Updates from HOS/AHOS

Great news! The Board has approved the following:

The use of Annual Fund donations to purchase air purifiers for each classroom and 2 for the multi-purpose room. 

After reviewing the results of a recent study on the use of air purifiers in the school setting, we will be able to use air purifiers in each classroom to reduce COVID-19 transmission and stay open when doors cannot remain open during unsuitable weather.

Changes to our COVID-19 Policy to reduce the number of COVID symptoms used to screen students for exclusion from TMA for COVID-related illness and to exclude from quarantine those who have had COVID-19 or are fully vaccinated within the last 3 months.

Based on the newest CDC guidance for screening students, this should reduce the amount of time students are excluded from school for extended periods. Please note, children who are sick should be kept home, regardless of whether the presenting symptoms are COVID-related or not. These changes do not impact our Illness Policy, which can be found on page 54 of the Family Guide. These changes only reduce the number of symptoms we will use to screen students for exclusion for COVID-related illness.

Lastly, we will not be changing our mask policy due the Governor’s messaging today. We will continue to follow CDC guidance with regard to all COVID-19 mitigation strategies. We encourage all families who were waiting on the results from the Board meeting before making their re-enrollment decisions to re-enroll today!

If you would like specifics about the COVID-19 Policy changes, please continue reading below:

Revised symptom list (removed chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, congestion or runny nose, and nausea):

Applies to staff, children and their household members, which states in part:

ALL STAFF, FAMILIES, CHILDREN AND THEIR HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS MUST CONDUCT A DAILY HEALTH CHECK BEFORE COMING TO TMA.

  • Should you or any household member have any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms, we ask you to remain out that day and notify TMA:
    • Fever of 100.4° F or higher, now or in the preceding 24 hours (or would have, but have used fever reducing medicine)
    • Cough (for students with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change in their cough from baseline)
    • Difficulty breathing (for students with asthma, a change from their baseline breathing)
    • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Diarrhea or vomiting
    • Known close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19
  • Consistent with our COVID-19 Policy, if anyone in the household has symptoms noted above, the household will be required to remain out of TMA for 10 days from the onset of symptoms unless medical clearance is provided by a physician to return to school. The physician’s note must not be from a family member.
  • Exclusion from TMA is sometimes necessary to reduce the transmission of illness. For your child’s comfort, and to reduce the risk of contagion, we ask that children be picked up within 60 minutes of notification. Until then, your child will be kept comfortable and will continue to be observed for symptoms.
  • We encourage all TMA staff who are age 65 and older or those with underlying medical conditions to talk to their health care provider to assess their risk and to determine if they should stay home.

Based on the following from the CDC (under symptoms of infectious illness):

The presence of any of the symptoms below generally suggests a student, teacher, or staff member has an infectious illness and should not attend school, regardless of whether the illness is COVID-19. For students, staff, and teachers with chronic conditions, symptom presence should represent a change from their typical health status to warrant exclusion from school. Occurrence of any of the symptoms below while a student, teacher, or staff member is at school suggests the person may be referred for diagnostic testing.

  • Temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Sore throat
  • Cough (for students with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change in their cough from baseline)
  • Difficulty breathing (for students with asthma, a change from their baseline breathing)
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever

Students should not attend school in-person if they or their caregiver identifies new development of any of the symptoms above.

Additional changes updated to add the exclusion of those who had COVID or has been fully vaccinated:

Suspected or Known COVID-19 Contact

Your household members — excluding those who have had COVID-19 or have been fully vaccinated against the disease within the last three months and show no symptoms — must remain away from TMA if any member of your household has, or has been in close contact with anyone who has:

  1. A confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, e.g., close contact at school, work, religious service, or social gathering; or
  2. Traveled:
    • internationally; or
    • domestically, from any area which is the subject of travel restrictions under applicable state and local guidance.

After 14 days since the last potential exposure, your household member(s) may return provided all of these conditions are met:

  1. At least 10 days have passed since any household member first experienced symptoms; and
  2. Symptoms have improved for any household member that experienced symptoms (for example, cough or shortness of breath has improved); and
  3. The household has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.

If a child or staff member is confirmed to have a case of COVID-19:

  • We will notify families and implement any short-term closure recommended by state and local authorities.
  • The classroom impacted with a COVID-positive case will need to quarantine for 14 days to reduce any further transmission.

Please note, depending on the circumstances, we may require you to obtain medical clearance before return to TMA will be allowed.

HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS include individuals who may not live in the household but may be staying there or are otherwise present in the household on a regular basis (e.g. nannies, caregivers, home health workers, contractors, etc.) and includes anyone with pick up or drop off privileges.

CLOSE CONTACT is defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

Based on the following from the CDC:

People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19—excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months.

  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
  • People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.
  • People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease within the last three months and show no symptoms.

Pam Dunbar
Head of School

Dear TMA Families,

Yesterday I learned of two children in the infant program (Nido classroom) who tested positive for COVID-19. There is another child from the infant program who is symptomatic and is waiting on test results. With 3 cases in a short period of time, we have decided to close the Toddler and Early Childhood classrooms for 3 days to deep clean and to help prevent any further spread. We will reopen Toddler and Early Childhood classrooms on Thursday, February 4th unless the Health Department requires further action.

Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary will remain open this week. Elementary 2 is back on Monday from their 14 day quarantine.

Nido will reopen on Thursday, February 11th.

We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your flexibility and understanding. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Amanda Rainey
Assistant Head of School

Dear TMA Families,

 

I just learned that a staff member in Nido has tested positive for COVID-19. Please see the attached notice of exposure letter from the health department. The staff member started showing symptoms on Wednesday while at school. All the children and staff members who came into contact with this staff member have been contacted, and will remain out of TMA for 14 days, and follow our policy for close contact before returning. This also includes their household members.

 

I am waiting to talk with the Health Department this morning and will notify the community if there is anything additional that we need to do.  

Thank you for your continued trust. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Amanda Rainey
Assistant Head of School

Dear TMA Families,

 

I just learned that a child in E2 has tested positive for COVID-19. Please see the attached notice of exposure letter from the health department. The child did not have any symptoms on Friday while at school but started showing symptoms on Saturday night. All the children and staff members who came into contact with this staff member have been contacted, will remain out of TMA for 14 days, and follow our policy for close contact before returning. This also includes their household members.

 

The in person elementary program will remain closed until Thursday, January 21, 2021based on previous recommendations from the health department. This will give us time to thoroughly clean each of the elementary classrooms and the multi-purpose room. Virtual learners will continue to have classes as scheduled. In person learners will make up the two missed days this Friday and next. Enrichment classes will not be held for the next 2 weeks because those teachers will be observing the 14 day quarantine. 

 

Thank you for your continued trust. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Amanda Rainey
Assistant Head of School

Dear TMA Community,

 

Yesterday afternoon we learned that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The staff member did not have any symptoms on Friday while at school, but had symptoms over the weekend and took the test on Sunday. All the children and staff members who came in contact with this staff member have been contacted and will remain out of TMA for 14 days and follow our policy for close contact before returning. This also includes their household members, so there are children and staff not in attendance throughout the building. 

 

We contacted licensing and the health department this morning, and they both said that our plan of action was good and that nothing further needed to be done at this time. We will thoroughly disinfect the classroom and continue to monitor all students and staff in accordance with our policies and procedures. 

 

With the substantial spread in Tarrant County, we knew the day would come when we would have a case, but our goal is to ensure that we are not a place where the virus will spread. We remain committed to keeping TMA open and operating as long as it is safe to do so and to continue to keep the community informed through transparent communications. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Amanda Rainey
Assistant Head of School

Dear Parents,
 
With the increase of COVID-19 cases in the area, we want to clarify a few procedures regarding a child’s return to school after being out with possible COVID-19 symptoms. To help ease the burden on teachers and consolidate these communications, I will be the primary point of contact pertaining to COVID-19 absences and returns.
 
  1. Per our COVID-19 Policy and following CDC guidance, if your child has new or worsening symptoms as listed below, your child should stay home or will be sent home if symptoms begin during school hours:
    • Fever of 100.0° F or higher, now or in the preceding 24 hours (or would have, but have used fever reducing medicine)
    • Chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Known close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19
  1. If you keep your child home due to COVID-19 symptoms, please send an email to me (arainey@tmaonline.org) to notify the school of your child’s absence. I will forward the information to the teachers.
  2. After being out for possible COVID-19 symptoms with no known exposure to COVID-19, your child may return after it has been 10 days since the onset of symptoms, with improvement of symptoms, and be fever free for 24-hours without medications OR provide a release from the doctor to return. We have a form you can bring to your doctor if you wish to use it. Many doctors will not provide a release based on a COVID-19 test result, and these results can be considered protected information under HIPPA, so we only ask that you bring in a release to return to school from the doctor. We are not medical professionals, so we cannot make a return decision based on a negative COVID-19 test result.
  3. If you choose to see a doctor and obtain a release, it must be emailed to me (arainey@tmaonline.org) no later than the night before your child will return so there is ample time for me to verify the information and inform all pertinent staff members. If you do not have access to a scanner, a picture of the release is fine to send electronically as long as it is legible.
  4. I will reply to you, confirming that your child can return to TMA.
 
