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Coronavirus Update

Resources and School Updates

Hershey Montessori School is closely monitoring the CDC, ODH, and our local Geauga and Lake County Health Departments for updates and recommendations regarding the COVID-19/Coronavirus. We aim to ensure that we are well-informed and prepared to make sound decisions with regard to student health and risk management. News and information continues to evolve. We will update our parent community through direct email and post those communications to this page.

 

From the Head of School…

May 22, 2020

Dear Hershey Families,

In gratitude to you for our resilient community and a successful Gala!

I wish to thank our families, staff, students, board and community supporters for showing outstanding support to our Virtual Gala. There were many unknowns about how to undertake an event that only six weeks earlier we were planning to host at Cleveland’s Union Club. Our gala committee and staff showed courage, creativity and trust in the community that resulted in fantastic story-telling and fundraising activity. We do not yet have a final fundraising result but we know that we exceeded expectations! This demonstrates the resilient health of our community and how much the shared values of Montessori education for our children and adolescents is treasured.

If you missed the opportunities to connect, we have extended the window to for you to still contribute to “Raise the Paddle” for financial aid and scholarships until May 31st. You can enjoy some of the videos that tell our story when they are posted on our website.

Preparing for a safe return to campus for fall 2020!

We are making use of all that we have learned this spring and the feedback we have gathered from parents and students to design the highest quality program options for the fall. Our faculty and administration are meeting multiple times each week and are enjoying the creative space to seize an opportunity to grow our school in new ways. Most of all, we are keeping the need for social connection a priority regardless of the status of COVID-19. As we are designing our program scenarios for the fall, we are fortunate to have guidance from a task force of medical science and organizational experts from University Hospitals serving on a panel with heads of independent schools. Together we are crafting our ‘Play Book’ for a safe return to campus in the fall. We are so grateful for this resource to consult about our particular campuses and broad age ranges of students so that their health, safety and emotional wellbeing is at the forefront of our decisions.

What we have learned from our students and families during the past few months of remote learning, is that the value of our pedagogy is vital. This centers upon work-in-nature and purposeful activity in contribution-to-community. In our focused program planning, these principles are guaranteed to be a significant part of each student’s Montessori experience.

Due to the depth and care we are putting into these designs, we will need more time before we are ready to unveil the details. We very much look forward to continue to keeping you informed as we go.

Congratulations to our graduating class of 2020!
As you drive through neighborhoods of Lake, Geauga, and Cuyahoga Counties, you may spot a lawn sign that celebrates our graduating class of 2020. Their fullest engagement in a Montessori education has prepared them well to adapt to the most unexpected last quarter and to enter young adulthood with a strong sense of self, independence, curiosity to pursue their passions, and deep care for community.

Although the ritual ceremonies and events look very different this year, they are all the more honored and celebrated as the class that navigated unprecedented times in history and still succeeded.

Congratulations graduates!
Sylvia Gray Altman
George Ferguson
Shaun Matthew Edwards
Jorge Raul Gonzales Virto
Abriella Diane Minotti
Taylor Ashley Reigle
Maya Elaine Harwood
Amy E. Weeks

Congratulations also to the children who are having virtual ceremonies, with their families and staff, to cross over from the first plane of development into the second plane and from the second plane to the third!

 

In deep gratitude,

Paula Leigh-Doyle

Head of School

Hershey Montessori School

pleighdoyle@Hershey-Montessori.org

Office:   440-357-0918

 

April 21, 2020

Dear Hershey Families,

While we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been five weeks since we announced the closure of our campus facilities, as the Huntsburg Campus was beginning its two-week spring break and a week before Concord Campus’ break. Our faculty and staff certainly rose to the challenge and responded with dedicated focus to creatively offering remote learning and ways to bring more Montessori experiences into the home. Parents and students also responded with a spirit of collaboration and compassion. Parents have been incredibly gracious, responsive and encouraging to the teachers with their gratitude. Many of our families and alumni are in the front lines of service and caring for community, locally and around the globe, during this crisis. We are inspired by their selfless leadership and service in care of others. We hold a light out for them that they continue to remain healthy themselves.

