Health and Wellness
- Lead Mine Campus Questions (Toddler through Elementary)
- Brier Creek Campus Questions (Middle and Upper School)
Will the Toddler and Children's House programs run if there is an ordered shutdown?
We can consider ourselves an Essential Program because we provide care to Toddler and Preschool children. So, the answer is yes, as long as Essential Childcare programs remain open, we can provide on-campus programming for Toddler and Children’s House.
Will schedules change and we have alternate calendars?
Due to our open campus and large classrooms, we have plenty of space for all our students enrolled to return to campus and be able to physically distance. As of right now, there are no plans to change our current calendar. We might move larger community events online instead of holding them on campus.
How can you physically distance young children?
It is difficult for our younger students and even older students to understand what this means and be consistent about it. Our faculty and staff are going to be focusing on personal hygiene, new cleaning protocols within the classrooms and in between communal activities (such as playground use). Students will be getting lessons on washing hands frequently, staying at the proper physical distance, using tissues, etc. We will mitigate risk by cleaning materials between each student, having the children assist us with cleaning (using age-appropriate products) and modeling distancing. Students will have dedicated personal spaces in the classroom in which to work and we will move to more personalized materials vs. communal ones.
Will students be required to wear masks?
As of now, students age 3 and up and including all adults will be required to wear masks on campus at all times. Although, we recognize that this is not ideal and it makes it hard to hear, see non-verbal cuing, facial expressions, etc. it is in our communities best interest. We recommend that students have a mask for each day and also two additional ones in case the first one gets wet or ruined at some point during the day. Students will wear masks outside as they have trouble maintaining social distance. We will provide students the opportunity to take a mask break outside alone, if they should need to. We do currently have teachers piloting different kinds of masks and face shields for lessons on phonics where the mouth needs to be seen, but at this time masks are the covering of choice. They have proven to be the most effective. Students will be provided proper storage for their masks while eating or drinking as well as have lessons on how to take them on and off properly.
How will snack/lunch/food work?
All parents will be asked to send any food and water necessary for the day in with the student in personalized containers that they can open. My Hot Lunch will be suspended for the first semester and we will not have any outside food coming onto campus. Students will be asked not to share food and all food prep and food activities will be temporarily stopped. Students will eat outside if possible or at their designated spaces in the classroom. Students will be asked to bring in everything they need (placemat, napkin, fork, spoon, etc.) and these items will need to be cleaned daily at home.
Will you still have before/afterschool care and studios?
As of now we are still working out the details on these programs. We will provide care of some kind, but it is important that students are limited in their cohort groups and not intermixing. We will be able to finalize these plans after the Supplemental Programs survey comes out asking parents who need these different program options. We hope to have those plans finalized and ready for the Phase 2 communication. If you need care, busing, etc. please make sure you complete the survey.
How will all these new protocols affect the Montessori classroom and my child’s ability to receive instruction?
Our Montessori students are adaptable and flexible. We are already seeing students in SummerScape settle into the new routines and protocols. While students will not be able to move freely about the classroom, engage socially with peers and work collaboratively with them in the same way as they have before, the faculty and staff at MSR are committed to providing them with the best possible Montessori experience that we can give them safely. The new protocols in place will still allow them to have the individualized instruction and class community, it will just look different. Students will still have lessons, opportunities to work on projects and a proper work cycle and use of the materials. They just may have their own set, their own work rug, their own home base. The current class sizes allow for some of this additional cleaning and protocols and as they become part of the routine, the routine becomes the new normal.
How will we keep the community of MSR strong and cohesive?
It is very important to us that our community stays strong. Communication is key and we are committed to providing frequent, open, transparent communication with you. The classroom teachers have been discussing alternative and creative ways to engage our students, allow for connection opportunities and support parents and allow them to feel connected to the classroom community, teachers and school. We will be providing opportunities for parents to engage since visits to the campus will need to be limited. Stay tuned as activities unfold.
