COVID-19

COVID-19: WMS updates

Toddler, Early Childhood and Lower Elementary students have returned to on-campus learning (families may also opt-in to remote learning for these levels). Upper Elementary, Middle and High School students remain remote at this time. 

Risk mitigation measures

Woodinville Montessori School has worked hard to put in place many measures that we expect to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.

  • We made adjustments to the North Creek campus HVAC system to increase the flow of fresh air. At the Woodinville campus, classroom windows can open to admit fresh air. The use of open windows will be monitored to ensure that classrooms maintain a reasonable temperature.
  • We are restricting access to the interior of buildings to staff and students only.
  • We require daily health screening of students and staff – Using a screening app called QManager, we check that all staff and students have been screened for multiple symptoms of COVID-19. This includes temperature checks. In addition to a screening app, we are visually screening students when they arrive. If we feel that there is a need to do an additional temperature check then we will do so in the parking lot.
  • If a child shows symptoms during the school day staff will do a temperature check, move child to health room and contact parents/guardians for pick up.
  • Staff and students are required to wash hands on arrival at the school.
  • There is increased availability of hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer so that everyone on campus can clean hands as needed.
  • In order to prevent co-mingling of students we have increased staffing so that we can provide before-and-after care in classrooms or in separated groups outside when student numbers are low.
  • We have assigned a bathroom to each cohort group to prevent accidental co-mingling.
  • Each cohort group will have their own water jugs or pitchers for classroom use. No water fountains will be available for student use, again to prevent accidental co-mingling.
  • We reduced the number of students in rooms to ensure that all students have work spaces that are six feet apart from each other or we have moved classes to larger spaces so that we can meet social distancing guidelines.
  • All personnel on campus will wear masks when they are around others. Students 5 years old and above are required to wear masks indoors other than when they are eating and drinking. Children 2 years to 5 years of age will be encouraged to wear cloth masks.
  • We increased our cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces and materials.
  • Some staff will continue to work from home so that we can reduce the number of people in the building.
  • We are offering increased sick leave for staff so that they can stay home if they are sick.
  • If symptoms appear during the day for staff they will be sent home immediately.
  • We have changed our entry and exit procedures to minimize student traffic in the hallways.

Drop-off & pick-up procedures for 2020-2021

Family Correspondence

November 25, 2020

Dear WMS Community,

I just wanted to share my gratitude and say thank you for your love and support of the school. I am aware that this long pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. These are unprecedented, difficult times and there is no bluebook to follow on how to get through this. I am immensely grateful that I am going through this pandemic with this community. I rely on all of you to help me navigate our way through. You are an incredible group of people, students, families, teachers, staff, administrators and Board of Trustees. You are all what makes WMS a place where students can thrive. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On another note, this morning I attended a briefing for Private School Leaders by the Department of Health. On one hand it was reassuring, on the other hand it emphasized the need to not let down our guard. The good news is that schools that are following all the guidelines are able to minimize outbreaks in the school community. At the same time, what I heard today was that when the greater community spread is high, schools are at risk of having COVID cases at school. We are all responsible for keeping our WMS community safe and I thank you for your efforts thus far and for your sacrifices this holiday season. Before we leave for Thanksgiving, I want to remind you all of our new travel policy:

If your family is traveling out-of-state for Thanksgiving, you must keep your student home for 14 days after you return. Please let Theresa Kirby (tkirby@woodinvillemontessori.org) know if your plans include out-of-state travel. 

I give thanks for my family both here and in India and for you all. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

Best,

Sunita Pailoor
spailoor@woodinvillemontessori.org
Head of School

November 16, 2020

Dear Woodinville Montessori Families & Staff,

The rise in COVID infections in the county, state and entire country is concerning. As always, WMS looks to Public Health King County, and the Governor for guidance on COVID-19 protocol. Last week we heard from Public Health on their concern that post-Thanksgiving we might see a spike in cases. Then Governor Inslee issued a new travel advisory. Then on Sunday came some new restrictions that fortunately did not affect child care and schools.  I am putting in the links to all the new information at the end of this email so that you can access the information easily.

