Dear MCH Families,
After the proclamation from Governor Inslee on Sunday modifying the “Stay Healthy – Stay Safe” COVID-19 restrictions on a variety of activities and businesses, the Educational Leadership Team and I met to discuss the implications for our community and to decide what, if any, changes needed to happen for our community as a result. Although these restrictions did not specifically apply to childcare and K-12 education, our position has and will continue to be to prioritize the health and safety of our students and faculty. The intent of the Governor’s order is to reduce the chance for exposure and transmission across all segments of the broader Washington community and we feel strongly that it is important for us to contribute where possible.
As we have shared previously, we have been preparing for the possibility of moving to Stage 1 since the beginning of the school year. Though we have had no COVID cases on campus so far, and while we are confident in our detailed, intensive risk mitigation strategies, the past few weeks we have seen an increase in the spread of illness throughout our campus that has adversely impacted both families and our faculty alike. With everything else we have in place, the only way we can further mitigate the risk of COVID spreading into our community is to scale back the density in the classrooms and time spent on campus.
Thus, with a heavy, yet resolute heart we are announcing with this letter that we are moving to Stage 1 through Winter Break, starting Monday, Nov. 30th, 2020, following Thanksgiving Break. In order to provide our staff with the time they need to prepare for this transition, we will also be closing down the campus for all students on Monday and Tuesday next week, 11/23 and 11/24. Students in the Upper School will have asynchronous work sent home for them to complete during those first two days before Thanksgiving Break begins. At the end of December, we will reassess our Staging decision.
Hours of OperationAs per our COVID Playbook, we will be reducing our hours of operation in Stage 1 as follows:
Childcare Hours of Operation will be 8:00am-4:00pm
Lower School Schedules (Early Childhood and Infant/Toddler Programs):
Extended Day Schedule 8:00am-4:00pm
Extended Day Morning Schedule 8:00am-3:00pm
Extended Day Afternoon Schedule 9:00am-4:00pm
Morning Schedule 9:00-12:00pm
Full Day Schedule 9:00-3:00pm
Upper School Schedules (Elementary and Middle School Programs):
Before and After Care Schedule 8:00am-4:00pm
Before Care Schedule 8:00am-3:00pm
After Care Schedule 9:00pm-4:00pm
ProgrammingEarly Childhood Programming
Please refer to the MCH COVID Playbook to refresh yourself on the details of Stage 1. As a reminder this is a reduced schedule childcare model. New Cohorts will be formed for this Stage 1 move. We will do our best to keep classroom communities together, however your child may not have the same teaching team. Childcare Cohort and School at Home announcements will be made and sent out by next Tuesday, November 24th.
For families in the Early Childhood program, if you chose Reduced Childcare on Campus during Stage 1 and are rethinking your decision, we will have a limited number of spaces for families interested in switching to a School at Home modality. If you want to make that switch through the end of December, please email Attendance@mchkids.com by Friday 11/20/20.
Please refer to the MCH COVID Playbook to refresh yourself on the details of Stage 1. As a reminder this is a reduced schedule childcare model. Fortunately, we will be able to keep cohorts and teaching teams consistent during Stage 1.
Upper School Programming
Please refer to the MCH COVID Playbook to refresh yourself on the details of Stage 1. As a reminder this a reduced schedule childcare model. The teachers will be delivering School at Home virtually and those children enrolled in Care on Campus will be in one Cohort with the support and supervision of MCH support staff.
GratitudeAs we move into the Thanksgiving Break, I want to express how grateful I am to all members of this community for leaning in and getting through this crisis together. It has been a difficult nine months, and these new restrictions and our response to them feels exhausting, particularly as we move into the Holidays and more unknowns reveal themselves. We trust in science, public health officials and the Governor’s office in making these recommendations and know that they are not easy to accept. However, it is also our sincere belief that this measure is the responsible and right choice.
I have faith in our community, and I know we share the same values when it comes to the well-being of each community member. That faith and knowledge give me confidence that we will once again come together to prioritize the health and safety of everyone at MCH and the greater community at large. Through those actions we are modeling and guiding our children into becoming adaptable and resilient adults. Thank you for your understanding and support. We will get through this and come out stronger on the other end.
Stay safe and be well,
Head of School
Dear MCH Families,
Thank you for your patience and your ongoing support throughout these last six months as we’ve navigated our way back to re-entering campus for the start of the 2020/2021 school year. We appreciate the feedback we’ve received over the past six months and are grateful that we have a strong and connected community that share our same values.
