Coronavirus Updates: Current Families

We will use this page to keep our families updated about the impact of COVID-19 on our school community. We are thinking about you and wishing you well during this difficult time! If you need to reach someone, you can contact our Principal, Sarah Kirby Tepera, at skirbytepera@montessoriforall.org.

SUMMARY OF MOST CURRENT INFORMATION

  • SCHOOL CLOSURE UPDATES: We are starting in full Distance Learning on August 3 for everyone for the first two weeks of school. We will continue to monitor the hospitalization rates in Austin to decide if we can welcome children on campus for half-days starting August 17. The Reopening Task Force is in the process of building out three separate plans:
  1. Plan 1 (for low safety risk – no city/state/district restrictions) = School with all children allowed on campus at the same time
  2. Plan 2 (medium safety risk – city/state/district imposed limits on # of people on campus at one time) = School with only half of the children allowed at a time; families can opt for full distance learning at home in this scenario
  3. Plan 3 (high safety risk – city/state/district imposed closure of all in-person activity) = Full distance learning at home

Which plan we are in will depend on what is happening with the virus in our county. We know that no matter what we come up with for Plan 2 and Plan 3, it will be difficult for families—especially working families.

We are going to take full advantage of spending the first two weeks of school in Distance Learning because it will enable us to get everyone familiar with it. Even when school re-opens with staggered attendance, everyone will participate in some form of distance learning. Families who come to school will continue to use Distance Learning to complete homework to make up for the fact that children are only receiving half of their instructional time. The families who do not want to return to school have the option of staying home full-time and participating in Distance Learning.

  • ACCESS TO FOOD: Information about how to access free food can be found here.
  • GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS: Public health experts are recommending that all of us practice “social distancing” so that we slow the spread of the virus—meaning we should stay home and limit our interactions with people beyond our family as much as possible. It is mandatory to wear facial coverings in the state of Texas.

RECORD OF ONGOING COMMUNICATIONS

Monday, July 6, 2020: LivingTree Post

Hello All,

I hope this message as well as possible during this really difficult and unprecedented time.

I know you have eagerly been awaiting an announcement about what we are doing on August 3. The short answer is: We are starting in full Distance Learning for everyone for the first two weeks of school. We will continue to monitor the hospitalization rates in Austin to decide if we can welcome children on campus for half-days starting August 17.

You can watch this video announcement if you process information better orally:

https://bit.ly/2AzF2Et

The Spanish video will be coming soon from Lynda, our Director of Teaching & Learning. (Thank you, Lynda!)

Or you can read the announcement below:

I want to start by acknowledging that we are in the middle of a global pandemic of epic proportions. This isn’t easy on any of us, and it’s even harder for some families because of injustice in our world as well as other personal circumstances. I hope you are finding time to take care of yourself and let yourself fully acknowledge everything you are feeling and going through. 

We know this is a time of great uncertainty in our world—with COVID-19 and more attention being paid to racial injustice. But I can feel that we are also at a turning point. And our children will be part of our world’s transition into a more just and peaceful world for all. 

We are eager for school to restart in August so we can continue this important work!  

It is unclear what the year ahead of us will look like. There is currently not an end in sight with regard to the COVID-19 virus. Our city is likely to move in and out of stages of risk, depending on how severe the cases are in Austin.

The Reopening Task Force has been hard at work all summer to develop three separate plans. 

We intentionally built these three plans to integrate seamlessly with each other because we are anticipating that we may need to move in and out of these plans all year long. 

At this point, cases are on the rise in Austin.

On July 1 we had 597 new cases of COVID-19 and we are on a seven day average of 55 hospitalizations with a double time of 12.9 days based on the current trajectory numbers.

Because of the increase, the Mayor currently has us in Stage 4.

Our best guess is that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Once we hit an average of 70 hospitalizations a day we are anticipating that the Mayor will move us into Stage 5, which is the most severe form of lockdown.

We believe that the best decision to make at this point is to launch the 2020-21 school year in full Distance Learning and to commit to Distance Learning for at least the first two weeks of school. 

