Woodinville Montessori School began remote learning—or, what we call continual learning—on March 16. When it appeared likely that COVID-19 would require temporarily transitioning our programs off-campus to a school-at-home model, we planned ahead, and our staff, families and students have worked together to turn this challenge into opportunity. To see photos and read articles about our programs during this time, read the Daily WMS blog for faculty reflections. For high school and middle school content, please read the Raven Review; and for all-school, see the Grapevine newsletter.
With the COVID-19 coronavirus on all our minds, we decided we should have a central place on the website for announcements from Head of School Sunita Pailoor and links to resources and news. We hope you find this useful.
Please note that letters from the Head of School are listed beginning with the most recent, down, and that the situation is changing daily.
Thursday, March 12—school is closed through April 24, remote learning will continue
Dear WMS Families,
I hope all of you are doing well. Gov. Jay Inslee just closed both public and private schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties through April 24. Our plan for remote learning will be extended to that date. We will still have the scheduled week off for Spring Break.
While I anticipated it, it was still a shock to hear it from the governor. I am sure you have many questions about what remote learning will look like for your children for such an extended period. This is new territory for us, but I can assure you that we will continue working very hard to make this meaningful and will stay in close communication with you.
I know that you are, as I am, adjusting to the “new” normal, which I hope is short term. Working with children, I have always been an obsessive hand washer, but now it has reached new heights. I am aware of my face and how many times I touch it like never before, and most of all I have a new awareness of what my every action has on the community around me.
At the heart of Montessori Education is peace education. Sometimes people feel that peace education is just about finding solutions to conflict. To me it has always been about finding peace within ourselves before we try to achieve peace outside of ourselves. It means taking care of self, others and the environment around us.
Taking care of self is an individual responsibility, and I ask that all of you please take care of yourselves. Like on the plane, put on your own mask of care before putting masks on your loved ones. I have embraced going for long walks in the woods close to where I live as a way to renew myself.
The WMS leadership team that includes the Board of Trustees agreed that this is a time for us to take care of our most valuable people, faculty and staff. We decided that we would pay all employees, including assistants and hourly staff, during this move to remote learning. The question was simple, “Can we reopen without these important members of our community?” The answer was “NO”. I hope you support our decision. If families have paid for before-and-after child care, we will be crediting families for that. To preserve the financial stability and ongoing viability of the school, we are not able to give tuition refunds to families.
During our meetings today, faculty members have been finalizing plans for remote learning. They are excited by the challenge, and are open to new experiences. They are committed to providing the optimal experience possible for your students. They care for the students, and it shows in every decision and plan they make.
We must work together to care for our community. Reach out to me or to others in the community if you need assistance. For families that have no alternatives, we are working on a plan to be able to offer child care. We moved to remote learning in order to slow down the spread of this virus, so as not to overwhelm the health care system. Please follow those guidelines suggested by the county. We as a community can assist one another, even if it is to reach out and check on one another. This is a community of caring, loving people and we can come out of this together with new insight to dealing with something we have not had to do before. We can do this.
Wednesday, March 11
Hello WMS Families,
Today I came to school fully prepared to share with the community various options to continue learning in classrooms. However, Governor Inslee’s press conference today made it clear that we need to move to remote learning, that social distancing is a crucial element to fight the spread of COVID-19 and there is a need to take action now. Therefore, we will be moving to remote learning beginning Monday, March 16 through Spring Break. This means that there will be no classes at school, no before or after care and no sports or electives. We will re-evaluate on April 3.
We have been preparing for this, and by the end of Friday, you should be hearing from your program directors about what to expect in terms of remote learning.
I ask that most of you consider keeping your children home these next few weeks. It is difficult to balance the needs of our families with the greater good of this community. We strongly urge families to follow Public Health of Seattle/King County’s guidelines on social distancing.
My heart aches when I think of the impact of moving to this kind of learning for this community. But I also know that we are partners in our students’ education and students already play a significant role in their learning as well, fueled as they are by curiosity. I am confident they will embrace this new experience. We will try to provide the most meaningful education for our students, continuing with the core values and Montessori practices to the best of our ability under these circumstances. Remember that this is new to us, and we ask for your patience as we begin delivering education remotely.
I am so grateful that I am part of this community. Your support and the support of WMS staff, faculty and administrators has helped me navigate through these difficult times. Remember that all teachers and administrators are continuing to work until Spring Break. You can reach out to us and we will respond. We will get through this together.
