Information on COVID-19
Here you will find recent correspondence to the CFMS Community dealing with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. This page will be updated as information is released.
December 29, 2021
I know that facing a new pandemic surge is not what we had hoped for in the new year. I am grateful for each of you who has committed to upholding such a high degree of care and personal responsibility for our community. We have weathered so much together, and I am glad to have your partnership as we face new challenges. Our safety measures are strong and tested. We will continue to rely on them to prevent in-school transmission. Please continue to prioritize school and take every precaution available to reduce the chance of transmission for your family and for others at CFMS.
September 30, 2021
August 11, 2021
August 11, 2021
January 2, 2021
Jan. 2, 2021
Dear CFMS Families,
Happy New Year! I hope that this message finds you well.
This Christmas break felt very different in my home as I know it must have for many of you. The absence of some whom I love dearly made me even more grateful for the simple gifts of time and presence I was able to share with Dan and our daughters these past two weeks. I hope you too experienced at least a few moments of joy and reflection.
We are eager to welcome our students back to school in their virtual classrooms on Monday, January 4. Please be on the lookout for schedules and updates from your child’s lead teacher to prepare for the week ahead.
The board and I have continued to discuss our much-anticipated shift back to Hybrid learning and to monitor developments in the pandemic with the support of our Health and Safety Committee. When we shifted to Remote-only learning in mid – November, we set a tentative return to campus for January 11. Given the current COVID-19 metrics, we will likely remain in Remote-only learning at least through the month of January. In order to set a return to campus date, we are looking for the following:
DC test positivity rate below 5% (3.3% on 1/1/21)
DC Community transmission rate falling below 100 cases per week per 100,000 residents. (227 on 1/1/21)
A pattern of steady decline in community transmission rates in DC
Students already have materials to see them through several weeks of lessons and practice. We will be in touch about an additional distribution of materials if necessary during the third week of January.
As we look forward to welcoming you back to campus, we are also working on layering additional onsite mitigation strategies. We are arranging to purchase supplemental air filtration systems for each classroom through grant funding. We also plan to take our work outdoors as much as possible even in the winter months. During the holiday break, we learned of the prospect of access to vaccines for our teachers in Phase 1B of distribution early in the new year. Vaccination would significantly reduce the risk that they take on and would improve our ability to serve our children in person even if other risk factors remain high.
I am so grateful for your continued cooperation and commitment to the CFMS community. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.
Brighter days are ahead, and I look forward to spending them together with you and your children!
With warmest wishes for a new year filled with blessings,
November Transition Updates
November 3, 2020
Nov. 3, 2020
Dear CFMS community,
We wish to acknowledge that the election and whatever might follow in the coming days have added a dimension of stress and uncertainty to an already difficult time. Let us all hold one another in prayer and support each other as members of a diverse, caring community in whatever ways we can.
With fewer than three weeks before we break for Thanksgiving on Nov. 20, We’d like to give you an update on our current thinking about on-campus learning and the region’s COVID-19 numbers.
Our decision to close the CFMS building between Nov. 20 and Jan. 11, 2021, was based on guidance from health authorities that coronavirus infection rates would surge with the onset of cold weather and holiday gatherings. As you are probably aware, infection rates nationally and locally have already climbed sharply several weeks ahead of when the surge was expected. While we will endeavor to remain in our hybrid learning mode through our planned date of Nov. 20, we want you to be prepared for a more abrupt shift to fully remote learning if local numbers continue to rise quickly.
Two key metrics would prompt the decision to close before Nov. 20 in the absence of a government mandate. 1) a two-week average of 75 or more new infections per week per 100,000 residents in Washington, D.C. or 2) a test positivity rate in Washington D.C. of higher than 5 percent.
If D.C. reaches either of those thresholds, we will communicate to you a revised date for our shift to all-remote learning. As of Nov. 2, the positive-test rate was 1.61%, and the average number of new infections per week per 100,000 residents was 65.59. For more information on the external metrics and other factors the school uses in making decisions about campus access, please read this brief guide.
We are doing all that we can to mitigate risk within the school. Teachers and staff have made the safety of our school community their highest priority both on campus and in their private lives, and we are deeply grateful for their commitment and sacrifice. We ask that you, too, remain committed to maintaining the safety protocols that are essential to keeping our doors open and to protecting the health of every member of our community. We have a shared responsibility to do all that we can to minimize the risk we bring to other members of our school community, including making the difficult choice between school attendance and other in-person opportunities for socialization, sports, etc. Most importantly, we ask you to stay in communication with us. If a member of your household has been exposed to the virus or is exhibiting symptoms, please call or email the school office: (202) 722-1520, firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out directly to Keely: email@example.com or 330-357-2770.