This will give us more time to see if the rates of hospitalization in Austin start to stabilize and then decline. 

Our hope is that rates will stabilize and start to decline and that it will be safe to open in person on Monday, August 17, but it is too early to tell. 

We are going to take full advantage of spending the first two weeks of school in Distance Learning because it will enable us to get everyone familiar with it. Even when school re-opens with staggered attendance, everyone will participate in some form of distance learning. Families who come to school will continue to use Distance Learning to complete homework to make up for the fact that children are only receiving half of their instructional time. The families who do not want to return to school have the option of staying home full-time and participating in Distance Learning.

As a general overview of our program: Every child will be assigned to a Google classroom with their classroom community. Required Assignments will be posted daily in a wide range of subject areas. 

There will also be Optional Assignments. 

Assignments will typically either be a video of a teacher giving a lesson or children will be working on an educational app. 

I know there is a lot of concern in our community about the significant use of screen time in our Distance Learning program, but we believe it is the best way for the vast majority of our families to support the academic growth of their children. Our hope is that their academic screen-time is just a small part of how they spend the rest of their day.

Our use of screens during the academic portion of the day means that the learning is more efficient and frees up more time away from screens for the rest of the day! Here is a sample schedule of how children can have a well-rounded day, even when their distance learning takes place on a screen.

https://bit.ly/magnoliasampleschedule

In full distance learning, children in Children’s House have an average of about 1 hour to 1.5 hours per day of academic work. For Lower and Upper Elementary, it is about 3 hours of academic work per day. It’s going to feel like even more work than we were doing in the Spring. We know how hard it is for families to fit in distance learning. However, our program in the Spring was designed to maintain skills, not sufficiently develop new ones.

In full distance learning, children will receive lessons via videoconference with their teachers. The number of lessons and types of lessons will vary depending on the child’s grade level. 

Children will also have the option of joining a weekly Community Circle to stay connected with their friends and peers. 

When it’s safe to move away from Plan 3: Full-Distance Learning and pivot into Plan 2 with staggered attendance, families will have the option to come to school for 4 half days a week, Monday through Thursday or to stay in full distance learning. 

With the staggered attendance model, families that choose to send their children to school will only receive a half day of instructional time, so will use Distance Learning for the second half of the day. Families that choose to keep their children at home will participate in full-time Distance Learning.

For families who choose to stay home even after school re-opens, you will continue to participate in full distance learning. The only difference will be the number and frequency of lessons that come directly from videoconferencing with your teacher. Teachers will divide their time between classroom instruction and online learning. They will be teaching morning and afternoon work cycles in person every day. They will have a little time in the middle of the day to attend to Distance Learning, as well as half a day on Friday. 

Special Education and 504 services will continue in both Plan 2 and Plan 3. Exactly what they look like depends on your child’s individual needs. If you have questions about what this will look like for your child, you can reach out to Sarah Kirby Tepera at skirbytepera@montessoriforall.org or (512) 413-5718. 

We did not design this program because of state requirements or mandates; we built it from our hearts as teachers and educators. Full participation is necessary for us to be able to do our jobs as teachers to support the ongoing growth of your children. 

In summary, school will start in full Distance Learning at home on Monday, August 3rd. If you were counting on an August 4th or 5th date because we normally do a staggered start, please let us know. Our ideal would be to start with everyone on Monday, August 3rd.

We are still on track with following our 2020-21 school calendar. You can always find the calendar on our website. The start of school is August 3 and Fall Break will start October 12.

We will continue to monitor the situation to see when we will be able to re-open in person with staggered attendance for families who want to come back. We will move forward with surveying families about their preferences so we can put all the pieces in place and ensure a smooth transition into Plan 2 when it’s safe. Be on the lookout for a survey from us this Wednesday! We will send out all the safety procedures for you to review. You will also have an opportunity to share with us what your technology needs are. 

We know this pandemic is hard on most of us, and that it’s even harder for some families than others because of injustice in our world as well as other personal circumstances. Taking care of your children during the school day while also trying to support their learning while also trying to work and meet your own needs is incredibly difficult. Our society is not designed to support this way of doing and being! We are gearing up for another difficult year. But I look forward to doing it together. We can do this. 