What will drop-off and pick-up look like?
Due to our small parking lot, we already have a staggered start. It is possible that we may extend the start times out to allow for different levels to arrive, have their temperature checked and complete the screening and cleaning process. Again, these plans have not been finalized yet as it depends on what decisions we make about before school care. School may begin earlier and have both a staggered start and end. In addition we do have a new temperature screening process that every child and adult who comes onto campus (out of their car) need to follow.
What about Interdisciplinary?
As our Interdisciplinary staff are the ones who interact with the most students during a day, we again are looking at creative ways to provide instruction to students and keep the cohort groups intact.
Will MSR be taking any trips this year?
Unfortunately, we will not be able to take any trips this year. What we are discussing and planning for are creative ways for our Elementary students to still receive those experiences in different ways.
How is Blended Learning at each level different from the last trimester of the 2019-2020 school year?
We learned so much from those 11 weeks -- what worked and didn’t work. At the Toddler/CH level we hope to be on campus as much as possible. Faculty are planning week long mini units for students and work, lessons, materials, descriptions will be provided for families in packets and activity bags. We recognize the need for more hands on activities that are ready to go versus “on-line” time. We will still utilize Zoom, Loom and Google Classroom on the Lead Mine Campus for our platforms, but these will mostly be for check-in opportunities with the teachers, to receive some lessons and to connect with peers and classmates. For Lower Elementary, Faculty have been discussing workbooks and packets that will be premade and sent home and additional projects are activities that students can do. Upper Elementary that were the most successful at Blended Learning have been discussing appropriate amounts of time, recommendations for screen time and how they could make their Blended Learning more consistent and sustainable. All the teams have been working with our Educational Technology Director on programs and websites that worked best and where our students were most successful. The Plus portion of Blended Learning really adheres to the need to have the students who are at home engaged and connecting with their peers and teachers who are on campus. The use of videos, live feeds and Zoom to allow students to join class meetings, discussions or observe lessons are some of the suggestions for this.
What are my options for choosing the Blended Learning Plus model?
Because of the work, planning and need for consistency in enrollment of the Blended Learning and Plus model, we are asking for quarterly commitments from parents. You will commit to a model (On-Campus, Blended Learning Plus) for a full quarter and would have the opportunity to phase in or out the next quarter. These are typically August, October, January, March, June. Again, the survey will allow us to finalize these plans because Blended Learning Plus for one student looks very different from Blended Learning for 30 students.
What are the protocols and procedures for illness on campus? Of Covid-19 on campus? Will I know if my child was in a space with someone who has it?
We are committed to communicating with our families while upholding confidentiality. We will have specific step by step guidelines and procedures for a positive COVID-19 case, exposure to COVID-19, returning to campus, and student illness. These procedures are currently under review with our consulting medical professionals and legal team. These will be available to you as soon as they are finalized. It is important to remember that COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the symptoms for other common illnesses and viruses. It is important for us as a community to stay empathetic and supportive of each other. No one wants the virus or chooses to get it. It happens and it does not make anyone a bad person or irresponsible. We need to come together and be supportive, not shaming, dismissive or accusatory. It will be a particularly sensitive year for us in regards to illness and your partnership in following the protocols, informing us of illness (any kind) and keeping us in the communication loop will be the best way we can mitigate risk and spread should someone in our community become infected.
What guides our decisions and how do we make them?
Our decisions are based on science, research and data. We are looking to our government agencies and health officials to guide us. In addition, we have a strong partnership with NCAIS (North Carolina Association of Independent Schools), AMS (American Montessori Society), IB and others. In all of these networking groups we are sharing resources, discussing steps and ideas and hearing feedback on different scenarios. It is important to us to be committed to making the best decisions possible for our students, faculty/staff and community.
Are the faculty/staff ready to come back? Are they supported and being taken care of at this time?
