Focus on the journey.

Covid-19 Operation Plan

After considerable planning and deliberation, Escuela del Sol Montessori reopened its campus on June 1, 2020, with limited enrollment for Early Childhood summer camp students (Toddler and Primary). Our decision to reopen our campus recognized that (1) for Escuela families and staff, that risk is balanced against the educational, social, economic and other costs of remaining closed, and (2) our school reopened with many new health and safety protocols to responsibly mitigate risk to the greatest extent possible.

Escuela’s learning spaces are designed to harness the developmental forces of each plane of development for the child’s own optimal self-construction through experiential interactions with the environment. The ability to guide that development is diminished in the absence of a face-to-face learning environment. By reopening our campus, we aim to fulfill the mission of Escuela del Sol, which is to guide the intellectual, physical, social and emotional development of each child along a path towards their full and unknown potential, in ways that honor the complementary needs of the individual and the group.

Escuela del Sol will open August 17, 2020 for the new school year.

This document is a synopsis of the procedures Escuela will employ to mitigate COVID-related risks at school. Our approach is built around intensive new health monitoring and screening procedures, as well as new procedures designed to reduce the number of contacts during the school day and limit interactions. We believe reopening with these new protocols represents an important first step in responsibly living with this virus.

Escuela has concluded that reopening our campus with the following procedures in place is in the best interest of the community. Please know that we are cognizant of the fact that our community of families represent a huge diversity in terms of needs and opinions regarding what are the safest conditions for their own family. We hear you and want to respond to your needs and those of your children as best we can. We are open to hearing from you and to working through the possibilities in service of the good health and safety of us all.

THANK YOU for your support, your ongoing patience and your collaboration. This is a team effort if ever there was one!

The information in this document will provide clarity around the practices and procedures Escuela has established to minimize exposure to our community, but in no way warrants that COVID-19 or other communicable disease infection will not occur through participation in our programs.

Friedje vanGils,
Executive Director

Glossary of Terms

For clarity and consistency throughout all of our communications going forward, we have created a Glossary of Terms for our community. The terms and the language around schools reopening, schedules changing, proposals put forth by PED, ECECD, etc. can be confusing. For that reason, Escuela offers as much clarification as possible by way of saying this is what we mean when we use these terms. Please read the Glossary carefully.

Full Open
School resumes normally (pre-Covid) with hours from 7 a.m.-6 p.m., health screenings are not required, parents may enter the campus, use of masks and social distancing are not enforced. 
Modified Open
School operates Monday-Friday with limited extended day options. All procedures, from arrival, departure and classroom time are modified to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Health screenings and scheduled drop off/pick up times are mandatory. Only staff and students are allowed into the interior of campus. Masks, social distancing, and other safety and hygiene protocols are enforced as age appropriate.

Mandated Closure
In the event of a State-mandated closure, Toddler, Primary and Junior Elementary may remain open for families who require essential childcare and/ or have children who are early literacy learners (this includes all Primary & Junior Elementary students). Senior Elementary and Junior High students will transition to Escuela Distance Learning. Partial or full Escuela Distance Learning provides the highest quality of education. Your Escuela teacher will create and implement an individualized Montessori plan for your child, through direct instruction, regular one-on-one family consultation, coaching and tutoring.

Full Close
Will occur only if the full closure of the school is the only safe response to a pandemic-related event, and /or if the Governor of our State mandates full closure with no childcare options.
Partial or Temporary Close
Escuela will follow the most current strict guidelines and recommendations. Details regarding which This will be in response to a particular event in which someone in the school community has been exposed or tests positive for Covid-19. Escuela will follow the most current strict guidelines and recommendations. Details regarding which programs will close and for how long depend on the particulars of the event. The agency that licenses our Early Childhood programs, sent this in response to our questions about closures: Close for “a minimum of 48 hours. The first 24 to air out the center and the second 24 to deep clean. …… depending on who was possibly infected, testing and or quarantine will be required before the center can re-open. Depending on the situation there may be other requirements. This applies to all staff and children and parents.” 

Occupancy
Occupancy is designated via code requirements. Escuela del Sol has always operated at a much-reduced occupancy, knowing that our students need more space than other schools are able to provide. Current Public Health Orders require we operate at 25 percent occupancy.

Cohort
A cohort is a discrete group of people that does not interact or mingle with any other group of people. Each individual classroom is a cohort. Daily schedules have been organized so that cohorts do not intermingle with any other at any point throughout the day to limit communal germ or viral exposure. 

Masks
Masks are face coverings to go over the nose and mouth; they are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. Face coverings are not surgical masks, respirators, or other medical personal protective equipment. Escuela will also use face shields and clear masks when appropriate (see details in program information).

Health Screening

Health Screening
Daily employee and student health screenings are important to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 at school. Staff will confirm the pre-screening form for both students and employees has been completed and submitted.

Student Screening
Parents are required to conduct the pre-screening procedure each day prior to arrival at school. This includes taking the child’s temperature and answering the questions in the online screening form.