Here is how all this affects our community:

  1. Travel advisory – the advisory states to avoid non-essential travel but if you travel as a family, please keep your student home for 14 days after you return.
  2. During PE and all outdoor activity, elementary and secondary students will keep their masks on.
  3. To mitigate risk, we will do remote learning for the whole week, November 30 through December 4. In a perfect world, we would not be dealing with this level of infection in our county or state. My hope is that by keeping students home for the full week, we will avoid infections in our community.

The Department of Health has issued new guidelines for when students should stay home when they have COVID like symptoms. Please see the flow chart link below.  There will be minor changes in the QManager screening questions.  As you look at the COVID-19 Symptom Flow Chart, you will see that there are some symptoms that if resolved within 24 hours, students and adults can return to school without seeing a doctor or getting a COVID-19 test. Our WMS letter to exclude students will reflect the changes in the guidelines. A sample letter is included with this email so that you can note changes. As we are both a child care and a K-12, we typically follow the stricter guideline. I have also listed the link to child care guidelines from the state below.

WMS has avoided COVID infections in our school because of individual choices made by you. Please continue to stay vigilant and stay strong. Pandemic fatigue is real and I feel it too. Spending the holidays without my sons and the rest of my family is hard. The sacrifices we are making by not meeting friends and family is painful and it hurts, but we can get through this. We have an incredible community of students, families, faculty and staff. Let us try our best to mitigate risk for all.

COVID-19 symptom flow chart

Travel advisory

Statewide restrictions

King County child care guidance

WMS student exclusion sample letter

Best,

Sunita Pailoor
spailoor@woodinvillemontessori.org
Head of School

November 6, 2020

Dear WMS Families & Staff,

With the holidays and colder weather approaching, we thought a decision grid for thinking about the risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus would be helpful. This grid below is based on a grid shared by another AMS school in the mid-west, that we have adapted for our area. Due to the recent rise in positive cases in King County, and throughout the state, we all start at 6 points without adding any risk factors, that is you are staying with your cohort/family, staying home, and using private car to travel.  We are already at 6 points because the rate of positive cases per 100,000 residents is above 75 which is 4 points and the reproductive rate for the virus is between 1.0 and 1.9 which is 2 points. So when you add in any additions to your home bubble, accommodations or mode of travel, it becomes a high risk activity. 

We hope this is a helpful resource and ask that you all consider your choices and make decisions for yourself and your family about what is right for you and our community. Because of these conditions, we made the decision to be remote for three days after Thanksgiving break to mitigate the risk of spread. If after you review the grid and find that your family points are 8 or above, please let us know that you are keeping your student home longer. Thank you for your continued partnership.

 

Best,

Sunita Pailoor
spailoor@woodinvillemontessori.org
Head of School

October 23, 2020

Dear Wonderful WMS Families & Staff,

Thank you for being such patient partners with us while we navigate schooling amidst a pandemic. It has been intense on our end, with a lot of preparation, planning and hard work. We have only one goal this year, to do our best to educate the whole child while mitigating risk for the spread of COVID-19 amongst our students and staff. The choices you have made to keep your family healthy and safe have contributed immensely to our success this far. It will get harder from here with colder weather, increased rates of infection nationwide, and the holidays coming. We will all have to challenge ourselves to remain vigilant.

The recent spike in infections has been difficult to watch and I was personally very disappointed that we could not bring Upper Elementary back on-campus. I am in touch with other Heads of School across the country and right here in Seattle. We all agree that our biggest next concern is possible spread of COVID-19 after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as it is a day centered on a special meal with friends and family to be grateful for all our blessings. As we all know a gathering like that can be a high risk event if we are meeting with people outside of our bubble.  

