of not just our members, but for the safety and care of our students,” Robertson said.

Teachers have not yet agreed to show up.

Parents and teachers are expected to attend a school board meeting on Wednesday evening.

CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report

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