Staging Decision for the Start of the School YearAs we have previously communicated, we plan to reopen the school year in Stage 1 or Stage 2. Last week, Governor Inslee provided guidance to schools for decision making this fall; this guidance emphasizes following specific, county-level data metrics related to the average number of positive Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day time period, to which we have been paying close attention in recent weeks.
Additionally, MCH’s Campus Re-Entry Task Force has been actively engaging with industry experts to develop the most comprehensive risk mitigation strategies possible prior to making our re-entry decision. We have also received thorough guidance on what metrics we need to use to determine acceptable level of community transmission rates when considering re-entering our campus. While we understand that the Governor has encouraged school districts and private schools to look at the metrics for the County they are in, the guidance we’ve received from industry experts has been to look more specifically at where your community of students, staff and faculty reside. Therefore, our decision making considers the transmission data in the twelve different Eastside cities our staff and families live as the primary focus of our decision making, rather than the entirety of King County. We have been closely tracking the transmission rates by monitoring the King County COVID-19 Data Dashboard in these cities over the last 14 days. The data is as follows:
▪An average of 12.798 Positive Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous 14-day period (Goal is less than 25 per 100,000 to re-enter campus, per the experts).
▪A continuous downward trajectory of positive transmission rate from the prior 14-day look back period.
▪An average of 3.78% Positive Infection Rate (Goal is lower than 5% to re-enter campus).
▪The Re Number is currently at 1.0 for all of King County (Goal 1.0)Additional factors used in consideration of our decision are:
▪A large portion of our community are privileged in their ability to work for companies that are providing work from home options, which further reduces the risk of transmission for our entire community.
▪We have successfully been able to answer and check off the criteria issued in OSPI 2020 School Reopening Plan.
▪We are able to follow through and confirm all requirements to begin in person learning model and continue to monitor per Governor Inslee’s Decision Tree for Re-Entry.
▪We can offer both a School/Care on Campus option and a School at Home option for our families in Early Childhood through Middle School.With all of this data in mind, we have therefore made the decision to start the 2020/2021 School Year in Stage 2! We feel confident that this decision is supported by both government guidance and industry expertise. We also feel that this will be a great way for our students to return and get grounded in the cultures of the school year, by either re-connecting or establishing connections with their teachers, should we end up needing to move back into Stage 1 at some point.
We do want to remind everyone that many experts expect to see a spike in transmission rates following Labor Day weekend, much like we saw following Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations. We also know we are heading into the typical Flu and Cold Season in the Fall and that COVID-19 may also see a resurgence at that point. Our community needs to be prepared that, should the transmission rates begin rising again, we may have to make the decision to Shift to Stage 1 at any point in time during the school year. Our Staging Model is intended to be fluid and allows us to be nimble and shift from one stage to another in order to protect the health and safety of our community. I think it’s important for our community to be aware that there are times during the year that can propel transmission rates higher than other; Thanksgiving and the Winter Holidays will likely be amongst those times and all of us are at more risk during these times.
Commitment to Program DeliverySeveral weeks ago, we asked families to fill out a survey of your intentions for School at Home or Care on Campus. We appreciate the response as it has helped us solidify plans for next school year.
Now we are asking that you lock in your commitment to which Program Delivery option you are choosing, School at Home or School/Care on Campus, for the months of September and October. This means that unless there are very specific reasons to grant an exception and we can honor it, that you are committing to this modality of Montessori instruction for the first two months of school. We will allow families to reassess for November and December around mid-October.
A commitment form will be sent today through Transparent Classroom, and we ask that that you complete the commitment form no later than Friday, August 21st.
Changes in our Operational HoursWe have also decided to move our operational hours from 7:30 am-5:00 pm (as they have been during summer) to School Year Operational Hours of 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. This is a more equitable reduction of hours in terms of its impact to our Extended Day and Before/Aftercare families and will better serve our community as a whole.
Enrollment PaperworkThe last 90 days have seen a concentrated effort and focus of our Educational and Administrative Leadership teams in developing, preparing and implementing all of the necessary risk mitigation policies, procedures and environment changes that will allow us safely re-enter the campus as well as deliver an improved version of School at Home 3.0.
As a result, this has impacted our ability to send our digital Enrollment Paperwork and Welcome letters, which include your child’s classroom placement and corresponding teaching staff, in our usual time frame. We anticipate getting these finalized and out to families no later than Monday, August 17th. Unfortunately, we must ask that you turn that digital enrollment paperwork around to us by Monday, August 24th. We apologize profusely for the delay and the ask for your grace and cooperation in this quick turnaround, as it will ensure we are best prepared to receive your children for the start of the 2020/2021 School Year on September 1st.
