Sunny Hollow Montessori is providing toddlers, preschoolers, elementary and Junior High students a full-time on-campus education, in addition to distance learning options. On campus we are following best practices for safety and sanitation so that children can continue to learn, socialize, and thrive while parents can return to work with peace of mind. Watch our COVID-19 Safety video, below, to see for yourself.
Our intention is to cohort our students and staff by classroom to minimize the crossover with others. We will utilize the outdoors and other spaces in the building to break up the cohort, alternating between different locations much of the time. We are very fortunate that our building offers ample opportunities to easily implement state and federal recommendations.
In addition, to provide the safest environment for our students, Sunny Hollow offers:
While exact replication of what happens in our classrooms is difficult, we will work in collaboration with students and families to keep alive the culture of learning that is unique to Montessori.
Each classroom will have the technology necessary to livestream and record lessons and activities to create connections between on-campus and distance learners:
Each level will offer online connections in ways that meet the developmental needs of children, first and foremost. For example:
We can all stay together even when being physically apart!
We have an operational framework for how we will approach the 2020-2021 school year using the CDC, MDH, AAP and DHS recommendations, and we will adjust as needed as new guidance is released. Throughout our conversations, the safety and security of all the students and staff have remained our top priority.
We will continue to implement the many measures put in place for our summer program into the school year, including:
We also will implement many new measures for the start of school.
We have studied the recommendations for face coverings. Staff are required to wear masks indoors and in close proximity to others. We have also secured other personal protection equipment (PPE) such as goggles and shields, and will encourage overgarments if needed for the job responsibility. The expectation will be that Casa, Elementary and Junior High students will wear face coverings. The St Paul city ordinance requires people over two years old to wear masks in public indoor settings, and the school is mirroring that to start the school year.
At the start of the school year, classroom staff will present how to wear a mask to all students as part of general Grace and Courtesy lessons. While the caution is that young children may not manage masks well, we know that our Montessori children are independent and far more capable when given lessons. We want to be sensitive to students who cannot tolerate wearing a mask (due to sensory processing disorder, autism, an emerging emotional/behavioral control challenge, etc.) and will work with families individually. As you know, COVID safety recommendations are ever evolving and we will continue to monitor guidance and research with regard to masks and keep you updated.
SHM COVID-19 Management Plan
Despite all we are doing to prevent any exposure of our students and staff, of course we cannot guarantee that your child will not be exposed––whether at Sunny Hollow or elsewhere––or that if exposed, your child will not contract the disease. We are strictly following MDH guidelines regarding our response to students and staff who may exhibit symptoms, have been exposed and/or who have a positive COVID-19 test. We are fortunate that MDH is so responsive to schools and that we have a school nurse advising us as well.
Support for Families
As you read this, staff and Guides are working tirelessly to get ready for the opening. 2020 continues to be one of the most challenging and interesting years…ever. We know that COVID-19 has had an impact on some families. Through the turmoil, we are committed to providing a quality Montessori education and a safe and loving community for all of our families.
Casa-aged children thrive in environments that promote repetition, routine and the mastery of purposeful movement, so our Casa guides are providing activities and resources to help parents provide these at home. Our Casa children are staying connected to their Sunny Hollow teachers and classmates in a variety of ways.
For students grades 1 to 3, our learning-from-home approach is to help children engage in work that is based on their interests and also helps them learn in a wide variety of subject areas. Examples may include projects, journals, creative writing, geometry constructions, and practical life at home.
Our 7th graders are not just pioneers of our inaugural Junior High class, they are pioneering adolescent learning from home with the enthusiastic support of their teachers.
Each day the Sunny Hollow staff and I meet virtually. It’s an important part of us staying connected as a team. We always start with stories from the “classrooms”: successes, uplifting news, and things that our beloved students share. It’s time that we value as a group and a reminder of the physical energy and life your children normally fill the halls and classrooms—and our lives—with. We truly miss their presence.
The transition to virtual learning has been a significant change and challenge for all of us – each of us meeting these challenges from a different starting point. Through it all, I am grateful for the grace and courtesy with which students, families, faculty and staff have met the challenge. We take great joy in guiding learning for students through virtual and non-traditional platforms. Equally important, we are thankful for these opportunities to connect during the time apart—and your continued trust and support.
I’m writing to you today to update you on the future—uncertain as it might be at the moment—and our plans moving forward…. Read full letter here.
Links to Previous Communications Coming Soon
Are you still enrolling new students for fall?
Yes. We are accepting applications for the 2020-2021 school year on a “space available” basis. More information here.
When will Sunny Hollow open for on-site learning?
We are not sure, but we are developing plans and scenarios to consider summer options for families. We are following state and national guidelines as we make our plans. We will let families know as soon as we can.