School will be re-opening on Monday, June the 1st. We are all excited and a little nervous after the longest Spring Break in history. The Covid outbreak has impacted every corner of our lives, yet we have adapted and now it’s time for the next step. Emotionally some of us are ready, others are not quite there yet. We are very fortunate in BC to have Dr. Bonnie Henry with years of pandemic research and first hand working experience at the head of our province. Her calm manner and voice of reason at news conferences have made us feel safer with each passing day. Businesses and services are starting Phase 2 of the plan to slowly reopen, and there will be changes to daily operations. Covid has not gone away, but the risk of catching the virus and of overwhelming healthcare has reduced. This is only possible because we have followed instructions. Dr. Henry is cautious but optimistic, and so we move forward with intelligence, care and caution.
As all schools, we are reducing the classroom attendance sizes for the three weeks of June that we are normally open. The first day of classes will be on June 1st, and the last day of class will be held on Thursday, June 18th. Children will only attend a few days a week. The class sizes are further reduced by children unable to attend, and very much missed. Smaller class sizes translates to a higher teacher to child ratio, making the classroom easier to monitor while still allowing some freedom within limits. Tables have been separated and extra chairs removed. Mats are used to define personal space on tables and floors to initiate parallel work and play areas. Children know this and use these throughout class time. Group work is introduced by a teacher, and can be spaced accordingly with the use of designated seating mats. The soft classroom materials we use have been removed for the time being. The children understand personal work space and the respect of other’s materials within those boundaries already. The reality is that social distancing in the adult context is almost impossible for most early years programs. Montessori classrooms have a huge advantage by mentoring respect for personal and social space and having the tools readily available for each child to define boundaries. Your children know this and are ready.
We have received the new CDC standards of cleaning and sterilizing protocols. I am happy to say that these standards are something we have always done, and twice daily. We are adding daily hand sanitizing when entering and exiting the facility, along with a few more daily health protocols. Regular and consistent hand washing has always been the rule. Because of the Montessori philosophy of respect and space, combined with our standard health protocols, there are few changes to the classroom. Familiarity supports stability and smooth transitions.
On a different but related note I discovered while reading my National Geographic emails. A very old word, but new to me which I would like to share … commensality. “Family dinners are back. Sitting down and eating together was once such an integral part of family life that there’s even a word for it… commensality. Somewhere in the second half of the 20th century, family dinners lost their prominence. The hectic nature of modern life sent parents and kids in multiple directions. Now, dinner is being disrupted again… in a good way. The COVID-19 crisis and stay-at-home defensive quarantines have brought family dining back in style.”
Please take a look at National Geographic online when you have a chance. I was acquainted to this magazine in my youth through generations of family fans, and it continues to be my favourite. I find the magazine informative and inspiring. The NG Kids is also a great read with activities, science experiments and crafts. Recently there has been ‘How to make a pinhole camera’ activity and ‘Kids vs Plastic’ article. Exciting ways to keep your family busy and the grey matter active.
VERY IMPORTANT ITEMS TO NOTE:
- All students who have symptoms of COVID-19, travelled outside Canada in the last 14 days, or had close contact of a confirmed case or outbreak must stay home and self-isolate, including children of essential service workers who are ill.
- A daily health check resource sheet is attached to this email. Please bring a signed copy with your child on their first day returning to preschool. Copies will be available at the front door of the preschool. Please keep a copy at home to check before you come to class each day.
- The use of PPE is not necessary for children as it makes them touch their face more often than usual. However, PPE is a personal choice for all students, parents and staff.
- Please give others personal space outside while waiting for your child to enter and leave.
- To avoid sharing food items, please pack a snack in a container for your child’s consumption only, on each day they attend. We will return to the community snack basket in September.
- Children’s hands will be sanitized with an aloe and 99% alcohol spray solution when entering and leaving the classroom. Hand washing (as always) will be done before eating and after coughing or sneezing. Children have always washed hands after toileting, but now we are also promoting hand washing before as well
- All parents and caregivers MUST BE ON TIME for drop offs and for pick-ups. Although this is important every day, timeliness is an integral step to making transitions work.
There are different ideas of what helps for emotional recovery. The three stages of trauma recovery seem to fit best. Safety and Stability, Remembering and Grieving, and Restoring Relationships. Returning to school is a little bit of normal in a very different world. We look forward to seeing everyone next week, or perhaps not until September. Either way, we appreciate the gift of good company, children’s laughter and restoring relationships. Welcome back.
Miss Lori, Miss Stacy, Miss Maria and Mrs.B (Cynthia)