Please reach out with any additional questions you have. We will share the full set of safety procedures and the survey on Wednesday.

Until then,

Sara

Executive Director

Friday, June 26, 2020: LivingTree Post

Hello, All!

I hope your week is ending on a high note.

The Reopening Task Force had a chance to meet yesterday. I want to give a huge shout out to all the staff members and families who are volunteering to support our school! Here are some important updates:

  1. When school is open but it is not safe to be at full capacity, families will have the option to send their children to school for three hours, four times a week. One group will come from 8am-11am. The second group will come from 12:45pm-3:45pm, Monday through Thursday. Siblings will be assigned to the same group. Pre-K3 children and their siblings will automatically be in the morning group so that they can nap at home. When children are not at school, they will be doing a small amount of Distance Learning homework to make up for the half day they are not at school. (An image of the schedule is attached.)
  2. When school is open but it is not safe to be at full capacity, families will have the option to keep their children at home and participate in distance learning instead of coming to school. It will be imperative to participate on a daily basis in order to be counted “present” and to support children’s continued growth and development. 
  3. Families will be able to switch their choice (from home to school or school to home) every 9 weeks: before school starts in person, before Fall Break in October, before Winter Break in December, and before Spring Break in March. We will send out a full version of the safety protocols and procedures before you have to make a decision.
  4. All children and staff (ages 3+) will be required to wear facial coverings. Masks or facial shields will be acceptable. Magnolia Montessori For All will be selling face shields before school starts, and they will be free for families who cannot afford them. This requirement will help us reduce the transmission risk. We know some families have concerns about oxygenation risks; we will definitely monitor the situation with periodic spot checks with an oximeter.
  5. When school is open and we are serving half the children in the morning and half in the afternoon, we expect there will be approximately 9 children in a classroom at a time (with approximately 1,000 square feet of space). Each child will have a designated work space that is at least 6 feet apart from the other children. Children will wash their hands and use hand sanitizer at regular and frequent intervals. Materials will be wiped down by staff members in-between use.
  6. Children will still have freedom of movement in the classroom to select their materials, go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, etc. However, they will practice social distancing. Children will continue to participate in art and music in their classrooms.
  7. Children and staff will NOT be 6-feet apart from each other during small-group and one-on-one lessons. However, staff and children will wear facial coverings at all times. Staff will also not stay 6-feet away from children if a child needs to be physically comforted. Staff will use hand sanitizer before these interactions, and both children and adults will use hand sanitizer afterwards.
  8. Singing indoors in groups will be prohibited because high rates of transmission have been documented among grouped singers.
  9. The HVAC filters are being upgraded to virus-grade to support cleaner air and good ventilation. Lessons will take place on back patios whenever possible. 
  10. The custodial staff will professionally clean each classroom between the morning group and the afternoon group as well as at the end of the day. Classrooms will also be disinfected at regular and frequent intervals during the work cycle by assistant guides.
  11. Arrival and departure will happen through three separate entrances to keep children and families spread out. For departure, caregivers will stay in their cars, and children will come to you.
  12. Only children who qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch will be eating breakfast or lunch on campus. Children who qualify will have access to both meals every day.
  13. All children will have the option of eating a snack during their work cycle like they normally do (at their individual work spot). Snacks will be individually wrapped.

The Task Force is continuing to discuss other questions, such as: Will we screen temperatures every day? What happens if a child or staff member does have a temperature or other symptoms?

We will share out additional safety procedures and protocols when they are finalized.

As a reminder, here are the dates I shared in my last LivingTree update:

Monday, July 6

You can expect to hear from us about whether we are starting on August 3 in person with staggered attendance (half-days) or fully at home with distance learning for everyone.

If we are on track to start on August 3 with staggered attendance half days, we will also share our full set of safety procedures, so you can read through everything and decide whether you want to send your child to school or not. There will be a survey to fill out indicating your preferences. The survey will be due by Friday, July 10. Families will need to commit to staying home or coming to school for the first nine weeks of school (through Fall Break in October). It will be too confusing for staff and children to switch back and forth.

