Dear MCS Families,
As we approach the last day of the academic year, we wanted to provide you with an update on our planning for 2020-2021 and to share some context for how we are assimilating information and making decisions. While it is premature to state exactly what the school experience will be like in August, please rest assured that we are striving for flexibility and transparency in our process.
When formulating our plans, MCS continues to take into consideration the guidelines and regulations provided by the state of Utah and the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are in regular communication with school leaders, both locally and nationwide, so as to review best practises and standards of care in regards to this pandemic. Our very own Utah Montessori Council (UMC) has proven to be a source of practical advice as well as much needed moral boosting. Heads of School in the Montessori private and public sectors have been most generous in their sharing of tools and their time. In addition, we review the guidelines from the Utah State Board of Education and avail of the services and resources from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and National Business Officers Association (NBOA).
As we work towards developing a safe and comprehensive plan for the fall we are focusing on the three following areas:
- The health and safety of our community.
- The educational experience of our students.
- The financial health of the school.
This is a dynamic situation and, as such, it requires adaptive planning that evolves as new information emerges and as circumstances shift. Specific decisions and details regarding on-campus modifications and protocols will be worked on over the next few months and shared with the community as promptly as practicable. Despite the uncertainty, we are developing plans based on the following assumptions informed by current projections:
- School will open for the 2020–2021 academic year with the understanding that we must prepare for the potential of returning to the more stringent state guidelines and “Stay at Home” recommendations.
- Waves of localized infections may result in rolling closures for 14–28 days and therefore intermittent transitions to distance learning may be necessary.
- Many aspects of our school, including our physical campus, our academic calendar, daily schedules,
programming, and social habits, will require modifications which will include at a minimum: physical distancing, health screening and precautions, and frequent disinfecting of the campus and materials.
Outlined below is an overview of the preliminary plans we are working on for each of Utah’s color coded risk levels. At each level, the community will be asked to follow specific health precautions in accordance with our local, state, and federal requirements and may include the following:
- Students and staff must attest to being symptom-free each day.
- Temperature checks will occur.
- Adults will wear masks when social distancing is not possible.
- Facilities staff will disinfect high touch surfaces, spaces and equipment frequently.
- We will reduce or, in some cases, eliminate shared materials. Teaching staff will clean and sanitize shared Montessori materials daily.
- We will reimagine celebrations, and community gatherings.
- We will examine how to minimize or eliminate the mixing of groups through the day and week.
Level 4 Green, “New Normal” & Level 3 Yellow, Low Risk
At these levels, programs would run close to normal yet modifications and protocols would be in place to reinforce good hygiene, allow for social distancing, and curtail the mixing of groups. We recognize that there may be scenarios where the campus would be open, but some families or staff may not be comfortable or able to return at that time, or families or staff may be in quarantine/isolation due to circumstances related to COVID-19. In this case our goal is to provide an option for those who cannot attend and make instruction available to all students during these periods. Blended learning, where some students are receiving instruction via our distance learning platform and some are receiving instruction on campus, does not change our commitment to providing a rich Montessori educational experience. MCS’s blended learning model will combine synchronous (live) instruction with asynchronous (accessible anytime) instruction and materials in a schedule intentionally designed to provide a healthy school/life balance.
Level 2 Orange, Moderate Risk
At the Orange level, priority would be given to enabling Toddler and Early Childhood students to remain on campus. Additional classrooms would be set up to facilitate smaller group sizes. Elementary classes would follow a modified schedule to allow for smaller groups to attend. Blended learning would also be offered.
Level 1 Red Level, High Risk
In the event our local community experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases and an interruption of physical operations occurs, we will promptly shift to campus-wide distance learning via our distance learning platform. We shall look to offer on site childcare for the families of essential workers.
Regardless of the mode we may find ourselves in at any given time, we will continue to honour our school's mission to provide an authentic Montessori experience that nurtures the natural unfolding of the whole individual, instills a love of learning, encourages acts of peace, and empowers all.
We are looking forward to being able to welcome all students and staff back to our campus the week of August 24,