If you have not heard back from me within a reasonable amount of time, your secondary contact will be Pam (pdunbar@tmaonline.org). We understand keeping your child home for a runny nose can be frustrating, but we must be proactive so our community continues to thrive. We are working diligently to ensure a safe environment for students and staff at TMA and appreciate the effort you are making as well. Please contact me if you have any questions about these procedures.
 
Amanda Rainey
Assistant Head of School

July 28, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Board met on Monday evening to discuss how payments for families with children in the Infant, Toddler, or Early Childhood programs should be handled since we are not in an economic shut down and the Tuition Contingency Plan does not fully correlate to the current situation. In trying to meet the needs of all of our families, whether choosing to keep your child at home until a later date or sending your child to TMA for in person care, the Board has decided to offer new options for children enrolled in the Infant, Toddler, and Early Childhood programs:

  1. Continue with your annual contract and no changes will take place. All payments, including tuition insurance, will continue at the current posted rates.
  2. Change annual contract to a month-to-month contract. If this option is chosen, there will no longer be a need for tuition insurance, and the 2020-21 tuition insurance payments will be refunded to your account. Because of the nature of month-to-month contracts, there is a slight increase in the monthly cost, which can be found on the updated Tuition and Fee Schedule. Your May payment will be applied to the month of August, the August payment will be applied to September, and so on, until we receive notice that you want to cancel your contract. All 2020-21 financial aid awards will continue for the 2020-21 year until we receive notice that you want to cancel your contract. There is a 30-day written cancellation notice required for all month-to-month contracts. A new contract will be required for this option.
  3. Withdraw from TMA until a future date when you feel it is safe to return. If this option is chosen, your 2020-21 tuition insurance payment and any 2020-21 Extended Day payments made to date will be refunded. We will keep your May payment as a credit on your account and apply it to the month in which you return. There will be no further payments expected until you let us know that you want to return. Any financial aid awards will end with the withdrawal and a new financial aid application will need to be completed and approved before future financial aid will be granted. Return enrollment is dependent upon space availability and teacher placement cannot be guaranteed. If no space is available upon return, you will be placed in our wait pool until a space becomes available.

Due to the pandemic and these uncertain times, these options are available for the 2020-21 school year and will not be a permanent change. We are trying to be flexible and change with the current circumstances and we hope these changes will help you to feel comfortable continuing to keep your child enrolled at TMA.

We need to hear from every family who has a child enrolled in the Infant, Toddler, or Early Childhood program so we know how you want to proceed. Please complete one form for each of your children enrolled in the Infant, Toddler, or Early Childhood program to let us know which option you will choose. If we do not hear from your family, we will assume that you have chosen option 1, to continue with your current contract. Even if you plan to choose option 1, we would still like you to let us know your intention. All responses must be received by the end of the day Friday, July 31.

Thank you for supporting TMA during this challenging period. Your tuition dollars make it possible for us to provide an exceptional education for your child.

Sincerely,

Pam Dunbar
Head of School

July 22, 2020

Dear Parents,

We will be opening on August 10th!

With the new closure order from Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, we have made a few modifications to our opening plans. We recognize the seriousness of this situation, so we urge those families who do not need care to please stay home.

For those families who do not have the option to stay home, we’ve worked hard this summer to ensure that all of our programs are fully licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services as a child care facility so we can meet the needs of our families. As a result of this accomplishment, we will not be affected by the order and will be able to offer in person care on August 10th rather than September 28th. Teachers will need additional time to complete the new required training, so we will not be able to open on August 3rd as previously planned. Safety is our number one priority and we want to provide a safe place for those families who need high quality childcare.

We are working to try to meet the needs of our community, which includes those who need in person care and those who have the ability to stay home with their children. We need to know which group your family falls into, so please let us know by completing this registration form [link removed for safety] by the end of the day Sunday, July 26th.

For all students who attend in person, we will continue to offer a Montessori curriculum in a safe and nurturing environment while following the enhanced health and safety protocols necessary to mitigate transmission of COVID-19. Please be aware that August 10th -24th will be somewhat of a transition period as we get acclimated to the new process.  For those families who do not need care, we will still be providing support, the level of which depends on the age of your child:

  • Infant, Toddler, and Early Childhood: Teachers and staff will be available to provide guidance and support and help you facilitate learning in your home, whether it is advice on toilet learning or suggested activities for your child at home.
  • Elementary: Distance learning will be available for all elementary students as is outlined in the Distance Learning Protocols. Students will receive lessons in the morning and afternoon, with materials provided as needed on a check-out basis. Lower Elementary distance learning will be taught by Candy Proctor and Upper Elementary distance learning will be taught by Price Barnes. Robin Dotson, Heidi Holguin, and Suzanna Batzer will be here for those students who will attend in person.

We appreciate the patience and understanding you have all shown as we navigate these uncharted waters. We will be holding two roundtable discussions, one tonight at 8:00 pm [link removed for safety] and one on Friday morning at 9:00 am [link removed for safety]. We invite you to join us to discuss these changes.

Please remember to complete the registration form [link removed for safety] by the end of the day Sunday, July 26th. We look forward to connecting with all our families, virtually or in person, on August 10th.

Warmest Regards,

Pam Dunbar
Head of School

July 15, 2020

Dear Elementary Parent,

Attached is the Elementary Distance Learning Protocol for 2020–2021. This document began with input from the May parent survey and has continued to evolve over the last several weeks, including input from last Monday’s Roundtable discussions. It is also likely that it will continue to evolve. While the primary focus in this protocol is on Distance Learning when a whole class/program/school shutdown occurs, it does address what will happen in the event that an individual elementary student is required to quarantine at home.

As a result of last Monday’s Roundtable discussions, a new survey was sent to all Elementary families yesterday. This survey asks parents to tell us whether they want to start their student on August 3rd in person or whether they want to start off with distance learning. One outcome of the survey may be that we are able to give parents an individual choice of in person or distance learning to start the school year. If this choice is offered to our families, we want to make you aware of changes that will be associated with this choice. We are not able to staff five elementary classrooms with an in person teacher and a distance learning teacher. As a result, one current teacher from each program will be designated as the distance learning teacher, and the students who choose to learn at school will be divided up among the remaining teachers in each program, which for some of you will be a change. This teacher assignment will remain in place at least through the first progress reporting period, which ends on October 9th.

You are welcome to email me with any questions you have. We have also scheduled two Roundtable Discussions via Zoom next Monday, July 20, for those of you who want a more interactive opportunity to discuss your questions and connect with other elementary parents. Robin Dotson and I will co-host the Upper Elementary Roundtable from 5:30-6:30 pm; Candy Proctor and I will co-host the Lower Elementary Roundtable from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. The Zoom link and password for both sessions are below:

Upper Elementary Roundtable Discussion via Zoom from 5:30-6:30 pm: [details removed]

Lower Elementary Roundtable Discussion via Zoom from 6:30-7:30 pm: [details removed]

Looking forward to seeing and talking with you on Monday!

Pam Dunbar
Head of School

July 15, 2020

Dear Parents,

You should have received an email yesterday inviting you to take a quick survey about your family’s return to TMA. Please take a few minutes to share your responses with us. This information will be invaluable to us as we prepare to open in August. I realize many of you have questions since there is not a lot of major programming changes happening in Infant, Toddler, and Early Childhood, except for the ones outlines in the COVID-19 policy. I invite you to attend tonight’s Parent Happy Hour, which will be held at an earlier time 8 p.m. or attend on Friday at 9 a.m. I will be available to answer any questions you might have on what TMA will look like for your child when they return. [links removed for safety]

With love and gratitude,

Amanda Rainey
Assistant Head of School

July 12, 2020

Dear Elementary Parent,

I wanted to clarify that tomorrow’s Roundtable discussions will focus primarily on the in-person learning environment and the changes described in the Elementary Program Classroom Changes for 2020-21 document sent out last week. This week, I will be sending out the Distance Learning Protocol that will provide significant detail on what virtual learning will “look like” this year should we have to pivot from in-person learning to virtual (online) learning in the event that classes cannot be held onsite as a result of local or state regulations/order. Separate Roundtable discussions, focused on the Distance Learning Protocol and virtual (online) learning, will also be scheduled later this week.

 

Sincerely,  

 

Pam Dunbar

Head of School 

July 9, 2020

Dear Elementary Parent,

Today the “Reopening TMA” email contained a document that describes the Elementary Program Classroom Changes for 2020-21. You are welcome to email me with any questions you have. We have also scheduled two Roundtable Discussions via Zoom next Monday, July 13, for those of you who want a more interactive opportunity to discuss your questions and connect with other elementary parents. Robin Dotson and I will co-host the Upper Elementary Roundtable from 5:30-6:30 pm; Candy Proctor and I will co-host the Lower Elementary Roundtable from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. The Zoom link and password for both sessions are below:

Upper Elementary Roundtable Discussion via Zoom from 5:30 – 6:30 pm: [details removed]

Lower Elementary Roundtable Discussion via Zoom from 6:30 – 7:30 pm:  [details removed]

Looking forward to seeing and talking with you on Monday!