Finding balance between remote learning, health and emotional wellbeing

We are keenly aware that each household is unique in its access to technology and the amount of time parents have to support their children with remote learning while also working from home themselves. We know some families are focusing on caring for someone or recovering from COVID-19 themselves. Other families are being affected by economic changes and many other uncertainties in their lives. The emotional stress is unprecedented for most of our community so I remind you to be gentle on yourselves and to consider the amount of support you can give to remote learning as being just enough within your household needs.

Your physical health and emotional wellbeing are by far the most essential priorities. Our staff have been reaching out with Zoom gatherings, one-on-one video calls, and video recorded messages as well as the on-line academic platforms. We depend on your feedback to learn what is helpful for you and for your individual children so that we can adjust our remote learning offerings as we go. We are learning much and finding affirmation in the Montessori principles that we are missing from being together on campus. One discovery we are making is that although staff rolled out a great quantity of content offerings, we all learned that many school-aged students were fatigued by sitting still for long periods and by being on computer screens for much longer than they usually would. While we will continue to offer engagement and ways to connect so that students feel there is purpose and learning in their days, we are adjusting our communications to be sure that our students can be off screen and physically moving as much as possible. The adults at home, along with the remote teachers, are also experiencing this fatigue. We all strive to stay rooted in the Montessori principles of caring for ourselves while caring for others and will continue to stay connected.  

COVID-19 impact and future planning

Also responding to the effects of this pandemic, our board of directors and administrative staff have been meeting weekly to stay informed and to plan for the needs of our school and community. The governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, has declared it unsafe for students to return to school through the rest of this academic year. We will continue to keep remote learning and connections throughout our community. Meanwhile, we are working strategically so that we are ready for our students whenever they can return to their Hershey programs in the fall of 2020. The graduating seniors are meeting with staff to plan contingencies for their graduation and prom events. So far they are deciding to wait until they can celebrate this important milestone in person. We will be sure to honor and celebrate them as soon as it is safe to do so in person together. 

We realize the economic impact this is having for some of our families and we continue to build our financial aid program with a view to meeting the needs of families who strive to return to Hershey in the fall but who face economic uncertainty due to the effects of the pandemic. Our hope is that we will reconvene, as normal, in the last week of August.  If it turns out we cannot, we have started to consider other ways in which we might begin the school year, including innovative flexible learning opportunities and various adapted program options. The date for such an announcement will depend on the emerging situation.

I recognize every individual’s situation is unique, and many of you are still coming to grips with the impact this ever-evolving situation is having on you and your families. To this end, please reach out to me or Lynette Ruple, Finance Director, with specific finance-related questions and we will be happy to respond to you in a timely way. To schedule an in-person call, please e-mail Eileen Hull at ehull@hershey-montessori.org.

We will continue to keep you informed as new information emerges regarding the pandemic and Hershey’s programs as we plan for the fall.  We are learning and listening attentively to the needs of our community, and we remain committed to supporting each of our students and families through this unprecedented time.

Please continue to take care of yourself and others and to stay connected with your beloved Hershey community.

 

In service to the child, 

Paula Leigh-Doyle

Head of School

Hershey Montessori School

pleighdoyle@Hershey-Montessori.org

Office:   440-357-0918

 

April 13, 2020

Dear Hershey Families,

Inspired by the courage of our staff, who are regularly recording themselves singing and presenting, I offer my first effort at speaking to you via video. While the presentation has plenty of room for refinement, the content is heartfelt.

This message is seven minutes long and I don’t expect many parents have that much time to pause, so perhaps you can listen to it while you are taking care of some Practical Life task such as washing the dishes. 😊

Wishes of well-being to our Hershey Families,

Paula Leigh-Doyle

Head of School

Hershey Montessori School

pleighdoyle@Hershey-Montessori.org

Office:   440-357-0918

 

March 29, 2020

Dear Hershey Parents,

I recognize that you may well be feeling challenged by the amount of electronic communication that is coming into your home so I strive to keep this note short while keeping in place another strand of connection as a community.