In addition, parents are encouraged to be on the alert for signs of illness in their children and to keep them home if symptoms are present.

UPON ARRIVAL & BEFORE ENTRY, staff will confirm that screening forms are completed and will confirm each student’s temperature.

If the student has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, the staff member will verify the temperature with another thermometer.

A student with a temperature of 100.4°F or higher will not be admitted.

Face Coverings/ Masks

Everyone is required to wear face coverings throughout the day with few exceptions:

Students in Elementary and Jr. High are required to wear face coverings.

Parents and Guardians are required to wear a mask at all times on or near the campus, including during assisted arrival and departure. 

NOTE: At this time, parents and guests are not permitted on campus unless dictated by extraordinary circumstances or prior arrangements are made with the office. 

Hand Washing

Education will be provided about the importance of handwashing in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Everyone on campus will be asked to wash hands or use hand sanitizer regularly throughout the day. Every classroom and school entrance will have hand sanitizer and/or outdoor as well as indoor handwashing stations.

COVID-19 Symptoms and COVID-19 Cases in School

This section provides details and procedures for the COVID-19 Symptom, Exposure, and Diagnosis within the school community: NOTE: all suspected or confirmed cases will be reported immediately. Details of response will be done as guided or mandated by the NMDOH.

Quarantine and Isolation – Definitions
From the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine-isolation.html

Symptoms of Illness While at School: Students and Staff
If symptoms of an illness begin while at school, the child must be sent home immediately. Sick children will be kept separate from everyone else; staff contact will be limited as much as reasonably possible, while ensuring the safety and supervision of the child until they leave. Staff must go home immediately and follow reporting protocols as well as physician advice.

COVID-19 Exposure: Students and Staff
If a staff member or student has been identified as having had close contact with someone outside the classroom community who is diagnosed with COVID-19, that staff member or student will be required to self-quarantine as per CDC and NMDOH guidelines. Close contact means, regardless of mask use, being closer than 6 feet apart for more than 3 minutes with the person who was infectious.

Positive Case of COVID-19: Students and Staff
If COVID-19 is confirmed in a student or staff member in a classroom community or cohort, all persons regularly in that cohort will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days per the CDC guidelines. Decisions about extending closure will be made in consultation with the New Mexico State Department of Health.

Children or Staff with Positive Case of COVID-19,​​who have exhibited symptoms and who have stayed home (home isolated) can return to school/work when a medical professional authorizes their return in a written note provided to the school

Contact Tracing
Contact tracing is a strategy used to determine the source of an infection and how it is spreading. Finding people who are close contacts to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, and therefore at higher risk of becoming infected themselves, can help prevent further spread of the virus. Those contacts might include family members, co-workers or health care providers.

School staff has been asked to keep a daily list of people they are in close contact with and sign up at New Mexico Health Trace ​if they have been in close contact with someone in the Classroom Community that has tested positive for COVID-19 OR if the staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Program Details - Early Childhood

Hours for Early Childhood

Arrival: 7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
Regular Classroom Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Departure: 3 – 3:30 p.m.
Extended Care (pre-registration only, NO drop-in) 3 – 4:30 p.m. Departure: 4:15 – 4:30 p.m.

TODDLERS (ages 18 mos – 2.5 years) Our two Toddler communities will each have a cohort of no more than 10 children. Available schedules are much the same as they were pre-Covid, with the exception of time blocks for before and after care. The school is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. As was the case prior to the pandemic, daily classroom activities for all toddlers will continue to include opportunities for language development, sensorial exploration, fine motor and large motor skill development, social and emotional growth and lots of fun! Covid response includes:

  • Each cohort will remain distant and discreet from the other. However, social distancing within each pod is not recommended or possible for children in the Toddler community.
  • Only easy-to-clean materials will be used in the classroom (e.g. no “stuffies”)
  • Children will have increased opportunities to be outside to work and play in their separate cohorts.
  • Each child will have an individual supply of consumables such as crayons, scissors, play doh, etc. (materials that would typically be communal).
  • During meals, children will each outside whenever possible.
  • For naps: mats will be spaced as far apart as possible and with head to toe placement.
  • Extra care will be taken to make sure children’s faces and hands are clean and washed frequently.

PRIMARY (ages 2.5-6 years) Three primary classrooms with cohorts of no more than 15 students will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Available schedules are much the same as they were pre-Covid, with the exception of time blocks for before and after care. Daily classroom activities for all Primary students will continue to include opportunities for lessons in language, math, the Sensorial area, Practical Life, geography, language development, sensory exploration, fine motor and large motor skill development, and social and emotional growth. New opportunities presented by the pandemic include the formation of indoor/outdoor “classrooms” for each cohort. Special fencing will enable children to work outdoors as well as inside in the specially prepared environments created by their teachers. Outdoor classroom spaces are separate and distinct from each other, and from the playground area. Physical Distancing Strategies Escuela del Sol Montessori does not expect that young children will distance themselves from other children or adults while at school. Young children learn by engaging with their environment, which includes the other people in it. However, Escuela del Sol Montessori will employ all possible strategies for limiting the spread of COVID-19. Covid response includes:
  • Only easy-to-clean materials will be used in the classroom (e.g. no “stuffies”)
  • Each child will have an individual supply of consumables such as crayons, pencils, scissors, play doh, etc. (materials that would typically be communal).
  • Extra care will be taken to make sure children’s faces and hands are clean and washed frequently.
  • Face Coverings: Children over 3 are encouraged to wear a mask; parents must provide masks to bring to school. Children will not wear masks while eating, during nap time or on the playground.

