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COVID-19

SAFE START – FALL 2020-2021

Living Montessori Safe Start – Fall 2020-2021 Dynamic planning and guidebook

Introduction

I want to offer my sincere thanks for all those who took the time to attend the Friday 7-17-2020 round-table and for your continued support. We couldn’t have made it this far without you. Your engagement provides a vital exchange of information to strengthen our partnership and assist our school in understanding how to best serve our community. I very much appreciated your comments and questions as well as your response to our surveys, providing valuable insights for our planning. I want to thank all the families who took the time to complete the survey. In the coming weeks we will provide more information of our findings, which are all being considered in our planning.

This document is long but an important one. It is intended to address many questions you may have and provide general guidance as well as confidence as we plan for the children to safely start or continue their education with Living Montessori.

The School Superintendent, Chris Reykdal has announced that schools are expected to reopen in the fall and has encouraged all schools to offer on-site education as long as they can meet the health and safety requirements.

This Safe Start for Fall – Dynamic Planning and Guidebook is developed as an evolving document to keep our community up to date on the school’s preparation, considerations and plans for the 2020-2021 school year. It will be available on our website and updated periodically.

With our purpose and the Montessori Pedagogy in mind, Living Montessori is committed to offering as full a range of our program, as it is possible, within the parameters of the law while wisely using the guidance provided by the authorities. The health and safety of our education community is paramount. The emotional and mental health of our students is also vital and is seriously considered in our “Safe Start for Fall” planning.

The Washington State Governor, DCYF, DOH, CDC and OSPI give our school guidance or direction. It is important to point out that some agencies provide guidance, which is taken into consideration and is implemented, as it is feasible for the viability of the program and developmentally appropriate. Where it is clear that the protocol is law and not just guidance we will follow it to the letter. Over the summer, as we receive new information/mandates/ proclamation/guidance from the above authorities and agencies, we will continue to update this guidebook.

CDC promotes school opening and points out that “extended school closure is harmful to children.”  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/reopening-schools.html

In a following email, you will find a comprehensive document created by my husband, William Duncan PhD (physics), whom I introduced during the round table on July 17th. William has passionately followed the scientific data within our nation and around the world from the onset of the pandemic. He has arduously studied scientific papers and publications to help our school include appropriate data in order for us to make well informed decisions and provide factual resources for our community. Contrary to the common perception, this document tries to show that the current phase of the spread of the virus is far less hazardous than the widely promoted impressions. Using data from DOH and CDC It includes facts, graphs and their interpretation and also points to studies showing minimal danger to children.

Keeping childcare and early learning programs open, in some cases without social distancing or masks, throughout our nation and around the world has proven the point CDC makes in the link above. Our early learning and childcare program, which has remained open since March, now has approximately 90 students in attendance with no confirmed Covid-19 cases. Following scientific data from the onset of the pandemic rather than driven by popular misconception fed by media, and offering childcare since the governor issued the stay at home order, we have gained the confidence and the experience of remaining safely open. Many schools across the globe have opened successfully and many in the US are planning to open. They report that distance learning was a disaster.

With the realization that distance learning does not work, Orange County recently voted to allow K – 12 schools to open, as their discretion, with no masks and social distancing for the children.  Special Meeting Agenda 07.13.2020.pdf

https://www.uvm.edu/uvmnews/news/kids-rarely-transmit-covid-19-say-uvm-docs-top-journal

Living Montessori intends to provide onsite education for all programs unless the governor issues orders to the contrary.

I want to emphasize that Living Montessori will not necessarily follow the Bellevue or any other Washington school Districts’ decision to close campus and move to distance learning. The cumbersome nature of public schools can be overwhelming. The logistics of opening some of the public schools may be more complex than those of private schools like ours. For instance, some public schools have to cope with teacher unions, bus transport, and space limitation due to large group sizes and an overall larger student body. Living Montessori is mostly void of such circumstances. The nature of our program, the ability to mobilize fairly quickly, our oversized classrooms and many other particulars afford us the ability to meet current safe opening criteria and give our students the advantage of on-site, hands on learning. While we understand each family’s decision will have unique factors to be considered and that you will each make the best decision you can for your children, we strongly believe that the academic, social and emotional development of children is at stake with school closures. Our school is committed to advocating for children.

There is a lot of conflicting information and families are often torn between safety and education. Perhaps you can have both, if your situation allows. It is our sincere hope that you will find the resources here useful as you make difficult decisions for your children or that they provide confidence if you wish to have your children continue their attendance in school.

Living Montessori Safe Start for fall 2020-2021

Our commitment to every student

Although we will continue to advocate for students to be on-site, I want to assure you that some level of “at-home learning” option will be available to all families who decide to keep their children home. The Primary students’ families will receive a registration form on Wednesday 7/29. The rest of program level registration will follow accordingly. Completion of this registration will help us determine the number of students expected to school from home. The number of students registered in each level will determine the extent of our ability to offer at-home learning options. For example a minimum of 10 Primary students registered for at-home learning option, for the full school year, will allow for a dedicate full time Primary teacher. Fewer than 10 students will require a greater amount of parental support in order for students to continue their learning goals and/or meet the required hours (450 hours For kindergarten level students). Elementary level will be handled separately due to other factors involved. More information will be available soon.

Safe Start logistics

Physical distance 6’

Montessori Principle – Control the environment not the students. In our planning, many factors have been taken into account, including the children’s social and emotional needs as well as what we know about children’s brain development. Being mindful of the fact that children need experiential learning, they do not physically distance easily and require social interactions and physical touch to fully develop, our decisions were not made lightly.

Taking advantage of our oversized classrooms as well as an abundance of overall indoor spaces, we have established strategies to naturally encourage physical distancing to the extent that it is developmentally appropriate. Strategically placed Stations and workspaces and creating careful traffic flow will support children to “read” the environment and naturally move and position themselves to adequately distance from one another. Teachers will also gently guide and/or redirect children, where appropriate, to encourage physical distance.

Outdoors we will continue our practice where each pod is in a separate playground space. With 5 playground areas to choose from we can comfortably accommodate all students by staggering outdoor schedules.

Regarding number of students per classroom. Our goal is to ultimately move towards full classrooms of 20 students in each of the primary and elementary (ages 3 to grade 6) classrooms, 14 in each of the Early Preschools classrooms, 12 in each of the older toddler classrooms and 8 in the infant-toddler classroom.  This is the number that supports independence and maximized learning opportunity from the environment and currently recommended by DCYF. Our square footage supports these numbers.  However, as we continue to plan for fall, we will remain open to make adjustments to the group sizes if the need arises so as to reasonably allow for appropriate physical distancing.

Pods (aka. Cohorts or bubbles)

To minimize crossover, Pods will be created throughout the campus. Each pod will likely consist of a couple of classrooms or more depending on the number of students in each classroom. The individuals supporting each of the pods will mostly remain the same. Some exception will need to be made to allow for substitutes, Program Directors and other faculty members to adequately support the program. Living Montessori will practice all the safety guidelines published by DOH for this specific purpose.

Hygiene

All current practices will continue. Some examples are as follows:

All individuals must wash hands or use hand sanitizer (adults only) upon entering the building/classroom. Frequent hand washing is a daily part of our staff and children’s day. All children, current and returning will begin fall classes with a review of hygiene practices that prevent germs from spreading. These practices include washing hands, proper nose blowing, keeping hands off the face, etc. Teachers will continue to clean and sanitize materials, all surfaces and high tough areas in classrooms frequently throughout the day.

Materials are sanitized frequently after use. Items that go in the mouth are placed in a separate bin and sanitized before placing them back on the shelf.

Facility is regularly cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. All high touch surfaces such as doorknobs, faucets, light switches, sign in and out pads, are disinfected several times a day. Nightly janitorial staff will continue to thoroughly clean and disinfect the facility including all the bathrooms.

Health Screening

Temperatures of all children and staff will be taken upon arrival. General illness health screening will occur in the form of observation and questions of child’s overall health. Current Health Policy applies. Refer to the handbook for all health policy questions. An updated handbook with Covid-19 addendum will be available in August. The most current DOH guidelines will be implemented.

Masks

Effective June 26th. Masks are required by DOH and the Governor for all children ages 5 and over, as well as all staff and adults in the building. Your children will be supported throughout the day to manage any difficulties that may arise from this new protocol.