The faculty/staff from the moment the school year ended have been engaged in Task Force Work with administration and the BOT. It was important to us that they have a voice, share their opinions and experiences and be part of the solutions, new policies and procedures and to make sure they feel comfortable and confident in the new logistics and procedures that they will need to implement. This is uncharted territory for all of us and we will be mindful, observant and actively listening to anything that needs to be tweaked, edited, changed, altered in order to make the experience better.
Can I travel or take trips?
We recognize that we cannot mandate that families do not travel, but we are asking for a Good Faith commitment to our community. Be smart, keep yourself informed and if necessary, quarantine yourself and your families in order to keep the rest of our community safe.
What is being done with our air filtration and systems, janitorial staff, etc.
Tom Thomas, Buildings and Grounds Director, has been hard at work since the summer began. We have hired additional staff that will be helping with the misters and Clorox 360 machines nightly. The filters in each classroom have been upgraded. In addition, the air will be circulated nightly and classrooms will be encouraged to open windows and doors when the weather permits us. There are new specific cleansing guidelines that our cleaning crews are following and we are providing hand sanitizing stations, proper cleaning materials for the classrooms and his team will be in charge of cleaning the outdoor spaces and playgrounds in between student cohort use.
How will the student cohort bubbles work at Brier Creek? Will students see all of their teachers?
Students will be based in one of two cohorts: the Middle School cohort or the Upper School cohort. Students from the Middle School and Upper School will not take classes together or be in the same occupations, activities, intersessions, etc. Students will follow their normal schedule and move from classroom to classroom following the school social-distancing traffic plan. The school anticipates offering in person learning for all students whose families are comfortable attending on campus. MSR will announce class size for on campus cohorts before the start of school.
How has IB responded this year to the pandemic? Will IB make accommodations for this school year as well?
The IB made accommodations this year by assessing seniors on both official IB Internal and External Assessments. May 2020 examinations for seniors were cancelled with IB grades determined by the other diploma assessments already mentioned. IB as an organization is dedicated to equity and fairness. The IB will make accommodations this upcoming school year that meet the demands of the pandemic.
How will new students be integrated this upcoming school year?
As a faculty, we will have a series of activities designed for community building at the start of the school year. Additionally, new students will be paired with one or two buddy students to facilitate their integration socially and academically into the community. Also, our comprehensive advisory program will provide both social-emotional and academic supports throughout the school year. Additionally, the advisor for all new students will hold weekly check-in meetings with each new student to ensure that they have everything they need.
If conditions require the Governor to institute a stay at home order, will the daily schedule for Blended or Virtual Learning change?
Yes, the faculty is currently planning improvement and modifications to the Blended/Virtual Learning Daily Schedule. These modifications are still under discussion and will be announced before the start of a required period of Blended Learning.
Will the school day start and end times for the Brier Creek Campus change for the new school year?
The Brier Creek Campus will not need to utilize staggered start times, due to the availability of two drop-off locations on campus. There will be no change to the start and stop times for the Brier Creek Campus. Drop off will be from 7:45 am to 8:00 am for both MS and US school students. Pick-up will run from 3:10 pm to 3:25 pm for all students.
• Families with ONLY Middle School students will drop at the Middle School Traffic Circle
• Families with ONLY Upper School students will drop at the side walk in the middle of the Upper School Parking Lot.
• Families with both Middle and Upper School Students will drop all students off in the middle of the Upper School Parking Lot.
In the morning parents must wait until their student has been cleared for class activities for the day by a temperature check. Students with temperature above 99.6 degrees will be instructed to return home for the day. A 2nd temperature check with another device will be performed to verify the high temperature. If the student’s temperature is still above 99.6 degrees the parent will need to take the student home until all fever and symptoms have been absent for 72 hours.
Will masks be required during recess and physical education classes outdoors?
