The building is CLOSED but we can still be reached by email.

Updates

 

March 31, 2020

Update

Dear MSM Community,

Thank you for your continued support throughout these challenging days! We are grateful to not have any reported cases of COVID19 in our school community, and we hope that everyone can stay healthy in the weeks ahead. If anyone in your family does end up contracting COVID19, please let us know. We want to be able to provide support to your family, and it is important for us to know if any of our students are too ill to participate in distance learning. 

Distance Learning Plans

Please find attached an overview of the MSM 2020 Distance Learning Plans. You will see the document is separated into program level specific overviews, as well as a discussion regarding Enrichments. Toddler and Primary parents will need to pick up additional learning packets on the dates specified. In addition, your child's teacher will send you the Phase 2 distance learning schedule. Lower and Upper Elementary families will receive their Phase 2 plans and schedules via email. I would like to give a special shout out to all the Faculty for pulling together in this time. They are an amazing team of professionals!

Payments and Fees

As indicated in my email from last week, the MSM Board of Trustees is working diligently to examine all facets of this extremely unusual situation. We expect a decision from them in the next two weeks. Part of the delay is that new information is constantly being released, changing the landscape, and a decision made in haste may not end up being the decision that ultimately best fits the circumstances, so they need more time for matters to clarify. So, we ask that everyone be patient, stick together, and we will emerge on the other side of this crisis together. For the time being, we have made the adjustments mentioned last week, and postponed the tuition payment for April, so you will not see any withdrawal from your account, tomorrow April 1. Thank you for your patience as we seek a workable solution for all parties.

Most of you know that I sent an email to all MSM students yesterday (via their parents' emails) and one of the suggestions I had for them was to take a moment and practice gratitude. Here is an excerpt from my email yesterday: "In difficult situations, it really helps to take a moment each day to practice gratitude. You could go outside and soak in the spring sunshine; or you could just sit quietly with your eyes closed for a moment, breathe deeply, and be thankful. I try to remember to stop and take a few deep breaths a few times every day, and it does help me to feel calmer." As we head into Spring Break in a few days, I hope all of you will be able to find some time to relax and practice gratitude, for even though this is a crazy time right now, there are many silver linings to be found.

Warm regards,

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

 
 

March 30, 2020

A Message for MSM Students

Dear Students,

Wow, it has been quite an interesting couple of weeks!

As you head into your last week before our upcoming Spring Break, I wanted to share some thoughts with you.

First, I am so proud to part of the MSM Community. Our school has truly banded together to make sure that we are all supported in this historic time. Every single adult in the building has been working very hard to make sure that you have everything that you need to be able to continue to enjoy learning from home. We are still creating new works and activities for all of you to do at home to stay connected to school. We adults have been learning right along with you, as we figure out the best ways to continue your learning at home. If you ever have any questions, please have one of your parents contact your teacher. Even though we aren’t in the MSM building right now, we are all still here for you!

Second, I know this a very uncertain time right now, but please know that all of the adults in your life are working to take care of you. In difficult situations, it really helps to take a moment each day to practice gratitude. You could go outside and soak in the spring sunshine; or you could just sit quietly with your eyes closed for a moment, breathe deeply, and be thankful. I try to remember to stop and take a few deep breaths a few times every day, and it does help me to feel more calm.

Finally, it sure was disappointing to not be able to say goodbye to all of you in person before we started learning from home! All of the teachers and I miss each and every one of you. I enjoyed getting to see some of you on Zoom, and I will set up some more meetings soon. Please know that we are so looking forward to seeing your beautiful faces again in the fall. Our reunion will be something to celebrate! 

I hope you and your family have some time to relax together during Spring Break.

Warm regards,

Mrs. Le Grand

 
 

March 27, 2020

Distance Learning Update & Overview

Thank you for your continued and unwavering support of MSM through this unprecedented situation. We are so proud to be part of the MSM community!

As communicated earlier this week, teachers and staff are working diligently to pull together Phase 2 of the Distance Learning Plans at each program level, to be implemented after Spring Break (some will be ready to go home by the end of next week). MSM faculty and staff have been consistently meeting virtually since the building was required to close. We are committed to ensuring that distance learning will not only continue to solidify and augment the educational progress of each student, but also add value to your child's day. Please know that we are completely aware that each family has unique commitments throughout these unusual days and we are striving to provide your students with a manageable education routine, yet allow for family constraints. 

Distance learning is certainly new for all of us! So, with all of the fantastic work and packets that our teachers have prepared and sent to your students, we still believe flexibility is key to the success of distance learning. 

