Quest Prepares for a Fall Reopening
Recently, there have been numerous news articles stating something parents have known for months, schools need to reopen for all students in the fall. At Quest Montessori School our goal is to enable all of our students and teachers to come to school every day. To make that happen we have had to think carefully about what new processes will be put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Quest is Prepared by Design
We are fortunate that Quest school building and program will naturally facilitate our adherence to the guidelines set forth by the Rhode Island Departments of Education and Health.
- Every classroom has an exterior door,
- Our class sizes are small; every child can be in school every day
- Our classrooms provide space for social distancing
- There is plenty of outdoor space for work and lessons
- There are enough bathrooms in the building to assign one to each classroom,
- Our students are already in the habit of cleaning and frequent handwashing (although it will have to happen far more often).
At this time, the state guidelines call for stable groups of no more than 30 persons including teachers. Toddler will remain 12 students and 2 teachers. A stable group is one in which the children and adults remain the same all day, every day. All Quest’s class sizes are less than 30, which means we will not need to separate any classrooms.
- Each classroom will be its own “pod”
- Children and faculty will enter and exit through their classroom’s outside doors
- The pods will not mix
- Separate recesses
- Separate bathrooms (Each classroom will be assigned a bathroom)
- No students will be allowed in the hallways unless to use the restroom
- Limit shared materials
- No shared pencils, scissors, etc. The back to school supply lists will reflect the need for these individual items.
- New protocol for Montessori material usage to include washing hands and cleaning materials
- There will be no shared snack at any level
- There will be increased use of the outdoor environment during good weather
- Specialist will likely be remote
- There will be no field trips to places where they are other groups.
Adults and students are required to have a face covering with them at school each day even if they are not required to wear them in their stable classrooms. We suggest each family experiment with options this summer and find what works best for each child. The best face covering is the one your child can take on and off independently and can wear comfortably.
- Early childhood and elementary students will not be required to wear coverings while in the classroom or on the playground. This may change if the guidelines from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) change.
- Middle school students may be required to wear coverings when they are in very close proximity to each other.
- With the exception of Toddler, the RIDOH is not requiring teachers to wear face coverings while in their classrooms, at this time. Again, this may change before September and we will be monitoring the guidelines.
- If teachers are required to wear face coverings, Quest is exploring masks with clear panels to enable children to be able to see the majority of the adult’s face and their mouth in particular which is particularly important for our youngest students.
- Any new adult entering a pod will be required to wear a mask. We will limit entry of new adults as much as possible including specialists.
- Everyone will be required to wear a face covering when in the common areas. This means students leaving the classroom to use the restroom must wear a face covering.
Frequent handwashing is one of the things we know for sure that helps contain the spread of the virus.
- Children will be given demonstrations on what proper handwashing looks like both in terms of technique and length of time.
- This is also something that can be practiced at home this summer
- Handwashing at set intervals, throughout the day, will be required of students and adults. Younger students will be observed by an adult to ensure proper technique.
- Signs with diagrams will be placed by all sink areas to remind adults and students of proper technique.
Air Quality in the Building
To help mitigate the potential for transmission of the COVID-19 virus, as well as other virus and bacteria pathogens, we have decided to upgrade all three HVAC systems at Quest with commercial-grade UV-C (Ultraviolet-C) treatment appliances. Located in the HVAC ductwork above the ceiling these appliances are capable of treating all of the air in the building, multiple times daily, as it passes through our HVAC systems. This equipment promises to substantially reduce the transmission of pathogens in the building by supplying a constant flow of treated air to our environment. Also note that the equipment chosen produces no ozone.
- High touch areas will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day using EPA registered cleaners with short contact times (the amount of time the surface must be wet to kill viruses).
- Professional cleaning will now occur daily.
- Montessori materials will be cleaned between students.
- Whenever feasible, only Quest students, staff and faculty will be allowed in the building
- Any student drop-off or pickup will be through the classroom’s exterior door
- There will be no inside package deliveries
- Lunch deliveries from outside vendors will not be permitted
Some procedures will be modified between classrooms to account for the ages of the children. For example, early childhood children may have the back of their hand stamped with the goal of removing the stamp by hand washing throughout the morning and afternoon. Classroom teachers will give more specific information at the back to school nights to be held prior to the start of school.
As with all things related to the success and well-being of our community, partnership with parents is vitally important. Your support is necessary to maintain the safety and wellness of our children.
- On a daily basis, parents will need to complete the state required self-attestation form prior to leaving for school and answer specific questions regarding any COVID-19 symptoms. This information is required by RIDOH for any child or adult entering the building.
- Provide your child with a face covering for school each day. As noted above, we suggest each family experiment with options this summer and find what works best for each child. The best face covering is the one your child can take on and off independently and can wear comfortably.
- Demonstrate to your child how to properly wash their hands and practice frequent hand washing at home.
- Most importantly, please do not bring a sick child to school no matter what the illness is. Even a cold that is spread from one child to other children or adults weakens each person’s immune system and makes them more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
When the Back to School Rhode Island guidelines were published in June, we were encouraged to see that our plans adhere to those guidelines. We will continue to work closely with Rhode Island Department of Education and Health as the summer continues.