March 10, 2020
Hello WMS Families,
Last week I shared with you my decision-making process and the criteria I would use for closing WMS for an extended period of time. Today, we are starting to see that our ability to deliver quality programming is being affected by both student and staff absences. Also, as I read a summary of Governor Inslee’s press conference, he raises some important points. He makes it clear that if we do not take immediate action, the number of infected cases will continue to spread. It is time for us to plan alternative scenarios for serving our community.
WMS is very different from schools that cater to just older students. The range of students that we have, 18 months to 18 years, makes it difficult for us to offer a one-size-fits-all plan for remote learning/offsite learning. We realized that the one in-service day scheduled on Friday, March 13, is not sufficient to come up with a comprehensive plan for all levels. So, in addition to that scheduled in-service day on Friday, we are closing school on Thursday, March 12, for an additional in-service day. There will be no camps on Thursday. We apologize for the short notice and understand that this is an inconvenience for many.
At this time, we expect that camp will be held on Friday, as planned.
We will be using these two days to develop plans as best we can in this ever-changing environment. As we plan, we are taking into consideration the recommendations for social distancing, our commitment to delivering an excellent educational program, the health and safety of our staff and students, and the needs of all of our working families.
Once we have crafted plans for the school we will communicate with you as soon as we can. I ask for your patience and flexibility while we work on solutions.
March 6, 2020
Dear WMS Families,
I am sure you are pretty tired of hearing from me, but I want to be transparent with you about what I am thinking and how we decide whether to stay open or not. In all honesty, I feel the full weight of decision-making every single day that we have been dealing with this outbreak. A parent asked me about how I made the decision to keep WMS open during this time when Northshore School District closed. I thought I should share my thought process with you. Navigating this epidemic (pandemic) means that I have chosen to put my entire trust in something, as we have not had to deal with something of this magnitude before. This something is King County Public Health. Here is what would prompt us to close the school.
- A general recommendation by King County Health that schools close: Right now, here is what they are saying. “Public Health is not currently recommending that schools proactively close unless they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member or student.” Read more about it here. Public Health has also said, “The reason we are not recommending school closures at this time is because children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from this virus. In addition, when some schools briefly closed during the H1N1 influenza pandemic, we learned that many children still gathered in group settings and still had exposure to one another. As much as possible, children should be allowed to carry on with their education and normal activities.”
- A student or staff member tests positive or one that has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive: Any student or staff member that has reported a fever and/or other COVID-19 symptoms has been asked to immediately contact their health care professional and to let us know the results. So far, we have not had anyone be advised to be tested for COVID-19. There have been some positive test results for Influenza A, and as per our protocol we have let the community know.
- A significant reduction in staff: Our staff are our most valuable resource and we let our staff know that they can stay home if they feel that they are in the at-risk group. If at any point we do not have faculty and staff to deliver a quality education, we will close.
If you or a loved one is at risk, please keep your student at home. We will support your child’s learning to the best of our abilities if you let us know in advance. Different levels can support you in different ways. Please contact your child’s teachers and program directors.
I can only ask that we come together to care for those who may not be at school or not be able to be at work because they are at risk of exposure. I trust in this community.
If you would like to learn more, please visit the local, state and federal government links listed on this page.
Head of Woodinville Montessori School
March 4, 2020
Dear WMS Families,
What a week it has been! We know that in times of uncertainty we all feel increased stress so I want to acknowledge you all for your continued support. Your emails and kind words make this job easier. We are reviewing the information available to us and following Public Health Department guidelines as we make each decision, understanding that no decision will make everybody happy. We have made a few decisions regarding programming, in the interests of everyone’s safety. Details will be sent by Program Directors to the affected levels. I am giving you general information:
- All students are asked to wash their hands upon arrival at school. Early Childhood students were doing that anyway, but now we have all students doing that.
- We have cancelled field trips through March 15, and then will decide later ones as we get more information.
- Science Fair this year will be a virtual one, to avoid large gatherings in one space.
- We continue to sanitize with bleach at least two times (if not more) during the day.
If you are keeping your child home for precautionary reasons please let us know the length of time you intend to do so. This makes tracking attendance easier for us.
Be aware that there is a lot of misinformation circulating regarding the coronavirus. Please vet your sources carefully. Someone forwarded an email to me that contained a lot of misinformation; one of the items in the email was that the virus targeted certain populations. I also heard from a parent that some of our students were targets of discrimination at a public park because of their ethnicity. Here is King County’s statement about that: Having Chinese ancestry – or any other ancestry – does not make a person more vulnerable to this illness. Coronavirus doesn't recognize race, nationality or ethnicity. Please stand with me against misinformation and discrimination.