In order to minimize the risk to our community, we will be moving to remote education for all levels the three days following Thanksgiving break, November 30 through December 2. Child care will not be offered during this period of time. Students attending classes on-campus will return on Thursday, December 3.  According to the CDC, typically a person develops symptoms 5 days after exposure with the range being 2 to 14 days. Delaying a return to in-person learning is meant to minimize exposure/spread in our community. If your holiday plans include a gathering outside your bubble or increased risk from travel, for the safety of others consider keeping your student home longer.

I am sure many of you will consider this a more stringent measure than necessary and others may consider that this is not enough. I am making this decision after carefully evaluating the risk to students and staff and balancing it with what is best for students. Decisions for other breaks throughout the school year will be determined as we continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in our area.

Thank you and please reach out to me via email at spailoor@woodinvillemontessori.org.

 

Best,

Sunita Pailoor
spailoor@woodinvillemontessori.org
Head of School

August 10, 2020

Dear WMS Families & Staff,

These last few weeks have felt like a roller coaster ride! We were all set to open in-person, when last Wednesday, our Governor made some recommendations that made us change our plans. Thankfully he included some metrics which help us with our decision-making, and I want to share with you what metrics we will be watching. Here is the link to the Governor’s recommendations: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DecisionTree-K12schools.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

We anticipate bringing levels back gradually, evaluating each level opening for a couple of weeks before bringing the next level students back on campus. The first two columns are from the Governor’s decision tree document:

Childcare

WMS is aware of the need of quality childcare for students. We understand that it is not possible to be working full time and also be available to do remote learning with students. That is why we are offering childcare/school for our youngest students first (Toddler and EC) and also offering childcare for Elementary students whose parents are unable to provide care at home during the day. Since safety is our highest priority, we will be following all our safety protocols. There will be no co-mingling of student groups, student work spaces will be six feet apart, masks will be worn by staff and students, etc. To avoid changes in cohort groups there will be no drop-in care. Childcare cohorts will not necessarily reflect classroom groups. Please understand that our childcare during the school day is not a substitute for school. Our teachers are all going to be busy teaching remotely and are not teaching students in childcare in-person. While our childcare students will have opportunities to do some asynchronous and limited synchronous learning, this is really a service that we are offering for students whose families are not available during the day and who want their students in a safe, nurturing environment.

We are also aware of the social needs of students and we hope to offer opportunities for students to gather in small groups outside once a week. We are waiting confirmation from the city of Bothell for use of the field and hopefully we will be able to give you more details soon.

 

Best,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
WMS Head of School

Dear WMS Families,

Yesterday, Governor Inslee gave us clear metrics to help us make decisions whether to open in person or not. He said that we should look at the rate of infection in the community as a benchmark. If the infection rate is above 75 per 100,000 then he recommends not opening in person. King County currently has 91 per 100,000. This means that on September 1 we will start remotely for all levels other than Early Childhood and Toddler programs. Early Childhood and Toddler levels will be open, with morning childcare opening from 7:30 a.m. and afternoon childcare finishing at 5:30 p.m.

All day childcare will be available starting September 3 for Elementary families that want to send their students to school. While you will have to pay for care from 7:30-8:45 a.m. and 3:15-5:30 p.m., there will be no charge for care during the school day. There will be opportunities for students to do school work at school. Please send the attached form to Theresa Kirby (tkirby@woodinvillemontessori.org) by August 17 if you want childcare for your Elementary student during the period when they are remote learning.

If you want your student to continue to remote learn even when others return in person then let us know by August 10 by emailing Julie Schwarz (jschwarz@woodinvillemontessori.org).

I am sad that our community will not be together in person yet. I am focusing on the fact that the key word is yet, because if the metrics change then we will be open in person. The Governor recommended a tiered opening by level based on the metrics. Following that recommendation, the level that will return first will be Lower Elementary. I am also focusing on the fact that when the metrics change and we can open, we are ready to do so in a safe manner. All the safeguards we were ready to employ for in person school will be in effect for the child care program.  More details will be shared with you soon about how and when we will return to school in person. I will have my regular Coffee with Sunita next Wednesday and I hope you join me to talk and ask questions.

