Aidan will reopen on November 9th using a Hybrid Learning Program. Join us for our upcoming information session on October 14th to learn more about this decision.
Aidan Montessori School is actively monitoring the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and will be updating this website regularly to share information about the School’s preparations and responses. We are also following the CDC and DC Department of Health guidelines on responding to the virus.
If you have any questions, please direct them to Aidan's Reopening Task Force at reopeningtaskforce@
- Reopening Announcement, Family Survey, & Upcoming Information Meetings (10/9/2020)
- Reopening Task Force Update on Facility Improvements (Sent 9/11/2020)
- Aidan's Virtual Start (Sent 8/5/2020)
- Summer Update from Kevin (Sent 7/30/2020)
- Reopening Matrix and Draft DLP 2.0 Schedules (Sent 5/27/2020)
- COVID-19 & Aidan FAQs and Emergency Family Relief Fund (Sent 5/14/2020)
- A Note from Aidan's School Counselor (Sent 3/20/2020)
Dear Aidan Families,
This week, the Reopening Task Force recommended to the School’s Board of Trustees that Aidan Montessori School open with a Hybrid Learning Program. Under the Hybrid Program, Aidan will utilize alternating pod groupings of Primary and Elementary students to reduce the number of people on campus each week. The Board last night unanimously approved this recommendation and the school will move forward with its preparations to reopen its doors for in-person learning on November 9th.
The Decision-Making Process
The decision-making process focused on three things:
1. The Public Health Situation
The Reopening Task Force is tracking multiple metrics from multiple sources. The rolling 7-day average of new cases is a metric that we have weighed the most heavily. As this number goes down, most of the other metrics respond. As new cases decrease, the availability of testing increases, testing turnaround time decreases, available hospital beds increase and more. Over the past few weeks, the rolling 7-day average has been on a relatively steady downward trend, and we believe this trend will continue into November although we will continue to monitor the situation closely.
2. The Standard of Care
This refers to the “standard of care” that is informally set when other organizations or individuals behave in certain ways. In our case, government officials and, more importantly, public schools had declared the public health situation to be unsafe for children to return to schools. This was also true of the majority of our independent school peers. The standard of care has changed over the past couple of weeks with both public and independent schools announcing plans to bring students back to campus at an appropriate time.
3. The Readiness of the School
As you are likely aware, the School has had a Reopening Plan in place for quite a while now. We have new windows, HEPA filters, and box fans that have been calculated to refresh the air in the building at high rates. We also now have a full-time School Nurse. We have plans in place for physical distancing, personal protective equipment, hand washing, and the disinfecting and cleaning of materials and the building.
Our operational readiness, coupled with considerations around current health metrics and recent changes in the standard of care, gives us confidence to announce our intention right now. We will continue to track public health in the lead up to November 9th, and will inform you immediately if this plan should change.
Once we begin to welcome students back to the campus, our operations may still be impacted by any changes in public health and community metrics. For example, we may need to quarantine a pod or close down for a deep cleaning should COVID-19 affect our community in one way or another. Our dedicated team has spent many hours creating an action plan to address the issues above. We have worked very hard to learn more than we ever could have imagined about this virus and how schools have succeeded and fallen short in their responses to it. We feel that these lessons put us in good stead as we take these steps forward together.
Family Attendance Survey
To help us prepare for our Hybrid Program opening in November, we ask that each family click the button below to complete a quick survey. Please complete one survey per child by no later than Friday, October 16. This will allow the School to make any adjustments to pod groupings prior to their announcement on October 21.
Reopening Information Meetings & Dates
In order for your family to feel comfortable to return to in-person classes at Aidan under the Hybrid Learning Program, we will be providing you with several opportunities to learn more about the school’s plans and how best to prepare. Please be on the lookout for invitations and mark your calendars for virtual meetings that will cover the logistics of opening the building as well as the academic program that you may anticipate. These meetings will be recorded and available following each session.
Wednesday, October 14
- 7:00 PM: Community Zoom with the Reopening Task Force to review our recently released Reopening Handbook and to discuss the logistics of opening the building. (RTF Community Zoom Meeting Link)
Wednesday, October 21
- 8:00 AM: Pod groupings and schedules will be sent to families via email.
