2020-2021 Learning Scenarios
June 26, 2020
Dear Greene Towne families,
This week, it feels like an historic milestone to have reopened our buildings to children and staff. To be with the All Day Montessori children, to hear their voices and joy, and to simply be in each others’ company, is good for the soul, even with our added health and safety precautions.
We have integrated increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols into our routines, and are more comfortable with them each day. Naturally, we have fewer students in the summer, and we are grateful to have this smaller group with which to adjust to the new requirements for health and safety. I’m pleased to tell you that it’s going really, really well. The children have not missed a beat—they are thrilled to be back.
I’m writing to share an update on summer camp and an overview of our planning for the 2020-21 school year.
We will not be holding Summer Camp this summer. While we had hoped to, we are putting our full focus on the ADM students’ daily experience as well as our preparation for opening for the full student body this fall. Camp deposits will be refunded to families who have registered.
Plans for 2020-21
In preparing for the coming school year, we have designed plans to effectively deliver our program in multiple scenarios that we can implement as needed. Each scenario adheres to the following principles:
- Prioritize in-person learning through flexible calendaring
- Minimize interactions through self-contained groups
- Increased health and safety protocols
Greene Towne is distinctive largely due to our faculty. Our lead teachers are highly-trained Montessori educators, who center every part of our program on what is best for young children and their development. At this most critical time in their development, children are shaped by every part of their daily experience. And our teachers support children in making sense of this time in their lives. From learning about microbes and how germs “can have a party in your belly,” to understanding how best to keep themselves and all of us safe and healthy, Greene Towne’s approach to learning is highly relevant, effective, and never more needed.
Attached find a copy of the 2020-21 At a Glance Calendar. For the education of young children, hands on, interpersonal learning is best. For this reason, our plans for 2020-21 prioritize
in-person learning. I have identified dates that we could potentially exchange in case of mandated all-school closures. Overall, we would have the same number of school days for the school year, though we would exchange mandated stay-at-home time (should that scenario play out) for originally scheduled closures in the school calendar. For school year families, we have identified 27 potential days that could be exchanged in case of mandated closure of the school. Please note that there is the possibility of extending the school year past our usual final day, among other possible schedule changes. Each of these changes would be communicated clearly and in advance to families.
We are preparing three potential scenarios for learning: In Person, In the Event of a Partial School Closure, and In the Event of a Full School Closure. As of the writing of this letter, we anticipate opening on time and in person on September 8. However, we are also preparing to adjust based on classroom or whole school closures related to individual or widespread community transmissions of the COVID-19 virus.
In Person Learning
As it is difficult to prevent young children from coming in close contact with one another, our overall strategy relies on self-contained groups throughout the day to minimize interactions and potential spread of infection. Children will remain with their classmates, with scheduled recess times by group, and specials teachers visiting them in the classroom or outside when possible. Until there is an effective vaccine, we will maintain many of our current health and safety increased disinfection and self contained group protocols in order to minimize the risk of infection.
In the Event of a Partial School Closure
If a child or staff member has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, Greene Towne will follow the guidance of the Department of Public Health in terms of partial closure for those who were in close contact with the ill person. It is likely that a specific classroom may move to remote learning during a quarantine at home for 14 days, during which time, the class will be supported through a mini-Greene Towne @ Home model. Greene Towne will perform deep cleaning and disinfection of the classroom and all common areas. The rest of the school will continue with in-person learning.
In the Event of a Virtual School Time Period
If schools and child care centers are mandated to close their buildings due to widespread community transmission, we will have a couple of options, based on the time of year in which it happens. If we are mandated to begin the school year without being in person, we will immediately implement Greene Towne @ Home 2.0.
If the closure happens in the course of the school year, we will have the option to exchange school days for at home days, prioritizing time when we can be together for in-person learning at school. If our closure is longer than the available days we have identified for exchange in our school calendar, we will implement Greene Towne @ Home 2.0.
Greene Towne @ Home 2.0
Teacher teams are actively planning Greene Towne @ Home 2.0, which is informed by best practices regarding early childhood development, our experience this spring, as well as input from families. Greene Towne @ Home 2.0 will provide support for learning at home; take home, swappable kits for hands-on learning; live circle times; and both small group and 1:1 check-in times with teachers.
Personal Protective Equipment
All faculty and staff are required to wear face masks. Children over the age of three are required to wear masks coming to school and in the classroom. Children will not wear masks when eating or drinking, during nap, and during physical activity. Teachers are available to partner with families in helping children transition into wearing masks.
Potential Tuition Adjustment
We recognize that tuition is a major investment for families. In case of a major, long-term interruption in the school year, the Greene Towne Board of Trustees and I will meet to discuss options, as we did this past spring.
Our health and safety policies and procedures are aligned with the most recent guidance from CHOP PolicyLab, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Office of Childhood Development and Early Learning/Department of Human Services.
I thank you for partnering with Greene Towne for this most important part of your child’s development. We are honored to work with you and your family. If you have questions about our plans, please reach out to me or to Jennifer Coulter, Montessori Director/Dean of Faculty.
Head of School