 

Best,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
WMS Head of School

Dear WMS Families and Staff,

While we are about 35 days from opening school, I can feel the level of anxiety rise in our community, with public schools making announcements that they are doing 100 percent remote learning. Like in the spring, I am reaching out to explain my decision-making process.

In June, CDC, OSPI and Public Health all provided guidelines on how to safely open schools in the fall. At WMS we created a task force to work on those guidelines and to see if we could even consider opening in person in September.  We are able to meet all of those safety guidelines, and that is why I decided that we would start planning for in-person education in September. As I said in the spring, I have to put my trust in something/someone, and I believe that if local and state health authorities give us a checklist to open safely and we can tick every single item on that checklist, then it makes sense for us to open and benefit from in-person instruction.

I cannot speak for other school districts, but my assumption is that they looked at the checklist and found that they could not meet the safety guidelines and therefore made the decisions that they made.

You will probably ask, “What makes us different?”

  1. We do not have to worry about bus transportation. That alone would be a deal breaker for opening as there is no way districts can pick up and drop off students and keep students 6 feet apart. We also have the ability to visually screen students at drop-off before they enter the buildings.
  2. We have the physical space to separate students once on campus. As I mentioned in my presentation, we are putting students in rooms where we can have the 6-feet distance. We will also have the students from each classroom enter through an outside door into the class so there is very limited use of interior hallways.
  3. We have enough bathrooms to allow each cohort to have its own, again reducing co-mingling.
  4. We have the staffing – our student-to-teacher/adult ratio is low enough that we can break into smaller groups as we did for Upper Elementary and Middle School.
  5. We will be asking all of our families and staff to affirm that they are following and will continue to follow current guidelines and recommendations to limit their exposure.

That said, I want to be crystal clear, I am not guaranteeing that there will be no Covid infections on campus. That is beyond my control, as much as I would like to be able to control it. We will need your support to keep each other safe.

I also cannot guarantee that we will be allowed to open. If there is a state or county mandate to close, we will follow it. The Seattle-King County Public Health article yesterday, which said they supported the individual school district decisions to begin the school year with remote learning, did not mention that their guidelines to safely open schools had changed. So, we are planning for both. We have made great strides in creating a safe and healthy campus, and we are investing in technology and exploring options to offer better remote learning for Elementary and older students.

We are offering a remote-only learning option for Elementary and Secondary students. We are also investigating a remote learning option for early childhood students. For our staffing and physical planning purposes, we need to know now if you are interested in a remote learning option at any level.

EC Program Directors Judy Samudovsky and Tomo Takahashi and I will be hosting a separate Early Childhood town hall meeting to answer your questions and concerns next Wednesday, July 29, at 9:00 a.m. We will send out an invitation shortly.

I will also be offering a weekly Coffee with Sunita on Wednesday mornings in August. More information will be coming your way soon.

Please take care and stay safe.

Best,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
WMS Head of School

Dear WMS Families,

As we plan for school in the fall, I want to assure you of one thing: the health and safety of our students, staff and families is paramount. All our decisions for the fall are made keeping that in mind. In addition, we recognize the important part that social interaction plays in students’ education, and the financial toll the economic downturn is having on families. I have been in various meetings with heads of school across the country and none of us is sure what school will look like in the fall. Our goal is to bring students back on campus, so we are working on plans to make that happen in the safest way possible. Our fiscal prudence in the past and current use of available federal resources, combined with your support during the Gala, will enable us to offer increased financial support to families. Please be patient while we finalize plans and then I will share the information with you.