- 7:00 PM: Lower School Teach-In for families with Ms. Merkel. This session will focus on the Academic program, schedules, pods, modifications, etc. (Lower School Zoom Meeting Link)
- 8:00 PM: Upper School Teach-in for families with Mr. Purse. This session will focus on the Academic program, schedules, pods, modifications, etc. (Upper School Zoom Meeting Link)
Friday, November 6
- Non-teaching day for teachers and staff to finish setting up their rooms and prepare the building for students' return. There will be no virtual classes on this day.
Monday, November 9
- Aidan Montessori School re-opens using its Hybrid Program.
In addition to the above, we have a series of videos planned, especially for children, so that we may all start to envision the differences that we will all encounter in this new iteration of our beloved school. Leading up to reopening, there will also be discussions and instruction for children during their online classes. Once in-person learning begins, classes will start with daily lessons and reminders about safe practices.
This year has been one for the books. The rollercoaster of stress, sorrow, challenge, exasperation, and – sometimes – successes is like one I’ve never experienced. Our community is a strong one, and I cannot wait for us to begin reconvening again, on any level. Together with your help and participation, we look forward to a successful and safe opening of Aidan’s school doors.
We look forward to sharing more of our plans with you in the coming weeks.
Head of School
September 11, 2020
Dear Aidan Community,
We hope that the first week of the new school year has gone well for you and your families, and that everyone remains safe and healthy. While DLP 2.0 is taking its maiden voyage, the Reopening Task Force continues to ready our building for the return to in-person instruction, in line with our safety standards and protocols designed over the summer.
Ongoing improvements include the following:
- We are transforming the front office into the office for our new school nurse Lexi Pollack. Some construction will be undertaken, and furniture and equipment are being delivered and installed so that Lexi will be ready to serve the needs of our students, faculty, and staff when we return to the building.
- We have purchased and taken delivery of thousands of masks and gloves, gallons of hand sanitizer and soap, and dozens of hand sanitizer dispensers. It is essential that Aidan have this PPE, and we encourage our community to continue to practice good hand hygiene, wear face coverings and observe responsible social distancing protocol.
- We are taking the following steps to keep fresh outdoor air circulating through our building, one of the most important strategies to maintain a healthy facility during the pandemic:
- To better regulate temperature and allow for continuous fresh air flow in every classroom throughout the school day, we are taking advantage of building downtime this fall to upgrade our windows. The new windows are insulated, double-paned windows that offer improved operability and ease of use. Coupled with new box fans we will be able to exchange all the air in a classroom continuously throughout the day.
- Exterior doors in the Sassafras, Mountain Silverbell and Sweet Gum classrooms are being fitted with screens so that we can keep those doors open to maximize air flow.
- Multiple free-standing air purifier units are also being deployed in each classroom to provide coverage for any spots (corners, alcoves) that may receive less airflow.
As part of our ongoing work assessing the timetable for our reopening scenarios, the Reopening Task Force is monitoring COVID metrics in the region, including the rolling 7-day average of novel cases, sustained low transmission rates, and sustained decrease in community spread, as well as the relevant standard of care.
The Task Force and the School continue to be heartened by the statements of support, helpful feedback and offers of assistance that flow in from our families. We are grateful for the patience, resilience and good humor of our Aidan community. Please send any questions or thoughts to our dedicated email address, reopeningtaskforce@
Chair, Reopening Task Force
President, Board of Trustees
Dear Aidan Community,
As promised last week, we are writing to you today with an update on Aidan Montessori School’s plans for the start of the school year. Our current plan is for all students to begin school on September 8 using our Distance Learning Program 2.0 and continue this program until November 6. During this time, we will not be teaching students on campus. The School will continue to closely monitor the evolving public health situation, with the goal of returning to the School building earlier should conditions enable us to mitigate the health risks posed by the virus.