The following exceptions to wearing a mask apply:

– Currently children are not expected to wear masks when outside. (Our school will be planning more outside activities including some academic time, particularly for primary and elementary students).

– If a child or an adult has a disability and cannot comfortably wear or remove the mask

-Individuals with a respiratory condition or those advised by medical professionals or behavioral health specialists.

-Exceptions will only be made with a Doctor’s note

Children under 5 are not expected to wear a mask

Our observation is that masks do not meet the intention in young children and is counterproductive. Young children play with their masks, remove them for comfort, misplace them or lose them. Children are more likely to touch their faces when wearing a mask.

No masks are to be worn by children ages 2 and under

OSPI Elementary guidelines / requirements

-Onsite education beginning September

-Minimal to no disruption – unless Governor orders closure

-Unless the Governor orders closures, each district and private school will have the flexibility and responsibility of methods used to meet safety guidelines or determine closures. This flexibility will allow schools, not impacted by positive Covid-19 cases, to remain open with the least amount of disruptions.

-Private schools must meet 450 hours of instruction for Kindergarten students and 1000 hours for students in grades 1-6.

-School days may be extended into summer if adequate hours are not met.

-Alternatively, shortening school breaks such as winter and spring breaks may make up missing time.

Equity

Schools must determine the most equitable way to educate all children. This could mean, for example, accommodating children who need to quarantine if school is on-site or vice versa, accommodating children needing to be onsite while school moves to distance learning.

Arrival/Departure Procedure

Drop off and Pick up procedure to be announced later. We may continue with the process that has been implemented over the summer with minor changes. There is a possibility that Transparent Classroom may develop an app parents can download onto their devise for sign-in and sign-out purpose. This may include a health questionnaire to be completed prior to drop off. We will keep you updated.

-Temperature of all individuals entering the building will be taken upon arrival.

-Adults must use hand sanitizers to sign their children in and out

-Physical distance will be expected

-Adults entering the building are expected to wear a mask unless they have underlying conditions prohibiting the use of masks.

– Parents must remain outside the classrooms unless the teacher deems it necessary for the emotional need of a child.

– Late drop offs or early pick-ups will not be permitted without prior arrangements.

Tours

Will be limited to 1 family at a time but a maximum of 3 families may be acceptable if physical distance can be attained.

Delivery of our Program

Academic

Private schools are not expected to follow district wide strategies due to varying school and community needs. We plan to maintain the traditional Montessori Method and offer as full a range of our program as much as possible every day.

Before and After School Care

TBD – We would like to offer before and after school care, however, our ability to provide care will be dependent on a number of factors. For example, number of students per pod, if less than 10, will have staffing implications limiting our options. We are currently seeking guidance from DCYF in this situation and we are looking at before and after care enrollment per pod. More information will be available after mid August.

Specialty Enrichment

We would love to continue offering all the programs our students have benefited from. If minimum enrollment per pod is achieved we will likely offer a few specialty enrichment options. Thus far Woodworking and dance vendors have confirmed their availability to work with our logistics. We are waiting on Soccer shots and Capoeira.

Enrichment

Music, Art and foreign language (LMA) may be limited or adjusted to minimize crossover. Teachers offering any of these classes will follow the DOH safety protocols. Please look for updates.

Field Trips

Volunteers for field trips will be limited or eliminated.

Seattle Children’s Theatre– is expected to continue barring any new restrictions.

Farm Trip – canceled

Science Seattle Science Centre- will be offered with an in-house experience

Elementary overnight– planning is underway barring any unforeseen restrictions.

Recreation/outdoor recess

As much as possible more outdoor time will be offered. This may include some academics as well enrichment activities.

Mealtimes

 We expect to continue to offer the current organic meal program, which includes snacks and lunch.

-Meals may be offered in individual classrooms

-Seating to be spaced out Montessori style – age appropriate

-Adult to serve the meals instead of family style where children serve themselves.

Events

Curriculum night-moved online

Fall carnival – school day celebration by class unless guidance or requirements change.

Advancement- to be determined

Staff Preparation and training

As a result of remaining open through the pandemic our staff have been thoroughly training on processes to ensure safety. We have increased our training to include supporting children and families during these unreliable times and transitions back to school. More training is scheduled prior to September with continuous training throughout the school year. All Lead staff will receive further technology training to ensure a successful At-home learning program during closures or as needed to support children not attending school.

Closures, Quarantine, Testing

Living Montessori intends to remain open and offer on-site learning except when driven by the following:

Emergency Care – Quarantine and School Closure

(Quarantine will last for 14 days)

Pod Quarantined

Individuals in each pod will remain within their assigned pods as much as possible. If there is a positive Covid-19 test result within a pod the affected pod will quarantine for 10 to 14 days and move to at-home learning for that time period.

Mandatory K-12 closure only – Directed by the Governor

K-12 will move to distance learning within two days of closure.

K students who are in the Primary classroom may come for childcare. They will remain with their class/teacher

All other programs will remain open

All school – mandatory closure (child care, early education, primary and elementary)

All school will move to at-home learning supported by our teachers. Over the summer we are considering other tools and activities to ensure a high level of engagement during At-home learning periods.

Student is quarantined

If a student comes in contact with a confirmed case but not showing symptoms or testing positive, student will remain home for 14 days and watch for the following symptoms: Fever or 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 or diarrhea. Contact the child’s physician for further guidance if symptoms are present. Distance learning opportunities will be made available if student is well enough to participate.

Parent or family member quarantined

If a child comes in contact with a Parent or a family member who has tested positive with Covid-19 they will need to inform the school. Child will need to remain home for 14 days. The school, for further guidance, will contact DOH.

Staff quarantined

If a staff member is tested positive with Covid-19 the staff member will remain home for a minimum of 14 days and at for 24 to 72 hrs. of being symptom free.

Depending on the nature of close contact DOH will determine if Pod must also quarantine. More likely the Pod will need to quarantine.

Family chooses to remain home if school or child care/early learning remains open

At-home learning for children of families, who opt to keep them home, while program is open, is being evaluated. This situation comes with much complexity and requires a well thought out solution. Our commitment is to ensure consistency for all students and offer a high quality, meaningful program. For some of our programs we are considering the idea of having a dedicated teacher for those requiring distance learning. This may only be feasible if sufficient number of students consistently remains in the distance-learning program for the full year. Having said that, we are by no means advocating for children to stay home. On the contrary, we strongly discourage families from keeping their children home unless they are at high risk. We are very concerned that children are missing important developmental milestones.

Classroom placement Questions

What if my child has a sibling in your school, how will my children be placed?

We will do our best to place siblings within the same age group/program, (e.g both are in the Primary program) in the same Pod and not necessarily the same classroom. This may present a challenge but we will have a better idea in mid August.

Will my child have the same teacher?

We intend to do our absolute best to place every child with the teacher they had in the previous school year or in the later part of the school year, if it is determined to be the best placement for your child. This said, given all the logistics we cannot guarantee this placement.

Financial Implication

Tuition was set with a number of assumptions, including enrollment. It did not factor in loss of revenue due to Covid-19 and the increased expense to mitigate the health and safety of our community. Additionally, tuition for the most part was not increased as is typically done at the beginning of each school year. All tuition will therefore remain the same.

At-home learning option

Tuition option will be modified to Option 4 (This option is a school year 9:00 am to 3:00 pm option that does not include breaks, summer or before and after care), with an addendum, for those selecting At-home learning option for the full school year. It is important to note that this option will only be offered with a full school year commitment. Contracts will be modified to reflect a full school year tuition commitment. Please be on the look out for registration.

Contractual changes

For all other contractual changes for students attending on-site, please contact Admissions. There may be an ability to make changes. Change fees and other fees may apply if changing to a lesser option.

Wherever not mentioned, the health guidelines from the following sources will be considered.

For K-12

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/FallGuidanceK-12.pdf

For all other programs

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DOH-OSPI-DYCF-SchoolsChildCareGuidance.pdf

https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/coronavirus-covid-19/early-learning

Our plans are based on current information and guidance. We want to remind you that a lot can change in just a few days. We will continue to keep you informed. Our next round table discussion is scheduled for August 14th at 4:00 pm. We hope to see you then.

Our Sincere thanks for your continued support and participation.