Meanwhile we are continuing with remote education. We still have six weeks of Montessori education being delivered remotely by our talented teachers. I want to share with you the philosophy behind our approach to remote learning:

  • Holistic learning – we offer lessons in academic subject areas, music, art and foreign language. In addition, teachers offer mindfulness lessons so that students have tools to use when they are feeling stressed themselves. One of the first steps to social emotional learning is self-awareness. How do we recognize when we are stressed? This is something all of us are working on and our students can share their tools to mitigate stress with us.
  • Independence – in a Montessori classroom, students get lessons and have the freedom and responsibility to work on follow-up assignments when they choose to do so, within a limited time frame. In early childhood and elementary, some lessons happen synchronously, but most are asynchronous. Asynchronous lessons still give students options and choice while continuing to be educated. Looking at a menu of recorded lessons, students can choose what they want to learn and practice. If we had done directed learning all morning long, we would have lost an important outcome of Montessori education.
  • Following the child – we are still personalizing our lessons for students. Teachers check in with students, and offer lessons based on the responses they get, and the students’ interests.
  • Focus on community – synchronous meetings have been wonderful for keeping the classroom community connected during this time. We value the opportunity to connect as a group.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge faculty and staff for their growth mindset. They figured out how to deliver a Montessori education remotely. I also want to acknowledge you, parents and guardians, for adjusting to this new world of uncertainty and continuing to support your student, teachers and the school. Your support means the world to us! Also, as I have said before, there is no pressure or judgment if it is too hard to follow the lessons at home, especially for our younger students. Our goal is to make this work for you, so please let your teachers know your struggles.

Take care and be well,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
Head of Woodinville Montessori School

Hello WMS Community,

I hope you all are safe and well and taking delight in this beautiful weather.

This week with the governor closing schools, I had to get used to the new reality that all of our learning and contact is going to be online from now through the end of the school year. I now look forward to seeing you once a week when I host virtual Coffee with Sunita on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. Please email me for a Zoom invitation.

Our learning will continue on Tuesday, April 14. On Monday, our teachers will be prepping to begin the next series of lessons and activities for all levels. Our philosophy remains the same during this time, a holistic curriculum delivered to students as we would in the classroom, a mix of group lessons and one-on-one check-ins and opportunities for individual work. At the risk of sounding repetitive, brain science has proven that learning is impacted by stress. If you are finding that your students are not wanting to learn, or have difficulty with an assignment next week or in the weeks to come, please let your child’s teachers know. They can adjust assignments, give you suggestions and overall be there for you. We are a community, and together we will get through this.

The extended closure might raise some additional questions about the business side of school for you. We are benefiting from belonging to organizations like NWAIS and AMS so that we share in others’ knowledge and expertise in the face of so much change and so many unknowns. We will update you as we know more.

Stay safe and be well.

Best,
Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
WMS Head of School

Dear WMS Community,

As I mark off in my calendar the days that we have been working from home, I brace myself and wonder if this remote learning will be a marathon until the end of the year or a sprint until April 24. Either way, WMS will do what needs to be done, and continue educating and connecting with students.

I have started keeping a gratitude/appreciation journal to help keep me feeling positive and motivated. I wake up and write in it before I begin my day, and I am sharing some of my thoughts.

  • I so appreciate you, the community of parents and guardians. You are supporting your students’ learning and also juggling your other responsibilities. I am in awe of the WMS Task Force. You have taken on making masks for people, and that is going to be in greater demand in the weeks to come.
  • I want to take a moment and acknowledge the work of our teachers. They care for their students and have worked longer hours than ever before to prepare lessons and connect with them. We have asked teachers who were never comfortable in front of the camera to do everything on camera.  We have teachers who are working around their own children’s schedules and need for parenting while trying to deliver content to students. WMS teachers have willingly stepped up and done what needs to be done. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to our teachers for all that they do.

I recently had a conversation with a parent who wondered if their fourth-grader would need to repeat the grade because he was not working as he would in school. The answer is absolutely “no.” These are stressful times, and all across the country there is a change in our method of education. Children display stress differently than adults, and they may act out, may be more tearful and may refuse to do school work. If you have any concerns, please reach out to teachers so that they can work on expectations for your student. It is important at this time to take a moment to recognize that stress, and find a different way to show learning. I personally advocate increasing art activities in times of stress.

