Reopening School Update August 2020
First, let me thank you for your support and understanding as we, as well as schools throughout the nation respond to the unexpected invasion of COVID-19. I am very proud of the way our MSL families, students, and staff have handled the demands to protect everyone during these unusual circumstances.
As you know, the governor has requested that schools delay opening until the third week in August. The Board has decided to follow the recommendation and delay the start of school by one week.
The first day of school will be August 17th.
The last day of school will be May 28th.
Limiting the number of students for the first two days will allow us to introduce and practice the new procedures with a limited number of students. It will also allow the students to ease back into their school schedule.
We must be proactive and prepared during these ever-changing times to continue educating our students if and when circumstances change, as predicted, always prioritizing the health and safety of our students and employees. We have been planning based on the information we have received from local, state, and federal municipalities. We are working on three scenarios that may be implemented throughout the year, based on the guidelines provided to us for safe operating practices.
- Enhanced Traditional Plan- We would continue school as normal with enhanced safety precautions in place such as increased hand sanitizer availability, increased frequency of cleaning of high touch areas, limited visitors, etc., in order to possibly prevent the transition to a hybrid or full distance learning option. (Again, this is our plan for August, pending more restrictive guidance from the Governor.)
- Social Distancing/Hybrid Plan- Hybrid would be a combination of distance and face-to-face instruction with increased safety and disinfecting measures as listed above, which could be done in a variety of configurations. This would only be enacted if the Governor’s Executive Order required us to maintain a social distance (six feet), to limit the number of people in groups, etc.
- Full Distance Learning Plan- All students would participate in the learning of new material, continued standard pacing, interactive lessons, graded assignments, and assessments. This would be enacted if the Governor’s Executive Order closed schools again due to health concerns. If we have an outbreak of COVID-19 in a specific classroom, we may enact individual classroom closures instead of a school-wide closure.
Our priority is to keep everyone safe while not making life more difficult for our parents. Each family situation is uniquely different. We fully understand your varied concerns about health and safety, remote learning, the importance of face-to-face instruction, parents needing to work, the economy, and unexpected consequences families have faced during this pandemic.
You will be receiving a separate email with a link to complete a Self-Certification:
Social Distancing for Parents or Guardians of Children in Schools/Child Care Centers Agreement. This agreement, created by the state and adopted by MSL, indicates a shared responsibility and commitment to protect our children and staff by taking the recommendation of social distancing precautions.
We also want to take into consideration our students who may be medically compromised and parents who may not wish for their students to begin in August. We are offering parents the option of remote learning. Remote learning will include take-home materials, the ability to join group lessons in the classroom, and individual instruction. We will be releasing more information regarding remote learning in a separate email.
If you would like to register for remote learning, please use the following link; Register for Remote Learning.
Reopening School Update and FAQs July 2020
Since March, we have striven to find the balance between health precautions and the educational needs of our students. Each week, we learn more from our health experts about the COVID-19 virus. Thank you for your responses to our Parent Reopening Survey
MSL is now planning on a return to full, in-person learning on August 17, 2020, with health precautions in place for students and staff. We understand what a privilege it is to have the space and resources available to be able to allow our students to return for in-person instruction. We beseech each of our families to commit to continue to practice all the guidelines recommended by the CDC outside of the school environment, so we can continue to have the privilege of in-person instruction. dents and staff. Given the care and safety precautions regarding toddler aged students, we will no longer have our toddler program.
We know that some families will not be comfortable sending their children back for in-person instruction. To address this concern, we will offer a remote learning option. Please note that there is no tuition reduction for parents who choose the remote learning option.
Knowing that the situation will continue to evolve, MSL has worked on several scenarios in case there are spikes of COVID-19 that would require us to move a classroom or our entire school to remote learning. We will follow all health department requirements for how to handle any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools.
Thank you for working with us to prioritize safety. We will continue to update you as we move closer to the start of the school year. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions you may have.
How and why did MSL make the decision to return to school for full in-person learning?
