Information on COVID-19

Here you will find all recent correspondence to the CFMS Community dealing with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. This page will be updated as information is released.

CFMS Parent Business Meeting

May 4, 2020

Dear CFMS family member,


Please mark your calendars to participate in this year’s annual Parent Business Meeting on Monday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. This year we are holding the meeting online.

As mandated by the bylaws of CFMS, the Board of Directors holds a Parent Business Meeting each year on a Monday in May. At these meetings, the board provides an overview of the school’s finances as well as of any major issues within its purview. The parents vote on whether to approve the board’s slate of new and returning members and on any proposed changes to the bylaws. At least 25 percent of all CFMS parents must participate in the voting.

We know that many of you have questions related to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, and we have organized the structure and format of the meeting to give that topic extra time. To that end, we are conducting the vote solely online and limiting the live presentations on May 18 to a financial update, a brief on the Strategic Plan, and a report from Keely on the state of the school and issues related to Covid-19. We invite you to submit questions in advance. Pre-submitted questions will be given priority during the meeting.

Thank you,

CFMS Board of Directors

Seeking Your Feedback: CFMS Learning from Home Survey

April 27,2020

Good morning, CFMS Families,

We invite your feedback this week using this CFMS Learning from Home Survey. Thank you in advance for finding the time to let us know what supports are working best for you and your children. Your responses will help us to continue to refine our work in the weeks ahead.

The CFMS community fills me with hope and strength every day. Most days, it is seeing photos of the children’s work, or peeking into a class meeting or prayer service to see their faces that strengthens and inspires me. This past week, again and again, I gave thanks for the adults in this community as they moved beyond their own weariness so that they could support CFMS children. In a myriad of ways, in your roles as parents, staff, co-op members, and board members, you turned your focus toward how to make the best of the days ahead, and to prepare for the school’s future.

Even as we continue to be apart, I pray that each of you still feels the support of this community and its importance in your life and that of your children.

With gratitude,

Keely

Campus Closure Update and Looking Ahead

April 19, 2020

April 19, 2020

Dear CFMS Families,

I hope that this message finds you safe and well. Blessings to all those from Orthodox traditions who celebrate Easter today!

I write to update you on our status for the remainder of the school year, as health experts have recommended the continuation of social distancing measures, schools in our region have announced closures, and stay-at-home orders have been extended in order to protect those most vulnerable in our community. Board leadership and I have decided that learning from home will continue and our campus will remain closed through the end of the school year on June 12, 2020. If conditions change for the better, then of course, we will reach out immediately and return to campus in whatever manner we are able. We will maintain the current cadence of assignments and activities in each Google Classroom and via daily emails. We will continue to provide regular opportunities to engage with the CFMS community through virtual class meetings, work conferences, and lessons. We will be preparing to welcome families back to CFMS safely in August.

I am deeply saddened to have to extend our time apart, and I know that my news comes as a disappointment to all of you, adults and children alike. Yet, I am heartened by the purposeful, joyful work our students continue to engage in at home. I am confident that all of them are still growing into capable contributors to their communities and to the world, driven by curiosity, compassion, and kindness. You have responded with grace and goodwill as our partners in educating your children. Thank you. CFMS staff will continue to work with dedication and creativity to find new ways to support your children’s development and to maintain critical connections within our tightly woven community.

Year-end community events


Spring Sing - Plans are in the works to come together as a community virtually to celebrate one of the most beloved events of our school year. Stay tuned for more info from the Spring Sing Committee about how you can participate.

Parent Business Meeting - MAY 18, 2020 - This annual meeting is required by our by-laws. Current CFMS parents vote on the new board slate and hear about the health of the school and plans for the future. The CFMS Board is planning to hold this gathering remotely.

Graduation - JUNE 10, 2020. We have six soon-to-be CFMS graduates who deserve a celebration of the culmination of their learning and growth at our school. While we will not be able to gather in the Great Hall, we plan to celebrate them and their contributions to our school in new and exciting ways in the final weeks of the school year.

Looking ahead to Summer and Fall

This period of isolation has been different for each of our families, and your needs and approach to this time are unique. While we are all trying to take this one day at a time, as a board and administration, we are also looking at the long term forecasts for the transitions that lie ahead.

We recognize that area summer camps and educational programs are in limbo, and we are considering offering extra support for a part of the summer to our re-enrolled families. Look for a survey next week that will help us to determine what is working well for your family and what you might be eager to have us facilitate as a bridge for summer learning and engagement.