If you have any questions please email them to: stephaniej@livingmontessori.com

A Quantitative View of the Corona Virus Epidemic in Washington State As of July 25th 2020

THE WHOLE STATE
The recent increase in cases in counties across Washington State is causing quite some concern across the state. Indeed media headlines and statements by public figures, express alarming sentiments such as ‘the virus is raging across the state’. However, the situation warrants a closer look so we can develop a calmer view beyond the hysteria.

To understand how severe the current cases are we would want to compare the numbers at the peak of the most deadly out break with the current numbers for our state. We will use the official data from the Washington state department of health website in this endeavor. The peak in hospitalizations cases and deaths in Washington occurred close to the end of March, 2020. Unfortunately, testing was very limited at the time (about 4,000 per day on average) and began to ramp up steadily at the beginning of June to the current average level of around 14,000 per day. If, as is extremely likely, neither the current nor the previous testing regime capture the true number of infections, it is difficult to compare the two outbreaks – the more tests the more positive cases when all of the testing under samples the true number of infections per day. In fact, there are two ways to see the numerical direction of the spread of the virus, one is to freeze the testing regime and see if cases rise, fall or stay the same. The second is to test and retest a number of truly randomly selected cohorts of the population. A simple estimate of the relative numbers can be made, however, if we look at the percentage positive rate of tests at the first outbreak and compare it with the percentage of positive tests measured under the current regime of a greatly enhanced daily testing rate. Looking at the numbers from the DOH plot we see that this was about 10% positive at the end of March and about 5% at the 18th of July (the last few days in grey in the plots are regarded as incomplete by the DOH).

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020COVID19/DataDashboard

The current cases would then need to be multiplied by 5%/10% = ½ to allow a comparison. Whilst unlikely to be perfect, it’s a way to get an estimate of the relative severity of the two peaks. Using this factor of ½ indicates that the current peak is about the same as the most deadly time of the epidemic in late March this year (i.e. average recent peak is ~700, divide by two is 350 and the peak at the end of March was about 375 cases per day).

However, is it really the same severity in terms of hospital admissions and mortality?  We can look at hospitalizations and deaths and see that hospitalizations are a little less than half of that at the most intense time in the epidemic in WA.

Death rates are currently about 5 per day; a factor of 6 lower than the peak of about 30 per day. It should be noted that around 150 of us die every day in Washington State from other causes.

This means that we must be in a different phase of the spread of the virus in our state: a phase where the virus is spreading with a much lower level of illness per infection.

HOSPITALIZATIONS – A KEY METRIC?
The Governor has set as one of the conditions for reopening a county that no more than 10% of hospital admissions in that county should be COIVD-19 related. At the time of writing, only two counties are above the 10% rate. Arguably, this is the key metric for reopening – it responds quickly to an increase in cases and if it stays low, it means the virus is spreading with less severe illness and/or in an asymptomatic way. Ramping up testing is in some sense superfluous if hospitalization rates are low and may cause confusion unless the testing regime can detect the true infection rate.

KING COUNTY
There may be timing differences in the spread of the virus across our state where the timing of the spread of the virus is delayed or ahead of the spread in other counties due to geographical and population movement, so we look at King County. King County is the most populous county and the site of the first major COVID-19 outbreak in WA and the US. Are cases here running out of control with huge loss of life?

Below is the testing plot for King County and the ratio of positive tests is 14% at the peak and 3.5% now – a ratio of 4.

Here, below is the cases per day curve for King County – one can see the onset of correlation of increased cases with increased testing beginning in June.

The ratio of 4 would put the current case level of 160 or so per day to an end of March equivalent of 40 per day to allow comparisons with the peak of 150 per day at the end of March when the testing rate was much lower. We can also compare the cases per day just before testing increased in June. This is about 30 per day just before the onset of increased testing. What is remarkable is that the number of positive cases are currently going down even at the time of increased testing. This indicates that the cases are truly declining in King County even though our testing regimes do not by any means capture the true number of infections.

Do hospitalizations and deaths in King County match this view?

This plot (above) indicates 9 hospitalizations per day currently compared with a peak of about 40 per day. This is a small rise from 5 per day, just before the increase in testing, to 9 per day likely reflecting the increase from about 30 cases per day at the beginning of increased testing to the effective 40 cases per day at the current time.

The deaths per day, taken from the above chart are less than 1 per day on average with some days with no COVID-19 deaths at all. As the apparent increase in cases began in June, even with the time lag between testing and deaths, an increase in death rate should already be apparent in King County.

The King County data indicates a waning spread of the virus with low rates of hospital admissions and low death rates even after the protests in the county, 4th July celebrations and more economic activity. This is good news in that King County had the first major outbreak in WA, is the most populous county in WA and should be further along the path than other counties. We should expect other counties to follow this path in the days to come. The recent outbreaks in various parts of the state are perhaps to be expected as Washingtonians return to work, but we can see they are of much weaker threat level than earlier in the epidemic.

We have to remember that without an anti-viral drug or a vaccine there is, at first sight, no end game for COVID-19 and we still have to open our schools and economy. However, it is part of the understanding of epidemics and used in theory that a virus tends to infect the most vulnerable first and populations are not uniformly vulnerable. This means the spread of the virus with time is amongst increasingly resistant people so – the severity of illness declines with time.

This also means that herd immunity is more easily obtained than first thought. For COVID-19 this seems to mean about 10 to 15% of a population needs to be infected (meaning that about 75 to 80% of people have some prior immunity to corona viruses – a recent Nature paper and other papers have shown that some people have T-cell responses to CoV-SARS-2 even though they have never been exposed to the virus). This ‘herd’ immunity has already occurred in parts of Europe including the much maligned Sweden (who, unfortunately, allowed the virus into many of their large elderly care facilities and doubled their mortality rate as a consequence) and, for instance, in NYC. There will still be outbreaks as there will be small pockets of vulnerable people that may be exposed as restrictions relax. However, these should not flare up into major outbreaks if we continue to isolate the most vulnerable amongst us. Thus, as we cannot eliminate the virus, the best-case scenario seems to be to have the virus spread with low levels of disease until the virus has great difficulty in finding another host.

Another piece of good news is that children are at minimal risk from COVID-19. There have been
no deaths in WA in the 0-18 age range. We also know, from the Governor’s experiment of keeping
childcare open all through the epidemic, that childcare centers are not infection spreading sources, despite the fact that some essential workers are highly exposed to the virus. Children may be infected by adults but they rarely become ill nor do they, except on rare occasion, infect other children, adults or other family members. In Austria they have allowed grandparents and children of 10 years old or younger to mingle for the last several months.

The safe childcare experience in our state certainly seems to match the experience of countries around the world as they open schools. Indeed Orange County in CA recently voted to allow K-12 schools to open (at their discretion) – without masks and social distancing. Their document is well worth the read:
https://ocde.us/Board/Documents/2020%20Agendas/Special%20Meeting%20Agenda%2007.13.2020.pdf

The CDC now recommends that schools recommence face-to-face operation and points out that “Extended school closure is harmful to children…”
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/reopening-schools.html

Pediatricians from the University of Vermont recently published this article in the prestigious journal, Pediatrics – the link provides a summary of the article.
https://www.uvm.edu/uvmnews/news/kids-rarely-transmit-covid-19-say-uvm-docs-top-journal

From CDC data, the chances of a child dying from COIVD-19 in the USA are about a factor 7 less than the chances of them dying from pneumonia and flu.

William Duncan PhD (Physics)
Living Montessori Scientist
STEM Program

PS To show the steady reduction of mortality as the virus spreads amongst a population, here is the curve for Sweden up to the 27th July from the CoVibes web site (0 deaths on the 27th July and 39 new cases). With no lockdown, and if the whole population was vulnerable, the total number of deaths should have been ~ 70,000 (assuming a case fatality rate of 1% and 70% of the 10 million people in Sweden need to be infected to reach herd immunity). Instead of the actual number is 5700.

The Pandemic

Initial document prepared May 14th. Some minor updates added June 23rd 2020.

It seems obvious that the virus cannot be eliminated in the world population until effective vaccines are developed – its propagation must be managed to allow a controlled spread of the virus whilst allowing economies to function. To put the virus into context, the death rate in Europe will be about 20% more than the last severe flu season (2017/18).

