The building is CLOSED.

COVID-19

March 14, 2020

Saying Hello

Dear MSM Community,

Setting aside formal communications here to share from the heart.  This is such a strange time for all of us, tensions are so high, and I’m sure we are all doing our best to stay calm as we figure out what the next few weeks will look like.  With all of the uncertainty, I truly hope that every one of you, adults and children alike, stay healthy during this confusing time.

We will do our best to help you find some consistency at home, both with learning and with routines.  The teachers are making every effort to create work ideas for your children that will require as little adult help as possible, and that will keep your children meaningfully engaged.  We know that most of you will be working from home, and working with kids around can certainly be a challenge!  We also hope that you will have enough down time to enjoy together, and that your children will have many opportunities to just play, especially now that the weather is warming up.

You will receive communications from me and from the teachers in the next few days with the official plan for each program level.

We are all disappointed that we didn’t have the chance to say a proper “see you soon” to the kids, so please let them know that their teachers send along a big hello hug, and that they look forward to seeing them again soon.

With warm regards,

Meredith Le Grand, M.Ed., Co-Head of School, Academic

March 13, 2020

Second MSM Update

Dear MSM Families,

As you know, today, Governor Ralph Northam ordered all K-12 schools in Virginia to close for a minimum of two weeks in response to the continued spread of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.  FCPS has also announced that school will be closed through spring break.  As a result, MSM will be closed from Monday March 16, 2020 through Monday April 13, 2020.  At this point in time, we are planning to reopen on Tuesday April 14, 2020, but we will continue to reassess the situation, as needed. In addition, we are in the process of postponing the MSMPA 2020 Spring Gala and the Elementary Choral and Recorder Concert – stay tuned for details on these events. Our first priority is the health of the entire MSM community. 

The MSM COVID-19 Planning Team is putting the finishing touches on the Distance Learning Plans for each program level. Please keep an eye on your email, as our expectation for distribution (both digitally and via hard copy packets) is by Wednesday March 18, 2020.  We will send more information on packet pickups in the coming days.

On behalf of the entire MSM faculty and staff, we would like to convey our sincere appreciation for all of the continuous support from our amazing families. This situation is new to all of us and we are grateful for your partnership in your students' educational journeys.  We hope that you and your family will enjoy your extra time together :) 

Kind regards,

Meredith and Thomas Le Grand, Co-Heads of School

March 13, 2020

MSM Update: School Closed March 16

Dear MSM Community,

With the rapidly changing decisions from FCPS and their closure today, we have decided to close school on Monday March 16.  All faculty and staff will be here to continue our work on the distance learning plans and cleaning.  We will continue to monitor the recommendations of the CDC, VDH, FCHD, and FCPS and will continue to keep you updated as changes occur.  The health and safety of our wonderful community is of utmost importance.

We thank you for your patience and understanding as we live through this historic moment together.

Kind regards,

Meredith and Thomas Le Grand, Co-Heads of School



March 12, 2020

MSM COVID-19 Update

Dear Parents,

As you know, the MSM faculty is working very hard to not only provide your children with an optimal school experience while here, but is also working on providing them with an optimal experience should they be required to be at home for an extended period of time.  Our COVID-19 Planning Team has been working diligently to dovetail the Montessori curriculum with distance learning technology. Our expectation is to have it completed and ready to implement next week, should the need arise.

At this time, we have had no reported COVID-19 cases in the building and plan to follow Fairfax County’s closure decision, whenever that will be. However, the MSM community’s safety is paramount and we will continue to reassess the overall situation as it evolves.  Of note, we are hearing rumors from Fairfax County teachers and students that FCPS may announce on Monday night that school will be closed from Tuesday through spring break. We are closely monitoring the validity of this rumor and will update our community as soon as we have more information. However, we want you to be aware of this rumor to be forewarned if it is indeed announced on Monday.

As one of our local Montessori colleagues said today, (paraphrasing here) we must try to see the silver lining in this situation.  Your children are wonderful and we enjoy being with them every day!  With our hectic DC lives, a school closure will allow you and your family so much more time to enjoy together, and that is something to smile about.

Regarding the annual Spring Gala, we are in the process of making a decision about it and we will notify you as soon as possible.

Meredith Le Grand & Thomas Le Grand, Co-Heads of School

March 10, 2020

MSM COVID-19 Update

Dear MSM Community,

Fairfax County has announced that schools will be closed on Monday, March 16 to prepare for distance learning in the event they will need to close for a longer period of time due to COVID-19.

As you are aware, MSM has already planned to close this Friday, March 13, for a Faculty and Staff Development Day and, therefore, we do not plan to close on March 16.

In the event that schools are required to close for an extended period of time, our cross-functional team, co-chaired by the Academic Head of School and Technology Teacher, has been extensively preparing for distance learning at all program levels:

  • Elementary - Upper and Lower Elementary students will be able to continue their academic learning through Google classroom. In addition, Elementary teachers will utilize the Zoom platform for office hours for students to check-in from home and receive assistance if needed.
  • Primary and Toddler - Primary and Toddler teachers will provide ideas for Montessori work and activities for children to do at home. In addition, teachers will be able to use Facetime to “meet” with their students and parents to allow for continuity.

This Friday, we will finalize and test the distance learning plans. Although we have implemented extra cleaning and student coaching to keep the school environment clean, this Friday’s Faculty and Staff Development Day will give us the opportunity to further deep clean the environment.