We look forward to seeing you at one of the town hall meetings tomorrow. They’re at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Zoom invitations are forthcoming.
Keely, Kristi, and the CFMS Board
Upcoming Shift to Remote Learning
October 19, 2020
October 19, 2020
Dear CFMS Families,
We are so grateful, and impressed, with how this fall has gone. CFMS has welcomed children to school for seven consecutive weeks, while most other schools have yet to physically open at all. We have come together as a community to provide hybrid and fully remote learning to our students, and while it is not without challenges, we are thrilled to see them growing, thriving, and connecting.
We want to plan with you for the next season of our learning so that you can prepare accordingly.
Looking ahead, most health authorities project that community transmission rates will continue to increase over the next few months. Cold and flu season is starting which will bring ordinary illnesses and absences as well as COVID-19 false alarms. As the weather grows colder, we will be less able to use outdoor spaces as a part of our mitigation strategy on campus. Many of you are already planning to be with family over the holidays and we want to make space for families and staff to be able to safely see their loved ones.
We anticipate that all of these factors will cause inconsistent attendance and quarantine periods which would result in more extensive classroom closures. Therefore, we will pivot to fully-remote learning for the three weeks between our holiday breaks and continue remotely for one week after Christmas Break. (See Nov-Jan. cohort calendar pages.)
We break for Thanksgiving on Friday, Nov. 20. Our campus will remain closed and students will participate in remote learning until at least Monday Jan. 11, 2021. Waiting until January 11th to return to the building will give families time to complete a 2-week quarantine before and after traveling to the growing number of high-risk states (the list of which can be found here) or gathering together with family and friends or religious communities here locally.
A decision about resuming the hybrid cohort model will be made closer to the projected return date, using the same criteria we used for opening school in the fall: external community transmission rates and test positivity rates (tracked here), as well as CFMS families’ commitment to making personal choices with the health of the whole community in mind. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 metrics and mandates to ensure that we can remain in our hybrid program until Thanksgiving Break.
Here are the next steps you can expect from us:
Keely will hold parent town hall meetings via zoom on November 4th at both 10:00 am and 8:00 pm to answer any questions you have.
Before Thanksgiving Break, we will provide our students with materials for home learning, just as we do during alternating weeks.
Our teaching teams are already engaged in updating our plan for fully remote learning. We will dedicate our next professional development day on October 30 to preparing for the shift.
Before Thanksgiving Break, you will receive updated schedules and information about the remote learning model.
Across the next 5 weeks of hybrid learning, we ask that you continue to prioritize your child’s attendance at CFMS by making careful choices regarding exposure risk and remaining cautious and communicative about your family’s health. For example, if you choose to travel, socialize, or trick or treat, please protect the school community by keeping your children home for the full 14 day quarantine period afterwards. (Here is Mayor Bowser’s guidance on celebrating Halloween as well as one creative idea about celebrating while maintaining social distancing.)
We knew this year would require ongoing flexibility to ensure a safe, healthy, and rich experience for our children. Thank you for committing to that with us.
CFMS Head of School
Back to School Information
August 24, 2020
Dear CFMS Families,
We’re only a week away from the start of the new school year! Included in this email is important information for you to review ahead of our start on Monday, August 31. Please read through to the end as some of this information requires your response.
Back to School Preparation
We know this school year will feel very different for our students and we want them to begin to feel comfortable with some of the changes they’ll see when they return. To that end, we’ve created a few short videos that we ask you to watch with your child so they know what to expect on their first day of school.
Children’s Hygiene and Safety video - a few of our students demonstrate some of our new health and safety guidelines such as mask wearing and proper hand washing.
Student Arrival and Dismissal video - this video highlights student arrival and dismissal procedures to help guide you and your child through the first day on campus.
...additional Arrival and Dismissal Details
Arrival Schedule and Procedures - Here you’ll find an arrival schedule for each class as well as our new procedures. Please familiarize yourself with these before your first day of in-person instruction.
Pre-Screening Health Form - Each parent will need to submit a pre-screening health form every day upon arrival. You can find these forms here. We will have copies of the form at drop-off each day and will send home a packet of forms to keep in your car or home, but we encourage you to fill out the form before you leave for school.
Carpool Information - Please email the office with any car pool arrangements. Because there cannot be any gathering on the playground after school, children cannot be released to anyone other than the parent/adult who is driving them home.
All parents MUST accompany their child to the front door at drop off. Please ensure that your child does not run ahead; and remain with your child until they are admitted into school for the day. Everyone on campus must wear a properly fitted mask and follow social distancing guidelines.