Initial responses to the spread of the virus have used periods of social distancing and stay at home orders to reduce case and death rates especially amongst the at risk older population and to avoid overwhelming the hospital and healthcare systems. In Washington, the Governor’s action and the response of Washingtonians have diminished cases and most importantly the hospitalization and death rates. These rates have reduced greatly in May and June and have not followed the dire estimates from some models and emergency hospitals were not needed. Indeed, the use of masks, hand washing and social distancing may be allowing more asymptomatic/low illness severity spread of the virus. It has also been encouraging to see no spikes in cases following recent street protests. Indeed, it is becoming clear that we have to focus on hospitalization and death rates, not just case rates.

In Washington State, the normal average daily death rate is about 150 persons per day. The current COVID-19 death rate of 5 to 10 persons per day is a small perturbation on that number (see chart in Reference 1). At the peak of the outbreak in Washington the COVID-19 death rate was ~40 per day and we may still see short-term fluctuations or statistical corrections that might approach that level on top of a falling rate. The death rate is now at the level where other effects of the stay at home policy, such as fear of seeking medical attention, may add or subtract from the death rate. For instance, the reduction of traffic may reduce traffic related deaths, fear of may increase the suicide rate and deaths from drug overdose may increase, and untreated heart attacks and reduced rates of cancer diagnosis and childhood vaccination may cause longer term rises in illness and morbidity.

As the economy reopens, continued use of age appropriate social distancing, face masks, frequent hand washing, temperature measurement combined with testing, contact tracing and self-isolation of those testing positive will be needed to control outbreaks as we are likely far from herd immunity. These measures may also help reduce the viral load that occurs in an inadvertent infection. The viral load experienced in an infection seems to be important in determining the severity of the disease (see the German epidemiological study by Prof Hendrick Streeck in Reference 2). The infection with low doses of virus may also be allowing symptom-free spread of the virus. Hence, the important parameters to monitor in testing and contact tracing may not be just the number of infections in an outbreak but also take into consideration the number of hospitalizations associated with an outbreak.

Even as the economy opens up, it will remain important throughout to isolate the elderly and those adults with underlying health conditions known to increase hospitalizations and mortality.
To open the economy requires switching to a more local control of outbreaks via testing and contact tracing. This seems to have been successfully used by other countries to confine outbreaks, whilst allowing significant economic activity. Additionally, the development and use of antiviral drugs (e.g. Gilead Science’s drugs Remdesivir) and some steroids would help reduce the time patients with COVID19 stay in the hospital and death rates and hence reduce pressure on health care systems. The psychological effects of the pandemic can also not be underestimated, with some forecasts predicting an extra 70 thousand addition suicides in 2020 due to fears of the pandemic, the economic fall out and the stress of being confined at home.
– see https://www.ecowatch.com/coronavirus-mental-health-drugs-suicide2645952573.html?rebelltitem=5#rebelltitem5
https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/30/suicides-two-health-care-workers-hint-at-covid-19-mentalhealth-crisis-to-come/ (in case hyperlinks fail to open, please copy and paste links into your web browser) https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/cheap-steroid-first-drug-shown-reduce-death-covid19-patients

Despite the fact that in the US we are still close to the peak of infections with rates still upwards of 20,000 per day and recently risen to 30,000 per day as a few states reopened before going through a peak, the overall hospitalization and death rates from the virus are still falling – see Reference 3 for a copy of page 13 of the weekly updated CDC report that shows the mortality rate for pneumonia, COVID-19 and influenza for May 2nd reported on May 14th – see also the Covibes or Worldometer data for June 23rd. This graph may indicate a seasonality to the spread of the virus, or some mutation in the virus to a less severe illness, or a reduction of the number of possible cases due to natural or acquired immunity from infections by other types of corona viruses of a portion of the population and to symptom-free spread of the disease or a combination of these, perhaps, with other unknown factors.

The numbers of people who are naturally immune and the numbers of symptom- free infections
remains unknown though the data from the Diamond Princess indicates that only about 25% or so of the population are vulnerable. To obtain these vital numbers will require reliable tests for antibodies from randomly chosen samples of a population. Knowing these important numbers will allow close estimation of how many people will need to be infected to achieve some level of herd immunity/reduced illness response to the virus if they are re-infected.

In predicting the number of cases in an outbreak, there are many models being used that have had varying success (some greatly overestimating cases and deaths) in predicting the course of the outbreak. Models must estimate many parameters imprecisely and are difficult to get right. However, there seems to be an almost universal epidemiological curve that can be fitted to any outbreak, even when different forms of social distancing are in place, as long as the methodology of measuring an outbreak remains consistent during the outbreak. See Reference 4 for a link and reproduction of some of the curves for the US from the CoVibes web site created by Dr Patrick Tam. We think this will be useful to decision makers. For instance, the curves for the US predict a total of about 125 to 150 thousand deaths as the epidemic recedes – more details in Reference 4 below.

Children and COIVD-19
We are fortunate indeed that children are the least at risk from this highly contagious disease. The Swiss research strongly suggests that children under 10 are not easily infected and may have low numbers of receptors for the virus (Reference 5) and are allowing brief contact between grandparents and children. Additional, very detailed research in Iceland (Reference 6) that can detect the direction of infection, shows that adults can infect children but it is extremely rare for children to infect adults. Other countries are opening up their schools or, like Sweden, never closed their schools for under 16’s. As cases are falling in Sweden it seems like the mingling of children at school is not resulting in a huge spread of the disease amongst staff and parents. In our own state, childcare has been open since the stay at home order – due to the fear at the time of overwhelming the health cares system, the Governor needed to keep essential workers attending their jobs in the healthcare system and other essential systems such as communications and the internet, software. Thus childcare was kept open even though the risk to children was low but it was unknown whether they would be silent superspreaders. The risk taken has paid off. With all the reasonable and suitable precautions in place, childcare centers do not seem to be associated with outbreaks in childcare workers and families. Indeed, with younger children it is hardly possible to maintain social distancing suggesting that class sizes may be more flexibly sized in the future than initially thought. All this suggests that schools, especially those for ages 12 and under, are at low risk for COIVD-19 illness amongst staff and pupils, and are not significant sources of spread of the corona virus, whether the virus activity is low or high in the rest of the population. The key to safety at schools would seem to lie with keeping adults observing appropriate distancing. Thus, keeping staff in small groups with
masks and social distancing and preventing parents from mingling with staff and each other would be most important.

A recent article in the Lancet, concludes that school closings do little to reduce COVID-19 deaths compared with other social distancing measures – see Reference 7. Here is a quote from one of the authors of the scientific article:- “Data on the effects of school closures on COVID-19 are limited as the pandemic is still under way, but researchers at University College London said evidence from flu epidemics and outbreaks caused by other coronaviruses suggests their impact on the spread of the disease will be small. “We know from previous studies that school closures are likely to have the greatest effect if the virus has low transmissibility and attack rates are higher in children. This is the opposite of COVID-19,” said Russell Viner, an expert at UCL’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health who co-led the research. “Policymakers need to be aware of the equivocal evidence when considering school closures for COVID-19 given the profound and long lasting effect they will have on children – particularly the most disadvantaged,” he said.”

It is not known how seasonal COIVD-19 will be at this time. However, assuming it is, we would like to suggest that schools in Washington State open in September rather than any later in the year. This would allow schools to take advantage of the summer break from flu (and possibly COIVID-19) and to practice all the required PPE and measures. As suggested above, we have already done the experiment for children by keeping childcare open since the stay home stay safe order and we are not seeing outbreaks associated with operation of childcare centers. Additionally, delaying the opening of schools to the beginning of flu season may cause some conflation of flu and COIVD19 symptoms and cause unnecessary stress as parents confuse the two. Another measure that will be important will be encouraging staff and parents (and all eligible Washingtonians) to have flu shots.

With the soon to be implemented testing and contact tracing system, it may well be possible to avoid wholesale closures of schools in the fall and implement local measures to contain any outbreak in school staff especially if staff operate in small pods.

We also have the example of Austria, a country with a similar population to Washington State
and not dissimilar numbers of infections and deaths have that has been opening up in 2 week phases since April and have not experienced major new outbreaks. 100,000 senior year students returned to school on May 4th, and other businesses such as hair saloons, barber shops opened prior to May 4th. Here is a link to their opening timetable (as of May19th).

Note dates are reversed 15.05.2020 = 15 May, 2020
https://metropole.at/coronavirus-in-austria/

At the end of the References, the timetable from the article is reproduced.