We Walk TogetherThis last year has been quite unique and has stretched all of us in ways we never thought we would have to stretch, and yet we did! This next year will continue to challenge us but I am astounded at and grateful for the unity and connection that exists in this community, and confident that these qualities will see us through these difficult times. As Maria Montessori once said, “We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” I feel blessed to be surrounded by the people in this community and hope that you all feel the same way. Thank you.
Be Well and Stay Safe,
Head of School
Re-cap of Important Details▪We will be opening up the school year in Stage 2
▪School Year Operational Hours are 8:00 am to 5:30 pmPlease complete:
▪Commitment Form no later than Friday, August 21st
▪Enrollment paperwork by Monday, August 24th
In our last communication, we mentioned that we would be releasing more information with regards to our plans for the upcoming school year. Alas, we are ready to share our first draft of our Re-entry Playbook. While everything continues to evolve and we have yet to decide if we will open in Stage 1 or 2, our hope is that this playbook will summarize the work we have been doing to support safely re-entering our campus in either stage in September.
As always, please reach out with questions or concerns.
The Campus Re-Entry Task Force
Dear MCH Families,
After the announcement from several King County district schools last week to begin the school year online, we wanted to share a few of our current strategies and plans for re-entry at the beginning of the new school year in September. While we are not quite ready to unveil all of our plans right now, including more information on School at Home 3.0 (as we are still incorporating incoming information), we do anticipate being ready to share more in the next couple of weeks.
You may recall from the MCH Town Hall meetings that MCH would be implementing a Staging Model that would allow us the ability to turn the dial incrementally regarding access to the campus, our ability to offer childcare, and the implementation of a School at Home program depending on community transmission and public health concerns as the Pandemic ebbs and flows. This summer we’ve been working on actively developing what our plans look like from Stage 0 through Stage 4.
Current Fall PlansAt this point in time, MCH plans to open the school year in either Stage 1 or Stage 2, depending on local community transmission rates and other catalysts that will impact our decisions. The catalysts that would guide our movement between Stages 1 and 2 are still being refined and are not finalized.
Below you will find a written summary of what Stage 1 and 2 programming would look like for your child's programming experience.
Stage 1: MCH implements School at Home programming, which would include the following:
Lead teachers would deliver the Montessori program instruction remotely through School at Home 3.0
Lower School families (Infant/Toddler/Early Childhood) can choose from either:
School at Home Instruction remotely
Childcare on campus at reduced hours (available for all students)
Upper School families (Lower Elementary/Upper Elementary/Middle School) would receive:
* School at Home 3.0 instruction remotely
* Students enrolled in a Before and/or After care schedule can have supervised childcare at reduced hours supervised by MCH Staff on campus in a mixed age cohort classroom with School at Home 3.0 support
Stage 2: MCH re-enters the campus with:
• Montessori on campus instruction
• Reduced classroom density
• Cohort classroom models
• Reduced operational hours to 7:30-5:00
• School at Home options for Upper School
• School at Home options for Lower School tentatively being explored as an option based on demand and staffing availability
• Various health and safety mitigation strategies such as:
Mask wearing culture strongly encouraged at the Lower School levels and required at the Upper School levels
6 Foot physical distancing strategies in place where possible, depending on development
Hand washing and hygiene education and culture
Increased classroom disinfecting
Daily health screening
Strict illness exclusion policies and procedures
Click here to see a visual flow chart of Stage 1 and 2
Ask from families
After you digest the information presented above, we are asking that ALL families participate in a very brief 1-minute questionnaire for each child enrolled at MCH. This is not a commitment and will only be used to help us plan appropriately for staffing and programming next year.
• For Stage 1, please let us know if you want your child on campus for childcare or would rather participate in School at Home 3.0 in your own home during Stage 1.
• For Stage 2, please let us know if you would choose School at Home 3.0 in your own home or in class Montessori instruction on campus.
Upper School Survey Questionnaire
Lower School Survey Questionnaire
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this communication and participate in our brief survey. We are looking forward to sharing more about our plans with you in the near future. Please don’t hesitate to ask any clarifying questions.
Be Well & Stay Safe,
Head of School
Dear MCH Families
We are so happy to announce that based on recently updated guidance that was issued from the state last week, it appears as if all of MCH’s classrooms will be able to operate as 5-day programs, full time on campus in the fall! We have determined that we can maintain appropriate social distancing while also uniting our classroom communities into cohorts that are on campus together every day.