Please know that the School and its Board of Trustees did not take this decision lightly. We are anxious to have our beloved students and Montessori guides back in our beautifully prepared classroom environments, and our goal is to make that happen as soon as possible. As with every decision, we are balancing the social and educational benefits of in-person learning with the need to protect our students and their families, our staff, and the communities in which we all reside.
At this time, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases and the level of community spread are elevated from prior periods in DC, Virginia and Maryland. Testing is not consistently available and the turnaround time for test results is unpredictable.This means thorough contact tracing is not possible for all local cases at the present time. The long-term effects of contracting COVID-19 also remain unclear, with the potential for lingering respiratory and cardio-vascular complications. In such circumstances, we concluded that it is not safe to begin the 2020-2021 school year with in-person instruction.
As mentioned in last week’s letter, the School, together with the Reopening Task Force and outside public health and medical experts, has been laboring all summer to prepare our facility and organize our classrooms and schedules to mitigate risks. We continue to plan for a safe reopening of our doors to our children, and we are exploring ways in which we can support the social and emotional health of our children and their families. We will actively monitor regional coronavirus statistics and reevaluate the situation.
Our DLP 2.0 Committee has also been engaged all summer in hard work and dialogue with stakeholders at all levels, preparing a robust redesign of our Distance Learning Program. Next Wednesday, August 12, we will unveil our DLP 2.0 in a Zoom presentations to our parents. The DLP 2.0 Committee’s work has incorporated feedback from faculty, parent surveys, and parent focus groups at each level, as well as collaborative reviews of online learning platforms, classroom schedules, and Specials’ schedules. Our DLP 2.0 includes increased synchronous learning, a more user-friendly online platform, greater individualization, smaller learner groups, sensible schedules, and more child/teacher contact time. Please join us on August 12 for more information about this new online learning experience.
On behalf of everyone at the School, we want to thank all of our families for their continued support, trust, and patience. Part of our mission or shared work at Aidan Montessori involves a recognition that personal growth involves responsibility toward others. We believe in this now, more than ever: We all have strong ties that bind us together at our School and in our communities, so we are confident that we can get through this together. Please know that we have been working as creatively and thoughtfully as we can to do our best this school year by your children and for each other--and that our work is ongoing.
Wishing you continued good health, love, and resilience,
Kevin Clark, Head of School
Rachel Li, President, Board of Trustees
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 email@example.com.
- 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,
Dear Aidan Families,
Please note the two sets of information below: Aidan Montessori School’s Reopening Matrix and the School’s Draft Schedules for its Distance Learning Program (DLP). The goal of these documents is to provide a better understanding of the circumstances for which the School is preparing, as varied as they may be, and how we are thinking and strategizing around them in order to best meet the needs of our students and families.
AIDAN MONTESSORI SCHOOL REOPENING MATRIX
- This document is self-explanatory, and it may lead you to have questions. Please send all questions to reopeningtaskforce@
- This document will continue to be referenced and refined as more information becomes available and as decisions are made over the coming weeks and months.
AIDAN MONTESSORI SCHOOL DLP 2.0 SCHEDULES
- These are the schedules that will be followed if/when the School needs to implement its distance learning program in the coming year.
- At this point in time, it is unknown whether stay-at-home orders may be announced at the beginning of the year or at any point during the year.
- These schedules and the DLP 2.0 will be implemented according to the Reopening Matrix, as necessary.
- The Elementary schedules are very close to the regular daily schedules of the Elementary programs.
- The Primary schedules include teaching blocks with Specials teachers who are supplemental within the DLP, but not ordinarily a component of the classroom-based Montessori program.
- The Toddler schedule will mirror the morning work block and include individualized support for parents.
Thank you for continued patience and support, and we encourage you to direct any questions to our Reopening Task Force.
Aidan Montessori School
May 14, 2020
Dear Aidan Community,
Below please find the links to two important documents: a list of Frequently Asked Questions, about which many of you may be wondering, and information about Aidan's COVID-19 Emergency Family Relief Fund. Please note that the COVID-19 Emergency Family Relief Fund is time sensitive and responses should be submitted by Wednesday, May 20th at the latest.