Opening earlier or at the normal time will open a window to allow some catch-up in the education of pupils and reduction of stress for children, parents and staff. Indeed, it is hard to overstate the stress on families and extending the resumption of education may be extremely counterproductive and will likely result in increased domestic difficulties such as abuse and continued reduction in productivity for those working at home. In addition, many providers of private education may not be able to continue in business if school closures remain in place until October. In addition to the job losses, failure of private schools would put enormous additional pressure on the public education system and lead to a shortage of childcare for working families. The psychological benefit of being able to keep schools open may be invaluable in the midst of any further outbreaks and the pain of the recovering economy.

References – please read, digest and watch the interviews. Note that summaries of the Levitt and
Streeck interviews are given at the end of the Reference section.

Reference 1
Death rate in Washington

Reference 2
Interview with Prof Hendrick Streeck , virologist from the University of Bonn, on a detailed experimental study of a corona virus outbreak in Germany. Some 10% of those tested after two superspreader events at nightclubs in the area had anti-bodies and no previous symptoms. Death rate was (likely over) estimated at 0.37%. The likely hood of spread of the virus from one family member to another was 15%.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrL9QKGQrWk&feature=youtu.be
https://youtu.be/vrL9QKGQrWk?t=8

Reference 3 CDC’s CovidView
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/pdf/covidview-05-15-2020.pdf
Page 13 of their document showing the same of deaths across the United States for pneumonia, flu and COVID-19 showing data up to May 2nd as reported on May 14th.

Reference 4
CoVibes tracking site
Dr Patrick Tam has put together a COVID-19 tracking (CoVibes.org) site using a universal epidemiological curve. Dr Tam collaborates in this effort with Professor Michael Levitt at Stanford University Medicine. Professor Levitt is a structural biologist and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013. An interview with Professor Levitt gives a particularly clear view of the epidemic.
https://youtu.be/bl-sZdfLcEk
https://youtu.be/bl-sZdfLcEk?t=3

Also interesting is this interview – “the fear is worse than the virus” that discusses the way the virus may be weakening and that existing and yet-to-be diagnosed cancer patients are staying away healthcare systems out of fear. This could lead to about 50,000 extra deaths in the UK if the lockdown continues for 6 months.
https://youtu.be/uk2YZfnsOPg

USA predictions from CoVibes (unfortunately, the web site, at the time of writing, does not have an entry for US-WA, but this may be added soon):

USA cumulative totals showing the prediction to date closely following the epidemiological curve – about 124 thousand total deaths are predicted. In ‘normal’ times in the US the death rate is about 230,000 people per month. This half-month of excess deaths in the US is much less than the estimates from early models that estimated a number close to a year of extra deaths (2.8 million).

Professor Levitt (Private communication, available on request) has done a study of the expected deaths in Europe from COVID-19. He estimates that the eventual death rate will be 15% higher than the deaths in the 2017/18 flu season. Some 8% of deaths are in the below 65 age range, 50% are in the 85 and older range. This is very similar to the flu.

Here are the curve for Austria it is deeper into reopening its economy.

Reference 5
Swiss claim that children do not drive the spread of the virus
https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/fact-check_true-or-false–children-are-not-the-drivers-of-thecoronavirus-pandemic/45710550

Reference 6
Iceland and testing data
https://www.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/blog/hunting-down-covid-19/
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2020-05-04/what-iceland-can-teach-theworld-about-minimizing-the-coronavirus

Reference 7
Article from the Lancet
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(20)30095-X/fulltext

Article Abstract
In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, 107 countries had implemented national school closures by March 18, 2020. It is unknown whether school measures are effective in coronavirus outbreaks (eg, due to severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS], Middle East respiratory syndrome, or COVID-19). We undertook a systematic review by searching three electronic databases to identify what is known about the effectiveness of school closures and other school social distancing practices during coronavirus outbreaks. We included 16 of 616 identified articles. School closures were deployed rapidly across mainland China and Hong Kong for COVID-19. However, there are no data on the relative contribution of school closures to transmission control. Data from the SARS outbreak in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore suggest that school closures did not contribute to the control of the epidemic. Modelling studies of SARS produced conflicting results. Recent modelling studies of COVID-19 predict that school closures alone would prevent only 2–4% of deaths, much less than other social distancing interventions. Policy makers need to be aware of the equivocal evidence when considering school closures for COVID-19, and that combinations of social distancing measures should be considered. Other less disruptive social distancing interventions in schools require
further consideration if restrictive social distancing policies are implemented for long periods.

Journalist summary of Lancet article
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-schools/school-closures-will-have-littleimpact-on-covid-19-control-review-finds-idUSKBN21O32E

Summary of Streeck YouTube interview by Unherd TV (note that he discusses children and how
little they are infected in the online interview, but is not included in the in their summary)

The deadliness of Covid-19, measured by the “Infected Fatality Rate” or what percentage of infected people end up dying, has become an issue of global significance.

At UnHerd, we’ve spoken to experts at both ends of the range of estimates, from Neil Ferguson (who believes the IFR to be just under 1%, perhaps 0.8-0.9%) to Johan Giesecke who maintains that it is nearer 0.1%, or one in a thousand.

This may sound like splitting hairs — they are both under one percent after all — but in reality the difference between these estimates changes everything. At the lower end, a much more laissez faire policy becomes possible, and at 30,000 deaths it starts to look like the UK has already been through the worst of it; at the higher end, a policy of continued ultra-caution is necessary because a more relaxed approach could mean hundreds of thousands of additional deaths.

That’s why the study conducted by Professor Hendrik Streeck of the University of Bonn is so
significant: a representative sample population within Germany was tested and examined in great detail to determine what percentage had already been infected with Covid-19.

The headline result is that 15% of that population was infected, which implies an Infection Fatality Rate of 0.36%. This would put him somewhat in the middle of the previous experts we have spoken to. Professor Streeck was keen to point out, however, that he still believes this is a conservative estimate, and thinks it may be closer to 0.24-0.26% and may come down further still as we know more. He published the higher number to err on the side of caution: “it is more important to have the most conservative estimate and see the virus as more dangerous than it is,” he said.

To show just how significant every percentage point difference makes, if the 0.36% is correct for the UK, and we have had 30,000 Covid-19 deaths, that would mean around 8.3 million people have been infected, or 12.5% of the population — not enough to start feeling confident of much immunity in the community. If the lower estimate is correct, 0.24%, and there has actually been closer to 50,000 Covid-19 deaths (as per the FT’s speculations) then that figure suddenly rises to over 20 million, which at around a third of the population would fundamentally change the calculus of how bold we can be coming out of lockdown.

LOCKDOWN CAME ‘TOO FAST’
Contrary to the main critique of the UK government, that it was too slow in implementing lockdown, Professor Streeck feels that lockdown measures were introduced too fast, meaning that we didn’t have enough time to assess whether the individual components (such as better hygiene and some social distancing) were sufficient to slow the spread.

He also places great emphasis on the viral load that you are initially exposed to as a determinant of how serious your infection becomes, and has noticed the importance of ‘super-spreading events’ in spreading the disease. These tend to be indoor events with bad circulation, and people dancing or being close together, singing, shouting or (in the case of one of the German carnivals he studied) kissing.

This means that, in Professor Streeck’s view, a more feasible approach than attempting to suppress the virus completely until a vaccine (which he is not confident will arrive), allowing the gradual spread of the disease with lower doses, through continued hygiene measures, could lead to a widespread of partial immunity. This would eventually have the effect of downgrading Covid-19 to just another virus that circulates within the human population but, like influenza and other coronaviruses, is a manageable ongoing threat.

I am convinced that we are not going to get rid of SARS-COV-2, so it is going to become an endemic virus — which means it is going to live in our population, and we have to start living with it and find measures so that people are not dying of it but at the same time we can achieve normality.

Summary of Levitt interview on YouTube by Unherd tv

As he is careful to point out, Professor Michael Levitt is not an epidemiologist. He’s Professor of
Structural Biology at the Stanford School of Medicine, and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.” He’s a numbers guy — as he told us in our interview, his wife says he loves numbers more than her — but then, much  of modern science is really about statistics (as his detractors never tire of pointing out, Professor Neil Ferguson is a theoretical physicist by training).