Since we transitioned to remote learning in March, we have worked to balance health precautions with the educational needs of our students. Each day, we are learning from experts and schools around the world how to protect our staff and students within our learning environments. Just before the pandemic, we expanded our school to include over 10,000 square feet. During the summer, we changed the layout of our classrooms to allow for more space for the students to social distance and limit the exposure of students between age groups.
Through family and staff surveys, we heard how important in-person lessons are for our students’ social, emotional, and academic development. Several staff and parents commented about how excited they are to return.
From the American Academy of Pediatrics,
“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. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality. Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.
SARS-CoV-2 appears to behave differently in children and adolescents than other common respiratory viruses, such as influenza, on which much of the current guidance regarding school closures is based. Although children and adolescents play a major role in amplifying influenza outbreaks, to date, this does not appear to be the case with SARS-CoV-2. Although many questions remain, the preponderance of evidence indicates that children and adolescents are less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have severe disease resulting from SARS-CoV-2 infection. In addition, children may be less likely to become infected and to spread infection.”
As a result of our collaboration with the health agencies and the hard work of our MSL staff, we are now planning to open for full, in-person instruction.
Is there a reason we can’t push the start date to have more room to adjust to evolving changes with this unique situation?
Based on guidance from local health experts, we plan to open school as planned on August 10th to maximize learning time at the start of the school year.
Will we be adding 15 minutes to our school day to allow for an additional two week break if needed?
Feedback from our parent survey indicates that families are in favor of increasing the school day by 15 minutes. We will have more information for you once the Board makes a final decision.
What does it mean to participate in the remote learning option? Who will teach my child?
We are finalizing our plan and will continue to share more details about the remote learning program soon.
Will students participating in remote learning have connections with their teachers and classmates?
Students will be able to join group lessons via Zoom meetings. We are currently working out the details of how students will participate in remote learning and will share more information with you by July 31st.
What if my circumstances change? Can we change our preference for remote learning vs. in-person?
Absolutely. We ask that parents provide a written request for remote learning one week in advance to allow for teachers to prepare a take home kit for their child.
Health Guidance: Sanitizing/Cleaning and Personal Protective Equipment
What Personal Protective Equipment will be provided for students? What about for staff?
MSL has purchased masks, touch-free thermometers, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray to help maintain a safe environment and prepare for the return to school.
We do encourage staff and older students to bring their own mask(s) to and from school each day. If an older student arrives without a mask or their mask becomes contaminated, we will provide them with a disposable mask.
From TEAM KENTUCKY, Guidance on Safety Expectations and Best Practices for Kentucky Schools, “Students who are enrolled in first grade and above and staff should be required to wear a cloth face covering, unless medically waived. Masks can be lowered during classroom time if all students and staff are seated 6 feet apart and no persons are walking around inside the classroom. When students are outside and 6 feet from others, masks are not required.”
What about students with health conditions or Autism/Sensory Processing Disorder – are they expected to wear masks?
We are currently working to address this question. At this time, students over 6 years of age, with proper documentation from a doctor, may be exempt from wearing a mask.
Is it okay to wear the same mask daily? Or do children & teachers need a different mask each day?
Parents should follow the most current guidelines set by the CDC.
Students will participate in observed hand washing/sanitizing at regular intervals. Classrooms have touch-free soap dispensers and will be stocked with disposable paper towels. Hand sanitizer will be available for the students within their classrooms and on the playground. Hand washing will occur upon arrival, frequently throughout the day, and prior to dismissal. Classrooms and school facilities will be disinfected regularly.
Teachers and other staff will wear gloves to handle food, sanitize the environment, while applying first aid to a child, or when a young child needs personal assistance with toileting.
Students and staff will maintain six feet of social distancing in indoor and outdoor settings as much as possible. To support social distancing efforts, each classroom will arrive and dismiss through separate doors. The lobby will be closed to all visitors. Our staff lounge will be closed. Specific areas, bathroom lines, doors used to dismiss for recess, etc. will have clearly marked off six-foot spaces. Teachers will have allocated spaces for students to work independently that meet the social distancing requirements.
How will we keep the buildings clean and sanitized?
