Schedules, Closures, and Outbreaks

Our daily schedule will basically stay the same. The changes in arrival and departure times are to give us time to sanitize the entire building after each day’s use. This will be a learning process for us, so please be patient while we figure out what works best.

If outbreaks occur in our community, we will follow the guidelines of the Fairfax County Health Department. Our understanding, however, is that the school must close for a 14 day quarantine.

Parents should prepare for these occurrences and, to the best of our ability, we will move to an online format in order to continue academic lessons and foster connection with children and teachers.

While we understand this is not the ideal method, until there is a viable vaccine, this “School at Home” format may occasionally need to be used in times of closure.

Please understand that tuition is expected to be paid regardless of whether we are in school or online. We still have all of our financial responsibilities regardless of where we interact with the children. 

Return to Back to School: COVID-19 Precautions

Disinfecting and Cleaning

CDC guidelines require that all surfaces that are touched by children and adults be either washed or sanitized daily. The materials the children use in the classroom will be washed with soap and water after each use.

Door handles, light switches, faucets, tables and chairs, etc., will be disinfected either daily or after each use.

Ventilation filters will be changed on a regular basis.

During appropriate weather, windows can be opened from the top to allow for ventilation. 

Return to Back to School: COVID-19 Precautions

Hygiene

Hand washing will take place multiple times a day, when entering the environment, after toileting, before and after eating, after playing outside, when leaving to go home, and many times in between. 

Children will be required to take care of all bodily functions and cleanliness needs, including how to cover their mouth (ideally cough into their sleeve or a tissue) when they cough, how to blow and properly wipe their nose, and wash their hands after, as well as taking care of their bathroom routines and properly washing their hands. 

Our licensing regulations state that children entering our program be fully potty trained, in underwear, be able to understand their own needs as to when to use the bathroom and be able to wipe independently as best they can. Again, these are things that should be practiced at home starting as soon as possible. 

Return to Back to School: COVID-19 Precautions

Social Distancing and Use of Masks

Even though the principles of social distancing are in direct contrast to the Montessori philosophy, our teachers are ready to do what it takes to keep children safe in our environment. 

Our main goal with social distancing is to minimize the transfer of bodily fluids from one person to another, as much as possible. This will require us to touch each other and the things in the classroom as little as we can. 

Our plan to accomplish this, as recommended by the Department of Social Services, is for each child to bring a banker box to school with supplies such as crayons and scissors, so no one will share supplies with anyone else.

The children will work out of their box in a designated space in the classroom. The lid placed on top of the box will create their own box desk. 

All teachers and children are asked to wear masks. We know we will have a learning curve with this and will work with the children to be successful. 

Please start practicing mask wearing at home this summer for a smooth transition when school starts. 

Here is a website that might be helpful. 

Children will stay within their classroom group throughout the day to minimize contact with others. 

Children will not mix on the playground for the same reason. 

We will do our best to minimize close contact between the students and their classmates however we are aware, as educators, that this may be a difficult thing to do. Children at this age are naturally curious and interested in their classmates’ activities. 

We will do our best to guide and practice distancing and we appreciate your conversations at home to also help remind your child of this guideline. 

Return to Back to School: COVID-19 Precautions

Cubbie Bags, Backpacks, and Toys from Home

Children should bring a bag full of extra clothes on the first day of school. These clothes will stay at school, and we will inform you when additional clothing is needed. 

In order to minimize exchange of germs, backpacks will not be allowed to come in and out of the building each day. 

We will send home plastic grocery store bags daily with your child’s work, thus avoiding cubbie bags going back and forth. 

Please donate grocery bags to the cause. 

Please do not bring toys from home as this encourages sharing of toys and germs. 

Return to Back to School: COVID-19 Precautions

Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures

Drop Off

We will institute a temporary car-pool drop-off from the parking lot between the hours of 8:00 and 9:00. 

If you arrive and no one is visible to take your child, please call the school for someone to come and get your child from your car. 

You are asked to drive past the entrance, turn around, and pull up to the walkway that leads to the west front door. 

Someone will be there to take your child’s temperature (using a contactless thermometer) and the parent/guardian will be asked about any potential health symptoms within the child’s family and close contacts as discussed in Health Check

This information will be necessary BEFORE a child will be taken into school. When all checks are performed and the child is confirmed to be fever free, they will be taken from the back left side of the car, along with their disposable lunch and snacks, walked to the CHMS door, and passed to someone that will be waiting inside to take them downstairs, sign them in, have them wash hands, and move to their classroom. 

Please be patient as this process may take some time to coordinate. Students MUST arrive by 9:00 as by this point the instructional day has started. 

If you arrive after 9:00 due to a prearranged absence, please call the school for someone to come upstairs and go through this procedure with you. 