In an effort to ensure Phase 2 continues to meet our high academic standards, yet respect each family's unique situation during these uncharted times, please take a moment to fill out the quick survey included in your Friday Note about your child's experience with distance learning so far. If you have more than one student at MSM, please fill out the survey for each child.

Please see below for a description of what we are providing in Phase 1, and what we plan to add in Phase 2.

We are honored that you have chosen MSM to educate your children. 

Distance Learning and Montessori: We have been preparing for this for over 100 years!

Dr. Maria Montessori was a physician, educator, and innovator. She believed children are not only hard-wired to learn, but also truly enjoy learning. Technology has obviously changed since Dr. Montessori started her first school in Italy, but innovation has not. MSM faculty and staff welcomed the challenge of distance learning and quickly created Distance Learning Plans for all program levels. As a result of such extraordinary dedication from the entire MSM staff, all of our students, toddlers through 6th graders, are continuing to find joy and purpose learning from home.

What does distance learning look like at MSM? Here is what we rolled out for Distance Learning Phase 1 for our students at all program levels on Monday March 16, as well as a snapshot of what is to come for Phase 2 after Spring Break (Enrichment  classes will be added at all levels):

Toddlers

Phase 1: Our 2-year-old students received packets of daily art project materials and a little bit of video calling and connection. We really struggled with how much time we thought toddlers can handle being on screens!

Phase 2: Teachers will be adding in Circle Time for the youngest students, to provide social continuity from the classroom. The toddlers will be able to see all of their friends and find out what kinds of fun activities they have all been doing at home. The teachers will connect individually with toddlers and their parents more frequently.  Our toddlers will be encouraged to spend time outdoors just observing nature, feeling the warm sun on their faces, and enjoying the sounds of spring!

Primary

Phase 1: Our 3 to 6-year-olds have Montessori material prompts and ideas to provide continuous learning from all areas of the classroom, including practical life, cultural, math, science, language, and sensorial. Our Kindergarteners are continuing their journey towards reading and writing with child-specific packets prepared by their classroom teachers. Each classroom checks in virtually each week so the students can see their friends!

Phase 2: Primary teachers are preparing additional packets and learning materials for all of their students to include additional math, language, practical life, science, geography, and cultural components. Primary children will enjoy more time for whole class meetings to interact with their friends, sing songs together, practice mindfulness, and discuss what they are enjoying about spending time at home. The students will have opportunities throughout the weeks ahead to spend some virtual time with their Enrichment teachers to enjoy Spanish, art, music, and peace. Teachers will also have check-in meetings with each of their students multiple times while we are away to see how they are doing with their distance learning and just give them a virtual hug!

Lower Elementary

Phase 1: Our 1st through 3rd graders have home practice materials for creative writing, math, science, reading, and history. They have multiple weekly video conferences with their classmates and teachers for presentations of new material and just checking in. Our 3rd graders are able to learn the practical life skill of working in Google Classroom to complete some of their assignments and collaborate on projects.

Phase 2: Lower Elementary students will continue to receive new lessons in all content areas both as a group and by grade level. Their follow-up work will be carefully chosen to reinforce these lessons. Teachers will host regular check-in meetings with teachers and students, as well as time to virtually meet to discuss each child’s individual needs and answer any questions he or she may have. Our 3rd graders will be able to use Google classroom as they work through the capstone project of Lower Elementary: The Fourteen Points Project. Towards the end of the school year they will be able to give their presentation to the class via Zoom!

Upper Elementary 

Phase 1: Our oldest group of students, 4th through 6th graders, meet multiple times a week virtually to learn new material, discuss upcoming projects and maintain the social fun of the classroom! They work through their math, history, science, reading and language work each week and submit their work through Google Classroom. They use their planners to navigate their distance learning schedules that mirror their typical schedules that include enrichments like science lab, music, Spanish, technology, and art.

Phase 2: Upper Elementary students will continue to meet virtually every day to receive new Montessori lessons from their teachers and then work through, and submit, their assignments on Google Classroom. They will expand their virtual meetings to include enrichments class meetings with technology, science lab, Spanish, PE, and Art. They will even meet virtually to practice their Recorder and work on their Shakespeare play together! To stay true to Dr. Montessori’s belief that it is important for elementary students to “go out into the world,” Upper Elementary students will be able to take virtual field trips and then discuss what they liked most about the experience as a group through Zoom.