With a purely statistical perspective, he has been playing close attention to the Covid-19 pandemic since January, when most of us were not even aware of it. He first spoke out in early February, when through analysing the numbers of cases and deaths in Hubei province he predicted with remarkable accuracy that the epidemic in that province would top out at around 3,250 deaths.

His observation is a simple one: that in outbreak after outbreak of this disease, a similar mathematical pattern is observable regardless of government interventions. After around a two week exponential growth of cases (and, subsequently, deaths) some kind of break kicks in, and growth starts slowing down. The curve quickly becomes “sub-exponential”.

This may seem like a technical distinction, but its implications are profound. The ‘unmitigated’ scenarios modelled by (among others) Imperial College, and which tilted governments across the
world into drastic action, relied on a presumption of continued exponential growth — that with a
consistent R number of significantly above 1 and a consistent death rate, very quickly the majority of the population would be infected and huge numbers of deaths would be recorded. But Professor Levitt’s point is that that hasn’t actually happened anywhere, even in countries that have been relatively lax in their responses.

He takes specific issue with the Neil Ferguson paper. “In a footnote to a table it said, assuming exponential growth of 15% for six days. Now I had looked at China and had never seen exponential growth that wasn’t decaying rapidly.”

The explanation for this flattening that we are used to is that social distancing and lockdowns have slowed the curve, but he is unconvinced. As he put it to me, in the subsequent examples to China of South Korea, Iran and Italy, “the beginning of the epidemics showed a slowing down and it was very hard for me to believe that those three countries could practise social distancing as well as China.” He believes that both some degree of prior immunity and large numbers of asymptomatic cases are important factors.

He also observes that the total number of deaths we are seeing, in places as diverse as New York City, parts of England, parts of France and Northern Italy, all seem to level out at a very similar fraction of the total population. “Are they all practising equally good social distancing? I don’t think so.” He disagrees with Sir David Spiegelhalter’s calculations that the totem is around one additional year of excess deaths, while (by adjusting to match the effects seen on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship) he calculates that it is more like one month of excess death that is need before the virus peters out.

More generally, he complains that epidemiologists only seem to be called wrong if they underestimate deaths, and so there is an intrinsic bias towards caution. “They see their role as scaring people into doing something, and I understand that… but in my work, if I say a number is too small and I’m wrong, or too big and I’m wrong, both of those errors are the same.”

He believes the much-discussed R0 is a faulty number, as it is meaningless without the time  infectious alongside.

He describes indiscriminate lockdown measures as “a huge mistake,” and advocates a “smart lockdown” policy, focused on more effective measures, focused on protecting elderly people.

I think the policy of herd immunity is the right policy. I think Britain was on exactly the right track
before they were fed wrong numbers. And they made a huge mistake. I see the standout winners as Germany and Sweden. They didn’t practise too much lockdown and they got enough people sick to get some herd immunity. I see the standout losers as countries like Austria, Australia and Israel that had very strict lockdown but didn’t have many cases. They have damaged their economies, caused massive social damage, damaged the educational year of their children, but not obtained any herd immunity.

“There is no doubt in my mind, that when we come to look back on this, the damage done by
lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor.
– PROFESSOR MICHAEL LEVITT

He is philosophical about the future and sees this as a generational mistake:

I think this is another foul-up on the part of the baby boomers. I am a real baby boomer — I was born in 1947, I am almost 73 years old — but I think we’ve really screwed up. We’ve caused pollution, we’ve allowed the world’s population to increase threefold in my lifetime, we’ve caused the problems of global warming and now we’ve left your generation with a real mess in order to save a relatively small number of very old people.
– PROFESSOR MICHAEL LEVITT

It’s a view that doesn’t fit the narrative, but which we felt deserved to be heard.

Please forgive quality issues on the video: Prof Levitt was joining us down the line from Tel Aviv and we had intermittent bandwidth issues which have done our best to edit out.

Timetable for Austria to reopen from the Metropole article
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | Back to Kindergarten

By Benjamin Wolf
May 20, 2020

After the Austrian government took increasingly drastic measures in March to contain the coronavirus, the country successfully flattened the curve in April – for the moment.

Now, Austria enters phase two of its lockdown, with a plan to gradually lift restrictions step by step. Here’s the current timetable in Austria, as they were announced.

May 20, 2020:

May 19, 2020:

  • The unemployment numbers in Austria have begun to decrease again, they fell by 55,000 in April of this year, to a total of 532,693 unemployed (according to national statistics). Another 1.3 million employees are registered for short-time work (Kurzarbeit), but the extent of the usage of this tool varies (employees can be registered and work from 0 to 100% of their actual hours).

May 18, 2020:

  • Today, 700,000 students in Austria return to school, after a nine-week hiatus due to the corona measures. Many schools have introduced a phased approach to school start, so that a smaller number of children enters the building at any one time. Big classes are split to reduce overall class sizes and a protection for mouth and nose (ideally masks) is required on hallways and on public transport.

May 17, 2020:

  • The City of Vienna published plans for the open-air baths in the summer. The public pools will reopen on May 29, but the total number of visitors will be capped, with an effective limit of at least 10 square meters of space per guest. Visitors will be encouraged to book their tickets online beforehand, a new pricing scheme (€1 for children, €2 for teenager, €3 for adults for a day pass) should speed up the entrance process.

May 16, 2020:

  • Slovenia, Croatia and Italy have all announced that they want to open their borders to one another and other EU citizens in the coming weeks.

May 15, 2020:

  • Restaurants and bars will reopen today, with new hygiene guidelines. The sector has suffered massively under the lockdown and the closure of borders, with up to 63% of the lost revenue coming in normal times from – now absent – tourists. Tax breaks are planned for July.

May 14, 2020:

  • On May 13, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) visited the village Mittelberg in the Kleinwalsertal in Tyrol. Now, media and the opposition harshly criticize the circumstances of the visit. Their criticism: Nobody was wearing face mask and the government’s distance rules were not at all or only partly respected. The NEOS want to press charges.

May 13, 2020:

  • The Austrian-German border will reopen completely on June 15. Already starting this Friday, May 15, there will only be spot checks on the border. The decision taken jointly by the Austrian and German governments is crucial for Austria’s tourism sector, for which Germans are the largest group of guests after Austrians holidaying at home.
  • The city of Vienna will send vouchers for use in local bars and restaurants to every household. One-person households will get a voucher for €25, two people will get €50 in total. The city will start sending out the vouchers to the 950,000 Viennese households in mid-June.
  • In April 2020, up to 20% more people were traveling with bicycles in Vienna. The federal government has meanwhile confirmed a tenfold increase of the budget for cycle lanes this year.
  • Following heavy criticism regarding the government’s lack of attention to the cultural sector, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) now announced “two big steps” for theaters and similar events by May 29. The minister did not further specify what these steps would entail.
  • The government announced a fund of €700 million for NGOs and other caritative funds to cover running costs in these extraordinary times over the next two quarters.

May 12, 2020:

  • The Austrian football Bundesliga has a new kick off date: Training sessions can restart this Friday, the first football matches – in front of TV cameras, but without an audience in  stadiums – are likely to kick off two weeks later.
  • As of this May, 550,000 people in Austria are unemployed and another 1.3 million people on short-time work (Kurzarbeit), both historical highs. However, since mid-April the number of unemployed has again begun to fall, driven mainly by the construction industry which uses the good weather to full effect.
  • As most of the Austrian economy and public life is opening up again step by step, the cultural and event sector is still in deep sleep, as mandated by government rules. Artists, creators and organizers now criticized harshly the lack of a coherent plan and insufficient support for the creative industries, while Culture State Secretary Ulrike Lunacek (Greens) insists that a plan is forthcoming.
  • The number of patients in intensive care in Austria due to COVID-19 has fallen to 59, another 205 people are hospitalized due to the coronavirus.