We can and will get through this together.
March 1, 2020
Dear WMS Families,
The outbreak is here in our county, city and region. The school is preparing for a month or more of closure if we are asked to do so by the Department of Health. Meanwhile, let us all join together to keep our community safe.
Washing our hands is still the best way to keep ourselves safe. Avoiding touching our faces is another.
- If you are sick, please stay home. Our faculty and staff will also stay home if sick.
- The King County Department of Health has advised that we avoid all nonessential travel, so do consider this when you are making Spring Break plans.
- Plan alternative child care arrangements for children in case school is dismissed. Talk to neighbors or other parents in your child’s school about sharing child care duties if your children are well but the school is closed.
- School closures may also affect the ability of parents and caregivers to go to work. Talk to your employer about policies for working from home or shifting work schedules if schools are dismissed.
Now is the time to come together as a community. In case of school closure please consider buddying up with another family with the intention of checking in with each other. If people need groceries and are unable to get out, consider dropping off groceries on doorsteps. We have many families that have moved here away from their own kith and kin and will need assistance. Consider ways for us to help each other while maintaining social distance as recommended by Public Health. I trust that you, the WMS family, have many ideas. Do consider setting up a task force to help one another. My new motto: Together we can.
Take care everyone,
Feb. 26, 2020—We have a plan in place in case of COVID-19 disruption
I am sharing this with you to reassure you that we are aware of and prepared for any potential closure of school due to the COVID-19 virus. Much as I would like all of us to be in a bubble and not have to deal with the reality of events happening around us, the CDC yesterday announced that the COVID-19 meets two out of three criteria for a pandemic, and is close to meeting the third criteria of worldwide spread of the new virus. The CDC asked schools to prepare for the possibility of closure. WMS is preparing for any potential mandatory school closure that may occur as part of government efforts to control the spread of the virus, should it appear in our community. As of yet, the risk in Washington state is low.
Without knowing how long a required closure might be, it is difficult to put in writing many details of how we will respond. Continuing your child’s education as best we can is our ultimate goal. Below is an outline of the direction we are heading for the different levels. Please keep in mind that these plans may be supplemented by reducing school vacation days or extending the academic year.
PLAN FOR ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS
Should we face long-term closure (more than five days at once or cumulatively) we are planning to implement “School at Home” to provide continuity of instruction. This effort will need parent and teacher cooperation. “School at Home” would be a combination of online instruction and take home assignments. How this works will vary by level. If you do not have a computer and high speed internet access in your home, please notify us immediately and consider what options you might have to gain that access.
PLAN FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN
Instruction for Early Childhood and Toddler students would not be able to continue during a school closure. Depending on how long we would need to be closed, we will decide on next steps.
Our hope is that we never have to use this plan, but I personally live with the motto, “If you prepare, it will not happen,” so we will be ready. If we need to activate this plan we will be sharing more details.
WMS Head of School
King County updates
Snohomish County updates
Washington Department of Health updates
ITBS and pizza postponed, no March KNO
ITBS testing for third-year students will be postponed from the original March 23-26 dates, and potentially rescheduled during May 11-14.
Pizza lunch is suspended through Spring Break.
The March Kids’ Night Out is canceled.
Tours canceled for now
Due to COVID-19 precautions, we have suspended Admissions tours until further notice. Please email Admissions for more information.
Board will reschedule coffee
The Board of Trustees has decided to reschedule its Coffee With the Board (originally set for March 12). We will let you know when the new date is set.
Family Alliance event updates
In keeping the health and safety of the WMS community a priority with extra precautionary measures, the Lunar New Year Festival Committee has decided to cancel the celebration that had been rescheduled for Sunday, March 15. Thank you to LNY Co-Chairs, Kaige Zhang-Gantz and Yingying Du, and the entire LNY Festival committee, for their efforts over the last two years. WMS looks forward to celebrating this important annual event next year.
In addition, for the same precautions, at this time it has been decided to postpone the Saturday, March 7, Family Movie Night. For everyone who has RSVP’d through the evite link, please note that we have now rescheduled for Saturday, April 25.
Continuous learning links to last the duration
Wondering about some of the virtual tours or educational links online? Here is a Head-of-School-approved list of links to visit now and throughout the duration of school-at-home!
Amazing Educational Resources (formerly a list of education companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings)