August 11, 2020
As NSM began a phased reopening on 6/6/20, we have adopted a set of protocols to best prepare the building, staff, and students in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The practices contained herein provide multiple layers of protection to everyone entering the building, and are informed by the guidance issued to date by governmental and public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accordance with the Johns Hopkins University, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PA Department of Education and Department of Human Services, and are consistent with requirements set forth to date by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, PA Department of Health Services and OCDEL.
This document will be updated as needed.
Educate and Communicate
As a school, we are well-positioned to place effective education and clear communication at the heart of our Plan.
Using this modified hierarchy of controls, Covid-19 mitigation at New School Montessori will look like:
10 Person PODS—Protect the POD!
A challenging aspect of being a community is that community members’ off-campus behavior impacts other community members. Yet, as a community, we also have the opportunity to commit to a set of shared norms to protect our children and all members of the community which will strengthen the foundation of our plan.
Beginning with this Plan, the School will seek to provide clear and scientifically-valid information to colleagues, students, and families regarding how to understand and manage risks associated with the Coronavirus as it pertains to being a member of NSM. These efforts will include, but are not limited to:
- summer digital communications
- regular communications (e.g., Weekly Updates, social media)
- campus signage
Wellness Concierge/Check-In and Temperature Checks
You will be met in our “Drop off” area by a previously identified New School teacher. As staff will have done upon arrival, all students will have their temperature checked before entering the facility by a no-contact thermometer kiosk. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or above will be sent home immediately. Upon entry after temperature checks, students will be led to a handwashing station to wash hands.
Physical barriers, where necessary between students and adults and added visual reminders for students to remember physical distancing. We have reconfigured classroom spaces to accommodate pods, limit communal use, allow for physical distancing, and accommodated frequent surface cleaning.
All students (ages two and up) and staff are required to wear nonmedical cloth masks.
In line with our established Montessori pedagogy, we will prioritize outdoor programming to afford the lowest risk of transmission. New Tents will be installed to cover an area to be available during inclement weather. Recess times will be staggered among several outdoor spaces.
- Disinfecting of shared and frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, tabletops, light switches, and faucets.
- New Hand washing stations are being installed and hand sanitizer are available at all times.
- The use of shared objects (e.g., pencils, art supplies) will be curtailed or eliminated.
- Students will be provided their own supplies (pencils, rulers, calculators) with them to class.
- Students will be given a materials box for remote learning if necessary.
- When elimination may not be practical (e.g., library books, scientific equipment), students will wear gloves and/or equipment will be disinfected after use. Each level will develop and post “Cleaning Expectation” in each classroom for reference.
- Increase the circulation of outdoor air by opening windows and doors when possible.
- Prohibit the use of communal drinking fountains.
Limiting classrooms/pods to small groups of approximately ten students to mitigate risk.
Wherever possible, we will be staggering staff and administrative hours and work spaces to minimize contact.
Pursue virtual parent/staff events, gatherings, or meetings almost exclusively.
- NSM Covid-19 exclusion from school guidelines
Cleaning and Sanitation Protocol
The following guidelines address the cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection of the facility, and are designed to ensure the health and safety of our staff and patrons. These guidelines are informed by the recommendations issued to date by governmental and public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State and Departments of Health. The Operations staff will receive all applicable training in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, with respect to reducing the risk and spread of COVID-19.
Electrostatic Cleaning System
Electrostatic spray is electrically charged, allowing the disinfectants to wrap around and evenly coat all surfaces for a more complete clean. All EPA-approved disinfectants and cleaning solution stock has been replenished with a supply plan as recommended in Supplies.
New Cleaning Guidelines
The following guidelines indicate the minimum frequency of which these public spaces will be cleaned using EPA-registered disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19.
Cleaning will be conducted by Building Operations Staff unless otherwise indicated.