 
 

March 24, 2020

COVID-19 Update

Dear MSM Community,

We would like to say thank you for your patience and confidence in MSM as we work through this unprecedented time together.  So many kind thoughts have been shared with us, and we are grateful for our community.

Yesterday afternoon, a short three week hiatus from school turned into a required three month closure. Even though all Virginia schools understood this outcome was a possibility, the reality of it was still shocking. Our faculty and staff have been very focused on providing your students with the best learning experiences possible during a short time away from school, and we are proud of our ability to immediately implement Distance Learning. Now our focus is forced to turn to longer term planning and answering serious questions. The MSM COVID19 Planning Team has been working diligently on Phase Two of our distance learning program so that your students can continue to receive the strong education that you can expect from our school. Phase Two will begin after spring break, and we will share more information with you as the plans solidify.

We have been in constant communication with our Board of Trustees on this for the past couple of weeks. Please know the Board is very aware of financial concerns and is working to find a balanced solution for all. As an independent 501(c)(3) organization, we are solely reliant on tuition and fees to operate and maintain a top-rated Montessori program with a top-rated Faculty and Staff. The Board is working extremely hard to thoroughly examine all of the facets of this situation and will have a solution very soon. In the meantime, know that all Extended Day, Aftercare, and Transportation fees will be waived for the remainder of the school year.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions.

Best regards,

Meredith and Thomas Le Grand, Co-Heads of School

 
 

March 23, 2020

Governor Northam's School Announcement and MSM

Dear MSM Community, 

As you are probably aware, in an effort to combat the continued community spread of COVID19, today Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered all Virginia K-12 schools, public and private, to close through the rest of the 2019-2020 academic school year. According to Governor Northam, there are 1.2 million children under age 12 in Virginia, and he believes that school closures is a necessary step to stop the spread of COVID19 and flatten the curve, and to protect the capacity of our healthcare system.

This requirement is both unprecedented and disappointing. None of us have ever experienced such a closure.

Even though we are very disappointed to not be able to see all of our student’s shining faces in person right now, we will continue to implement our extensive plans for distance learning at all program levels, as we have been planning for this possibility for some time. Please know that although our building is required to be closed, school will continue to still be in session through the end of the school year. We will be rolling out Phase Two of Distance Learning after our Spring Break in April. In addition, our Board of Trustees will be meeting in the coming days to further discuss the obvious impact this has on our school's community. 

We know this is such a confusing time, and the safety and health of our students, families, faculty, and staff is absolutely paramount.

Please know my email door is always open if you have any questions or just want to say hello!  We will get through this tough time together!  Sending virtual hugs to all of you...

Warm regards, 

Meredith and Thomas Le Grand, Co-Heads of School

 
 

March 20, 2020

A Letter from Mrs. Le Grand

The building may be closed, but school is still in session!

Dear MSM Community,

What a week!  We hope that you are settling into a routine in your home that works for everyone.  Finding the silver lining in life’s challenges can be difficult as we go through them, and we hope that you are finding silver surprises along the way.  For me, a surprise has been the “brain stretching work” that we adults are doing.  We often call our student work brain stretching when it challenges them to think a little harder, solve problems, and be creative in their thinking.  We MSM adults are certainly stretching our brains right now as we learn to use new technology and plan outside the box!  We are sure you parents are stretching your brains as well, as you completely reorganize your family lives!

In the Office weekly note, we will continue to include many ideas for you.  Our wonderful Enrichment teachers have been finding resources and activity ideas that will help your children continue to learn and enjoy those curriculum areas.  Please read through this newsletter for this week’s ideas.

I know that we are giving you a lot of information right now and we hope that you won’t feel overwhelmed.  Please know that, unless your child’s teacher says something is required work, you do not have to feel like your child has to complete everything we are giving you.  We just want everyone to have plenty of things to choose from, especially as the weeks move forward.

Our team(s) are continuously working and learning and we’ll keep you updated with any new information.  Thank you to our whole community for all the kind words, help, patience, and generosity as we navigate our new learning paradigm.

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

 
 

March 18, 2020

Distance Learning Update

Dear MSM Community,

We hope that you are starting to find a workable routine with your families and also enjoying some fun together at home. Tomorrow (March 19) is the Vernal Equinox, when the northern hemisphere welcomes the first day of spring. You may remember from science class that the equinox is the day when the sun is exactly above the equator; tomorrow will be one of two days in the year that day and night will be of equal length. If you get a chance, take a moment to go outside tomorrow with your children to welcome the onset of spring! 