Pick-up for part day before lunch and after lunch will be similar to our full day pick-up procedures below. Please call the office when you arrive in the parking lot for upstairs pick-up arrangements. Please do not come into the school. 

Pick Up

Pick-up for full day students will be from 4:00 – 5:00. 

School will remain open until 5:30 for those occasional times when you need a little extra time. but we strongly urge you to pick up by 5:00 so teachers can concentrate on the extensive cleaning and preparing of the environment required by the CDC to be ready for the next day. 

Parents will be required to pull up outside the building in the same manner as morning drop-off and stay in their car. 

Please call the school when you arrive and someone will bring your child to you. 

Due to state safety laws, parents will need to get out of their car, put their child into the back seat, and buckle their child into their car seats. 

Staff members are NOT allowed to buckle children in. 

Please be patient as this process may take some time. Parents are urged to pick up before 5:00 and all children must be picked up by 5:30. We thank you for your understanding. 

Our intention is to minimize the number of adults that come into the building. If you need to pick up at any other time, such as for a doctor’s appointment, please call the office to make arrangements for someone to bring your child to you in the parking lot. 

Return to Back to School: COVID-19 Precautions

Health Check

As required by the Virginia Department of Social Services, families are required to inform the school if they have symptoms of any illness. COVID19 symptoms will require us to report it to the Virginia Health Department to receive next step instructions on possible exclusions or temporary closures. 

Children will receive a health check daily before leaving their car. 

Their temperature will be taken with a touchless thermometer, and they will be excluded with a temperature of over 99.5. The baseline temperature for admittance is specifically without the aid of medication. 

Parents will be asked if their child has had a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. 

If any of these are present, the child will be denied entry until these symptoms have been resolved and/or the child is under a physician’s care with adequate documentation to provide proof of care and eligibility to return to school. 

Children who show signs of COVID19, or any other illness, while at school will be isolated and parents must pick up from school immediately and/or appoint an emergency contact person to pick the child up if they are not able to do so. 

Parents must keep the school informed of the progression of the illness and if the symptoms develop into a positive diagnosis of COVID19. The Virginia Department of Health is requiring us to contact them for further instructions on management at the school level. 

The same procedures will be applied to the adults in the environment, including health checks and exclusion for symptoms. 

Our main goal is to keep our school community a safe and healthy place to be. 

Return to Back to School: COVID-19 Precautions

One Day Closer to “Normal” and Here’s What We Know

As we inch closer to reopening businesses and schools, we are all trying to anticipate what our new normal will look like. Will we all be wearing masks to school and checking temperatures upon arrival? Do we need to forgo hugs and handshakes when we greet our students for the first time in months? Will class sizes be limited in number or schedules be determined by a variety of factors? We don’t know yet, but there are a few things we do know and we want to share them with you.

#1: We are excited to see your children again

We have already missed over two months of their young lives! They’ll be taller when they come back. Their hair will be different and someone will have lost a tooth by now. They’ll have new stories to share and lots of things to tell us. You may not have been traveling or on some grand, family adventure, but there are still memories being made.

They’ll tell us about your family walks and how you had ice-cream for dinner that one time. We’ll find out that Daddy makes good pancakes and Mommy does all the voices when she reads books at night. And, yes… they might even spill the beans about how many times they watched Frozen II! We’ll listen to their stories, just happy to hear their voices and see their faces again, in person, with no screens between us.

#2: We are anxious to be part of your routine again

Remember routines? Remember getting up, getting dressed, making breakfast, packing lunches, and heading out the door? We do! We love routines and we know how important they are for young children. We’re anxious to get back on a schedule and into a routine that includes you and your family! We’re ready for lessons and circle time, playtime and our daily Virtue pick. We can’t wait to get back to work!

Will the routine be different? Of course it will, but “Flexibility” is one of our favorite Virtues, so we’ll be calling on it in the weeks and months to come. We’ll find “imaginative new ways to do things” and “adjust when something unexpected happens.” We hope you will help us as we all adjust to a new normal.

#3: Classrooms weren’t meant to be silent

A typical morning in a Montessori classroom is busy! Children are working, some are quietly independent, others are talking to their friends. You might hear a teacher giving a lesson or the running water from someone cleaning out their paint cups at the sink. The sound of footsteps, the scrape of trays on tables, and the clinking of glassware from the Practical Life shelf create the buzz and hum of daily life.

Right now the silence is deafening and the classrooms feel cold and empty. We’re ready to put new work on the shelves, open the windows, and bring back the chatter and laughter we have so missed. There’s a quiet that happens during the Great Period that we absolutely love. It’s the quiet that falls when everyone is concentrating, working hard on their chosen lessons. The classroom gets quiet and, sometimes, you could hear a pin drop. That silence is amazing, but this silence? It’s not the same and we’re ready to be done with it.