May 11, 2020:

  • The trains of the ÖBB and subway cars, buses and trams of the Wiener Linien are as of today again running on a regular schedule. Mobility is on the rise again, but public transport is still significantly emptier than before corona (on some routes, tehre are up to 80% fewer travelers).
  • The government announced a €500 million support package for restaurants and bars in Austria, acknowledging that the sector was hit particularly hard by the crisis. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called the Gasthäuserkultur (the tradition of meeting up and eating out at restaurants and bars) “a part of the Austrian soul.”
  • Today at 7:56, the first express train from Romania arrived, bringing 24-hour care workers directly to Austria. The care workers will have to do 24-hour fast PCR COVID-19 test.
  • Vienna’s statistical office, the MA23, reported that up until April 26, “no excess mortality” could be recorded in the city of Vienna. “The data shows that Vienna has come through the crisis very well so far,” says Klemens Himpele, chief statistician of the city.
  • The federal government is weighing an up to tenfold budget increase for the building of cycling paths following the corona crisis.

May 8, 2020:

  • The Ministry of Health published guidelines for guests of restaurants and bars, which will open on May 15.
  • The Ministry of Education published a decree specifying regulations for schools while will re-open over the coming weeks. For example, no more than 18 pupils are permitted per classroom, music lessons will take place without singing and afternoon teaching will be  possible for high school students older than 14 years.

May 7, 2020:

  • For the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, less than 100 people are in intensive care in Austrian hospitals (as of today, 97 need an ICU unit). The number of people in Austria actively infected with COVID-19 fell to 1,430, about the same number as in mid-March.
  • Austria’s flagship carrier Austrian Airlines plans to cut 1,100 out of 7,000 jobs by 2023, provided a deal to bail out the airline is still found with the the Austrian government (a support package of €878 million is in the works). AUA mother Lufthansa is currently negotiation with the German government for a similar package.

May 6, 2020:

  • Austria will prolong border controls due to the coronavirus pandemic until May 31 (the
    previous date of expiry was May 7). During this period, only selected border crossings are
    open and travelers entering Austria either have to bring a medical certificate proving their
    negative COVID-19 status or subject themselves to a 14-days quarantine.

May 5, 2020:

  • A case study with random participants conducted by Statistik Austria was published yesterday. Based on the tests of 1,432 randomly selected individuals in Austria, the number of active COVID-19 infections in the week of April 21-24 is estimated to have been no more than 10,823 (0.15% of the population), within a confidence interval of 95%. This is the upper range, meaning that a significantly lower infection rate is highly likely.
  • In Tyrol, a commission of inquiry has been formed to investigate the so-called “Causa Ischgl.” The police also presented a separate 1,000 pages inquiry into the events, based on which the local office of the district attorney will decide whether to press charges.

May 4, 2020:

Demand for local travel will rise in short term. Then ripple out to regional/state/national/international demand as consumer confidence regains slowly. $200 COVID tests @ airport upon arrival/departure probably the new norm for int’l travel in interim

Vienna Airport to Offer Coronavirus Tests to Avoid Quarantine

Vienna Airport will offer onsite coronavirus testing from Monday to enable passengers entering Austria to avoid having to be quarantined for 14 days.

  • According to a report in The Times of Israel, Austria launched an initiative to adopt joint coronavirus protocols and open up to tourism and trade with each other. Before opening their borders, the 7 countries – all with strong tourism sectors – would establish common guidelines including masks, safe distances and testing. Vienna Airport, for example, has already started to offer 3-hour fast tests to travelers (for €190).
  • Travelers entering Austria from abroad have to enter a 14-day period of self-quarantine, unless they can show a medical certificate not older than 4 days proving their negative status of COVID-19. The test can also be done in Austria during the quarantine, which can be ended earlier if the result is negative.
  • The number of new infections with coronavirus is falling all across Austria, only in Vienna the numbers are still rising, albeit from a low level.
  • Today, students in senior year (approx. 100,000 pupils) return to schools.
  • As of April 2020, more than 570,000 people in Austria were unemployed. That’s an unemployment rate of 12.5% or 5.5 percentage points higher than in February, according to national statistics (internationally comparable numbers coming from Eurostat and the ILO usually show Austria’s unemployment rate up to four percentage points lower).

May 3, 2020:

  • Employees in Austria like teleworking, says a new survey. Seven out of ten employees who have been working at home during the last weeks stated that they would like continue teleworking after the crisis, 60% even said that their productivity at home was higher than at the office. Two thirds think that the pandemic will change society markedly and also two thirds think that these changes will be for the better.
  • Vienna’s kindergartens expect more children in the coming weeks. The share of children attending kindergartens may rise from single digits to 25-40% of the total.

May 2, 2020:

  • Today, May 2, shopping centers, stores larger than 400 m², hair, beauty and massage salons can re-open. Wearing masks is mandatory inside shops and in public buildings, heightened attention to distance rules and hygiene while shopping or in public is strongly advised. Events can again take place with a maximum of 10 people, private gatherings are allowed – social distancing rules apply throughout.
  • The number of active coronavirus cases in Austria is still declining. The four-day average of new infections fell to 0.36%. As of May 1, there are 1,759 active cases in Austria. 13,110 people recovered from the virus and 589 people passed away.

Coronavirus in Austria, May 1, 2020 (c) © 2020 Infogram

  • Salzburg’s chief infectiologist Richard Greil cautioned that distance rules during the easing of restrictions are somewhat of an “experiment.” The government has variably advised to keep 1-meter distance or “the size of a baby elephant.” Others advise 2 meters. Greil underlined that the current infection rates (R) in Austria is very low (around 0.3), which led to the political decision of carefully attempting to ease measures.

May 1, 2020:

  • As of today, May 1, the restrictions on movements in Austria do not apply anymore. But several measures still apply: People are called on to meet in small groups only, reduce physical contact and often wash hands. Social distancing (e.g. keeping 1 meter distance from other people in public spaces) is advised, wearing masks in supermarkets, shops and public places is mandatory.
  • The budget for short-time work (Kurzarbeit) was raised to €10 billion by the government. Currently, 1.1 million employees in Austria are registered in the scheme. However, many companies may have also applied as a precaution – the actual working time (and wage subsidy) of those registered can range from 0 to 100%.
  • Zoos like Vienna’s Tiergarten Schönbrunn will re-open on May 15. Visitors are asked to buy tickets and reserve certain time-slots beforehand, wearing masks throughout the visit is mandatory.

For length, clarity and loading times, we have decided to split off the timeline of what happened in March into two separate articles: “The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in March” & “The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in April.

Numbers

As of today, May 19, 2020, the situation in Austria according to the Ministry of Health is as follows:

People tested: 372,3435
– of which in Vienna: 86,247
Daily tests: 6,042
Confirmed cases: 16,231 (+56 cases (+0.3%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 2,942
Active cases: 921 (-15 cases (-1.6%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 546
Increase on previous day: +0.17%
– four-day average: +0.31%
Total hospitalized: 182 (-14 cases (-7.1%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 81
In intensive care: 39 (-6 cases (-13.3%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 14
Recovered: 14,678 (+64 cases (+0.4%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 2,252
Deceased: 632 (+3 case (+0.5%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 144

The Ministry of Health has also developed a COVID-19 dashboard (see partial screenshot above) with details on the coronavirus outbreak in Austria, listing for example affected regions, age groups, gender and status of the cases.

Austrian tech & startup media house Trending Topics has also set up a comprehensive tracking board for the coronavirus in Austria (in German).

Resources

The City of Vienna has compiled comprehensive information on questions and answers regarding coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease in English.

The Austrian Ministry of Health has put together FAQs on the coronavirus and also provides material to download on how to protect yourself and others from the disease, also in English.

Furthermore, the ministry will constantly update its German language website with information on the number of people tested and cases of COVID-19 in Austria.

PAST LMEC UPDATES

Private Schools Reopening Principles

Goal: To identify core principles and criteria into which flexible models may be incorporated that allow private schools to reopen on-campus instruction in the fall of 2020 in ways that are consistent with the mission and values of individual schools, with the needs of their community, and with guidance from public health.

Guiding Principles:

Health and Safety

Public: In order to be part of the solution for controlling transmission of Covid-19 for all, Washington approved private schools have a responsibility to engage in practices that support the health and wellbeing of the larger community.

School: In order to limit transmission risk of Covid-19 within schools while creating the most effective teaching and learning scenarios, schools should utilize the health guidelines provided by state and local government.

Community Wellbeing

Teaching and Learning: The goal is to return to school for on-campus learning to the greatest extent possible. In order to maximize the student learning experience, schools will provide opportunities for students’ academic, social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth.

Mental Health: In order to promote mental health and wellbeing, schools will provide flexible, safe and healthy opportunities for ongoing connections with peers, faculty and staff.

