School Communication

Friday, May 22, 2020

Dear Forest Bluff School Community,

If you’re anything like me, you have been feeling very frustrated by the constant uncertainty, the inability to make decisions based on so few facts, and having to wait to be told what we are and are not allowed to do. “What is going to happen next?” means something very different to me than it did a few months ago when we had a little more control in our lives! It is hard not to feel discouraged and down. But…

HERE’S LOTS OF GOOD NEWS!:

For the 2020-2021 school year, you can pay your tuition in two parts. The first semester, which runs September-December, will be a reduced cost. You will be billed in July.

In January, we will begin the second semester, January-May, and the tuition cost will return to normal if we are able to resume a regular in-school schedule at that time. You will be billed accordingly in the late fall of 2020. If the uncertainty of remote schooling is still predicted for the second semester, tuition will again be reduced.

You will have two options to sign up for the fall semester, and both cost the same:

Option A

School is open in one of three scenarios and you choose to participate fully in whichever one is being offered at any time:

Scenario 1: In a normal capacity, following CDC guidelines

Scenario 2: In a hybrid capacity with daily visits to the school in small groups and supported home learning during the rest of each day

Scenario 3: The building is closed to students but Directors are giving instruction through a Remote Learning structure—see below.*

(If school is open but we have to close for a few days or weeks, we will switch to the Remote Learning structure for every day we are not in the building, then back again when the building reopens. Directors and students will stay in the same learning cycles so that learning is not interrupted).

Option B

Whether the school is open in full or part capacity, you may not feel comfortable or be able to send your child to school until a vaccine is available and/or the COVID-19 risk is removed. In this case, we are happy to announce that you can enroll your Primary or Elementary aged child in our on-line Primary group or on-line Elementary group for the semester. Each group of children—one Primary and one Elementary—will be its own “class group” and will work with each other and one of our Support Directors for the semester.

Primary and Elementary trained Iuditha Jager will lead the Primary group; Elementary trained John Dickson will lead the Elementary group. Both are savvy with online learning and have been Montessori teachers for many years. Spaces are limited, so if you are interested in this option, please let the office know right away. This group will not be able to switch to the in-class option until the semester is over. But, when they return to school in January or in the following September, these students can resume in their regular classroom with their original Director and classmates. All Directors will stay closely involved to coordinate your child’s academic progress and ensure a smooth transition.

* Remote Learning structure: Our Directors are creating the Forest Bluff Remote Learning structure for Options A and B and finding many possibilities! Collecting information from our colleagues near and far has given us many ideas, as have the questionnaires from our previous email. Thank you if you already sent your questionnaire responses in; if you have not yet, please do so next week so that we can consider your input as well. We will be ready to present more details of the Remote Learning plan on or around June 12th. In the meantime, we can tell you that it will provide students of all ages with a daily schedule and work plan, instruction and accountability, and that we are finding many more creative ways to use computer programs such as SeeSaw, Zoom and Google Classroom that will meet our needs. Group instruction and regularly scheduled meetings will be part of the program. We are also looking into ways to make Montessori learning materials available when children cannot be in school so they can still have as much of their school experiences at home as possible. We are excited about it!

More Good News:

Unlike most other schools, Forest Bluff School is optimally positioned to comply with CDC guidelines and therefore more likely to be open for in-person learning:

-Every classroom has its own side door for access that does not require a teacher or children to walk through the building to get to their specific classroom.

-Every classroom has space and numbers of children that allow for social distancing and moving through the spaces without having to pass closely, for instance, furniture is all movable and have large spaces between them.

-Every classroom has its own bathroom for the children in that group to share and only one person at a time uses it.

-Every classroom has two sinks in it for that group of children to wash their hands frequently.

-Each child has his or her own drawer to keep their own work.

-Children can use their own pencils and belongings and keep them in their individual drawers.

-Learning materials can be used individually then disinfected and covered with sheets until sharing is allowed.

-Children can spend time outside working on their class patio and still be seen by their Director, patios are part of every classroom.

-Our rooms have ample air flow with many windows, wide, open spaces and high ceilings.

-To play outside, we have prairie paths and open spaces to run and play games at social distances

-Parents can pick up and drop off their children easily from multiple side doors.

-Children do not have to move from one room to another for each class subject and there aren’t different teachers for every subject, so exposure between numbers of people is already very limited.

-When permissible to go to other spaces in the building, children can get to any other room by outside doors and do not have to pass through communal spaces in the building (i.e. hallway or stairwells) to do so.

-We have two enclosed rooms in our building where a sick child can be safely quarantined while waiting to be picked up if necessary.

-We have an ample supply of equipment, information and plans for handling this COVID-19 era.

-And lastly, we have an on-site registered nurse as one of our Directors, Maggie Kelly.

So as you can see, we have many reasons to be optimistic about next fall and we look forward to adapting and thriving together! Happy Memorial Day Weekend!