You will be getting much more detailed communication from the guides this evening and tomorrow with implementation of Montessori learning in the home. The Concord staff began remote Montessori work with you and your children, the week before spring break. The Huntsburg staff will be completing training on the remote learning platforms and will be uploading the initial week’s work this Monday and Tuesday. Our adolescents will have had time to connect with their advisors and with their lead class teachers and will be beginning their first orientation work by Wednesday.

We recognize everything that is happening is “new” and that staff, students and parents will surely make mistakes as we go.  I hope you will join us in being curious to learn from the feedback that mistakes bring us. This feedback will be part of our science of learning together, which is how Montessori came to be thus far. Thanks to your communication with the staff, we can continue to individualize and meet the needs of the individual child and the family.  Most of all we will strive together for our children and adolescents to learn how adults manage during a time of great uncertainty and how communities of care rise up in new ways of service to each other.

I will keep in touch with you as we hear more information from the CDC and our health agencies. Until this all passes, we will be creative, resilient and connected in new ways.

In gratitude for our community connections,

Paula Leigh-Doyle

Head of School

Hershey Montessori School

pleighdoyle@Hershey-Montessori.org

Office:   440-357-0918

 

March 12, 2020

Dear Hershey Families,

I wish to update you on the current efforts to slow the progress of the COVID19 virus in Ohio. Governor DeWine has ordered all schools to close beginning no later than Monday, March 16 and remain closed until no sooner than April 6, 2020. Both of Hershey Montessori School’s campuses will be open tomorrow as we recognize the practical challenges for parents that these changes can create. We leave the decision up to your family as to whether your child comes to school tomorrow. All absences will be recorded as an excused absence. Morning care will proceed as usual tomorrow at the Concord Campus, but there will be no aftercare, and all Concord children must be picked up at the 3:20 p.m. dismissal. The Huntsburg bus will arrive as usual by 4:20 p.m. You can stop by to collect snow suits, boots or personal belongings at any time before dismissal tomorrow. There will be no school beginning Monday, March 16 through, at least, Monday, April 6, 2020. We will continue to keep you informed with any new information or changes. You also can find updates about the outbreak on the Ohio Department of Health’s website here.

We recommend that international students keep their return travel plans open due to the potential of changes in return dates based upon the rapidly changing information from our government health agencies. I remind all families that if you are in a region or country that is listed at high risk / level 3, you will be required to complete 14 days of quarantine off campus before returning. Any family who is concerned about symptoms in their household, or who has been exposed to a diagnosed case of COVID-19, should notify the school. If a student has been in contact with a diagnosed case, we will be requiring quarantine and a signed medical statement before that student can return to campus.

The staff will be working on creating remote learning content with a view to giving students engaging work and ways to create and to communicate with their teachers after spring break. For Hershey families with children under six years of age, the staff will be sending materials and activities that parents can choose to offer to their child at home. They also will be sharing activities for students to do at home that can engage them as much as possible off-screen time. Most of all, we are valuing the importance of staying connected as a community, so staff are already eagerly planning ways that we can do that with our students and our families after spring break. We will communicate these ways to connect and engage from home as the plans are completed. Although we may not be sure how the situation will develop, we will be ready for students, either on campus or remotely, by or before April 6.

As this is a time of uncertainty and change we join you in wishing to help our children feel cared for and as safe as possible. We attach an article from the National Association of School Psychologist on how to talk with your children about the virus. We also have created a page on our website with school communications and some helpful related resources. You can find that information here. While this is a very concerning time for all, I believe that our community will be resilient and will rally to be our best selves toward meeting our fundamental needs and caring for each other.

I will keep you posted on any new information and with the plans for how we will offer remote learning for our students at each stage of development.