Yes, the epidemiologist has recommended that students wear masks while playing or exercising outside to insure no transmission. When students run or exercise their breath and exhaled droplets extend further than the normal social distance of 6 feet. Wearing masks increases safety both indoors and outdoors. Teachers are researching methods to allow individual students to take mask breaks during the day. The epidemiologist will review mask break procedures. Students will want to change masks after exercising outdoors. Students should have one primary mask for each day and two backup masks.
Where will students eat lunch?
Students will eat lunch in smaller socially distanced groups in both classrooms and outdoors as weather permits. Large lunch groups in the Kennedy Center or the Upper School Commons will not be utilized this school year.
How will busing from the Lead Mine Campus and South Point Mall in Durham work this school year?
Buses will pick-up and run on the same schedule as last school year from both locations. Students will be socially distanced and must wear a mask while transporting on the bus. Bus capacity will be limited due to social distancing, so therefore, there will be NO SINGLE DAY BUS DROP-INS permitted. Parents should complete the survey communicated to families on Friday, July 17th to indicate interest in busing for the 2020-21 school year.
Will classes be held outdoors to improve community safety and health?
Outdoor education is an integral part of the Montessori curriculum and philosophy. Faculty will be taking students outdoors for class even more than in previous years. The Re-Opening Task Force is researching additional resources to facilitate more classes being held outdoors when weather and conditions permit.
What new health and safety measures and protocols will students experience during on-campus learning?
All students and staff in the Middle and Upper Schools will wear masks throughout the school day. Epidemiological research indicates that wearing masks and social distancing greatly reduce the transmission of Covid-19. Guidelines will be created concerning the usage of masks outdoors and during recess. Students and teachers will socially interact and collaborate during classroom instruction while social distancing at 6 or more feet. Additionally, students will continue to work collaboratively in groups, while socially distanced at 6 or more feet apart.
What health screenings and protocols will parents need to perform at home?
Parents will perform a health check of each of their students every morning at home before departing for school. Parents will keep students home who are experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever of 99.6F or higher, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Students may return to on-campus learning 72 hours after the last symptoms have abated. The health and safety of all members of the community rely on good-faith communication and transparency of everyone. The Montessori School of Raleigh pledges to communicate to parents and families in a timely and transparent manner about possible exposure to COVID-19 and/or other illnesses. All members of the community rely on each family to communicate information to the school in a timely and transparent manner about any possible exposure to COVID-19 and/or other illnesses. The community relies on parents to faithfully keep their children home from school if they are exhibiting any symptoms to avoid exposing other individuals to illness. Only by collaborating and partnering together can we maintain the highest levels of health and safety for our students and children.
What health screenings will students experience at carpool in the morning?
Student temperatures will be checked by faculty and staff as car riders exit their vehicles. Student temperatures will also be checked before students are permitted to board MSR school buses in the morning. Any student with a temperature above 99.6 degrees will be required to return home until symptoms have been absent for 72 hours. We will test twice with a different device to insure accuracy.
What will be the plan if a child or teacher is exposed or diagnosed with COVID-19?
If a community member is exposed or diagnosed with Covid-19 the school will coordinate with the NC Department of Health and Human Services. The community will be informed about possible exposure within the school and the individual cohort or bubble, following government laws concerning patient confidentiality. The DHHS will direct the school, through the use of contact tracing, as to who must be quarantined for up to 14 days. If negative Covid-19 test results are returned earlier than 14 days the individual may return to campus at that time. Community members who are quarantined will receive instruction via the Blended Learning Plus model until they may safely return to campus for instruction.
Will families be able to travel before the opening of school?
Families will be encouraged to not travel outside the state of North Carolina for a period of 14 days before school opens. To protect the health and safety of all community members, parent education will be a major school initiative this school year. Parents will be informed of health and safety protocols necessary to protect the health of all community members. The school anticipates in this unprecedented time that parents and families will take their social responsibilities to protect everyone's health very seriously. Protocols will be followed if community members fail to adhere to health and safety guidelines. Families will be informed about quarantining protocols for instances in which school health and safety guidelines and protocols are not followed.