We intend to begin the next school year as planned on August 31. We are aware of the potential for future periods of quarantine and are working on a robust plan for implementation of disease prevention and mitigation measures as potential waves of the coronavirus outbreak could continue into the next school year. As a small school, we are well-positioned to navigate these uncertainties with agility and sensitivity to the needs of our families.

We all need connection now more than ever. CFMS is your community. The board, the staff, and I are committed to continuing to work together with you in service of our children and in support of one another. Please reach out to us with questions and needs as they arise.

With love and gratitude,


Keely

April Learning Updates and Easter Break

April 5, 2020

Dear CFMS Families,

You should have received an email from your classroom teacher this weekend, providing you with access to Google Classrooms, information about teachers’ office hours, and a schedule for class meetings, gatherings, work-conferences, and prayer services for the weeks ahead.

PLEASE NOTE: We have thus far relied on email through our regular MailChimp service for our daily communication with families. Every parent should have received, at minimum, five emails per week from different members of the teaching team since March 15. These messages have all come from individual email addresses within the cfmschool.org domain with a wealth of ideas, lessons, songs, and stories. If you aren’t aware of this daily contact, please check your spam filter, promotions folder, etc. Part of the reason we are adding the use of Google Classrooms is to allow you to access the information you need about lessons and resources in one centralized hub at times that are convenient for you.

Parent - teacher conferences helped us significantly in refining a plan to better support the breadth of needs of our students and their families. Thank you for your continued patience and feedback as we navigate the technological platforms that we will use to consolidate resources and to communicate with the children on screen.

We have decided to observe an abbreviated Easter Break (Friday through Monday) in order to maintain our newly established school routines and gain momentum in student progress. Elementary classes will still have prayer service available in the morning on Good Friday (4/10/20). Teachers and catechists will resume their lessons, meeting schedules, and email replies on Tuesday (4/14/20). I am asking staff to step back from their work from Thursday evening until Tuesday morning, to be still, reflect, recharge, and to dedicate time to their families and to their celebration of Holy Week. I hope that you will also take this much needed time with your children to celebrate life and rebirth.

As you prepare for the week ahead, I would like to share another literary resource for children of all ages. April is National Poetry Month. The Poetry Foundation and the Academy of American Poets both provide free access to poems on their websites, including a section for children. I recommend this week that you help your child choose a poem to memorize and recite, to read aloud, to write out in their best handwriting, or to illustrate.

I share with you an offering of poems which I hope will inspire you and your children.

Take care,

Keely

Reading Resources from Keely (plus video)

March 29, 2020

Dear CFMS parents and students,

As you plan for the week ahead, I wanted to share a story and to provide some of my favorite online reading resources. One of my great passions as an educator has been language acquisition and early literacy. (Many of you may not know that in addition to being a Montessorian, I am also a children’s librarian.) It pains me that schools and libraries are closed, and I want to ensure that our students continue to have access to the literature-rich environments that we know are so critical to their reading development:

  • Here is a link to a video of me reading one of our family’s current favorites, Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty. This story makes me think of the insatiable curiosity of our CFMS Otters!
  • For out of this world read-alouds for all ages, check out Story Time from Space, where you can watch real astronauts read great stories from the International Space Station.
  • For our emerging readers in Primary through our developing readers in Elementary, my favorite reading primers are now available online for free from Flyleaf Publishing. We utilize this whole print collection at CFMS. They are sequenced readers that methodically build fluency, decoding skills, confidence, and comprehension. These are intended to be read BY the child, not TO the child, as an opportunity for them to encounter a fully accessible text that they can decode independently. For guidance on making the best use of these texts please see coaching emerging readers and check in with your child’s teacher if you need additional guidance.
  • For elementary research projects and vocabulary development, I recommend ReadWorks. Ms. Cristina is already using ReadWorks to assign non-fiction articles in Upper Elementary, but it’s also useful for finding age-appropriate, reading-level appropriate non-fiction resources on just about any topic, without any internet browsing. Readworks is a non-profit and the content has always been free and printable. Adults can find and print resources for their children, but it’s also safe to let them explore the library of resources for their own research projects with just a bit of guidance.

Happy reading!