Wednesday, July 22

If we are on track to start on August 3 with staggered attendance (and you have opted to send your child to school), you will receive your child’s schedule. As a reminder, siblings will be on the same schedule. We will also make an effort to keep together families that carpool or rely on each other for childcare.

I have spent more hours than I care to count reading and researching about how to safely open school when it’s time. Members of the Reopening Task Force have been doing the same thing! I am personally getting to a place where I feel comfortable with the plan that is emerging. We have learned a lot from our YMCA partner who has been running childcare very safely through the entire pandemic: https://n.pr/3g5bOfF.

We will share out the remainder of the plan soon! Please continue to take care of yourselves during these difficult and unprecedented times.

Sara

Executive Director

(512) 666-7187

saracotner@montessoriforall.org

Tuesday, June 23, 2020: LivingTree Post

Hello All,

My hope is to share out information as quickly as it comes in. Here are the updates from our call with the state today:

Families will have the choice to stay home and participate in distance learning instead of coming to school, even when the school opens back up. What a relief to hear! We are excited that each family will be able to make the choice that feels right for their family.

Families who opt to stay home will have to participate fully in our distance learning program in order to have their attendance counted. Participation will be tracked on a daily basis.

Here is the timeline of when you can expect to hear more information about our plans:

Friday, June 26

I will send out an update from the Montessori For All Reopening Task Force. We will share out our final decision about what staggered attendance will look like when ratios need to be smaller on campus (whether it’s 2 full days or 4 half-days).

Monday, July 6

You can expect to hear from us about whether we are starting on August 3 in person with staggered attendance or fully at home with distance learning for everyone.

If we are on track to start on August 3 with staggered attendance, we will also share our full set of safety procedures, so you can read through everything and decide whether you want to send your child to school or not. There will be a survey to fill out indicating your preferences. The survey will be due by Friday, July 10. Families will need to commit to staying home or coming to school for a specific amount of time (which will be shared later). It will be too confusing for staff and children to switch back and forth.

Wednesday, July 22

If we are on track to start on August 3 with staggered attendance (and you have opted to send your child to school), you will receive your child’s schedule. As a reminder, siblings will on the same schedule.

YMCA/Extend-a-Care Program

We are solidifying our partnership with the YMCA/Extend-a-Care Program for the 2020-21 school year. When we are on a staggered attendance plan with smaller ratios, there will be a small number of spots available for children to stay for a full day if they sign up for YMCA/Extend-a-Care. We will share out more information as it becomes available. There will be a window of time to indicate interest, and then a random lottery will be drawn to select the families who get the spots.

That’s all for now. Please let me know if you have any questions about this update or anything else!

All the best,

Sara

Executive Director

saracotner@montessoriforall.org

(512) 666-7187

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Texas Education Agency was supposed to release information for schools this past Tuesday. When we got on the call, they announced that they were postponing announcements until this upcoming Tuesday (6/23).

In the meantime, the Mayor has moved the city back into Stage 4: http://www.austintexas.gov/news/austin-travis-county-enters-stage-4

However, the Governor has announced that children are going back to school in the Fall: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/06/18/texas-schools-reopening-fall/

We are moving forward with making our three plans so we are prepared for whatever the final decision is between the state and the city (as it gets closer to August). We will be prepared for full distance learning, we will be prepared for staggered attendance with only half the children on campus at a time, and we will be prepared for the day when everyone is on campus together.

My hope is that if we are doing staggered attendance, families will have the choice to opt for full distance learning at home if they feel like it’s safer and they can make it work. This decision will come from the state. We are hoping they will continue to fund our school for children who opt to stay home for distance learning. We are hoping that families get to choose what is best for them.

The Reopening Task Force is meeting next Thursday (after the call with the state on Tuesday). We will share more information as it comes in!

