As stated in our Back to School correspondences, we as a Leadership team continue to monitor trends in best practices regarding responding to transmission of COVID-19. We are working closely with Sera Bonds, our Public Health consultant, who is advising us on what we can continue to do to mitigate as much risk as possible in a time when the science around this virus continues to evolve. While our classrooms are divided into smaller pods, as mentioned in our Community Commitment documents, we live in a time and place where our actions outside of school have the potential to impact the Athena community at large. We appreciate your adherence to these updated recommendations so that we are able to continue to keep open our doors safely to your family and our dedicated faculty.
Illness and Doctor’s Notes:
In the event that your child is ill with a fever and/or more than one episode of vomiting or diarrhea we will ask you to stay home and make contact with your doctor. Your child can return to school when they have been fever free and symptom free for 72 hrs (unmedicated) and come back with a doctor’s note. When you make contact with your doctor please request an email or written note that confirms that when your child is symptom free they will be well enough to return to school. You can bring the note at drop off or email it to Joy at Office@AthenaMontessoriAcademy.com.
In the event there is an ill person in your child’s class (either pod), we will send an email to the entire classroom making you aware of symptoms to look out for and will follow up if symptoms change or increase. We will be in close contact with the individual or family regarding how they are doing and confirming that they have connected with their doctor.
Mask Wearing for Students:
We are strongly recommending that all children two years and older come to school wearing a mask, and wear it as much as possible inside during the school day. Our viewpoint on mask wearing has evolved after talking with Sera Bonds and also now that both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics are strongly encouraging mask wearing for children two years and older. Click HERE
to read an article from AAP about children wearing masks. Click HERE
to read an article with some great suggestions of what you can do at home to normalize mask wearing for your child.
Below are the steps we are taking to normalize mask wearing in our community. We are:
Asking each child to bring a clean mask to school everyday, or to bring five on Monday to keep in their cubby.
Giving group lessons on mask wearing, and why it’s important. Guides will be hosting regular circles about how we keep ourselves healthy, which will include handwashing and wearing masks. These discussions will be child appropriate given the ages in each pod. These circles and lessons about masks will be done in the same fashion as we teach how to put on a coat or how to wipe your nose. It is part of the Montessori practical life curriculum.
Incorporating “Montessori style works” in the classrooms to encourage the normalization of masks, through photos and free exploration to encourage the safe usage and reasoning about why wearing a mask can keep everyone safe and healthy.
Continuing the discussion with you all as we learn more about how to keep each other safe and healthy.
Providing education and resources for our families, and opportunities to engage as a community via our Community Gatherings bi-monthly with Sera Bonds and her team.
Below are some bullets from our first COVID Community Gathering with Sera Bonds last week. If you missed the session, please view the recording here
At this time, the CDC guidelines are still recommending that no more than 10 people gather in groups. Sera is recommending that if we gather away from school, it be ideally outdoors like in a park with no more than a couple of families at a time. As a Leadership team, we feel it is appropriate to host an outdoor birthday party with just a few families where the expectations and guidelines for safety are very clear (i.e. adults are wearing masks, parameters for social distancing, and a plan for restroom use), and the total group size does not exceed 10 people.
In optimal settings, smaller gatherings are much more preferred during this time of airborne transmission of the virus. Setting up a playdate with one other family at a time has the potential to create minimal risk while also allowing for a layer of normalcy and intimacy. When considering setting up playdates with another family, Sera recommends:
Invite your companions in the playdate into a dialogue around behavior to set up consensual agreements regarding mitigation of risk, before getting together.
Set the tone for what all parties involved feel comfortable with, such as location, masks or no masks on the children, sharing of food and spaces, prior to the first playdate and make plans to continue to connect regarding any periodic changes that occur.
When discussing plans, define how each of your families are handling things such as school, travel plans, playdates with other families, work life during the pandemic, etc.
Enjoy playgrounds and swimming pools (the chlorine is a good protectant for the virus), and wear masks when not distanced.
Bank of Risks and Holidays:
Look at these times as though we all have a bank account of risks from which we can make withdrawals. Sera reiterated that complete isolation (the only risk-free option) is not only not sustainable but also not expected of anyone. You can choose to go to school and maybe go to one extracurricular activity that is practicing safe COVID procedures (i.e. performing health screenings, providing class sizes with low numbers of attendees, and, optimally, outdoors). Your risk choice could be to go to a small group of friends you decide to be in a playdate pod with and that you all have common family agreements on the health protocols you are choosing to live by. Your risk choice could be seeing family at an upcoming holiday. Sera stresses the importance of transparency and continued conversation around your family’s practices when establishing such relationships with others and planning for gatherings.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update carefully. Please reach out to us if you have any questions. We hope to see you at the next Covid Community Gathering on Tuesday, September 8th at 1:00 p.m. Zoom details can be found on your Google Parent Calendar (visit the Calendar page of our website to sync).
Your Leadership Team