Pam Dunbar
Head of School

July 9, 2020

Dear TMA Parent,

We have been busy preparing TMA for re-opening on August 3, and part of that work includes creating a COVID-19 Policy. The Administrative Team worked together, using the best available guidance, to create a policy that will best prepare TMA to be a safe place for children, teachers, and staff. We believe by following the attached policy, we will be able to keep the virus at bay, and the entire TMA community will play a large role in doing so. We need families to fully understand and abide by the policy, especially if any member of your family has been exposed to the virus. If every family who suspects that someone in their household may be sick or has come into contact with someone who may be sick stays home, we will be able to keep the doors to TMA open. This expectation applies for our teachers and staff, and is extended to the entire community. If we all work together to keep TMA a safe and healthy space, we will have a successful year at TMA.

The Infant, Toddler, and Early Childhood classrooms will operate in much the same manner as they have in previous years, while incorporating a few changes such as reducing class sizes (T/EC), staying in home groups, adding heightened cleaning and disinfection procedures, and using face coverings for teachers, per the Governor’s order. The Elementary program will see additional changes, details of which can be found in the attached document: Elementary Classroom, Changes for the 2020-21 School Year. These changes are needed at the elementary level because these students tend to work for longer periods of time at a desk, sitting directly across from another student. We expect there to be some time of adjustment for students, but we know they will quickly adapt to these changes and prove once again how capable Montessori students are.

Lastly, Amanda has successfully managed the process for TMA to become a fully licensed childcare facility though the Texas Department of Health and Human Services for all programs. This will allow us to stay open for essential workers in the event of another stay at home order. We hope this will not be the case, but we are prepared to care for children of essential workers so those parents can continue to work in their critical roles during a shut down.

If you have specific questions about the new policy or the changes in any of our programs, please reach out and ask; my virtual door is always open!

Warmest Regards,

Pam Dunbar
Head of School

April 27, 2020

Hello TMA Families!

We hope you are all faring well during the “shut down”. We are hearing lots of good things from families about how they are staying connected to TMA and to each other virtually! Thank you all for your contributions to this community effort! We are all learning new things, and we miss all of you!

We have some information about next steps for TMA. First and foremost, following Governor Abbott’s guidelines, and for the safety and peace of mind of our children, families and staff, TMA will not physically re-open this summer. At this point, we are planning towards an August 17th opening to the 2020-21 school year. As a result, we are moving our 12-month families to 10-month contracts. Your May payment will continue to be the first payment for the 20-21 school year and your next tuition payment will not be due until August. Families who choose the monthly installment payment option will also pay the Tuition Insurance Premium in May, which for 2020-21 has been reduced to a one-time payment of 3%. The adjustments for 12-month families have been made in FACTS so you don’t have to do anything to change your payment amount. Please contact Pam with any financial questions you may have.

Financial Aid Update: Due to the extension of the deadline to apply for financial aid for 2020-21, the Financial Aid Committee (FAC) will be meeting next week and applicants will be notified of financial aid decisions by May 8. Adjustments have been made to the FACTS account of all families who have applied for financial aid and May payments will not be withdrawn until financial aid agreements have been completed.

For those families who will need childcare this summer due to both parents having to work outside the home, please reach out to Amanda. She can help you find high quality places in the area that are offering care.

Although TMA will not be physically open this summer, we are offering online summer courses for children of all ages. These will be offered in 1-2 week sessions. We are reimagining what Montessori on-line “looks like”; we also want to know what you’d like to see. A short survey will be sent out later this week asking for your input on what kinds of topics would be most valuable. Please let us know your thoughts!

We want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your patience, your willingness to be flexible under trying circumstances, and for your support of all of us at TMA. We appreciate your kind words of encouragement, your participation in our extra-curricular activities for parents, and your belief that we will all come through this. We absolutely will, and we will be stronger for it.

Stay safe!