I am generally a person who prefers to have more certainty and access to a full set of information. However, in these uncertain times, I’m channeling my focus into working with our team to build the strongest possible plans for all scenarios. We are researching all best practices related to safety in the age of COVID. Here is an excellent article about how health care workers are staying safe:

https://www.newyorker.com/science/medical-dispatch/amid-the-coronavirus-crisis-a-regimen-for-reentry

Please make sure to following Stage 4 guidance so we can reduce the number of cases in Austin. Wear face masks, stay 6 feet away from others, and wash your hands frequently.

I hope you and your family are doing as well as possible!

Happy Juneteenth,

Sara

Executive Director

saracotner@montessoriforall.org

(512) 666-7187

Monday, 5/18/20: Living Tree Post

Hello, All!

I hope you had a great weekend! Last week felt better for my family and me. I hope you are on an upswing as well.

Save the Date

By now, your children’s guides should have shared the days and times for the Moving Up ceremonies for kindergartners and 3rd graders, as well as the day and time for the Upper Elementary Graduation. You can also reference Ms. Lia’s recent LivingTree post for more details.

There’s one more date to share!

Wednesday, June 3 at 1:30pm

We will have a whole-school Zoom call to close out our year together. Please add the date to your calendar! Stay tuned for more details…

Book Fair

Remember that the Magnolia book fair is going on now! You can bring new books into your home and support Magnolia at the same time.

https://bookfairs.scholastic.com/bf/mmfa

25% of all proceeds will come back to the school. And orders over $25 come with free shipping!

A huge thank you to our family volunteers for coordinating this opportunity for us.

IXL Math App

Starting this week for Pre-K and 6th grade and next week for all other grade levels, we will move away from the Skill Plans (they are ending). Instead, Mr. Huck will identify 1 LESSON PER DAY for children to work on. Each day in his video, he will share with you the 3-letter code for the lesson. You will type that code in the search bar and be able to locate the lesson for the day. The guidance about getting to an 80 smartscore or higher will remain the same.

if you get lost or stuck, watch Mr. Huck’s video! He will walk through it step-by-step.

Human Development

Ms. Donnell will be starting Human Development lessons this week for Upper Elementary children. If you would NOT like these lessons to appear in their Google Classroom, please email me directly at saracotner@montessoriforall.org. You can see an overview of the curriculum here:

http://bit.ly/39bTtdI

Our Human Development curriculum starts in 4th grade so that children are hearing accurate, respectful information about human development from trusted adults before they hear misinformation from peers or the media.

Annual Art Show

We will be hosting our Annual Art Show digitally this year! Your children are welcome to work on something this week in preparation to share, or they can share something they finished in the past several weeks. More details will be coming soon from Ms. Erica and Ms. Lo via your Google Classrooms!

Budget Committee

The Budget Committee will meet again this Wednesday at 2:30. If you would like to join the video call, you can email skirbytepera@montessoriforall.org for the dial-in information.

Classroom Placement

We are continuing the classroom placement process. Your children will find out their placements for next year the week of June 1. There will be a video in their google classroom to welcome them to their new community for the 2020-21 school year.

Memorial Day

We will not be doing Distance Learning on Monday, May 25. Enjoy the day!

Panorama Family Survey

If you have not yet completed the Panorama Family Survey, you will continue to receive emails from Yasmin. It only takes approximately 5-10 minutes.

Summer Access to the Educational Apps

We know many families are wondering about whether there will be access to the educational apps over the summer. We will be communicating out more details soon!

Wishing you a great week!

Sara

saracotner@montessoriforall.org

(512) 666-7187

Friday, 4/17/20: Living Tree Post

Texas Schools Closed for Remainder of 2019-20 School Year

Dear Families,

We wanted to share the news that the Governor has declared that Texas schools are closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

We know that the majority of our homes and lives are not set up for homeschooling and that we are all experiencing a variety of challenges as we grapple with these uncertain and unprecedented times. Our hearts and minds are with you on this journey.

We are grateful that our guides have built a robust Distance Learning program that can sustain us through the rest of the school year. I am grateful that they selected strong educational apps that can deliver adaptive content and instruction but in a way that is predictable for the children and can help increase their independence over time as they become more and more comfortable with the apps.