I also want to share what we are working on as leaders of the school. While this pandemic continues to wreak havoc with our lives and economy, as leaders of our school it is our job to think about the future. The Board, Tricie and I are working on various scenarios for next year to protect this community of learners.

WMS is unique in that our faculty and program staff have Montessori training and credentials. These special credentials and training mean their positions cannot easily be filled, so it is critical to our viability to protect their continued employment. We also believe that we have a collective of special and caring individuals who contribute to the success of the school, and we don’t want to lose them.

Equally important are the families and students we serve. Without a robust community of learners, WMS cannot deliver on its mission. We are working hard to strike the right balance between the ongoing needs of the school and of our families. 

At this time, we would like to let you know of a few changes that we hope will lessen your concerns and give us all a bit more time to make decisions. 

We are moving back the next tuition due date another month.

Payment Number

Normal Previous Adjustment Current Adjustment
1 Deposit Deposit Deposit
Balance 1st April May June
2 May June July
3 June July August
4 July August September
5 August September October
6 September October November
7 October November December
8 November December January
9 December January February
10 January February March

For those families that have so far paid only the deposit, the balance of that first 10% tuition payment is now due June 1.

If both the deposit and balance have been paid, the next payment will be due July 1. The 10-month payment schedule will extend to March 1 of 2021.  If you choose to make semi-annual payments, the installment dates would be June 1 and Nov. 1.  

We are also changing the tuition liability schedule in case of withdrawal.  

Liability Schedule
Date of Withdrawal Tuition Liability
Prior to June 30 Amt paid up to 10%, payments over 10% refunded
July 1 - July 31 30% annual tuition
Aug. 1 to opening/Sept. 1 40% annual tuition
On/after opening day 100% annual tuition

We are making these changes to acknowledge the difficult decisions many families will have to make in the coming months, while also making sure that we are staffed and ready to go when we get the green light.

I wish you all a peaceful and restful Spring Break.

Be Well,
Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
WMS Head of School

Tuesday was a rough day for me. With COVID-19 reaching India, and knowing that all of my loved ones in India were potentially at risk, I was hurting. The scariest feeling was understanding that I had no control over this. As a person who tries to be prepared and ready for eventualities, there is no way I could have anticipated that countries would be locked down. Realizing that I cannot go to see my parents even in case of an emergency was tough. This feeling, I know, is shared by many of you as you stay away from loved ones who are at risk, or if you yourself are at risk and self-isolating. 

At the end of my work day on Tuesday, I went for my usual walk, maintaining appropriate social distancing, when I looked up at the sky and saw a brilliant rainbow. I had what I call a “daffodil moment." Those of you who have read the poem "I Wandered Lonely as A Cloud” by William Wordsworth will know what I am talking about.  I am sharing the poem below, and you may read more on the Poetry Foundation website.

This is the sense of awe and wonder that Maria Montessori refers to in her writing. A moment that fills the spirit with joy.  A moment of hope.

In a Montessori world, we refer to awe and wonder as essential to the spirit of children, and we give many opportunities for children to connect to the natural world to see and experience for themselves. During these difficult times I hope you have many moments of awe and wonder, moments when the beauty of the world, a flower, raindrops, a spider web, gives you respite from other worries. Please share your moments with us so that we can all support and grow together.

I want to take a moment to appreciate how hard teachers are working to connect with all their students. This is a new way for us to connect and we are quickly adapting. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions please connect directly with your child’s teachers.

Take care and be well,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
WMS Head of School

(To hear an audio recording of this poem, visit the Poetry Foundation.)
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud ("Daffodils")

By William Wordsworth 

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Dear WMS Families,

As Governor Inslee has asked all but a few essential workers to stay at home through April 8, you might be wondering how it impacts WMS and your child’s learning. The answer is that the impact is minimal.

Your child will still be receiving lessons remotely. Teachers are available via email or interactive video chats. Most of the communication and materials will be sent to you digitally. During this time we are trying to reduce the need for families to come to school to pick up material, as well as the need for faculty and staff to be physically present at school.