Learning from Home Preparation
Learning from Home Synchronous Schedules
These calendars map out all of the regular meeting times for synchronous Zoom sessions with CFMS staff and students during Learning from Home weeks:
Introduction to Seesaw
On Wednesday you will receive a CFMS video tutorial to get you started on SeeSaw, our new remote learning platform.
Each parent will receive an email invitation to create your SeeSaw account as well as one for your child. Please contact Kristi if you haven’t received your invitation by Wednesday morning.
From Moveable Alphabets to Zoom Rooms: Navigating Learning from Home for our Remote-only Families
Remote-only families, look out for an invitation from Ms. Kristi to join her and Ms. Sarahi on Thursday, August 27 at 7:30pm for a more in-depth discussion on learning from home.
Covid-19 Safety and Decision Making
Covid-19 Transmission Metrics and Decision Making about Learning Models
Our school year will begin on August 31 with a Hybrid Educational Model. Learn more about the Factors that will guide our decisions to shift between Hybrid and Remote Learning Educational Models as the school year progresses and view the metrics we’ve been tracking.
Covid-19 Risk and Responsibility Acknowledgment Form
Returning to school requires diligence across our entire community to ensure we reduce the risk of our in-person learning plans. We are asking each family to read through and sign this Covid-19 Risk and Responsibility Acknowledgement Form. You will receive this form shortly through Transparent Classroom (in families with multiple children, we will send it via the oldest child). Please read and sign before Monday, August 31. We all need to practice and adhere to the health and safety policies we’ve adopted so we can remain a safe, connected, and vibrant community.
School Reopening Announcement
July 31, 2020
School Reopening Announcement - July 31, 2020
Dear CFMS Families,
With one more month of summer vacation remaining, I am pleased to share with you the CFMS Plan for Continuity of Operations for the 2020-2021 school year. The Reopening Taskforce has worked diligently over the past four months to develop a comprehensive plan that will help us respond quickly and effectively to different conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the year ahead. As noted in earlier updates, the plan includes three operating models: Full School Reopening, Learning from Home, and the Hybrid Model, which includes both in-person and remote learning.
We intend to open on August 31 using the Hybrid Model. The Task Force’s recommendation to open with the Hybrid Model and the board’s decision to adopt it were based on current pandemic metrics as well as our school’s ability to mitigate risk and the health needs within our school community. We will continue to monitor D.C.’s test-positivity rate to track that it remains under 5% (currently 2%) and that the number of new cases per week in D.C. remain under 75 cases per 100,000 residents (currently 60). If these transmission metrics change for the worse in the next four weeks, we will reevaluate our opening plans to determine whether to shift to Learning from Home.
Please read the Operating Plan thoroughly. It provides necessary information about our new protocols and requirements for health & safety and outlines the redesigned Learning from Home program. You will find your family’s cohort assignment [in the email from Keely dated July 31]. We ask that you indicate through this confidential form whether your child will participate in the on-campus portion of the Hybrid model and to share your initial questions with us. Families that opt out initially will have the chance to opt back in to the in-person program in October, assuming that we are still employing the hybrid model.
Our ability to welcome your children back to campus safely this fall is aided by some of the features that likely drew your family to CFMS in the first place. CFMS is a small school in a lush, peaceful setting with outdoor extensions of our classrooms already in place. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to take greater advantage of those outdoor spaces and the surrounding grounds to de-densify the classrooms. Our small size will allow us to pivot quickly if needed while addressing individual family needs. Perhaps most importantly, the mutual respect and support that characterize the CFMS community—our shared purpose in giving children a foundation in joyful learning, community, faith, and compassion—are necessary factors in returning to school safely amid the disruption of the pandemic.
The CFMS staff and I are very excited to see your children again at school. We have missed them, and we have missed you, too! Again, please read the Operating Plan to familiarize yourself with the many changes and additions to our procedures. The plan is a living document that will continue to evolve. You will always be able to find the most up-to-date version of it on this page of our website. We have also been developing a series of programs to help families adjust to the changes. First up are live, online Q & A Townhall Meetings with separate sessions for Primary and Elementary classes, followed by an in-depth look at Learning from Home. Zoom details to come.
Aug 11: Townhall Meetings for Cohort A
Aug 13: Townhall Meetings for Cohort B
Aug 20: Learning from Home, from Moveable Alphabets to Zoom Rooms
Important Note D.C. mandates a 14-day quarantine after visiting a state beyond Maryland or Virginia. We ask that you plan any August trips out of the area with this requirement in mind.
CFMS Head of School
School Reopening Taskforce Update
July 12, 2020
Task Force Update - July 12, 2020
Dear CFMS Families,
We have been delighted to see so many of your children through the CFMS Summer Bridge program that began this past week. We always miss the students over the summer. This year, the chance to see their faces feels even sweeter.