I am grateful that our guides continue to work so hard to reach every family and that they continue to spend their time and energy connecting with children via virtual hangouts and calls.

Our Special Education and Intervention Teams continue to deliver top-notch instruction.

We will be moving forward with our regular end-of-year activities to the greatest extent possible: intent to return forms, classroom placement process, campus improvement planning process, Moving Up ceremonies (virtually), budget planning, hiring, etc.

Although this situation is beyond difficult, we support the decision to keep the schools closed in the name of public health. The COVID-19 virus has infected more than 2 million people across the world.

Until more robust testing and targeted quarantining practices can be put into place, distancing ourselves from each other physically is our best protection.

Please stay safe out there and continue to reach out as you need support—no matter what kind of support.

We are in this together!

Wishing you well,

Sara

Tuesday, March 31: Post on LivingTree

Governor Closes Texas Schools Through May 4

Hello All,

Just a quick update to let you know that the Governor has closed Texas schools through May 4. We were expecting this kind of situation, which is why we have built such a robust Distance Learning plan in place. We know you are juggling so much in your lives right now., but please continue to support your children to complete their Required Assignments each day.

Also, please do not be surprised if school ends up being canceled through the end of the year based on how the virus is spreading.

As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Sara

saracotner@montessoriforall.org

(512) 666-7187

Thursday, March 18: Post on LivingTree

Distance Learning Update

Dear Magnolia Community,

We are embarking on an unprecedented journey together: we are transitioning our entire school from a hands-on learning community focused on relationships to a virtual one. While it is bound to be difficult and marked with unexpected hiccups, it is also an incredible opportunity to rally together in the interest of public health, to link arms (virtually!), and to show ourselves and the world that our community is bigger and stronger than the walls of our campus.

Our goals for Distance Learning:

  1. CONTINUE ACADEMIC GROWTH: All children will continue learning and growing and will not regress academically while away from campus
  2. SUPPORT A STRONG FAMILY SYSTEM: All families will feel like they have the right level of guidance: enough to keep children engaged and learning independently but not too much that it feels overwhelming and unmanageable
  3. SUSTAIN CONNECTION & WELL-ROUNDED GROWTH: All children and their guides (Leads, Assistants, Administrators, Interventionist, and SPED team) will maintain a strong connection during our period of Distance Learning, thereby supporting continued social, emotional, and cultural growth
  4. FACILITATE COMMUNITY WELL-BEING: Our hope is that all children, families, and staff will look back on this difficult time and feel like they were part of a supportive and loving community that took care of each other

Let’s work together to bring this vision to fruition!

Our team is working tirelessly to develop our Distance Learning Plan. In this preview message, you will see that it relies heavily on the use of technology. As a Montessori school that prioritizes hands-on learning above screen time, we did not make this decision lightly. The educational apps we have chosen have a track-record of benefiting children. Several of them enable our teachers to specify particular learning objectives from afar, while others adapt to children’s individual levels and help them make the most efficient and effective progress. Using educational apps will free up our teachers to focus on their most important work: 

  1. checking in with children and families about how learning is going 
  2. holding children accountable for completing their daily assignments
  3. monitoring progress 
  4. directly supporting children via videoconferencing or telephone

A worksheet-version of the Distance Learning Plan will be available for families who DO NOT have access to a smartphone. However, our goal is to get 100% of families online because we believe the digital version of what we have to offer will be superior to the paper-based version.

We will send out a survey soon to help teachers collect information about your family’s status. If your family has access to a smartphone, we will be in touch soon with specific next steps for you to implement during the week of March 23 so you are fully set up and 100% prepared to launch Distance Learning on March 30.

If your family does not have access to a smartphone, we will be touching base with you individually to make a plan.