Program Details - Elementary

Hours for Junior and Senior Elementary
Arrival: 7:30 – 8 a.m.
Program Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Departure: 3 – 3:30 p.m.

JR. ELEMENTARY (ages 6 – 9, grades 1 – 3): Our two Jr. Elementary communities will each have a cohort of no more than 14 students. Families have two scheduling options:

In-Class Learning Workshop: Students attend school Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. in a cohort of a maximum of 14 children.
School/Home Learning Workshop: Students attend school 2 days/week and will be supported by teachers and parents while they do follow-up work at home 3 days/week. Work at home will include Art, Music, and Spanish as well as opportunities to “Zoom in” for lunch, read aloud, sharing, physical exercise, academic check-ins with teachers and other possibilities.

SR. ELEMENTARY (ages 9 – 12, grades 4 – 6): Our Sr. Elementary community will have a cohort of no more than 12 students. Families have two scheduling options:

School/Home Learning Workshop: Students attend school 2 days/week and will be supported by teachers and parents while they do follow-up work at home 3 days/week. Work at home will include Art, Music, and Spanish as well as opportunities to “Zoom in” for lunch, read aloud, sharing, physical exercise, academic check-ins with teachers and other possibilities.

Home Learning Workshop: School at home 5 days/week with support from teachers, including Art, Music and Spanish as well as one-to-one check-ins with Montessori teachers with lessons and assignments via Zoom, and the platform known as Showbie.

WHEN STUDENTS ARE ON CAMPUS:

  • Distancing: Elementary classrooms are large enough to enable physical distancing with limited group sizes. The physical environment will be setup to support required distancing. In addition, outdoor work areas will be setup to mitigate viral spread.
  • Elementary students will be required to wear a mask; parents should provide at least one mask to bring to school. Masks should be taken home and washed at the end of each day. It is recommended that parents have more than one mask so there is a spare clean mask if needed.
  • Children will not be required to wear a mask while eating or exercising outdoors.
  • Designated areas will be provided to offer “mask breaks” – for example, an outdoor space at least 6 feet from other people.
  • Daily classroom activities will remain largely unchanged except for the fact that students will remain in discrete cohorts. Only easy-to-clean materials will be used in the classroom.
  • Each student will have an individual supply of consumables such as pencils, scissors, notebooks, etc. (materials that would typically be communal).
  • Meals and snacks will take place outdoors whenever possible. Students will be spaced out as much as possible during meals. Each cohort will eat separately.
  • Students will wash their hands as frequently as possible. Hand-sanitation and hand-washing stations will be setup outdoors as well as indoors.

Art, Music and Spanish are part of the heart and soul of Escuela. We are committed to continuing these programs in the most authentic manner possible. These subjects will be taught by our talented Studio Guides in a variety of formats depending on your child’s program, such as in-person lessons, virtual lessons and remote projects. In addition to lessons, the Studio Guides will consult with and advise individual students and groups, as usual, while they pursue their Art, Music and Spanish projects.

The Elementary Team is collaborating to ensure we maintain our rich and dynamic integrated curriculum, providing meaningful experiences and interactions while maintaining safety as a priority.

Program Details - Jr. High

Hours for Jr. High
Program Hours: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

JR. HIGH (ages 12 – 14, grades 7 – 8): Our Jr. High community will have a cohort of no more than X students. Jr High will be fully remote for classes this semester. In collaboration with families and based on public health orders, we hope to implement a phased approach so students can gather. This would include half days, moving toward 2 full days.

Home Learning Workshop: School at home 5 days/week with support from teachers, including Art, Music and Spanish as well as one-to-one check-ins with Montessori teachers with lessons and assignments via Zoom, and the platform known as Showbie and Google Classroom.

Adolescents are driven by these key questions: “Who am I?” “Where do I fit in?” “How can/will I contribute?” These questions are more important than ever as our young people come of age during such a tumultuous and ever-changing time. This year we will be focusing on processing our place and understanding our identities during such a time. Our goal is to guide young people toward their personal truth, self-actualization, self-determination and liberation. Art, Music and Spanish are part of the heart and soul of Escuela. We are committed to continuing these programs in the most authentic manner possible. Our teaching collaborative is developing curriculum that centers social justice and anti-racism; we are committed to working at the intersections of science, math, art, language/culture, history, music and activism.

 Jr. High Home Learning Workshop Schedule