The Building 1 lobby will no longer be staffed, and the building will not be accessible to families. All materials and packets for students will be located in the front lobby of Building 2 (the two-story building).

All Administrators are working. We are keeping the same office hours, though remotely, and will be responding to emails in a timely manner.

Be well,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
Head of Woodinville Montessori School

Dear Families,

Yay! We got through week one of remote learning and we are all still smiling. Maybe? Whether you are still smiling, or experiencing some "cabin fever," we have gone through this week together, apart yet connected. We made it through the first week of social distancing.

Online/remote learning is new for our community, and as the Head of School my learning curve this week has been steep. I have been in webinars with NWAIS heads of school and AMS, learning how to navigate through these uncharted waters. I am sharing some things that I have learned with you.

  1. NWAIS asked us to remind parents and guardians to read the “terms of use” for any online platform that we are using to deliver content. Depending on the level your student is in, the platforms being used to deliver lessons might be different.  WMS does not collect data or store information differently now from what we were doing before, but since we are using third party platforms, we want you to be aware of their policies.
  2. We asked all teachers to keep parents informed if they are having one-on-one conversations with students. Students might need gentle reminders that when they participate in Zoom or other face-to-face conversations that they be dressed appropriately, and to be aware of what is happening in the background. Setting up some ground rules at home about where and when Zoom or face-to-face conversations can take place so as to not accidentally embarrass anybody might be a good idea.
  3. On a personal level I learned that social distancing does not have to mean socially isolated. I like people and need to talk to people, so I call family or friends when I feel lonely. I find it harder to feel connected to people via texting, but that is me. I need to hear people, hear their voices and their emotions to feel connected. Hope you all are finding your connections.
  4. I had to remind myself that Montessori Education is about process, not product. Whether we are adults in this community who are delivering content to students, or whether we are parents who are receiving content for students, we do not have to be perfect at what we do. We are learning and improving, and if we can model to students that it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them, we will be fine. The wording in my letter to you all about postponing payments was upsetting to some and I apologize for it. The last thing I want to do is to add to your stresses and worries.

I watched MS students do their science fair presentations online and it was so wonderful to see their faces and their voices. I felt myself tearing up just watching them. I miss the sound and presence of students here at school, but I know they are still learning and connecting with each other virtually. I have a whole new level of respect for technology.

Be Well,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
Head of Woodinville Montessori School

Hello Families,

Hope all of you are doing well. Remember that we are here working if you have any questions or need support. We are aware that this is a stressful time for everyone and with that in mind, we decided to move the payment schedule for next year’s tuition later by a month. The balance of the first payment, which was due April 1, is now due May 1. We hope that this provides some relief at this time. If you have already paid, then your next payment will be due June 1.

Also, Tim and Jared have worked very hard to completely deep sanitize all the rooms at the school. In order to keep everyone safe, here is what we have implemented to limit access:

  • Building 1: Parent codes will work on the Main Lobby doors. There is a table set up in the lobby where teachers can leave work or assignments for parents to pick up, or for parents to drop off any work to be returned.
  • Building 2: We will deactivate Secondary codes. There is a table set up in the Main Lobby on the first floor if any materials need to be exchanged between teachers and students. The main entrance doors are open and unlocked from 7 a.m-6 p.m. for access.
  • Child care families: We will make sure your codes allow you to access either the Toddler area or the Club House for this.
  • Woodinville: We will be suspending door code access for families at Woodinville. Either Betsy or Tomo will be there during regular school hours. Early Childhood teachers will coordinate with parents if there are materials to be picked up.

Take care all. Stay safe and be well.

Best,
Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
Head of Woodinville Montessori School

Hello WMS Families,

It is day one of our remote learning plan and I hope you are all healthy and keeping well.  I am writing to share with you a few thoughts I had over the weekend.