Warmly,

Keely

Sunday Email from Keely

March 29, 2020

Dear CFMS families,

I am so moved by the strength and grace of our community. Being in touch with so many of you in this time apart has reminded me how fortunate we all are to be in community with one another. I’ve seen pictures of bright-eyed learners engaging in important, purposeful work. I’ve heard delightful stories about virtual meet-ups between parents who miss playground chats, productive goal-setting calls between students and teachers, and incredible participation in online class gatherings.

As you’ve adjusted to blending work, school, and home life, you’ve shared successes and frustrations with one another and with your children’s guides in productive and collaborative ways. Your offerings of encouragement and gratitude to our dedicated teachers are generous and appreciated.

We are eager to continue to improve our ability to meet the needs of our students and their families while we are apart. Your observations and feedback are welcome and essential to our success. Thank you for sharing so openly with us. Taking the time to conduct parent - teacher conferences this past week was a wonderful opportunity for teachers and catechists to connect individually with every family and to gather information about the framework and structure we can employ to best support you in the weeks ahead.

While we will continue to send evening emails (Sunday - Thursday) to each class list and to occasionally update and expand our CFMS Learning from Home Handbook, you can expect some changes ahead as we continue to expand your access to resources and to support continuity of learning during this time. This past week, Kristi has led the teachers in an exploration of Google Classrooms, which we will roll out to families in the week ahead. For parents of younger children, Google Classrooms will provide a single hub to access all of the communication from both primary classrooms. For parents of older children, Google Classrooms will provide access to targeted activities and an opportunity to share projects with teachers both in process and upon completion. You can also expect lessons and activities aimed at smaller groups within each class to be shared with you through Google Classrooms. This is new technology for all of us, so we’ll make adjustments as we go along and appreciate your patience and feedback. We have heard how important real-time connections have been in these first two weeks, and each teacher is committed to providing that in their own ways to meet the particular needs of their students’ developmental stage.

There are no new updates this week about the duration of our campus closure. While we are all so eager to return to campus with your children, the local and global coronavirus situation has already demanded shifts in our planning in the interest of public health and requires ongoing evaluation. The board and I will continue to monitor the guidance of health professionals and government officials. I will update you immediately should events beyond our control require a longer campus closure.

Finally, as you plan for the week ahead, please see my next email where I will share a story time as well specific reading material recommendations.

Be well and keep in touch,

Keely

Learning from Home

March 22, 2020

Dear CFMS families,

Warm greetings from my home to yours. I hope that you were able to spend time today in the glorious sunshine! For the health and safety of our community, and like most schools in our region and across the country, we have decided to extend our campus closure and to focus our current work on helping our students to continue their learning from home. The CFMS campus will re-open no sooner than April 30, 2020.

More information about our plans for continuity of learning for your children can be found below.

Updates from the administration and board can be expected at least weekly, and we will inform families at least one week in advance once we determine a date for returning to our school building.

Our only chance at mitigating the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is to do our part by social distancing. It is important to remember that the sacrifices we are making right now have the potential to save lives in our community. We are working together for the collective good. Our children will remember this for their entire lives.

Together we will:

Help them to find rhythm in a time of unpredictability.

Help them to feel safety in a time of chaos.

Help them to experience joy in a time of fear.

Help them to discover connection in a time of loneliness.

Trust them to continue to grow in ways that will delight and amaze us!

Parenting is one of life’s greatest challenges under normal circumstances. Be patient with yourself in this difficult period. We are still here to support you and to help guide your children on their unique developmental journeys.

Attached, please find the CFMS Learning from Home Handbook. I hope it will provide additional guidance for you, lay out expectations for our work together, and serve as a reference for the weeks ahead.

With hope and love always,

Keely

CFMS Social Distancing - Week 1

March 20, 2020

Dear CFMS Families,

I know that this is a time of great uncertainty for our community. I am heartened by the points of connection and outreach I’ve witnessed in this first week. Our school will be here for you through this difficult time and we will be ready to welcome you back with open arms when the crisis has passed. We’ve heard your desire for more specific activities and materials as well as the need for facilitating connection between classmates via technology. Thank you for your patience and fortitude as we adjust our work to best meet the needs of our children.

The CFMS staff have been in constant communication with one another since the closure began. Our immediate goal was to maintain daily connection between school and home. As we start to imagine the possibility of a longer term closure, our work and goals are shifting. We want to be thoughtful about how we structure our support for parents and children who are working from home.

Next week we will hold our scheduled conferences via phone or video chat on Thursday 3/26 and Friday 3/27. We want to ensure that we are able to best meet your needs during this time, so in preparation for conferences please take a moment to complete the linked questionnaire.

