As the first week of summer camp comes to an end we have been able to see how it feels to be back at school with the new regulations. I have to share, it feels wonderful! Having a smaller group on the playground is much easier to supervise and the children are really enjoying playing cooperatively with their friends. When inside, the classroom feels normal, with the children excitedly learning while engaged in fun activities. We’ve realized that the drop off and pick up procedures do take a bit more time than we expected and are looking at solutions that make this smoother in the fall. Though we miss sharing family style meals, we are still enjoying meals together while learning about the different foods each of our families enjoy.
I know there are so many questions about what school will look like in September and so many different scenarios being considered across the country. The rules and regulations have been changing at an unpredictable rate. Although we can not predict the future, I would like to share with you what we are envisioning. We plan to start the year in the classroom, following our usual program, with up to fourteen children in each classroom. Based on our AMS Accreditation and license through the Office of Early Childhood, we anticipate that we will be able to remain open throughout the 2020-2021 school year, provided that the guidance from that office remains the same.
Distance Learning and Closures
We’ve learned a ton from the surprise forced closure that propelled us into distance learning unexpectedly. One thing that I think we can all agree on, distance learning is not ideal. At Montessori schools across the world including at CTMS, we believe that although technology plays an important part in today’s society it should be limited with younger students to allow for real life hands on discovery, experiences and learning. We saw why during distance learning, and quickly recognized how hard it was to engage and connect with the younger children off campus. Because of this we are committed to staying safely open for students and families during the 2020-2021 school year. With the guidance from AMS, AMI-USA, Montessori Schools of CT and NEIS, we are planning to avoid long term showdowns and instead we have built extra days into our calendar in anticipation of possible short-term closings because of illness. We have reworked the 2020-2021 school calendar, building in 20 potential days off instead of the traditional 5 for snow days. We did this by eliminating many of the traditional holidays and planned days off as well as adding in half days. If regardless of our efforts we need to close more than 20 days, students in K-6 will have enhanced distance learning while toddler and preschool tuition credits will be issued.
Currently we are still offering the same variety of schedules as last year. We encourage parents to simplify their child’s schedule to be as consistent as possible.
We will continue to offer before and after school care, but we will need to make changes to how that program is structured in order to ensure that children remain in small cohorts throughout the day because of the new Covid rules. We are keeping this in mind while planning which students will be in each classroom. Typically we consider personality and student demographics when planning balanced classrooms. This year we will also consider schedules, not only limiting group size but also planning how each group will move around and use the common areas. We are planning for one big change; we will no longer be able to offer on-site care the first friday of the month when the children have a half day and the whole staff meets. I am confident our community can come together to help each other out with playdates. Planning is becoming the overall theme for this coming school year.
For Adults: At this point all staff are mandated by the State of CT to wear masks while working with children. We recognize this is not ideal. We feel strongly that developmentally children need to see our faces and mouths for language development, as well as social and emotional development. With this in mind we have ordered clear masks for all of our staff, so our students can still see our faces if we are required to continue to wear masks in the fall.
For Students: Students will not be required to wear masks and are actually discouraged from doing so because of how easily cross contamination can happen by touching the mask and then other items. If parents choose, children can wear a mask. We can work together to teach the students proper mask wearing protocols to ensure they are wearing it correctly.
Registration and Next Steps
With limited class size I encourage you to re-register soon, there are only a handful of guaranteed spaces left. You can re-register for school and sign up for camp online at www.myprocare.com. Please know that we love your children like our own and are doing our best to create and implement standards of care that align and exceed all safety and cleaning recommendations by the Office of Early Childhood and CDC safety precautions.
I hope this summer you will be able to spend time splashing, laughing, reading, and exploring together. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.
With much love; In Peace,