FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q- Will masks be required for staff?
A- Yes. Teachers will be wearing masks at all times when they are supervising children (inside and out). Although we initially considered no masks for the adults when outside if they could socially distance, we realized that due to the dynamic nature of the job, a child could quickly approach and need assistance and we don’t want any staff to hesitate while fixing their mask. If an adult is in the building alone, or on break in the break room away from children, or in the parking lot away from others they may remove their mask.
Q- Will masks be required for children?
A- Yes. Children will wear masks when indoors. They will remove their mask for snack and lunch and when they need a drink of water.
Q- Do we provide our own masks?
A- Yes. We’ve found these take some practice getting used to and different masks fit differently. Please take this time before school to get a few and find out what your child likes best. They should have two of their own spare clean masks with their back up clothes that stay at school & bring a clean one to wear each day in addition to that. One of our parents recommends the children’s masks at Harris Teeter. I have also heard folks like the children’s masks from Old Navy. If you have a good local supplier please share it with us and we will pass it along.
Q- Will there be sharing of snacks and other food?
A- No. This year all food will be individual and brought from home. Children will eat at separate tables rather than a community table.
Q- Will there be a health screening at drop-off?
A- Yes. There are many details regarding this in the handbook. Please read carefully and let me know if you have additional questions. The biggest take away from this section is that if each family pre-screens their child for illness at home, no one should be pulling up in car line with a symptomatic child.
Q- Will there be changes in operating hours?
A- Not at this time.
Q- How will children move about the classroom?
A- Movement is a critical part of children’s development and the Montessori method. One of the reasons we are requiring inside masks is so that children can move around the space. All children need to move and especially this age.
Q- What about classroom animals?
A- For the safety of the animals we will not have indoor pets this year. The disinfecting mist that is used in the classroom overnight might have adverse effects on some of the animals so we have made the choice to rehome them. We do anticipate the hens will be returning.
Q- Will high touch areas and the bathrooms be cleaned throughout the day?
A- Absolutely! More on this in your handbook.
Q- What about shared supplies?
A- Each student will have their own pencils, crayons, scissors, and glue sticks to use at their own table.
Q- How can we keep the bathroom even cleaner?
A- We are doing several things - we have installed a new toilet seat that has a lid and will be teaching all students to close the lid before flushing. We have also purchased an air purifier for that small space. And, as stated above will be increasing the frequency of cleaning/sanitizing.
Q- How many adults will be working with my children?
A- Most days your children will see the same three adults- myself (Virginia), an assistant teacher (Shawna), and our office manager/super-sub (Kirsten). Kirsten will be the person greeting and conducting health screenings on most days and we will make sure you and your children meet her before school begins.
Q- Where is Edel?
A- Edel, our other fabulous assistant teacher, is not available in August and September as she finishes some medical treatment. She remains on our Board of Directors and we hope to have her back as soon as it is possible to do so, taking both her health and our enrollment into account.
Q- Will there be music? What about yoga/meditation for Kindergarten?
A- Yes, but those specials will be handled by our current staff. This limits the amount of extra adults contacting our community. Shawna is a gifted and experienced musician and has taught children’s classes. Kirsten is a certified yoga teacher, and Virginia has been doing art and meditation with children for years. In regular years we love having additional staff to bring new perspectives and spell the teachers, but feel this year is unique.
Q- Will there be more outside time?
A- Yes! Please dress your children with that in mind. It will be hot, and it will be humid. Send them in the morning with a water bottle filled with ice. We will refill if needed. We are adding three more shade structures and an outdoor sink. We will be working a lot on our new garden beds and taking lessons, stories, and just plain fun outside whenever practical and possible. You will probably want to keep a hoodie/sweater in their cubby for inside when the switch to AC may seem chilly to some, especially in no sleeves and shorts.
Q- Will there be a supply list?
A- Yes! It will have things your child needs for themselves, a list of community supplies that we’d love your help with, and a wish list in case you want to do a bit more. Other than your child’s personal supplies there are no “required” contributions.
Q- Will there still be a volunteer hour expectation?