Teachers and staff will be supplied with spray bottles and/or sanitizing wipes to assist in preparing and disinfecting classrooms and work stations throughout the day.
Facilities staff will clean and disinfect nightly and teachers and staff will be requested to disinfect tables and chairs prior to any new students entering the classroom during the day. Teachers will frequently clean highly touched surfaces in classrooms daily and between use as much as possible. Classroom items that cannot be easily cleaned or sanitized (such as pillows) will be removed. Food preparation lessons will be prohibited for the time being. All restrooms will be cleaned nightly and high-risk touch points (faucet knobs, flush handles, partition locks, ADA railings) will be disinfected 3 times during the day.
How are we going to provide proper ventilation for our students?
We will increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, and other methods when indoor and outdoor conditions safely permit. MSL has also installed MERV 13 filters on our furnace units and purchased 2 Rainbow SRX vacuums to assist our cleaning staff with disinfecting all surfaces. Our Rainbow vacuum cleaners are HEPA rated and are certified air cleaners.
Health Guidance: Testing, Screening and Quarantining
What will the daily symptom screening process look like?
All adults and students will get a temperature check and/or in-person screening for symptoms before entering the building. Students/staff with a temperature of 100.4 or above will not be able to stay at school. Students and staff should stay home if they are known to be ill (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, abdominal pain, fatigue, muscle aches, headache).
- The student with a parent/guardian present will arrive at the classroom entrance. Each classroom will have its own separate entrance. Details will be provided closer to the start of school.
- The student’s temperature will be taken with a contactless thermometer.
- The parent/guardian will be asked a few questions.
- Once a child has passed the screening, they will be admitted into the classroom.
- The students will wash their hands once they enter the classroom.
If students have symptoms, will they be required to bring a medical note stating that they have tested negative for COVID-19?
Students and staff should stay home if they are known to be ill (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, abdominal pain, fatigue, muscle aches, headache). Staff or students excluded from care due to COVID-19 symptoms will be required to submit a Return to Work/School slip from a physician. Additional guidance will be provided by July 31, based on the most updated guidance developed by the CDC.
What happens if a student or staff member tests positive?
If a student or staff tests positive, all members of the affected classroom will move to remote learning for 14 days (this may change based on CDC guidance). If a student or staff has been in close and/or prolonged contact with someone who has tested positive, that class will move to remote learning for a minimum of 3 days to allow for additional disinfecting and monitoring (this may be extended based on additional data collected during the monitoring period). Staff and students who are sick will not be permitted to return to school until they are healthy and can provide a negative test result. We want to minimize the spread of infection, and we will continue to follow the guidelines put forth by our partners at the health department.
How often will staff be tested to ensure they are safe?
Staff will be tested on a rotating basis; 25% of MSL staff will be tested weekly. It is important to note that testing can lead to a false sense of security due to inaccurate test results and also may immediately become positive from an exposure after testing negative.
What if a student or teacher has a family member at home with COVID-19?
Anyone who has had direct, close contact with an infected person must be quarantined for at least 14 days.
If a child is exhibiting symptoms and cannot attend school, would they be able to join remotely if they are feeling up to it?
Students will continue to be served by their home school but in a remote capacity for the duration of the quarantine period. A video library of resources and take home materials will be provided. Students will be able to “virtually” join group lessons with their classmates.
Will visitors be permitted in the building?
Visitors, including parents/guardians, are not allowed past the school’s front office and must have a symptom and temperature screening before they enter the building.
Procedures for an Outbreak
What happens if someone (staff or student) tests positive?
Staff and students who are sick will not be permitted to return to school until they are healthy. We want to minimize the spread of infection, and we will continue to follow the guidelines put forth by our partners at the health department.
What protocols will be in place to trace potential infections?
Our school will continue to work with the health department so that health department workers can contact trace as needed to help ensure the health and safety of our staff and students are maintained.
What is the criteria for shifting between in-person vs. remote learning instruction? What would trigger a closure?
If Kentucky sees a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, we may be mandated by municipality, state, or federal government to close for in-person instruction. If this happens, we will move to remote learning instruction.