The CFMS board and I have already established a plan for regular communication as we continually evaluate and implement our responses to the pandemic as it relates to the short-term and long-term impacts on our school and all CFMS families. I will be in contact with any information about health concerns within our community as well as updates on the duration of our closure.

Be well, take heart, and reach out when you are in need.

Take care,

Keely

CFMS Closed for Remainder of March 2020

March 14, 2020

Dear CFMS Community,

Christian Family Montessori School will remain closed through the month of March at a minimum. We will re-evaluate as new information becomes available to determine our date of re-opening.

This decision was made as a social distancing strategy to protect our neighbors and the most vulnerable amongst us in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Being a part of this effort to slow the spread of the virus also requires us to continue to be transparent and share information both during the closure and after we return to school. Please email Keely with emergent concerns or to inform us of confirmed or potential coronavirus exposure. We will protect individual privacy and share only the information which is relevant for families to make informed decisions.

CFMS staff worked Friday to create a plan around both community and academic support across the period of time we will be unable to work directly with our children. For example -

  • You can expect daily messages in your email inbox with ideas for keeping your children engaged and connected during this period of isolation to include ideas and resources to maximize opportunities for learning from home. Our goal is to help you to create a sense of routine.
  • Some messages will be intended for you to share directly with your children from the adults that love and support them here at school.
  • Some messages will offer lessons or activities that children can work on independently. Please note that these activities will be encouraged but not required.
  • Teachers will continue to prepare for parent - teacher conferences and plan to conduct them via phone or video-chat at the already scheduled times on March 26 and 27.

Friday evening, the CFMS board had a conference call to discuss our current status and to establish a plan for more frequent conversations in anticipation of the decisions that lie ahead. Our school leadership cares deeply for those who dedicate their lives to the service of children, and has committed to continuation of pay and benefits for all staff for the duration of our school closure.

We recognize that for all of our families, this extended school closure will represent a burden and a shift in routine. We also know that for some, it will create financial hardship and significant stress. While this is not a time to gather together, we will need one another. I encourage you to find ways to open new lines of communication and to let us know of your needs.

In recent days, the information we wake up to is drastically different than the information we end our day with. In this climate of change, we need our communities most. I have faith in our CFMS community, that we can weather this storm by finding new ways to support one another.

Take care and be well,

Keely

CFMS Closed Thursday 3/12/20 and Friday 3/13/20

March 11, 2020

Dear CFMS families,

CFMS will be CLOSED Thursday 3/12/20 and Friday 3/13/20, due to the sudden closing of our landlord’s facility.

This evening, the Rector of St. Paul’s Rock Creek Church, Father Allan, came to inform us that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC issued a directive to close all parish buildings effective immediately. While the cemetery gates will be open daily, the operations will cease with minimal staffing on the grounds.

We share some space with the church, most notably the Gallery bathrooms. When the church offices are closed, we can’t access the bathrooms without triggering their alarm system. Access to those facilities is crucial to healthy functioning of our school especially given that we are trying to limit overlap between classrooms.

In the coming days we will explore our options in terms of negotiating access to those bathrooms and will simultaneously continue to assess our risk as a community regarding the spread of the Coronavirus. We will make an announcement during the weekend about the status of classes next week.

Thank you for your support and understanding. I had hoped that we could avoid such an abrupt and burdensome impact on our families. We will continue to be in touch as we have more information.

Take care,

Keely

CFMS Coronavirus Updates

March 11, 2020

Dear CFMS Community,

The message that follows is part of our on-going effort to partner with you in keeping our community healthy in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. The message is lengthy, and I ask that you take the time to read it thoroughly. It involves some changes that might require some scheduling changes on your part.

On Sunday, we wrote to you about a guest to the CFMS Auction that had a connection to the first diagnosed case of Covid-19 in DC. I am happy to share that the individual who I mentioned remains healthy and in precautionary self-quarantine. This person is a friend of the school, not a current parent, and has not had direct contact with our students nor entered the school wing. The individual attended an evensong at Christ Church Georgetown on the weekend of Feb. 29 - one of the 550 congregants who attended worship services that weekend. The priest who presided at those services was the first confirmed case in DC. We will inform you if anything increases our risk profile as a community.