A- No! If you were with us last year when we transitioned to distance learning in March, you have already put in your volunteer hours. You picked up materials packets, you watched videos, you brought your children to Zoom calls, virtual circle times, virtual music time, and virtual bedtime stories. Laundry will be significantly lighter this year as we begin the year with paper hand towels, and there is no group snack. Still want to help? There will be much to do, but it is completely up to you. A good way to get involved is to join the re-opening committee, look for needs in the upcoming newsletters, join the board of directors, and/or become involved with our Parents Association.
Q- Will my child visit before school starts?
A- Yes! Every child and their family will have a scheduled visit to the classroom to see the space, their teachers, and practice drop off procedures. These will be scheduled for ALL students in a week or two.
Q- Will there be a Parent Orientation meeting?
A- Yes! It will be a Zoom meeting and will be in August. More on that later.
Q- Will there be less students this year?
A- Yes. We will start in August with smaller numbers and will probably add to the classroom community as the year progresses if we find students and families that are a good fit and we feel we are in a good position to do so. I anticipate beginning with 10-14 students and two full-time teachers.
Q- I’m worried about the consistency of the schedule. Can you guarantee there will be no closures?
A- Consistency matters to us also. While we can’t guarantee there will not be a closure, we can all do our part to keep school open by following the guidelines outlined in the parent handbook. If we are all dedicated to minimizing risks for the community it will make a difference. If you watched the video regarding our calendar you know that we have built in the ability to change scheduled school days to maximize the total number of days open. That means there is a likelihood of changes, but we will do everything in our power to keep on track.
Q- Do you need help getting supplies?
A- Yes. While we are stocking up on most cleaning & disinfecting products, lysol spray and wipes continue to be hard to find consistently. I am always happy to reimburse you for any of these that you can find. We do have plenty of disinfectant to get us started, though, and a stockpile of toilet paper that is what dreams are made of.
Q- Do you have to follow state schools or Durham Public Schools?
A- No. We are able to make our own decisions for the best for our community. I don’t envy the spots that educational leaders are in today. There are no easy answers. We have a lot of advantages- very small community size, large spaces (indoors & out), and families that are dedicated to following best practices.
Q-Will there be remote instruction?
A- No. Due to the size of our staff, we do not have additional teachers that can be preparing and delivering remote instruction. Our goal this year is to return to in-person learning and make that the best it can be. If your individual family needs to quarantine we will do our best to send some materials home if it is feasible and desired.
Q- If my individual family has exposure and needs to quarantine will those days be made up for my child and/or refunded?
A- No. School wide-closures will be made up. If, in a worst-case scenario we used up every one of our possible make up days, the board would consider discounts after the school year closed. But, we cannot make up or refund days for individual illness and/or quarantines. But, as stated above, when it is possible and desired we will try to send some work/activities home for your student to do at home.
Q- If it’s raining out won’t that mean more time for my child in a mask?
A- It could, but it really depends on the timing of the rain and the temperature outside. We can always move our morning around and are not afraid to drop everything at 10:00 am when the rain stops and head outside to stomp in puddles. We are also not afraid to play in the rain, so make sure each and every student has a rain jacket and rain boots at school that stay at school, if it’s not too cold we will be out there getting messy and having fun.
Q- Will MFS feel different this year?
A- Yes & no. Yes, there will be some protocols that may feel unfamiliar, or even uncomfortable at first, especially to adults that have been here before. But, the heart of who we are and what we do will remain the same. We work in Montessori because it is the best. We work with children because we love them. We work at MFS because it combines the best of what Montessori offers in a really loving/warm community. We are still going to be that warm and loving community. We will still be smiling a ton under those masks. Kids will still be kids and that is exactly what we all need. As I’ve gone in and out of the building this summer a phrase keeps ringing through my mind- “Happy happens here!” No amount of temperature taking or mask wearing or extra cleaning wipes that away. We are increasing the safety, but not decreasing the joy. Did this leave you with more questions? Did I not cover something important to you? No problem! Let’s continue the conversation. I want you to feel heard and keep answering all the things that come up. Just drop me a line!