- Door handles and push bars – 3x/day
- Elevator panel and buttons – 3x/day
- Car interior – 3x/day
- Interior panels and buttons – 3x/day
- External panels and buttons – 3x/day
- Stairwell rails, door handles and push bars – 3x/day
- Check and replenish hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the building – 2x/day
- Clean and disinfect – 3x/day
- Check and replenish soap and hand sanitizer dispensers 3x/day
- Check and replenish paper towel supply – 3x/day
- Check and replenish sanitizing wipes for users to wipe down surfaces before they leave – 3x/day
- Sanitize all tables, chairs, and door handles
- Sanitize all high-touch areas between users
- Instructors to wipe down program surfaces and equipment as needed
- Check hand sanitizer machines in all rooms – 2x/day
- Classrooms cleaned with Electrostatic System – 2x/week
- Classroom carpets steam cleaned – 1x/month
- Check hand sanitizer and wipe stations stock – 2x/day
- Sanitize all high touch areas (e.g. door handles)
- Deep clean/disinfect all gym surfaces – overnight
- Sanitize all high touch areas
Wellness Concierge & Entry Signage
The following outlines the communication process for staff and patrons, including a Wellness Concierge, and digital and printed signage. A Wellness Concierge will be stationed in the lobby to provide guidance to students. The Concierge will provide the following information:
- Ensure temperature check
- Encourage hand washing and upon arrival
- Reinforce social distancing protocols
Digital and printed signage will be placed throughout the lobby to inform all who enter the building of the new procedures. Signage will include but not be limited to:
- Social Distancing (signage and floor decals)
- Entrance / WELLNESS CONCIERGE
- Directional signage to promote one-way traffic flow
- Stairwells signage indicating up or down
- Encourage frequent hand washing
- Identify locations of sanitation stations
- PPE / mask-wearing signage
Changing Workplace Behavior | Remote Working
Maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our staff and patrons will require us to change some of the commonplace behaviors before COVID-19. These protocols take into account the new guidelines with respect to social distancing. Where possible, certain employees who can work remotely and remain equally productive will continue to do so, at least in the short-term.
Limit In-Person Meetings & Movement
Where possible, employees should use telephone and video conferencing tools to conduct meetings. If in-person meetings are required:
- Ensure that there is 6’ distance between all attendees
- Avoid face-to-face seating
- Avoid sharing any items (e.g., whiteboard markers, pens or laptops)
- Ensure face coverings are worn.
- Employees are encouraged to remain in their office and avoid unnecessary movement for further virus spread. This will be further supported by the aforementioned one-way hallways and stairwells.
To maintain lower density and greater space between employees in the office, a schedule may be put in place to rotate teams.
To reduce congestion while commuting and in shared spaces, such as the lobby, schedules may be staggered from start/finish times.
- We will frequently clean high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, to reduce virus spread following the New Cleaning Guidelines.
- We have placed floor demarcation signs to maintain social distance in areas where people will need to queue.
- We have included signs for reminders of practicing good hygiene, such as hand washing and wear a face mask.
- Limit face-to-face interaction where possible.
- We have installed hand sanitizer dispensers on every floor throughout the building to promote heightened hygiene.
- We are asking our staff and patrons to use stairwells, when possible, instead of the elevators, in an effort to reduce congestion.
- We have increased the cleaning of stair rails, doorknobs, and push bars as high-touch surfaces as indicated in New Cleaning Guidelines.
- We have checked that fire exits and escape staircases are clear of obstructions and are unlocked in the reopening preparation.
- We have installed floor decals to indicate the direction of travel in narrow stairways to reduce face-to-face congestion.*
- We will improve ventilation in stairwells. DOORS in the TOP OF stairwells will be fully opened to provide improved ventilation. We are also investigating an exhaust fan at the top floor to increase ventilation.
- Posted clear signage in the restrooms to encourage cough/sneeze etiquette, including detailed instructions on handwashing and drying. Include signs for non-English speakers, as needed.