Guides will be calling each family individual over the course of next week (the week of March 23) to make sure everyone has what they need. They will be calling families with technology difficulties first (Monday and Tuesday) and the other families on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

There will also be free notebooks, binders with paper, pencils, and pencil sharpeners available in front of the school on Thursday and Friday for families that need them. Ms. Donnell has even dedicated her Spring Break to making sewing kids for interested families to pick up. Those will also be available on Thursday and Friday in front of the school. (Thank you, Ms. Donnell!)

Overview of the DIGITAL Distance Learning Plan

Each classroom will have its own Google Classroom. Teachers will use Google Classroom to assign daily work. The work is designed to be completed as independently as possible, so that families have time to take care of everything they need to do. Work will be assigned in all the core academic subject areas. There will also be Optional assignments in a variety of additional areas.

Level

Approximate Amount of Academic Work Per Day

Children’s House (PK3-K) = ~1.5-2 hours

Lower Elementary (1st-3rd) = ~3 hours

Upper Elementary (4th-6th) = ~3 hours

As children complete their work, they will click that it is completed via Google Classroom.

Teachers will work with each family to set up a schedule of check-ins. Check-ins will preferably happen via videoconference—either with FaceTime or WhatsApp. If neither of those apps work for the family, the check-in will be over the regular phone.

Special Education guides and Interventionists will also work with each family to set up a schedule of check-ins. Equity means that we will try to help each child and family get the amount of time, interaction, and support they need.

We will be in touch soon with more details, but we wanted to continue to share updates as we have them.

In partnership,

Sara

Tuesday, March 17: Post on LivingTree

Free Food for Families in Need

There is free food available for pick-up today, tomorrow, and Thursday. Tomorrow’s locations (Wednesday) are closest to our area. 

Then, starting Monday, there will be free lunch pick-up from 12:00pm-1:30pm Monday-Friday at LBJ High School right now the street from Magnolia. Bring your child, pull into the driveway, and get free lunch!

You can find more information here: https://magnolia.montessoriforall.org/free-food/

New Student Registration

If you need to register a new child in our school and received a spot in the lottery, please make note of the information that was added to our Coronavirus Update page:

NEW FAMILY REGISTRATION: We will be adjusting our New Family Registration process based on school closure. Stay tuned for more information!

The operations team is working to put together a plan for safe yet timely registration for the 2020-21 school year. Re-enrollment for returning children happens later in the year. We thank you for your patience!

Monday, March 16: Post on LivingTree

Dear Families,

We are following AISD’s lead and closing school for the two weeks following Spring Break to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and protect everyone in our community, including those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

Spring Break for children ends on Friday, March 20. Our school building will be closed for two weeks from Monday, March 23 through Friday, April 3 and distance learning will be in effect instead. Please do not send your children to school the weeks of March 23 or March 30.

For planning purposes, please expect for school to be closed past April 3, given everything that public health experts are sharing about how to stop the spread of the virus. The Mayor of Austin has banned groups of 250+ from congregating until May 1. We are guessing there will be 6-8 more weeks of closure, if not the rest of the school year. However, we will let you know by Monday, March 30 what the plan is beyond April 3.

The Texas Education Agency has declared that children will not take STAAR tests this year. If children are able to return to school before the end of the school year, we will explore the option of running our own STAAR tests, so that we have a pulse of where children are with end-of-grade-level expectations.

Magnolia Montessori For All is working with teachers to design our distance learning plan. Families will be able to download information from our website or pick up hard copies of the information from school starting MONDAY, MARCH 23. We will use the week of March 23 to ensure that EVERY family is set up for distance learning. Then the official assignments will start the week of March 30, although families are welcome to start earlier.

We will try to support families that need help finding other families to help them with childcare. We know this process will be very difficult for many of our families. Be on the lookout for that information soon.

We are thinking about all of you during these challenging times, and we are grateful to be part of an incredible community with you! I am having the best experience working with a group of our teacher leaders and administrators to map out our plan for continuing to support children and families. They are such a dedicated, loving, smart group of people. I feel lucky that my children are in their hands!