Molly M Gamades
President, TMA Board of Trustees

Pam Dunbar
Head of School

June 26, 2020

 

Dear TMA Parent,

 

I hope this email finds you well and ready for a restful weekend. One of the changes we were forced to enact was a reduction in the hours of Extended Day due to mandated reduced student/teacher ratios and required teacher/student classroom groups. As such, we are facing limits on the number of students who can enroll in the Extended Day program. Although many families completed enrollment for Extended Day during re-enrollment, much has changed and we need parents to confirm whether Extended Day is NEEDED or WANTED by completing this form. We will prioritize space and contact all families who submit this form to confirm enrollment or wait pool status. 

 

Additionally, the Extended Day rates have changed to reflect the greatly reduced student/teacher ratio. The cost is still quite low when compared to other after school activities, averaging $8.75/hour for Infants and Toddlers, and $7.50/hour for Early Childhood and Elementary students. We have revised the Tuition and Fee Schedule which is available online for your review.

 

All forms must be submitted by the end of the day on July 1. I hope you have a great weekend!

 

Best,

 

Pam Dunbar

Head of School 

June 19, 2020

Dear Parents,

We are committed to providing weekly updates as we move towards re-opening on August 3. This week’s update will focus on the Staggered Drop Off and Pick Up Schedule and the Tuition Contingency Plan.

Staggered Drop Off and Pick Up Schedule: Last week we shared the Drop Off & Pick Up Procedures we will be following when the 2020-21 school year begins on August 3. The specific schedule for staggered drop off and pick up, utilizing carline for all program levels, is shared below:

2020-21 Staggered Drop Off and Pick Up Schedule
 Drop OffHalf Day Pick UpFull Day Pick Up
Before Care (Infant/Toddler/Early Childhood)7:30-7:45 am  
Elementary8:00-8:15 am 3:15-3:30 pm
Early Childhood8:15-8:30 am11:30-11:45 am3:15-3:30 pm
Toddler8:30-8:45 am11:30-11:45 am3:30-3:45 pm
Infant8:30-8:45 am 3:30-3:45 pm
Extended Day  4:15-4:45 pm

2020-21 Tuition Contingency Plan: This week the Board approved a Tuition Contingency Plan that will be in effect in the event that classes cannot be held onsite as a result of local or state regulations/order. A chart containing additional information by program is attached.

Please continue to share any questions you have. As stated last week, this continues to be an ever-evolving situation and changes are inevitable.

Best,

Pam Dunbar
Head of School
The Montessori Academy of Arlington
3428 W. Arkansas Lane
Arlington, TX 76016
817.274.1548
www.tmaonline.org

Dear Parents,

We want to update you on a few changes that will take place when we open our doors on August 3. These changes are based on the Governor’s new Minimum Standards Health Protocol. After reviewing the recent survey responses, we know that most of you are ready to send your children back to TMA and also want to ensure they are safe. This letter should provide an overview of the major changes and help put your mind at ease about sending your children to TMA in August. Please note, if there are new guidelines issued before school opens, this information is subject to change.

Classroom Changes & Ratios

InfantNo change to class size or ratio
Toddler1:7; maximum class size is 14
Early Childhood1:10; maximum class size is 20
Elementary1:10; maximum class size is 20
  • Based on the reduced class size for Early Childhood, we may need to move a few children to different classrooms. Additionally, moves may need to take place based on the survey results for essential workers.
  • If enrollment allows, we will open the fourth Early Childhood classroom and hire new teachers.
  • We will add a Teacher Assistant to each of the Elementary classrooms.

Social Distancing Measures

  • Children will only be in contact with their classroom teachers and the children enrolled in their classroom. They will not share spaces with teachers or children from other classrooms. Other than their classroom, and designated restrooms for Elementary students, the outdoor space will be the only other area children will visit.
  • We are working on a plan to continue to provide Elementary Enrichments. Because children cannot move between classes and the teachers cannot directly interact with multiple classes in a day, we are working to find a way for these teachers to provide Enrichment classes for your children.
  • With the new staffing and ratio requirements, operational hours will need to be modified. To ensure that children can remain in the same classroom with the same teachers for the entire day, our operational hours will be adjusted:
    • Infant, Toddler & Early Childhood: School Day: 8:30 am – 3:30 pm | Before Care: 7:30–8:30 am | Extended Day: 3:30-4:30 pm
    • Elementary: School Day: 8:00 am – 3:30 pm | Extended Day: 3:30–4:30 pm Unfortunately, we cannot offer Before Care for Elementary, but we have added an additional 30 minutes to the morning to help offset this change.
  • All existing Extended Day contracts have been voided. More information about cost and registration will be provided soon.
  • Face coverings will only be required for staff working carline, staff not working directly with children, and any visitors entering the building. Staff working directly with children will not wear face coverings as it hinders their ability to teach and for children to read social cues. In the Elementary program, students and teachers may use face coverings during group lessons. Teachers will not be responsible for ensuring children wear a face covering or keeping up with the location of a child’s face covering.
  • Children will not be required to wear face coverings unless they choose to do so. However, TMA will not be responsible for ensuring that their face covering remains on throughout the day. Following guidance, children 2 and under are not to wear a face covering.