In service to the child and our community well-being,

Paula Leigh-Doyle

Head of School

Hershey Montessori School

pleighdoyle@Hershey-Montessori.org

Office:   440-357-0918

 

March 11, 2020

Dear Hershey Parents,

We send this notice with a view to keep you informed about our response to the current COVID19 virus outbreak. The health and wellbeing of our children, staff and community is of utmost importance to us. There has been no report of concern for students or staff at our school. We are monitoring the facts daily and staying informed by the CDC and local government health agencies.  As this is a quickly evolving situation, we will provide updates on changes as appropriate. For now, we continue to follow the CDC recommendations and require that any student or family who travels to any of the Risk-Level 3 countries, or any subsequently declared regions in the United States, complete the 14-day self-imposed quarantine before coming on campus. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html

Countries that have a Level 3 Travel Health Notice (widespread, ongoing transmission) currently include:

The Huntsburg and 6th year class trips will most likely be cancelled by this outbreak also. We will continue to assess the situation regionally and globally each day and will keep you informed of any changes. In the event that there might be a need for the Huntsburg Campus to close for a future period, the staff will be prepared to offer remote learning, and students will be required to continue to be engaged in learning through new and creative ways of connecting with their teachers and each other through on-line instruction, assignments and collaboration.  If the Concord Campus remained open during a Huntsburg Campus closure, student absences due to health concerns will be excused during this period.

In the event that the Concord Campus might need to close for a future period, the staff will prepare remote learning work for elementary children. The staff will prepare materials and resources for Montessori in the home for families in Children’s House, Young Child Community, and Parent Infant programs.

In the meantime, we continue to be diligent with hygiene practices, which include hand washing, avoiding touching our faces, covering coughs and sanitizing surfaces daily. I remind you that children and staff who develop a fever may not return to campus until the child, or staff person, has been fever-free without medication for 25 hours.  In the case that children or staff with additional symptoms to the fever, such as cough or shortness of breath, the family should contact their health provider to determine if further testing might be necessary.  Please report all symptoms of the illness when you call absences into the school.

For now, we are grateful that life, learning, community engagement and joy continue on our campuses, and we strive to keep the school conditions conducive to safe and healthy learning environments. I appreciate that all Hershey parents are contributing to that shared vision.

Best regards,

Paula Leigh-Doyle

Head of School

Hershey Montessori School

pleighdoyle@Hershey-Montessori.org

Office:   440-357-0918

 

February 28, 2020

Dear Hershey Parents,

The health and safety of our students and staff are the top priority of Hershey Montessori School.  We have been following the facts from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) about the potential outbreak of COVID-19/Coronavirus. We strive to remain practical and seek to avoid alarming our children and young adolescents. But we also want to convey that we are alert, diligent and prepared for any potential situation that could affect our school community. Please note that there have been no documented cases of COVID- 19 in Ohio. We are following the guidance of the health department authorities in preparing for all contingencies.

We are following the protocol for personal hygiene and for observing children’s health that we have in place to prevent the spread of the flu and other contagious diseases. In the event that there is a warning from the CDC or our county health departments for extra control actions, we have developed a response plan for the care of our students on campus and for decisions regarding closing campus for day students. If it becomes necessary to close school for a period of time, the staff will share work assignments electronically, as appropriate to age and grade level, for students to complete from home.

Our preparations for the Huntsburg boarding students, should the health department require day schools to close, includes complete safety protocol, staffing, comfort and engagement for our residential community.

If your family plans to travel to regions identified as impacted by the epidemic over the spring break, we request that you follow the CDC guidelines regarding safety precautions as well as the guidelines to avoid non-essential travel to countries listed on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/. Those guidelines include 14 days of self-quarantine and monitoring for symptoms. If you do travel to these regions, we request that you keep your children home from school for 14 days following travel.

We will continue to communicate with you if there is new information about the health and safety of our community, which is foremost in our mind. In the interest of the overall wellbeing of our children, we suggest limiting exposure to constant media messaging about the virus for children between the ages of infancy through 12 years. We are dedicating to ensure that our children continue to grow in an emotionally and physically safe environment.

Thank you for supporting the well-being of our community by following the safety guidelines of the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/.) If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or Judy Venaleck.

 

In service to the child,

Paula Leigh-Doyle

Head of School

Hershey Montessori School

pleighdoyle@Hershey-Montessori.org

Office:   440-357-0918