We thank you for your continued support as we navigate this new situation together.

With kind regards,

Meredith and Thomas Le Grand, Co-Heads of School

March 6, 2020

MSM Health Update

MSM is closely following the regular reports and recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD), and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the latest updates about the coronavirus (COVID-19), and not relying solely on news reports.  As you have probably heard, these organizations are asking the general public to prepare in case the need arises to interrupt daily operations. 

 This situation is new for us, as we have never had to consider the possibility of school being closed for an extended length of time.  We have 20 snow days built into the calendar this year, yet snow days are typically not used consecutively for an extended period of time.  One of the hallmarks of the Montessori Method is that it’s a hands-on philosophy, in which students work with actual materials rather than only pencil and paper.  We have the technological capability to provide distance learning at age appropriate program levels, and we are working through its intricate practical application.  We have a strong cross-functional team in place to determine the best ways to meet student needs in the event that school will be required to close.  Our overall goal would be to maintain continuity, while minimizing student and staff exposure.

 In the meantime, as we continue to make sure that our environment is as germ free as possible, we are:

  • reinforcing the importance of ensuring students are following proper handwashing procedures before eating and after sneezing, coughing, or using the bathroom.  
  • doing extra cleaning in the classrooms and around the building, using hospital-grade disinfectants on frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, faucet handles, and handrails.
  • using hand sanitizer as needed, though we prefer that the youngest children use it only minimally.
  • providing additional sanitizing of food preparation surfaces.
  • using elbow bumps instead of handshaking.
  • faculty and staff with colds or other symptoms are staying home, and if a student is showing signs of a cold or the flu, they must stay home, too.

We know that our parent community is one that travels a lot for work and recreation.  For your quick reference, if traveling, be sure to check the CDC website here for travel warnings.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this uncharted territory, and we will continue to provide regular updates as this situation evolves.

Talking to Kids about COVID-19

Click here for a great article by Tina Payne Bryson, PhD on how to talk to children about the coronavirus.  Dr. Bryson is the author of The Power of Showing Up, The Whole Brain Child, and No Drama Discipline.  We would also add that children don’t necessarily understand the gravity of their words when they say things like “my   sister has the coronavirus”. Helping them to understand that their words have the potential of frightening their friends can be very helpful in not spreading unnecessary fear. 

March 3, 2020

Illness Prevention and Preparation Update

Dear MSM Community,

MSM is closely following the regular reports and recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD), and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the latest updates about the coronavirus (COVID-19), and not relying solely on news reports.  As you have probably heard, these organizations are asking the general public to prepare in case the need arises to interrupt daily operations.  Fortunately, as of today, there are  no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County or the D.C. region. 

This situation is new for us, as we have never had to consider the possibility of school being closed for an extended length of time.  We always have a good number of snow days (2-3 weeks) built into the calendar, yet snow days are typically not used consecutively for an extended period of time.  One of the hallmarks of the Montessori Method is that it’s a hands-on philosophy, in which students work with actual materials rather than only pencil and paper.  We have the technological capability to provide distance learning at age appropriate program levels, and we are working through its intricate practical application.  We have a strong cross-functional team in place to determine the best ways to meet student needs in the event that school will be required to close.  Our overall goal would be to maintain continuity, while minimizing student and staff exposure.

In the meantime, as we continue to make sure that our environment is as germ free as possible, we are:

  • reinforcing the importance of ensuring students are following proper handwashing procedures before eating and after sneezing, coughing, or using the bathroom.  
  • doing extra cleaning in the classrooms and around the building, using hospital-grade disinfectants on frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, faucet handles, and handrails.
  • using hand sanitizer as needed, though we prefer that the youngest children use it only minimally.
  • providing additional sanitizing of food preparation surfaces.
  • using elbow bumps instead of handshaking.
  • faculty and staff with colds or other symptoms are staying home, and if a student is showing signs of a cold or the flu, they must stay home, too.

We know that our parent community is one that travels a lot for work and recreation.  For your quick reference, if traveling, be sure to check the CDC website here for travel warnings.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this uncharted territory, and we will continue to provide regular updates as this situation evolves.

With best regards,

Meredith and Thomas Le Grand, Co-Heads of School

February 28, 2020

Health Notice: COVID-19

As concern about the coronavirus continues to grow around the world, we want to assure you that we will follow whatever recommendations are provided by the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health.  We often take extra precautions during this time of year to help prevent flu and other illnesses anyway, so accordingly, MSM staff is doing extra disinfecting around the building, and we are providing students with extra coaching on handwashing skills, and how to cough and sneeze properly.  Please help us reinforce these skills, and please keep children home who have any symptoms of illness, such as fever, sore throat, cough and congestion, vomiting and diarrhea. 

As a school community it is important that everyone continue to be diligent about following health and safety guidelines established by health officials:

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • It is important to stay home from school when you are ill. If your child has any of the following symptoms, please keep them home from school: temperature greater than 100.4, coughing, vomiting, or diarrhea. Please remain at home until a fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. You can also cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid sharing drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, dishes, towels or other items. Wash these items thoroughly with soap and water after use.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick whenever possible.
  • Practice other good health habits: clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
  • If traveling, be sure to check the CDC website here for travel warnings.

Here is a document from W.H.O. on helping children cope with stress.​​​​​​​