Drop Off & Pick Up Procedures

  • All programs will utilize carline for drop off and pick up and we will enact staggered times by program (details forthcoming). Infants and Toddler children will enter through the exterior classroom doors. Parents are not allowed in the building unless it is an emergency.
  • We recommend that one parent be designated for drop off and pick up each day so our staff only comes in contact with this one family member.
  • At drop off and before parents drive away, all children will have their temperature checked. Following guidance, if it is over 100°, the child will not be able to attend TMA for 72 hours after symptoms dissipate or we receive a release from the child’s physician. Also following state regulations, we will ask about and send home any child who exhibits any of the following symptoms:
    • Cough
    • Chills-Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Loss of taste or smell
    • Diarrhea
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Known close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19
  • After the health check, all children are required to clean their hands before entering the building. We will use hand sanitizer to meet this requirement and then they will wash their hands with soap and water upon entering their class.
  • All children will be picked up through carline. A staff member will escort them from the classroom to the car.

We will send out more details on the specifics of each of these procedures closer to the opening of school on August 3. We will also communicate any additional changes as we continue to navigate these new health and safety protocols. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

Sincerely,
Pam Dunbar
Head of School

May 18, 2020

Dear TMA Families,

As we are officially ending the last week of the 2019-20 school year this week with graduation celebrations and parades, we are also continuing to develop and refine contingency plans for the coming summer and school year. While health and safety has always been important, it is now the number one priority. We are committed to developing and implementing systems, based on regulatory guidance and medical “best practices”, to ensure the health and safety of every child entrusted to our care.

We (the Board, Administrators and Program-Level Curriculum Coordinators) have been diligently working on contingency plans for the fall and beyond, based on numerous scenarios and in collaboration with consultants and Montessori school administrators and teachers across, and beyond, the US. We want you to know that your responses to the recent parent survey have guided our planning AND that these plans must be flexible; nothing is set in stone. As the situation is ever evolving, there will be on-going changes to our plans and answers to your questions. Updates will be provided on a regular basis in the TMA Connection.

Overall threads from the parent survey responses that were considered in our planning are as follows:

  • TMA families, particularly those with children in Infant, Toddler, and EC programs, need high quality childcare to facilitate parents who are working, at home or in a place outside of the home.
  • While families want and need childcare, they also have questions and want information about items related to health and safety, such as disinfection and cleanliness, as well as tuition.
  • Families want more guidance from teachers and more connection between classroom teachers and children. Elementary families want teachers to resume their roles as instructional designers and leaders, particularly in remote learning.

A global strategy for all contingency planning scenarios is TMA becoming a fully licensed childcare facility, beyond our Infant & Toddler Programs, so that in the event of another school closure, TMA could remain open, even if only for essential workers. Governor Abbott’s conference remarks today validate the importance of this strategy in meeting the needs of TMA families. We are reviewing the new guidelines that were released today and considering the possibility for a soft opening, beginning July 6, with a full opening as early as August 3. Much of this plan relies on the timeline of the licensing process.

Additionally, we are finalizing our plans for our summer online course offerings, some of which will be a continuation our most popular online classes and some will be new intensive courses specifically designed to challenge and enrich our elementary students.

In closing, we also want to let you know that our staff are doing well, and we all miss seeing you and your children! Additionally, prior to our school shutdown in March, two staff members, Ashley Carroll and Elaine Marshall, informed us that they will not be returning to TMA in the fall. We will greatly miss both of them and encourage you to reach out to them and express your appreciation for them as well.

Warmest Regards,
Pam Dunbar
Head of School

Our new document, Montessori at Home: A Handbook for Parents, is now available online as a resource to use during this unusual time in our lives. We hope it will provide some guidance on what to expect and how you can help your child continue to learn the Montessori way. Please let us know if you have any questions. We are here to help!

March 26, 2020

Dear TMA Parents,

First and foremost, our thoughts are with you and your families during this very uncertain time. We know this has been difficult for you as you navigate the ever changing new normal.

We will be closed until we feel it is safe for our families and staff to return. We wish that we knew an exact date, but it is changing on a daily basis. Families should plan on TMA remaining closed through the end of the school year. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we will provide updates on our schedule, summer program and year-round program.