#4: The playground has been lonely

Playgrounds without children are lonely places. We are ready for laughter and shouting! Bring on the dinosaur roars and the butterfly dances! We’re ready to spend time outside! Our gardens need tending, our sand area needs digging, and our treehouse deck is waiting to be swept.

We’ve missed spring at Children’s House! We’ve missed flowers blooming and the lacy green leaves appearing on the trees. There have been baby birds hatching and fawns in the forest and we’ve missed them all. Summer will bring it’s share of delights — the butterflies, alone, are worth it — but nothing beats spring!

While we’ve been safe at home, our clematis has been busy blooming without us!

Additional Resources:

You might also like these posts by Children’s House Montessori School

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We are open for the 2020-2021 school year! In order to maintain a safer environment for our staff and students, we are limiting the number of people in our building. All tours will be conducted VIRTUALLY until further notice.

Please call 703-481-6678 and leave a message or contact Cinthia (cinthia@childrenshouse-montessori.com) or Keturah (keturah@childrenshouse-montessori.com) to schedule your tour today.

For more information: COVID-19 Precautions: Preparing to Open Safely in the Fall

Montessori During Quarantine: Everyday Life Lessons

There’s a reason Maria Montessori called the first school, Casa dei Bambini. It means “Children’s House,” because a Montessori classroom is meant to replicate a child’s home. The classroom is set up to allow children to experience and practice common life skills — the area of the classroom called “practical life” is, in fact, dedicated to it. The children practice pouring without spilling and transferring small items with spoons and tweezers. They scrub chairs and tables and they water plants and feed classroom pets.

In these COVID-19 pandemic times, many families are coming to realize that Maria Montessori was onto something! From sweeping the floor, to setting the table, and preparing food, it turns out that the family home is the ultimate classroom. So let’s take a look at some ways that you can tap into that Montessori philosophy, while staying safe at home.

Everyday Activities Count as Learning

Laundry: Still doing laundry? Of course you are! Your child can help match socks, count socks, organize socks, and fold socks. They can put away their clothes, they can load a washing machine, and they can empty a dryer. Let them. And if they don’t want to? It’s okay to insist that everyone participates to some degree. You’re not the maid and your sanity matters. This is an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation!

Dishes: Need to empty the dishwasher (again!)? Call in a helper. Depending on their age, most kids can manage what ends up in the average family’s dishwasher. Knives and glassware are at your discretion, but a step stool in the kitchen is the great equalizer, so walk your child through the process and show them where everything goes.

Meals and Groceries: Making your grocery list or setting up an online order? Older children can help plan meals, create a food inventory, or organize the snack cabinet. Any child can help prepare meals and most kids are quite capable of fixing their own bowl of cereal, so give them a chance to be a little more independent in the kitchen. And the messes? They get to clean those up as well. The goal is not perfection, it’s participation.

Cleaning: Ready to do ALL the organizing and cleaning? Kids love to dust and a six year-old with a vacuum is a whole new level of parenting unlocked. You’re all living in the house and making messes! Everyone gets to help clean up!

A Friendly Reminder: Consistency Still Matters

Children thrive on structure and consistency. It’s how they organize their day and develop a sense of time. Maintaining some degree of structure to your daily life will help everyone know what to expect and what is expected of them.

Get your child up at the same time each day and maintain regular meal times. Get dressed (at least most days) and get outside, when you can. Make outdoor time and movement a priority — except for Fridays and rainy days. Those are for pajamas!

If you haven’t already established a few weekly “traditions,” it’s not too late to start. Maybe Sundays are “breakfast for dinner” days and Wednesdays are “living room picnic” days. Spontaneity can be fun, but so can routine. And it helps pass the time, for sure!

Follow the Child

Your child will show you how best they learn and where their interests lie. “Follow the child” means listen to them, pay attention to what they say, how they play, and the questions they ask. It doesn’t mean “let them do whatever they want,” but in the Age of Pandemic, it does mean that it’s okay to NOT follow a rigid homeschool schedule.

Playtime is learning time and there are lots of ways to incorporate learning into everyday life and activities. Or not. We hereby give you permission to “follow the parent” and cut yourself some slack. Some days are hard and other days are harder.

So, don’t fret over “homeschool” and workbooks and online learning. In the Montessori world, home is school. So, just live the pandemic life — keep everyone safe and sane — and find ways to include your child in the home/life process in a way that works for you.

Additional Resources: (From the American Montessori Society)

You might also like these posts by Children’s House Montessori School

***************************************

We are open for the 2020-2021 school year! In order to maintain a safer environment for our staff and students, we are limiting the number of people in our building. All tours will be conducted VIRTUALLY until further notice.

Please call 703-481-6678 and leave a message or contact Cinthia (cinthia@childrenshouse-montessori.com) or Keturah (keturah@childrenshouse-montessori.com) to schedule your tour today.

For more information: COVID-19 Precautions: Preparing to Open Safely in the Fall