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.

Sunday Email from Keely

March 30, 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 coming shortly 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