We want you to know that TMA is in sound financial condition. The school has been run very effectively and in a fiscally conservative manner over the past 10 years. As a result, we will weather this storm and we will be fine.

TMA staff have been working on ways to keep families (parents and children) connected and assist parents with ideas for helping children learn at home. We would like to stress that all of these activities are optional and feel that your child will continue to learn and grow whether they participate or not. Every family is enduring different challenges, and we do not want to add to the stress. We also realize that families with Elementary students may have specific academic concerns. Elementary teachers will be available to work with parents to design a plan that supports your child’s needs while honoring your family’s unique situation. A Montessori at Home Handbook for Parents will be sent out tomorrow to assist you in planning activities for your children. We will also be rolling out a new online platform at the beginning of next week that will house all of these resources for parents to easily access. If you have not joined the TMA Facebook Family Network, we highly recommend you do so. It is alive and thriving! Our staff is committed to helping you through this time – please let us know what you need!

Additionally, TMA recognizes the significant financial burden that has been placed on our families by COVID-19.  Consequently, the Board has authorized a reduction in your April tuition payment to assist our families. Tuition will be adjusted in FACTS by Friday. You can also be assured that TMA staff is being paid during this time. We have also extended the application deadline for Financial Aid for 2020-21 to April 20, 2020.

We hope your family stays healthy and safe. We appreciate your support, and we miss your children! Thank you for helping taking care of our local and our global community by staying home. Together we will push through this and we will come out stronger on the other side.

Thank you.

Molly Gamades
President, TMA Board of Trustees

Pam Dunbar
Head of School

Dear TMA Parents and Staff,

Following Governor Abbott’s orders issued this afternoon, TMA will be closed an additional week, from March 30-April 3. Please know that TMA staff is actively engaged in identifying ideas and strategies to support families in applying Montessori philosophy at home during this difficult time. Our goal is to give you tools and lower your stress. Additional information will be shared next week.

We are excited by how active The Family Network has been! Interest is on the rise as 20 new members joined today! If you’re not a member, we encourage you to consider joining as a way to keep in touch with our community

The Board will meet in a closed special session in the next couple of days to determine the best way to move forward given the possibility of a longer-term school closing.  We know that, along with everything else, you have concerns about tuition payments and what the rest of the school year will look like.  We will have some answers for you next week.  We appreciate your patience as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of the Coronavirus.

Thank you for your continued support as, together, we continue to walk through this unprecedented challenge. 

Sincerely,

 

Molly Gamades                                                             Pam Dunbar

President, Board of Trustees                                     Head of School

We understand everyone must be wondering what will happen beginning on Monday. We have been waiting to hear the recommendation from the Tarrant County Health Department. This morning, the recommendation came for all schools in Tarrant County to extend Spring Break by 2 weeks as a mitigation strategy to preempt the transmission of COVID-19. The county is strongly recommending that families to stay at home and not gather together.

 

We believe this is the best strategy for our community as well. Over the next 2 weeks, we will disinfect the school so it will be ready for our eventual return. Additionally, we will be working to put together daily Montessori at home activities for Early Childhood and Elementary students which will be published on the Parent Portal, Facebook, and Bloomz. Please continue checking the Parent Portal as this will be the main location for us to keep you updated with regard to this fluid situation. 

 

The Elementary Drama Performance and Bake Sale are postponed. We will keep you updated when we know more. Classes will resume on Monday, March 30.

Mrs. Dunbar sent out an email to all families on Thursday, March 5, and included our newly Board approved Coronavirus Preparedness Plan. It also asked any families who may be traveling to an affected area, to please read the new plan carefully.

Questions have arisen about what constitutes an affected area. Because this is an evolving situation and we cannot predict where an outbreak will occur, the best we can recommend is:

  1.  Review CDC Risk Assessment Page and follow recommendations listed in Table 1. Risk Categories for Exposures Associated with International Travel or Identified during Contact Investigations of Laboratory-confirmed Cases and Table 2. Summary of CDC Recommendations for Management of Exposed Persons with by Risk Level and Presence of Symptoms.
  2. After consulting the tables, if you are asymptomatic and have either Low Risk or No Identifiable Risk, you can return to school as usual on Monday, March 16. If you have a Medium or High Risk, please follow the recommendations in the table and contact the school via email to keep us informed of the situation.
  3. After consulting the tables, If you are symptomatic, please follow the the recommendations in the table and contact the school via email to keep us informed of the situation.

This page will be updated as the need arises.