COVID-19 Related Information
Montessori Children's School plans to reopen for in-person education on August 17, 2020 with strict safety guidelines in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while providing social connections and meaningful learning for our students.
Please read the following documents to learn more about our plans. Our Enrollment Addendum is at the bottom of the page.
July 16, 2020
Dear MCS Families,
Welcome families who are new to MCS and thank you to our returning families for your support as we have navigated this challenging time in the life of our school and the physical school closure associated with Covid-19. Our staff responded to the need to keep our children learning in creative and previously uncharted ways. We took pride in our response time, having virtual content and learning packages ready for families within 3 days of learning that we would be closed for in-person instruction. While this new way of learning was challenging for all of us, it provided an opportunity to try something new and to learn and grow. As challenging as it was, we enjoyed this new way to interact with families and to bring Montessori into your homes in ever-increasing ways.
I know you have been anxiously awaiting the communication of a more detailed plan for the upcoming reopening of school. It has taken many hours of consideration, conversation and deep thought to get to this point. I appreciate your patience. If you responded to the survey that was sent out earlier this month, thank you. Your responses are greatly valued. With a little over one month before we are scheduled to return to school, the decisions that need to be made in that time are based upon the ever-changing climate of COVID-19. The information you provided in response to the survey was a great tool for us to know what you are thinking about the upcoming year. It also offered feedback on the great job our teachers did transitioning very quickly to online learning, as well as suggestions for what we could do better in the future.
While we received responses to the survey from about half of our families, the results showed that about three quarters of parents who responded are comfortable sending their children back to MCS in the fall. Two-fifths were financially impacted while three fifths of respondents were not. Three quarters of the respondents indicated that they would be willing to send their child/children to school even if they had to wear a mask and their teacher was wearing a mask.
We were pleased to see that with very few exceptions, the experience of online learning was a positive, albeit challenging one for elementary students. The younger the student, however, the more challenging online learning became. It is also very understandable that it is not financially feasible for parents to pay for child care and shoulder the cost of tuition payments simultaneously.
After careful consideration and collaboration with other local independent schools, we have made the decision to reopen in August of 2020 at all levels for those families who feel comfortable sending their child to school. The only circumstances which would threaten our operation would be students or staff testing positive COVID-19 or if there is another "stay-at-home" order mandated by the state. We are currently seeking approval from the State to operate as an Emergency Child Care Center for essential workers, should there be another "stay-at-home" order implemented so that may mitigate some of your anxiety around the possibility of another closure.
In order to protect our students, staff, and families, we are working on a plan to reopen our school following the CDC guidelines for both schools and childcare centers to ensure that we are making the safest decisions for our community based on the most recent recommendations. As an independent school we are not regulated by the North Carolina Department of Public Education but we must observe childcare center guidelines that can help navigate our toddler and primary programming. These will change some of our day to day interactions for a while.
While we wish to provide in-person instruction for ALL of our students, we recognize that every family’s circumstances are different and each family has its own level of comfort sending their children back to school. We want to make sure that we can be flexible enough to meet the unique needs of each family, while keeping our students and staff safe, and keeping our school financially healthy. The logistics of Distance Learning at the Elementary Level while simultaneously providing in-person learning have not yet been ironed out but if we have ample demand for it, we will pursue a plan for that as well for those who are not comfortable yet, with in-person learning.
According to the Governor’s address on July 14, if we were to start classes right now, we would be requiring both teachers and students over the age of 5 to wear masks. When we open our doors in only a month’s time, we will do so with that restriction in place and will closely monitor any changes so that we may be able to lighten the restrictions should the numbers go down. That is the challenge with this virus; it is a moving target. As stated in an earlier email, staggered arrival and dismissal times, as well as alternating outdoor times, frequent and scheduled handwashing, hand sanitizing, room and building sanitizing, temperature taking will also be safety protocols that we will set in motion.
To get children back to school and keep our teachers working, we need to make these concessions if we are going to mitigate the virus and commit to do our part to keep students and families safe. Additionally, this is not only about keeping our children safe, but keeping their immediate families, as well as their extended families safe. Is it ideal? Not in a million years. It is certainly not how I pictured beginning my second year here at MCS. However, no matter at what end of the opinion spectrum you lie, erring on the side of caution is in the best interest of the school and its community as a whole. In the past year, the hurdles that we have had to overcome have at times seemed insurmountable but perhaps it has helped me to grow to love this special school in ways that I couldn’t have predicted. We are doing important work here for the future of our society and our world and our children need to be here..
Because this is an unprecedented situation, we are asking parents to sign and return the attached Enrollment Addendum, so that the expectations are clear as we move forward. The Enrollment Addendum will need to be signed for every child before he or she is admitted to school. If, as a parent, you do not wish to sign the addendum, you can request, in writing by July 31, to withdraw your child from MCS, be released from your contract and receive a refund of any tuition you have already paid for the 2020-2021 school year. The non-refundable deposit will be honored should you choose to re enroll your child before August of 2021, for the following school year. If you choose to sign the Enrollment Addendum, the terms of the contract will hold even if we need to close the school for safety reasons, an outbreak or cluster of COVID-19 cases in our school or another “stay-at-home” order. In these cases, tuition payments will be expected to continue as usual.
Also included in this communication is a link to a follow-up survey which asks more pointed questions about the opening of school. It is very important that we gather as many responses as possible so that we can carefully gauge the number of personnel that we contract for the fall. We want to be sure to have enough staff to responsibly care for the children as we work at using more of our space to facilitate social distancing. Your teachers and I appreciate the time you are taking to answer the questions in the survey to give us the added information we need to move forward.
Please feel free to reach out and have a conversation with me about your personal situation with regard to MCS. Even if I can’t make a change that will suit your individual family, I promise to always listen and try to find a middle ground. My priority is the safety of the students and staff and maintaining the certainty of having a school to return to when we get through this.
I know this is a lot of information at once. Please read and reread the documents and let us know if you have any questions. I have read and reread and had several sets of eyes on each of these documents, but inevitably there could be mistakes or places where clarification is needed.
Thank you again for your loyalty and commitment to MCS.