7/1/2020 Weekly Update
by Ann Clark, Head of School

Dear Parents,

There is growing support around the benefits of children returning to school. Just this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has asserted a set of reopening recommendations for schools to follow. The group said, “Policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within schools must be balanced with the known harms to children, adolescents, families, and the community by keeping children at home.” They go on to say, that young children in particular, are at low risk of contracting the virus and unlikely to spread the virus to adults. “ The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.
 
With these recommendations along with the Guidance from the Alameda County Department of Public Health and the Alameda County Office of Education, we are continuing to draft our VMS Guidance Plan for the new school year with all students on campus full time. Although the plan is not finalized and it may change, here is what we know right now:
 
Across all levels
  • We will establish stable cohorts of children. The number of children in each cohort will vary by level. The purpose of these stable groupings is to provide risk mitigation and simplify contact tracing in the event someone tests positive for the virus.
  • Carline will be used for all levels, except for toddlers and special situations.
  • Students and staff will be the only individuals permitted in the VMS buildings.
  • There will be frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas including playground equipment before each use.
  • High quality hospital grade air filters have been installed throughout the buildings.

Here are some specifics at each level:
 
Toddler
  • Cohorts will have up to 12 children per class.
  • Children will stay in this same group for childcare.
  • Face coverings will NOT be required for children.
  • Face coverings will be worn by teachers indoors, and outdoors when closely interacting with a child.
 
Primary
  • Cohorts will have up to 12 children.
  • Children will stay with this same group for childcare.
  • Classrooms will be partitioned with a divider allowing 12 children on each side with a bathroom, sink, entry door and robust selection of Montessori materials.
  • Students will each have an individual workspace, including an individual set of consumable materials – pencils, markers, etc.
  • Rooms have been organized to create the same stimulating environment to which they are accustomed with their familiar teachers to observe and guide them.
  • Social distancing will be encouraged but children will be free to move about the classroom.
  • At this time, we will be asking children to wear face coverings indoors, but not outdoors, at lunch, snack, or during naps. We realize some children will need a little encouragement with the face coverings indoors and we will consider special accommodations when deemed necessary.
  • Face coverings will be worn by teachers indoors, and outdoors when closely interacting with a child.

Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary
  • Cohorts can be in groups of 20 to 24 students.
  • Children will stay with this same group for childcare.
  • Children will have playground time with their class cohorts and not comingle with other classes.
  • Students will each have an individual table including an individual set of consumable materials – pencils, paper, etc.
  • Rooms have been organized to create the same stimulating environment to which they are accustomed with two teachers to observe and guide them as we have done in the past.
  • Social distancing will be encouraged but children will be free to move about the classroom.
  • Face coverings for children will be required indoors, but not outdoors, at lunch or snack.
  • Face coverings will be worn by teachers indoors, and outdoors when closely interacting with a child.
 
Middle School
Currently, we are determining cohorts with two possible options:
1) Students stay in small cohort groups and teachers move to the groups.
2) Students move within classes in MS building as one cohort, rooms cleaned between use. This model is the way we have conducted MS in the past as one entire MS community. In both models:

  • Middle School will function separately from the main building with all classes, meals and childcare in the MS building.
  • Movement in the building will be guided in one direction to avoid hallway congestion.
  • Outdoor classes will be conducted when possible and practical.
  • Students will have individual desks and materials.
  • Social distancing will be encouraged but students will be free to move about the classroom.
  • Face coverings for students will be required indoors, but not outdoors, at lunch or snack.
  • Face coverings will be worn by teachers indoors, and outdoors when closely interacting with a student.
 
Much of this is different, in terms of daily procedures, but the integrity of the Montessori classroom, curriculum and philosophy will stay intact. Teachers will continue to use the Montessori approach of respect and encouragement to inspire the love of learning. We understand the importance of being able to visualize what the day in the life of your child will be like in this new environment. Soon, we will be providing video tours at each level to show the accommodations we have made.

VMS will look different. However, we will still have the beautiful, inspiring, Montessori classrooms that you remember and will continue to provide a safe and engaging environment for learning. 

Respectfully,
Ann
Valley Montessori School
1273 N Livermore Ave Livermore CA 94551