How will mask wearing be enforced with students in the classroom?
Students will be asked to step outside of the classroom to place their mask on properly. Teachers will have meaningful conversations with students about our ethical responsibilities to protect ourselves and those in our community. Parents will be called to pick up students who will not voluntarily and consistently wear their mask as required by Wake County and North Carolina legal requirements.
How will students and teachers partner to clean and sanitize our school home?
The teachers and staff will be doing the primary cleaning of bathrooms and common areas throughout the day. Students will be responsible for disinfecting their own workspace/desk/chair at the end of each block before moving to the next class. Students will also clean their lunch location, their own personal yoga mats, their own school materials, and other items that they utilize throughout the day. The teachers will supervise closely all of the student cleaning in their classrooms to ensure thoroughness and consistency. We will also ask students to wipe the toilet handle and locations they touch in the bathroom after each use. A faculty or staff member will disinfect the bathrooms every 90 minutes between classes. Students will not utilize common spaces without the direct supervision and follow-up cleaning by a teacher or staff member.
What cleaning and disinfecting solution will MSR utilize on tables and hard surfaces?
The supply list will ask each student to have a 16 oz spray bottle for their own daily supplies. The staff will fill the bottles each week with LEMON-QUAT One Step Disinfectant Germicidal Detergent and Deodorant. This disinfectant is safe to touch and does not harm the skin. Students will use this cleaner to clean their own workstations (desk and chair) and supplies during the school day. Jobs and practical life skills are an important element of Montessori education principles developing empathy, compassion, a sense of service in students, and independence and self-efficacy.
How many students will opt for On-Campus Learning and how many will opt Blended Learning Plus?
We anticipate that less than 10% of families will choose the Blended Learning Plus model. National surveys and other schools’ experiences bear this out. The survey for busing, after-school care, and blended learning plus will be sent to families today. We should have solid numbers to share in a couple weeks.
Will students be permitted to use a cubby on campus this school year?
We will start the school year with rigorous health and safety protocols and procedures. As the year proceeds and conditions change in the community, we plan to adapt and allow our practices and protocols to evolve. Later in the school year, the faculty will examine the traffic flow and time required for students to potentially visit a cubbie once a day or at times that students are easily socially distanced and supervised.
How many students will be assigned to each Middle and Upper School class?
Most Middle School classes will have between 6 and 15 students assigned. Most Upper School classes will have between 4 and 12 students assigned. All classes will be taught with a minimum of 6 feet of social distance between each student and only in classrooms that can accommodate that number of students.
MSR tuition has always been advertised to families as all inclusive with regards to the field trips and overnight trip experiences. As those opportunities were not available last spring and likely will not be available for the foreseeable future, how will those funds be redirected?
Funds are being redirected in the budget to hire additional faculty and personnel and to purchase cleaning supplies, medical supplies, HVAC upgrades, technology, software applications, educational subscriptions, laptops, web cameras, conferencing microphones, i-Pads, classroom furniture, outdoor furniture, event tents, and other educational materials and supplies. The Montessori School of Raleigh is a non-profit institution and intentionally stewards financial resources for the benefit of student educational and health and safety needs.
What leadership opportunities will be available for in person learners this school year?
All of the traditional student leadership roles for community meeting, student council, and student occupations/intersession leadership opportunities will be available this upcoming year. The pandemic will not diminish any Montessori student leadership this school year. We anticipate that our faculty will find new ways to expand the leadership opportunities for students .
When will we know about outdoor sports, such as cross country and other Fall sports?
Sports will follow the guidelines of the NCHSAA and our athletic conference. The state has announced that Fall sports will not start until after September 1st. I anticipate cross country operating as it is a natural sport to socially distance outdoors. As the school receives guidance about sports, our Athletic Director, Courtney Nutter, will share timely information with families.