While the number of cases in our immediate area remains relatively low, we are aware that this is likely to change rapidly. We continue to track the latest recommendations from the CDC and to consult with medical professionals as well as the DC Mayor’s Office. Up to this point we have been in a phase of preparedness: putting increased cleaning protocols in place, ensuring adequate supplies, and encouraging personal protective measures such as hand-washing and staying home when sick.

Now our strategy is shifting slightly to intermediate mitigation efforts because the virus is present in our region: We are shortening our day slightly to allow for staff to complete additional daily disinfecting of all spaces before and after school. We are finding ways to temporarily reduce interaction between classes. We are also limiting the number of adults who enter the space as much as is possible. The goal of these measures is to lessen the likelihood and impact of a potential future exposure of the virus within the school. In an effort to remain open and serving our children for as long as possible, we are putting into place the following preventative measures effective Thursday, March 12, 2020:

  • Before care will not be available. ADP will open at 8:00 am. All other classrooms will open at 8:30.
  • School will close for ADP and EEC at 5:30 pm daily.
  • Closing the School Library to students. Requested resources can be retrieved by staff.
  • Staggering recess times so that classes don’t overlap.
  • Staggering access to the atria, so that only one classroom has access each day.
  • Moving all EEC programming into the school wing.
  • Postponing our Human Development Programming in UE.
  • Suspending “going-outs” [off campus field trips] for the time being.
  • Changing our morning greeting routines.
  • Cancelling our weekly auxiliary program: Afternoon Atrium.
  • Postponing all scheduled Classroom Observations.
  • Developing plans to conduct parent/teacher conferences scheduled for 3/26/20 and 3/27/20 by phone or video chat.

What could cause us to close the school?

  • A confirmed or medically presumptive case of Covid-19 within the student or staff population.
  • Confirmed cases in our community of current parents.
  • Inadequate staffing due to unrelated illness. We are asking staff to be extra cautious about even mild illness to protect themselves and their students. If we have too few staff to safely and effectively operate on any given day, we may need to cancel classes temporarily.
  • Higher than typical student absenteeism due to unrelated illness.
  • Local or federal recommendations or mandates.

What can parents do to help?

  • Communicate with CFMS about absence and illness.
  • Email Keely with emergent concerns or to share information about potential virus exposure. We will protect individual privacy and share only the information which is relevant for families to make informed decisions.
  • Prepare for the possibility that the school may need to close suddenly to prevent the spread of illness.
  • Be alert to calls, texts, and emails from the school. Promptly pick up your child if asked to due to illness.
  • Consider picking up your elementary child at 3:00 instead of attending EEC to reduce the number of peers to whom they are exposed.
  • Remain calm. The measures we are putting into place are to slow the spread of potential illness and protect others in our broader community.
  • Reassure your children. Help them to know that they are safe.
  • Stay informed:

Thank you for your understanding and partnership as we strive to make decisions that best protect and serve our whole community.

Take care,

Keely Boomhower, School Director

Tara Graham, Board Chair

DC Corona Virus Case

March 8, 2020

Dear CFMS Community,

This afternoon I received a call from an individual who attended last night's CFMS Auction about a connection to the first confirmed Covid-19 case in D.C. The individual who attended our event has had no signs of illness and more than one week has passed since they have seen the person who has been diagnosed.

I have consulted with medical and public health professionals, as well as the board and have decided that no immediate action is needed, except to be transparent in our communication with our community. The CDC "does not recommend testing, symptom monitoring or special management for people exposed to asymptomatic people with potential exposures to SARS-CoV-2 (such as in a household), i.e., “contacts of contacts;” these people are not considered exposed to SARS-CoV-2."

As of now, we don't know of any students, parents, or teachers who have been exposed. As the disease continues to spread in the U.S., we are likely to have additional tertiary and perhaps even direct exposures within our community.

Information sharing and careful monitoring of your family's wellness will be critical to enabling you to make decisions for your own family and give us agility in making decisions for the school regarding closures or introduction of new protocols.

We will continue to monitor and follow recommendations from the DC Department of Health as well as the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE DC) and the CDC.

We ask for your cooperation in helping our community to stay healthy:

  • Keep us informed if you or your family members have possible exposure or symptoms of this or other communicable illness.
  • Be aware of travel recommendations and inform us if you have been in a location where active outbreak is occurring.
  • Protect others by keeping children home when they are sick. This is especially important if they have active cough, sneezing, or fever.

To stay informed about the virus and its transmission, you may wish to consult the following resources:

The school will continue to keep families informed about any developments related to Covid-19.

Warmly,

Keely