Sent to the Aidan Community on May 19, 2021
Dear Aidan Community,
This year certainly has been one for the books! From the imperative to develop and implement DLP 2.0 and our hybrid program, to contingency plan after contingency plan, from quarantines to disputed elections, the insurrection at the Capitol, and now the cicadas! This year’s challenges were unprecedented. We implemented air flow strategies and protocols for cleaning our hands and our spaces, we re-thought pick up and drop off, and developed a health check system. We re-worked our learning spaces while continuing to provide enriching learning opportunities for all of our students. Through it all, our children, families, staff and administrators persisted, and our School held firm to its values and its mission as we modeled the characteristics we hope for in our children: resilience, perseverance, and flexibility.
I want to take this moment to particularly acknowledge the strength, patience, and resolve of our parents and staff who have managed everything from jobs to children, to their homes, extended families, and to school, all while staying connected. Kudos to everyone for doing whatever it took to get you to this point.
Now, in May of 2021, hope is palpable. With improved COVID-19 metrics and widely available vaccinations, the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter. The CDC has lifted many restrictions, and our school licensor, OSSE, is following suit. Our elementary students returned for in-person learning after spring break, and starting tomorrow, the same will be true of our primary students. We are very pleased that the toddlers have been able to be in person, on their regular schedules, since November (with the exception of one quarantine). Mitigation tactics will remain in place as we bring all of our children back to campus, with their safety foremost in our thinking and planning.
What will the 2021-2022 school year hold for Aidan Montessori School?
We are heartened that the pandemic is now at a stage where all of our students will soon have returned to their classrooms, and we fully expect that this will hold true for the coming school year. Our planning is focused on a return to in-classroom instruction for all students this fall, and all indications point to that happening.
But, while the feeling of normalcy continues to increase, it is possible that a variant or an uptick in metrics could cause the CDC to reverse course on some of the liberalization that is taking place right now. Therefore, the School continues to plan for many possible scenarios, including various contingency plans. Here are some of the plans currently underway:
- Space remains a challenge for our school. We love our building. It suits our students and families well and we look forward to welcoming all students back to our main building starting Friday and again in the fall. But space is tight here. Should the CDC and/or OSSE reinstitute attendance caps for our lower school, we will accommodate primary children in our present building, and move the elementary students to a large alternative space. We have secured a “right of first refusal” on space that will serve our elementary communities as a contingency plan as well as another excellent space that would also be available to us should the situation require it. Both of these spaces are very close to our main building. We should note that OSSE regulations and licensing requirements make it very challenging to move the primary school students so that is why they will remain in our main building.
- There has been inquiry within the parent community whether the School has admitted too many children to have all of them on site and in person in the fall. Let me be clear, we have admitted and waitlisted the appropriate number of students to assure that all who are admitted can be accommodated in person. We are very proud to have achieved a banner admissions year, but we have been thoughtful on how to manage the strong interest. We currently have a substantial waitlist because we purposely admitted students at a lower, more conservative level. At no point will we admit so many students that they cannot all be accommodated.
- Normalcy is increasing day by day, but school operations will not return entirely to pre-pandemic normal. With the present vaccination status, only children 12 and over are eligible, which means just three of our students at this time. While the vaccine may be made available to children between the ages of 2 and 11 by September or later in the fall, we should all anticipate many of the School’s mitigation procedures remaining in place for an extended time, such as continued use of masks, cleaning protocols, and health monitoring.
- While the COVID-19 vaccine remains under emergency use authorization, the School’s policy is not to require employees to be vaccinated. Rather, the School has done extensive outreach, encouraging and educating our employees, even making appointments for them and offering rides to vaccine sites. We are very pleased that our efforts have resulted in 93% of our employees being vaccinated. We anticipate that the vaccine will become fully authorized in the near future. At that point, it is likely that we will make vaccination a condition of employment at Aidan Montessori School, with medical exceptions. As we examine our policies on this issue, we will take into account legal, cultural and other considerations.
During these challenging many months of navigating the pandemic, please know that our efforts and decision-making is foremost for the safety of our children, our teachers, and our community. To date, there has been no transmission of COVID-19 at Aidan Montessori School, despite a fair number of children, family members, and employees either contracting the virus elsewhere or being in close contact with others with the virus. The systems that we have in place are keeping everyone safe. While the CDC and OSSE set the foundation for care -- the minimum requirements -- we often go above and beyond to set a level of safety appropriate and best for our school community. Moving into the coming year, we will continue to focus on making the best decisions possible.
We thank you for your support of our teachers and administrators, and for your ongoing partnership. Most importantly thank you for the opportunity to engage and enrich your children and for entrusting us with their care and education.
Head of School