We are working hard to help our students and families navigate the many facets of distance learning. MSM faculty and staff have been very busy since school closure looked inevitable to prepare our Distance Learning Plans at all program levels, and beginning the implementation of the plan this week. So far, we have had lessons on Zoom, video conferences, Distance Learning Plan packet pickups and distribution emails, our regular staff meetings on Zoom, and student and parent check-ins! We want you to know that you have the best faculty around! They have and will continue to create a plan that keeps your child as the main focus, while understanding that you as parents are going to have natural limitations.  

DISTANCE LEARNING SETUP

As you are settling into remote learning with your families, here is some guidance to assist in a smooth transition:

  • Set up a space in the house to become “school.” Perhaps repurpose an unused formal living room or dining room. Try to allow for a good writing surface and space for reading/looking at books.
  • Set clear expectations, but be flexible. Students need predictability, but during these interesting times, they need spontaneity too.
  • Create a schedule, but allow your student to help set it. Pick a start time each day and set an agenda. Allow for physical activity each day! 
  • Stay positive! This is new for all of us, but putting on a happy face works wonders for learning and emotional health.

IN ADDITION

We understand that Fairfax County will not be providing curriculum support for the first two weeks. For those of you with elementary aged students in FCPS, we have attached a list of online resources that our Elementary Teachers recommended for our own students. We hope that you will find them useful.

For the Primary classes, we want to be sure that parents understand that the attachment that your teacher sent with learning prompts, Primary Long Distance Learning, is intended for all students aged 3-6. Some will be a little too easy or a little too hard, but they can all be adjusted if needed to meet your student’s needs.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

We miss seeing all of your smiling faces! We will continue to connect with you many times each week. In addition, please like us on Facebook as we will also post articles and other information throughout the time we are away. We also have a private, restricted Facebook group for families, staff, and teachers to post pictures and ideas throughout the coming weeks, if they would like. We have already had a couple of teachers and parents post pictures of their students working!

As a nation we are in uncharted territory, but please know that MSM is your partner in your child’s education. The MSM school building might be closed, but the school year is NOT ending. On behalf of the entire MSM faculty and staff, thank you for your patience as we continue to dovetail the Montessori curriculum into distance learning platforms to continue to provide the best possible educational experience to your students.

Please know our (email) door is always open, if you have any questions or just want to say hello. Hang in there!

All the best,

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

 
 

March 16, 2020

Distance Learning Update

Dear MSM Parents,

Thank you so much for all your kind words and sentiments over the last several days.  Know that we are with you in this craziness! 

You will be hearing from your teachers today or tomorrow with program level specific information on how your child’s distance learning will be organized, and the plan for keeping in contact with you and your children.

Each program level’s plan is:

·Toddlers – You will receive the email referenced above.  Tomorrow, Tuesday March 17, you will be able to pick up materials that the teachers have prepared for your child between 2:00-4:00pm.

·Primary – non-Kindergarten – You will receive the email referenced above.  Attached to that email will be the Primary Long Distance Learning Plan, which includes work prompts and activities for your child for 20 school days.  There is nothing for you to pick up at school.

·Kindergarten – You will receive the email referenced above.  Attached to that email will be the Primary Long Distance Learning Plan, which includes works and activities for your child for 20 school days.  Kindergarteners also have a packet of hard copy work prepared for them.  You may pick them up today (Monday, March 16) between 2:00-4:00pm or tomorrow (Tuesday, March 17) between 2:00-4:00pm.

·Lower Elementary – You will receive the email referenced above.  Attached to that email will be the Lower Elementary Long Distance Learning Plan, which includes work prompts and activities for your child for 20 school days.  There is nothing for you to pick up at school.

·Upper Elementary – You will receive the email referenced above with lots of information and work prompts, including long-term projects.  Upper Elementary students also have a packet of hard copy work prepared for them.  You may pick them up today (Monday, March 16) between 2:00-4:00pm or tomorrow (Tuesday, March 17) between 2:00-4:00pm.

·Packet pick up will be done using the drive through method at the front door.  If your student has a packet and you really cannot make it to school during the designated times, please let me know and we will coordinate an alternative arrangement. 

In addition, we will continue to provide you with many other resources and opportunities for your students to continue on their learning path.  If, in the event, that school closures continue longer than the current plan, MSM faculty will continue to provide you with updated distance learning plans.

Thank you so much for your continued patience and understanding as we work through this unusual and continually changing situation.

With kind regards,

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

 
 

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.​​​​​​​