July 30, 2020
Dear Aidan Community,
I truly hope that this message finds you all well. I wanted to give you an update: As you may already know, Mayor Muriel Bowser today announced that DCPS will be entirely online for the first term of the year, until November 9. This announcement reflects similar declarations coming out of several counties such as Loudon, Fairfax, and Montgomery. This has implications for Aidan’s reopening plans, and we expect to be able to report out to our community what our plan will be over the coming week, August 3-8.
As previously reported, we do not necessarily follow the District in lock step, but we make our decisions informed by what the District does as well as information that we receive from various other sources such as independent school organizations, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education and our Legal Counsel. Please, be on the lookout for further communications in the coming week.
Please rest assured that, as a parent myself, I am mindful of the need to give families clarity and time to plan ahead; however, it is a balancing act, as reporting out too early will lead to inevitable changes.
I also wanted to let our community know that I have been working all summer with fantastic teams of people, both staff and volunteers, preparing to deliver the best Montessori education we can this fall, while prioritizing the health and safety of our families and faculty. While our work is ongoing, here is an update on what we at the school have been doing recently:
- The school has hired a school nurse, and we are now working on “on-boarding” her. We will be creating a nurse’s office, working with her on our reopening plans, talking through what Aidan was like pre-COVID, and what it might look like so that it may be as safe as possible.
- The Reopening Task Force continues to meet regularly and keeps abreast of the latest guidance relating to school reopening. As outlined in the matrix we issued in the spring, the Task Force is planning for multiple scenarios, including in-person instruction, full-time virtual learning, and “hybrid” scenarios. The Task Force is also in the process of drafting a reopening handbook containing detailed written guidance for parents. Our plan is to release the reopening handbook during the week of August 10, with subsequent updates as necessary. This goal of this handbook is to explain to families how the school and its operations might be different if/when the school is able to re-engage in in-person learning. If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Reopening Task Force also continues to work closely with the Board’s indefatigable Buildings & Grounds Committee, which has conducted an exhaustive survey of our facility, including classroom, office, and common areas, air management systems, bathrooms and plumbing, and points of entry and egress. The Buildings & Grounds Committee has also made recommendations for equipment purchases to keep our families and staff safe.
- The DLP 2.0 Committee—comprising admin staff and lead Montessori guides from Toddler, Primary, and Elementary—has been meeting weekly and working hard to ensure a successful redesign of our distance learning program. To date the Committee has digested the results of family and staff surveys, conducted extensive interviews of parents spanning all levels of our community, and held focus groups at both the Lower and Upper School levels to gain family insight into this iteration of DLP 2.0. The Committee is currently refining the distance learning program in response to focus group feedback, and will provide details about DLP 2.0, staff training, and family orientation information before the school year begins.
- The school is also in the process of organizing opportunities for new and transitioning families to meet their teachers. Information about meeting the newest additions to our community, Hamed Isaza (Red Oak Lead) and Katia Kozhakova (Dogwood Lead) will follow shortly as will plans for students who will be new to their communities and information for new parents about our “Family Buddy Program.”
I am very thankful for our school staff and Board of Trustees who have spent countless hours this summer working on reopening and the DLP. I also extend a big “thank you” to our Aidan community at large and to the many parents who have contributed their helpful feedback and expertise. During this time of pandemic, when so much of the daily news is disheartening, I remain uplifted by the kindness of our community—our staff, volunteers, parents, and students.
Community is truly the most important resource we have these days. I know that, working with each other, we can get through this together.
Wishing you continued good health, love, and resilience,