Thank you for completing the CFMS Reopening Parent Survey. Your feedback has informed our planning for the school year. We appreciate your participation and your candor.
In our last communication, we briefly mentioned the CFMS Reopening Task Force. The Task Force has accomplished a staggering amount of work building models for the coming school year that will keep our students and staff safe, provide an exceptional Montessori education, and sustain the supportive and loving community that makes CFMS so special. On July 31, we will announce which model we have concluded should be in place when school commences on August 31. Below you will find additional details on the planning so far.
CFMS Reopening Task Force
Within the Task Force, working groups have focused on different components of a safe school year. The Health and Safety Group, which includes two epidemiologists and a pediatrician, covers health and safety protocols, adjustments to how we use our physical space, and best practices for prevention and mitigation measures. Our Director of Education, Kristi Medley, is leading the work on the Academic and Technological elements of the plan. Other members of the Task Force are working to gather and synthesize outside guidance from education and health organizations, school systems, and government authorities; address the financial implications of the pandemic for our families and the school; and also create ways to nourish and energize our school community.
Our combined efforts are coalescing in the three models we are developing to negotiate shifting waves of the pandemic—a Full School Re-opening, a Hybrid Rotating Cohort Model, and a re-designed Learning from Home program. We are building all three models in full, which will allow us to be nimble and responsive to evolving health and safety needs.
Our Rotating Cohort Model includes alternating in-school instruction and Learning from Home to reduce the number of contacts for each family and to de-densify indoor spaces. The students will be organized into two cohorts with sibling sets and other logistical factors taken into account. Each student cohort is invited to attend school in its regular classroom Monday through Thursday on alternating weeks. On Fridays, all students will participate in Learning from Home. Four consecutive days in the prepared environment will give students the opportunity to deepen their practice with hands on materials after receiving new lessons. It will also afford our elementary students the chance to plan their course of study for the Learning from Home week, setting goals alongside their guide and peers and bringing home necessary materials. Some families may choose to participate in Learning from Home every week with coaching and guidance provided by both Montessori guides and support staff.
As with the Full School Reopening Model, our new health and safety protocols will be in line with or exceed the most up-to-date standards, and all staff will be trained in their implementation. The new protocols will be shared with you in full and include:
Daily health screenings of all staff and students
Face covering requirements
Routine hygiene measures that include frequent hand washing
New cleaning and disinfecting protocols for spaces and materials
Among the many resources the Task Force has reviewed or consulted for guidance are:
Ideally, we will all be able to gather in person this fall. Given the dynamic shifting of the pandemic, we may need to open with Rotating Cohorts or a fully remote Learning from Home program. We may also need to switch among models or make adjustments during the school year, depending on the progression of the virus, emerging best practices, and local regulations.
Along with practically every school on the planet, we are striving to make the best decisions for safely educating your children. Look for the July 31 announcement about which model will be in place when school begins. The email will also include information about a virtual Parent Town Hall in mid-August to discuss the new school year. The Major Dates Calendar for the year is posted on the family portal of our website.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please do check out our free Summer Bridge Program. There’s something different every day, and the program continues through July 31.
Head of School
CFMS School Reopening Update and Parent Survey
June 25, 2020
June 25, 2020
I hope that this email finds you well. The CFMS Re-opening Task Force is hard at work in developing plans for the 2020-2021 school year and as we refine our plans we need your input. Please help us by completing the survey linked below.
In addition to health and safety protocols, the task force is working on instructional and logistical models to cover three possible scenarios:
Full School Reopening with comprehensive modifications to mitigate health risk including use of outdoor spaces and implementation of new health protocols
a Rotating Cohort Model that includes alternating in-school instruction and Learning from Home to reduce the number of contacts for each family and to de-densify indoor spaces.
and a re-designed Learning from Home program to address potential waves of pandemic and to support those who choose to stay home for health and safety reasons.
We anticipate the possibility that all three models could be necessary at different periods of the coming school year depending on the progression of the virus and emerging best practices.
We intend to announce by July 31 which model will be used to begin the school year on August 31.
Please complete the short survey linked below as soon as possible:
Re-opening Parent Survey
We are so appreciative of your commitment and energy during this unprecedented challenge!
Keely Boomhower, Head of School
Christian Family Montessori School
201 Allison Street NW, Suite B
Washington, DC 20011
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.
CFMS Board of Directors
Seeking Your Feedback: CFMS Learning from Home Survey
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.
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,
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.
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.
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,
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,
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.
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,
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.
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.
Thank you for your understanding and partnership as we strive to make decisions that best protect and serve our whole community.
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.