Classroom: Grouping, Classroom Procedures, Social Distancing
What does the make-up of the classroom look like?
Our goal is to minimize the number of contacts any one student interacts with during the day when under MSL supervision. Currently, public health guidance directs us to keep the same group of teachers and students together each day.
- Early Childhood Classrooms: Early Childhood students will stay with their same group throughout the day.
- Elementary and Middle School Classrooms: Students will stay with the same group throughout the day.
- Enrichment Lessons: Elementary and Middle School students will continue to have PE as long as it can be held outside. We are currently assessing the safety and procedures for conducting Music and Art classes.
- Athletics: We have not received notification regarding cross country or archery at this time.
- Before School Care: There will be no Before School Care. Classrooms will open for arrival at 7:45 am.
- After School Care: Care will be provided in smaller group sizes and children will be group based in the classroom to limit mixing. Students over 6 years of age will need to wear masks unless practicing social distancing best practices while eating, drinking, or playing outside.
How will meals work?
Each child is responsible for bringing their own food upon arriving at the school prior to initial screening. Students (and adults) may not share food and all meals will be eaten in the classrooms. Boonli will not be offered this fall to limit outside contact into the school. Outside food may not be brought into the school once the child has entered the classroom. Students are asked to bring water bottles, personal utensils, and napkins. The school will have on hand disposable utensils, cups, and napkins if needed. Snacks will continue to be provided but will be prepackaged in single servings.
What will recess and physical education (PE) look like?
Recess times will be staggered to avoid mixing of classrooms. The playground will be divided to allow two classrooms to use the playground at the same time. Play equipment will be sanitized between usage. Students do not need to wear their masks outside while practicing social distancing best practices. Balls and other equipment will not be permitted at this time.
Will the students have local field trips or overnight trips?
These activities will not be allowed for the time being. Virtual field trips will be scheduled for the students.
Will elementary and middle school students still have art, music, band, PE, etc.?
We are working on how to safely conduct enrichment classes. More information will be released prior to school.
Will there be any clubs programs available?
Once it is safe to conduct clubs. In order to limit the number of people in our school buildings, enrichment programs are not permitted in MSL buildings at the start of the school year. Clubs may be permitted at some time during the school year. We will share more information with you as it becomes available.
How will social distancing be enforced in classrooms?
Classrooms will be able to hold in-person instruction with appropriate health and safety protocols in place. Teachers will ensure classroom work spaces maximize distancing between students as much as possible. This may include the use of more individual tables and/or work mats arranged on the floor for the children.
Do kids have to stay 6 feet apart in the classroom? Can students sit together?
Physical distancing will be maintained wherever possible. This includes maintaining 6 feet distance in indoor and outdoor settings if possible. When 6 feet of distance is not possible, face covering (except where doing so would inhibit the individual’s health), hand hygiene, disinfection, and daily symptom checks are required.
Will there be additional staff members going in and out of classrooms?
There will be a finite number of teachers who will enter the classrooms. 1 designated staff member per classroom may be assigned to classrooms to help with teacher breaks. Ancillary staff will be subject to more frequent testing.
Will students be able to share materials?
Classrooms might look and feel a bit different, but they will still be joyful. Student tools, i.e., pencils, scissors, erasers, will be stored in individual, labelled pencil boxes, and disinfected at the end of the day. We will ask students to not share items.
Montessori materials on the shelves will be disinfected between each use. Group work can still happen — students will just need to sit 6 feet apart or 3 feet apart with a mask. Teachers will use lots of visual cues and reminders.
What will happen during fire drills/emergency evacuation, shelter in place drills and lock down/lockout?
Our state licensing agent still requires us to practice fire drill/emergency evacuations throughout the year. We will plan for safe distancing protocols for fire drills, evacuation, and shelter in place.
Has MSL considered having a counselor available for students who are emotionally struggling during this pandemic?
We are currently working to address this question.
Early Childhood Regulations
What health and safety measures will be in place with nap mats and other communal classroom items?