I went to a grocery store, did my shopping and got into my car. I had to laugh at myself. I have plenty of staples for my family, but when I saw people loading up with 3 or 4 bags of rice, I thought, “Should I stock up now?” The rational side of my brain overcame my emotional side, and I was able to resist fear-based buying.  But all the way back home I felt a sense of unease, a feeling that something was off. I realized that when I was at the store, not one person made eye contact, or smiled. The anxiety and stress of shoppers was palpable. I am concerned about the impact of our stress on our children and students. I am sharing some practical ideas that may help.  

  1. Remember to smile--children pick up on body language and stress levels of adults around them. Take a moment to sit down, smile at them and give them a hug.
  2. Acknowledge the stress and come up with a plan. All students, even toddlers, can learn a simple mindfulness exercise to calm down. I love rocks and crystals and have them in my office. When I feel agitated, I hold a stone in my hand and breathe. I breathe in and out and focus on the stone, the smoothness or roughness of the stone in my hand. I do this for a few minutes. There are many mindfulness resources out in the community including some apps like Calm and Headspace (shared by a supportive parent). Here are a couple of other resources: https://www.waterford.org/resources/mindfulnes-activities-for-kids/  and https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/
  3. Students need routine, and while it is hard to keep to routines when everyone is home and it feels like it is a vacation, it is still important to follow one.   Predictability at this time reinforces a feeling of security.
  4. Connecting with others and feeling that we are part of the bigger community is so crucial for our mental health. There is a WMS Families Facebook group. Please email Claire Tuohy-Morgan  if you want to join this group.  I am throwing this out for the community at large to find solutions. How can we keep each class's parents and children connected outside of what teachers are doing?  Please, no large playdates – social distancing guidelines are still in place. If you have ideas, would you please share it with others in the community?

I want to acknowledge our teachers and program directors for their work on launching remote learning. They have such wonderful ideas, and I am sure you will see lots of learning happening with students over the next few weeks. We will learn from our efforts each week and improve on it for the next week. Thank you for all your support and positive emails. We need it to keep going.

Be well,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
Head of Woodinville Montessori School

Dear WMS Families,

I hope all of you are doing well. Governor 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, https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/communicable-diseases/disease-control/novel-coronavirus.aspx .  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.

Take care,
Sunita

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.

If you are in desperate need of child care, please let your child’s program director know by noon on Friday, March 13. We will explore our ability to meet the needs of people who have no other alternative. Unfortunately, if too many ask for help with child care we will not be able to offer it to any. 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.

Best,
Sunita

North Creek Toddler and EC—Judith Samudovsky

Woodinville—Tomo Takahashi

Elementary—Nancy Kestek and Liz Hoyer

 

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.

Best,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
Head of Woodinville Montessori School

March 6, 2020

Hello 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.

  1. 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.” https://publichealthinsider.com/2020/03/06/public-health-seattle-king-county-update-on-covid-19-3-6-20/.   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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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, here is the information.

https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/news/2020/March/5-suspected-covid.aspx

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus

Take care,

Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
Head of Woodinville Montessori School

Dear WMS Families,

COVID-19 is in the news daily, and I again want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to keep the school safe. We continue to follow guidelines from the King County Department of Health and the World Health Organization. Here is a link if you are interested in finding out more about potential impacts, should an outbreak occur in our area:

https://publichealthinsider.com/2020/02/24/what-happens-if-the-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-spreads-here-a-conversation-with-our-health-officer/

Here is what we are doing:

  • Sanitizing classrooms, club houses and lobbies at least twice a day--once before lunch, and then again at the end of the day.
  • Reminding all staff and children about the importance of handwashing.
  • We did not send students to New York for the Montessori Model UN so that we could minimize any risk to the community.
  • Keeping extra boxes of tissues out in all common areas.
  • Displaying posters in public areas to remind everyone of the importance of handwashing and staying home when sick.

Here is what you can do to keep yourself safe:

Together we will get through whatever comes our way.

Best,
Sunita
Sunita Pailoor
Head of Woodinville Montessori School