In addition to the list of FAQs above, you may anticipate a follow up document which will explain the school's (fluid) thinking and contingency planning about the school year ahead of us.
You will also be invited to a virtual level meeting at which the Head of School will be able to follow up on these two communications as well as other issues that are important to your family and the year ahead. Please be on the lookout for these communication, which will be coming soon.
Aidan Montessori School
Dear Aidan Families,
It's hard to believe it's only been a few days of this "new normal" that we are all currently experiencing. Just when so many of you were starting to get the hang of your own family routines, it feels as though everything has been turned upside down and we don't know which way is up.
As we are all trying so hard to not only make sense of what is happening and keep our sanity intact, it's absolutely crucial to utilize our support systems. We are all in this together and as a school community we can help keep each other to feel connected and supported.
As your school counselor, my main role is to provide social and emotional support to both students and families. Please know that I am available to you via cell phone, email, and video chat through google hangouts. Let your (Elementary) child know that if they would like to talk to me, that I am here!
After Spring Break, I will be available between 9 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Thursday. Send me an email to set up an appointment and I look forward to helping you and your families in any way that I can.
Here are also a few resources that may be helpful:
- Stop a Worry Becoming Catastrophic: How to Talk to Your Kids about the Coronavirus
- Four Ways to Help Prevent Loneliness While You're Social Distancing
- Free Guided Meditation
- For a little zen, a live stream of the National Aquarium in Baltimore
Here's to good health, both physically and mentally.
- Tips & General Explanations
- Resources for Children
- Talking With Your Child About Difficult Topics
- Addressing Racism & Stigma Around Coronavirus
How we can help kids increase their sense of control as the coronavirus approaches (The Washington Post)
Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus (Child Mind Institute)
Talking to Teens and Tweens About Coronavirus (The New York Times)
How to talk to children about difficult news (American Psychological Association)
Explaining the News to Our Kids (Common Sense Media)
Head of Lower School and Director of Education, Denise Merkel outlines the three guiding principles that serve as the foundation for any Montessori community.
Everyone's favorite PE Teacher, Phillip Katinas, shares some hard won tips for creating workouts at home and the evolution of Aidan's virtual PE classes.
Aidan's Literacy Specialist, Ms. Navarro, highlights opportunities for authentic writing experiences that you can do with your child at home.
Lead Toddler Teacher, Ms. Barba, offers some recommendations for how you can introduce and explore a variety of art with your little one.
Aidan's Librarian Nell Stewart highlights some of the American Library Association's most recent book award winners.
Head of Upper School Mr. Purse tackles technology at Aidan and shares some the latest findings from a recent survey presented by The Social Institute.
Complaints and whining got you down? Aidan's favorite advice columnist is here to help you and your child muddle through the malaise.
Lead Primary Teacher Ms. Hernandez discusses the First Plane child's Sensitive Periods and the skills that accompany these phases.
Persimmon Teacher, Ms. Aker, shares some examples of positive phrasing and why it is key to unlocking effective communication with your little one.
Librarian Nell Stewart highlights some of the newest additions to Aidan's Library and shares recommendations for all ages.
Director of Education Denise Merkel highlights the importance and role of repetition in the Montessori classroom.
Lead teacher in the Magnolia class, Ms. Pasco, shares tips on how you can help your child become a vocabulary enthusiast.
Grace & Courtesy lessons are an integral part of Montessori education. Lead Primary Teacher, Teri Eckel shares some suggestions for how to model Grace & Courtesy for your child.
Literacy Specialist Emily Navarro discusses the beauty and power of the spoken word, and the importance of building our children's vocabularies.
Head of Lower School and Director of Education Denise Merkel discusses the importance of exploration in lighting the flame of curiosity within each child.
The Reopening Handbook is now available for viewing. Please continue to check back as this document will be updated as new information becomes available.
Updated: October 21, 2020
DC COVID-19 Metrics Data (Updated Daily)
DC DOH High Risk States (Updated 10/19)
COVID-19 Testing Info
Aidan's School Counselor Jessica Kwerel is here to support your family. Contact her to set up an appointment.