Children will nap in their classrooms. Nap mats must be spaced out according to physical distancing guidelines and will be sanitized daily. Each student will continue to use their MSL tote bag for storing their blanket and sheet. The Early Childhood classrooms are also utilizing individual boxes of materials for students to avoid sharing commonly used items like scissors, glue, etc.
Will EC students be required to wear masks?
This will ultimately depend on state health guidelines at the time that school begins. Current guidelines do not require students 5 years of age and younger to wear masks. Students 5 years of age and older may wear a mask. We are exploring the option of students under the age being permitted to wear a face covering, such as a gaiter that would not pose the same strangulation risk as a mask. Parents will be informed once we know if it is permitted.
Will EC students be expected to maintain physical distancing?
Classrooms will be reconfigured in order to provide safe physical distancing. Classrooms may be decluttered and wider spaces will be created.
Will EC students have access to remote learning?
Families will be provided access to a shared video library and resources for intermittent absences. If the school moves to remote learning, a more robust learning plan will be implemented.
Last Updated: 04/28/2020
To the MSL Community,
Last week we learned that schools will be unable to return to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year and we remain committed to delivering online instruction, according to public health guidelines, in order to protect our students and the greater Louisville community.
We are also thankful to our community for their commitment to MSL which has enabled us to retain all of our teachers and staff. They have been working hard to deliver their very best in providing a remote Montessori education for your children. We also remain committed to supporting each other. So, if you are experiencing financial challenges during this time, we ask that you send a personal letter to firstname.lastname@example.org describing your circumstances.
There are still many questions to answer especially as we look to the 2020-21 school year. When will social distancing restrictions be relaxed? What about summer camps? Will classroom space and sizes need to be different in the future? What if the virus spikes again? We are working on answering those questions among many others and will share our answers as soon as possible. Our goal is to provide you with certainty, but we also need to acknowledge that some uncertainty will persist given the nature and scope of this pandemic.
We as a board will move forward with the best interests of our community in mind. We know that we are only one of many stakeholders of the community. We are fortunate to have a proactive and engaged community of families that want to help get MSL through and ultimately recover from these series of events.
We continue to feel honored to carry forward the mission and vision of MSL and have tremendous gratitude for the teachers, staff, families and children that are the Montessori School of Louisville.
The MSL Board
Last Updated: 04/22/2020
Montessori School of Louisville is committed to ensuring the safety and health of our community. Monday, March 16th, we transitioned to a “Remote Learning” phase. This was a proactive step to do our part to slow the spread of illness, lessening the impact on our healthcare system. Read a NY Times article about “flattening the curve.”
Students will not be on campus during this time. The earliest we can welcome students back to school is May 4th. But this date could change. We will update this page as events unfold.
Replicating what happens in our classrooms is not something we can achieve during this period. Our goal: work in collaboration with families to maintain the culture of learning that is unique to Montessori, and provide families with support and activities that match the developmental needs and characteristics of the child.
Above all, we are a community, and it is dislocating not to be able to see everyone. As such we want to work together with compassion, wisdom, and courage. We are doing everything we can to maintain our community and to make sure your children are engaged in learning during this unprecedented time. For this, a huge shout out to our teachers and staff, who, like you, are doing this daily work from home, many surrounded by their own children. School is open, we are just doing it differently, and it is hard work. We are meeting as a faculty and in level teams on a regular basis, sharing feedback, and improving the delivery model and content as we go.
Prepared Environments at Home
For our younger students, the learning environment is your home and surroundings. This means finding ways to support independence, engage in meaningful tasks and supplement learning through various activities suggested by teachers.
Upper Elementary and Adolescent Program students will need all of the above, and should establish a quiet space for any specific assignments shared by teachers. For our older students, it will be important for them to maintain their routine of handing in work and receiving feedback from their teachers. Overall, we can approach this as an opportunity to be creative and collaborative—we are here to support you through this process.
Supporting MSL Businesses
We are continuing to add to our list of small businesses and non-profits run by parents in our community. Find ways to support our families here.
Many national charities and organizations are also helping those affected by the pandemic. Here is what you can do to support them.