Back to school announcement-West Virginia color code system:
MOUNTAINEER MONTESSORI TO CONTINUE UNDER CRISIS CHILD CARE LICENSE,
ADD REMOTE COMPONENT ON SEPT. 8
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Sept. 3, 2020) — A new school year starts in just a few days. Mountaineer Montessori School has been working toward this momentous day for many months. Our preparations have been as grand as expanding to a second campus at the former St. Agnes School at 4801 Staunton Avenue, to the small, yet critical, adjustments that will help individual classrooms run smoothly and safely.
Our summer camp program, back to school nights, participation in numerous trainings and professional development seminars, and staff workdays have given us the time and experience necessary to adapt to our new classroom environments and safety procedures. Everyone at MMS is absolutely committed to a safe, strong and successful school year.
The MMS 2020-21 re-entry plan is outlined in our Back Together handbook, which was released a month ago. It is available on the MMS website, and we encourage all parents to review this critical information once again before the first day of school, Tuesday, Sept. 8.
West Virginia color code system
As you may be aware, the West Virginia Department of Education has adopted a color code system to determine how and when schools in each county may operate. West Virginia’s school re-entry is guided by metrics developed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR). Based on a four-color system – green, yellow, orange and red – each county is assigned a color based on the prevalence of COVID-19 within its borders.
Colors are designated each week on Saturday nights at 9:00 p.m., and determine permitted activity for the next seven days. West Virginia schools located in “orange” or “red” counties at the start of the school year will not be allowed to offer in-classroom instruction until their virus numbers return to “yellow” or “green” levels.
Currently, Kanawha County is an orange county.
If Kanawha County remains at this level on Saturday evening, which is likely, schools may not open in person for the week ahead.
What does this mean for us?
As a private school, MMS is exempt from many state regulations, but this is not one of them. We must follow the rules arising from the color codes.
However, we do have an option that we plan to exercise next week and perhaps beyond. MMS is a licensed critical child care site and is currently authorized to operate in this capacity at both of our locations, even when schools are closed — just like we did this summer.
Therefore, our plan at this time is to continue serving children on premises as a child care center. We will also open for remote instruction on Sept. 8 as outlined in our our back to school plan.
Parents of students at all levels should watch for important updates from the office and classroom teachers. You can also track this information on the WVDOE website.
Should Kanawha County’s seven-day rolling average numbers rise significantly, or if Kanawha County enters the “red” zone, our Board of Directors will meet to reconsider our plans and we may shift everyone to remote learning.
Our plans for remote learning can be found here:
The first plan provides a description of what remote learning will look like at each level if an entire class or the whole school makes the shift to remote learning. The second document outlines remote learning procedures for individual students who remain at home.
Staying safe, staying together
From the beginning, our plans for the year have been centered around in person learning, five days a week, and are built on four principles:
- Montessori education, recognizing the importance of in-person learning
- Family partnerships
- Constant and ongoing monitoring
MMS has and will continue to take exceptional steps to protect the health and safety of our school community. Our plans go far above and beyond state requirements. The Back Together handbook outlines the many policies and protocols created to safeguard your child and our staff. Many were successfully implemented during our nine weeks of Campessori, which gave us experience, insight and confidence for a roll out into our entire school community.
Creating and maintaining a healthy campus environment will require the commitment and participation of each one of us—students, teachers, and families.
MMS will adhere to strict safeguards on campus and we expect a comparable level of diligence by our families outside of school. Individual decisions can affect our entire school community, some of whom are essential health care workers, have pre-existing medical conditions, and/or are older. We implore families to follow CDC guidelines and exercise responsible judgment about interactions, travel, and other activity with public health ramifications. Staying healthy is one of the best ways we can model the Montessori peace philosophy at this time.
MMS staff will participate in Covid testing as part of the back to school process. In the interests of protecting our community and making in person instruction possible, we strongly urge all families to be tested before the first day of school. Watch for information on free testing locations, or visit the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department website.
Looking ahead, we will continually monitor developments and adjust our plans to ensure safety and implement best practices and new recommendations as they emerge. We are grateful to the many experts providing guidance on these matters.
This is an extraordinary time for everyone. Please know our staff and board of directors are determined to offer our students a wonderful experience, whether in the classroom or online. We are fortunate to have such a remarkable school community and strong tradition to build upon in the months ahead. By standing strong and staying together, we know our 44th year will be another incredible journey of discovery and growth for our students.