- Ensured adequate soap and hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol available in the restrooms. We have provided cleaning supplies that allow guests to wipe down surfaces before they leave.
- We have included signage and demarcations to encourage employees and patrons to form a line outside the restroom and maintain distanced queuing outside of the restroom door.
- We are supplying restrooms with no-touch wastebaskets.
- We will continue to ensure that newly constructed handwashing stations throughout the building will be fitted with touchless sensors for faucets
- We have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting restrooms, including high-touch with EPA registered disinfectants as indicated in New Cleaning Guidelines.
- We have increased ventilation in all restrooms.
- In the event that a student or teacher has a confirmed or suspected case, follow the NSM Exclusion Procedures.
- Classroom seating has been reconfigured to maintain social distancing and reduce face-to-face seating.
- We will reinforce hand washing using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and increase monitoring to ensure adherence among students and staff.
- We will reinforce the use of face masks at all times while in the classroom, face coverings will not be placed on children two years old or younger.
- Building Operations will clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (i.e., doorknobs) throughout the day.
- Faculty will be asked to wipe down their work surface before and after class.
- The use of shared objects will be limited whenever possible. Teachers and staff will be responsible for disinfecting shared objects and tools at the end of each session.
- We have increased ventilation in all program spaces.
Any suspected COVID 19 cases will be immediately isolated, and all families will be notified of possible exposure. In such a case, we will seek additional guidance from local health officials to determine the course of action.
Individuals with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may return under the following conditions:
- At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
- At least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
- Arrival and dismissal times will be staggered, *Note: Primary half-day students will continue to attend in the morning.
- Classrooms will be kept in groups/pods of approximately ten. Teachers and teacher assistants will likely move between two pods.
- Students will continue to eat lunch/snacks in the classroom and outdoors when possible. All food must be sent in disposable and easy to open packaging.
- Schedules will be evaluated to identify pods for students. For example, siblings may be assigned to the same class, and students who attend before or after school programming may be assigned to the same class.
Before and After School Programs
We will continue to offer before and after school programs; however, our afterschool daily enrichment program will be temporarily suspended in order to mitigate risk.
Teaching and Learning
if in-person instruction is suspended
- Focus on small group instruction mimicking the lesson structure in our physical classrooms
- Focus on live lessons that align with Montessori principles.
- Keep in-school schedule in place when we transition to distance learning.
- Provide materials to support at-home learning lessons.
- If school is able to open, but you prefer to have your student join virtually, doing so is an option. Your student will be provided with a materials box. They will join their small group lessons and community time virtually. More information will be available as we know enrollment numbers and begin to prepare schedules.
Sample Daily Schedules
Morning Meeting and time to make a work plan,
Spanish- small group (synchronous or asynchronous)
Math Lesson-participate in a live math lesson with a small group, led by an elementary teacher
Reading group- led by reading specialist in a small group (frequency is individualized)
Conference with teacher
Extended work period to complete follow-up work.
Science lesson typically a class presentation, led by an elementary teacher
Morning Meeting and updating work plan,
History lesson typically a class presentation, led by an elementary teacher
Spanish- small group (synchronous or asynchronous)
PE/Art or Music
Extended work period to complete follow-up work, and finally end the day with a
Language lesson small group of peers and an elementary teacher.
Teachers will meet with small groups of students for direct lessons throughout the day and the week as well as have multiple check-ins and short student conferences weekly, as we do in our physical classrooms. We are establishing ways for our teaching staff to incorporate Montessori materials into their digital lessons and adapting some materials for use at home by students.
To help ease the transition between in-person and digital learning, students will have school-issued Chromebooks preloaded with selected resources. In line with the Montessori philosophy of preparing the environment, we will continue to incorporate technology lessons, including the use of Google Classroom, for long-term assignments such as 3rd-year Biography, Research Mosaic, or SYP, research, and typing. Individual Chromebooks will replace the use of classroom laptops and provide a smooth transition among virtual, hybrid, and in-person learning and teaching.