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.