We will get through this together,

Sara

Saturday, March 14: Post on LivingTree

Hello All,

I hope this message finds you well. There is not a lot of new information to share today

  • As of the last time I looked, Texas has 51 confirmed cases across 14 counties in Texas.
  • So far, 316 districts have decided to close school in 108 different counties across Texas.
  • As of now, AISD has not moved to close its schools. However, it is still true that absences will be excused. 

The staff at Magnolia Montessori For All continues to prepare for the possibility of school closure. If it happens, we want to be prepared to support our families to support their children’s learning at home.

In the meantime, public health experts are recommending that all of us practice “social distancing” to the greatest extent that we can so that we can help slow the spread of the virus. Here is more information about social distancing: https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/14/us/what-to-do-this-weekend-coronavirus-trnd/index.html. It is even recommended that we avoid gathering with small groups because people can so easily transmit the virus unknowingly.

We are wishing all of you the very best!

Sara

Friday, March 13: Post on LivingTree

Hello All,

Our district staff is participating in daily calls with the Texas Commissioner of Education and monitoring the decisions made by the Austin Independent School District. We will continue to share updates as they come in.

Conference Day (March 20)

Our in-person Parent/Guardian Conference Day is CANCELLED. Teachers will be asked to schedule phone calls instead. Please be on the lookout for information from your child’s teacher.

Absences

For the period of March 23-April 3, all health-related student absences will be excused. We know this is an uncertain and anxious time for the community, and we will support parents/guardians to make the decision that is right for their families. Please let us know if you will be keeping your children home. You can email me at saracotner@montessoriforall.org. Initial information from the state suggests that our school will still receive funding for children who are absent.

Self-Quarantine

Based on the guidance provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services, it is recommended that individuals self-quarantine at home for 14 days if they experience any or all of the following:

  1. You have returned from a country with a CDC Level 2 or 3 Health Notice (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html)
  2. You have a fever of 100.0 or higher and symptoms related to COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath).
  3. You have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

If a child experiences any or all of the above, the child should self-quarantine and those absences will be excused. A child may not return to school if they have a fever of 100.0 or more until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

We recognize that children and staff who have a weakened immune system due to certain diseases and conditions (like cancer, heart disease, lung disease or diabetes) may be at a higher risk of developing serious illness if they get sick with COVID-19. We are encouraging anyone in this situation to please reach out to their health care provider for guidance. We know each situation will be different. If the health care provider gives guidance affecting attending school, please reach out to me to make a plan.

Deep Cleaning

We are working with our custodial provider to ensure that our school is thoroughly disinfected during Spring Break. 

Please continue to contact me directly if you have more questions!

Sara

(512) 666-7187

saracotner@montessoriforall.org

Thursday, March 12: Post on LivingTree

Dear Magnolia Montessori For All Families,

We hope you are enjoying your Spring Break with family and friends. We also know that there are a lot of questions you may have due to the ongoing developments regarding public health in our country. Fortunately, there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Austin or Central Texas.

The health of our children, staff and families is a top priority, and we want to keep everyone updated on what we’re doing as a district to mitigate the risk of the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea and has placed restrictions on re-entry to the United States for anyone traveling from those countries. There was also an additional update yesterday that is unfolding regarding European travel as well.

MFA encourages families to follow CDC guidelines regarding travel. Parents or guardians of children who do travel to one of these countries over Spring Break should contact me and plan to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning to the United States, per the CDC’s guidelines. The self-quarantine days will be counted as excused absences for families visiting China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea.

MFA is closely monitoring the situation via the CDC, Texas Department of State Health Services and the Travis County Health Department to ensure that all children and staff are safe and updated with the latest information.

The Upper Elementary camping trip has been rescheduled for May 20-22. We will continue to update you as the date draws nearer and we can reassess the situation. 

We have begun contingency planning in the case of mandatory school closure, including how to support our children’s learning beyond school. 

We follow the lead of AISD in emergency situations for consistency in our area, which means you can monitor their website for the most up-to-date information: http://www.austinisd.org/student-health/coronavirus. We will also keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Please feel free to reach out to me personally if you have additional questions: saracotner@montessoriforall.org or (512) 666-7187. 

Thinking of you all and wishing you well,

Sara