This will truly allow us to pursue our mission! These new guidelines will also allow on-campus instruction to feel more cohesive and ‘normal’ at both the Lower and Upper School programs. Please keep in mind that all classroom cohorts will still be separated from one another on campus until we are able to enter Stage 4.
Classroom cohorts for all programs will likely be as follows:
▪Ambarino (relocated to Building B downstairs)
▪Rosa (relocated to Building C upstairs)
▪New EC Classroom to be named (relocated to former Rosa space in Building A upstairs)
▪Anaranjado (relocated to Building C upstairs)At the Upper School level, we will also be offering a full-time School At Home experience for families who would like to remain part of the MCH community but feel more comfortable with their child participating from home.
We are still determining if this is possible for us at the Lower School, if you are interested in this option, please notify me via email.
In the event that a classroom cohort has to stay home due to Covid-19 exposure or a governmentally mandated school closure, we will be maintaining a robust School At Home program in the background of each child’s on-campus educational experience. This will make any required transitions between on-campus school and School At Home smoother and more fulfilling for everyone. More details on this will come your way as they are more fully developed.
Classroom cohort placements, student/teacher ratios and teaching staff will be announced later this summer.
We appreciate your patience and flexibility!
Stay Safe and Be Well,
Head of School
The Educational Leadership developed a goal statement that will serve as the guideline for all decisions made with regards to safely reopening our campus.
Here it is:
Using our foundational principles of Nature and Nurture as the guide, we strive to:
Today, I listened to Gov. Inslee tell the people of Washington that all schools, public and private, would be closed through the end of the school year. This statement, while expected, took my breath away as I considered this new reality. I can only imagine the questions and concerns you have, as well. So, with the Governor’s statement confirming school closures through the end of the year, we have to evaluate what this will look like for our Lower and Upper Schools for the rest of this school year.
Now that our contingency plans must be made real, we want to take a few days of time to allow for creative planning between our program directors and their teachers to solidify. This will also give us time to ensure that your children receive the best education possible during this government mandate. Thank you for your patience and understanding and please look for a follow-up communication in the next 2-3 days. Stay safe, stay home and be well.
I hope all of you are doing well and staying healthy during this unfolding event. We are all having to adjust to this new normal, which seems to be changing more quickly than ever. In times like this, it is more important than ever that our community stays connected and that our conversations flow in both directions.
Yesterday, Governor Inslee issued a new order closing many more types of businesses. In his address, he emphasized that it was truly time to stop making any decisions that could affect the exposed, high-risk people in our communities. I bring this up here because it reminds me that this starts with me, as an individual. I need to practice self-care, as well as care of those in my immediate community, and that we all need to be aware of the effect our actions have on others.
In all of the hard decisions we have had to make lately, we have had our families and our staff in mind, front and center. As we all adjust to this new, evolving reality of being distanced from one another, I ask that all of you also please take care of yourselves. Whether this means taking time to read a book, go for a walk or listen to music that helps transport you somewhere else, please find time to practice self-care. Additionally, you can practice self-care and care for your loved ones by keeping abreast of the most recent updates from King Co.
In more uplifting news, our Upper School began its Distance Learning program this yesterday with success! While there is of course an element of chaos built into something so new, I have been hearing positive feedback from our faculty so far. I am proud of how hard these folks have worked, and how successfully and quickly they have gotten this program up and running.
With that being said, we also recognize that many more of you are worried and curious about what learning from home will look like for children in the Early Childhood and Toddler programs. We want you to know that we are working on that this week. The directors of those programs, Melissa and Kim, have been working hard to put together something much more robust than what you have seen so far, with the goal of making it as user-friendly and accessible for all families. Please look for more to come on that in the next couple of days.
Finally, on childcare, please know that we are working on a solution as quickly as we can, and we appreciate your understanding while we figure this out. When considering alternative childcare options at MCH during the closure, there are many factors we need to consider. We will need many members of our teaching teams to continue working within our Distance Learning programs remotely, and we will also need to ensure our teacher to student ratio allows for both staff and students to be in childcare while also following state guidelines on social distancing. We are also actively working on increasing our operational safety and developing protocols to implement that will ensure a higher level of health and safety in our classrooms for both staff and students. All of these components will affect the number of families we will be able to serve. With all of that in mind, we have created a brief survey that will help us in creating a childcare solution that will work for those most in need.
I know I have said it many times recently, but sincerely know how grateful I am for your continued grace and patience as we work hard to put all of these plans into place. Please remember that I am here for you, and to reach out when you are in need. We are a beautiful, caring community and I am confident that we will come out of this stronger than ever.