Equity and Inclusion: Schools will work to provide teaching and learning opportunities that are accessible to all students and teachers, including enrolled students in high risk categories. Schools should demonstrate a commitment to equity and ensure quality education for all enrolled students whether on campus or remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Family Support and Communication: In order to support parents in the instruction of their children, schools should provide predictable schedules and clear communication about the services they are able to provide. There will need to be parental education and ongoing communication about how best to work in partnership with the school to provide students the most support.

Conclusion: These principles will be most effectively carried out if individual schools are allowed to tailor their reopening approach to meet the unique needs and circumstances of their communities.

Resource for Reopening Planning:
Private schools serve an important role in educating over 83,000 students throughout Washington. They include day and boarding schools. They offer diverse educational programs to families including, but not limited to, Montessori, Waldorf, Independent, secular and religious schools. Some are small primary schools serving students beginning at infancy; others are K-12. Some have enrollments of over 2,000 students and others with less than 10 students. Many serve unique learners, students facing economic deprivation or families in crisis. Private schools are the hub of many families’ communities.

To reopen safely, private schools will utilize the guidance provided by the State Department of Health (DOH), OSPI and local health jurisdictions. They will look to the models provided by OSPI, but will create unique models that reflect their missions, and the safety expected by both the state and the parents for whose children they are responsible. The Guiding Principles above will guide all carefully crafted reopening plans that will redefine the logistics of every aspect of a school day. The diversity of the state’s private schools means, similar to higher education, that “one size does not fit all.” Because many private schools have small enrollment and low population density, as well as flexibility within their physical plant, they can pivot to the new guidelines as the state reopens and innovate in such areas as hybrid learning models, facility use, schedules, and calendars to meet the needs of their students, faculty, and families.

Considerations in the Development of Campus Reopening Plans

Each private school should develop a plan for reopening that is consistent with the Private School Reopening Principles articulated above. Each school plan should consider four components:

  • repopulation of the campus,
  • monitoring health conditions to ensure detection of infection,
  • containment to prevent spreading of the disease if infection is detected,
  • shut down if infection cannot be contained or is otherwise necessary.

In formulating these plans, schools must be mindful that the course of the pandemic over the summer cannot be confidently predicted. It is possible that conditions may warrant reopening, but the pandemic worsens in the fall to the extent that the Governor would order a new shutdown. Private schools should be flexible and plan contingencies including a physical reopening and a potential closing with all scenarios incorporating the potential need of distance learning.

Private schools should consider multiple models for re-opening their campuses and select the one that makes the most sense for their unique circumstances of program, students served, location, and facility. These models include and are not limited to: a return of all students to campus with a variety of adaptations to meet state health requirements; some students returning and a slow integration of other students by age; cohorts of students on campus at different times; alternating days for students; the use of distance learning to “decompress” the campus population; extending the calendar and day schedule. Careful considerations of these and myriad other models allows a school to find the best approach for its school. Schools should be prepared to modify school calendars, the structure of a school day, the physical layout of their campuses, and policies for students, employees and visitors relative to hygiene, access to campus and safety protocols.

As private schools fall in the intersection of three educational systems — higher education, K-12, and early childhood — private schools should review all three kinds of plans for insights and ideas. It is important to note that all three systems will be following consistent guidelines from the Washington Department of Health.

Before a boarding school can reopen a residential program the school should take prudent steps to follow all applicable health guidelines for their boarding students which may include testing protocols for both students and faculty.

Components of an Independent School Plan:

An independent school plan should reflect the individual decision-making by the school regarding reopening and ongoing operation. An independent school plan should include:

  • Recognition it will follow Washington Department of Health Guidelines, as applicable.
    • This should include following applicable standards from the Reopening WA Schools Health and Safety Requirements created by the Department of Health regarding the use of facemasks for employees, students, and visitors; recommendations for screening (testing, temperatures); visitors to campus; responding to students or staff who are symptomatic; social distancing; personal hygiene, room cleaning, isolation or sick rooms; and the cleaning regimen for schools, day and boarding.
    • For boarding schools, this should include applicable recommendations for dormitories as modified to fit the housing and residential structures of the school and taking into consideration related faculty housing issues.
  • A transportation plan that adheres to safety guidance. Schools may want to consider teaming up with local schools to share busses.
  • A process to develop and communicate the reopening plan including collaboration with constituents.
  • Creation of a team who can help with school planning and support school relations to local and state Department of Health.
  • Consideration for vulnerable populations of students and staff.
  • Development of plans for shutdown should it be necessary.
  • Useful guidance for planning residential program reopening may be found in guidelines created for institutions of higher education.

Conclusions:

Private Schools play an essential role in the education of students and in the economy of Washington. The State has understandably recognized that for businesses to “re-open,” it is essential that day care programs, public and private schools, and colleges and universities open, as well.

Private schools have the potential to be impacted by declining enrollment due to both the economic downturn associated with Covid-19 and parental uncertainty. This will hurt both the private and the public school systems. A flood of displaced students into the public schools will place a logistical and economic burden upon public schools already severely stressed due to the dramatic impact of Covid-19. This, coupled with the need to promote safety and health, requires a close partnership with the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Government to successfully reopen private schools. Below is a list of needed resources that will enable private schools to successfully open:

  • Availability of necessary Covid-19 tests.
    • An adequate supply of tests is needed for all boarding and day school populations if testing of these populations is recommended by public health guidance.
  • An adequate supply of suggested PPE equipment, including masks, for all private schools.
  • An adequate supply of cleaners, such as hand sanitizer, wipes, cleaning material.
  • An investigation into the possibility of a “safe harbor” from liability based upon the development of a written plan consistent with the recommendations for K-12 schools.
  • Reporting protocols for informing health officials about known Covid-19 cases.
  • Acknowledgement that any recommendations are subject to change based on further guidance, evolving public health recommendations and/or changes in circumstances that may occur prior to the commencement of the school year.

Finally, like other industries that drive the state economy, private schools face serious financial harm even to the extent of jeopardizing their short-term sustainability given the serious economic decline the country and State are experiencing due to Covid-19. To help ensure that private schools remain a vibrant part of the educational landscape, provide a choice for families, and continue to provide substantial and reliable employment, the State should look at short-term, fixed-cost funding for private schools to help them through a potentially significant enrollment decline for 2020-21. Private schools are a key economic driver across the State, and much like other businesses and nonprofits, funding to assist in the sustainability of these schools in the short-term will alleviate economic instability and provide the opportunity for continued strength in private school programming, enrollment, and service.

APPENDIX: Reopening Schools Safely: Considerations

  • Consider surveying the school community–students, teachers, administrators and parents– as soon as possible to understand their needs, wishes and limitations for the fall.
  • Consider what changes to your operations have a lead-time component and need to be addressed early this summer. Examples to consider include: health and safety equipment to be ordered, HVAC system upgrades, space alterations, and increased technology needs.
  • Consider enhanced professional development for faculty in online teaching as needed. When the State closed this spring, faculty had little time to learn best practices for online teaching. Online instruction may be the primary form of pedagogy in some instances and the default mechanism in the event of a second wave of infection. Plan for increased professional development for faculty both during the summer and throughout the school year.
  • Consider the school academic calendar to provide the best opportunity for a successful opening of school and continuation of programming.
  • Consider developing multiple scenarios for reopening.
  • Consider changes to time and space in calendar and scheduling to decrease density on campus such as elongating the school day or week, extending or altering the school calendar, repurpose spaces for classrooms, and other alterations.
    • Example: Compress the fall calendar for boarding schools so that students leave at Thanksgiving and do not return until the new year.
  • Consider developing smaller “cohorts” of students and faculty to decrease interaction among groups; in the event that there is a person who tests positive, such limited grouping might create least disruption to the whole school. Similarly, develop “family” groups in boarding schools to decrease isolation and increase a safe community size of students ages 11-19 for rooming, dining, and bathroom use.
  • Consider organizing the academic calendar into small sections so should there be a disruption, only part of the grading calendar is disrupted.
  • Consider using hybrid or blended models to deliver some courses or leaving some courses entirely online.
  • Consider using the late summer to offer online courses for students who need remediation.
  • Consider the daily drop-off and pick up routines, the use of multiple entrances, the repurposing of spaces to limit interaction.
  • Consider studying various plans that are being implemented including:
    • Sequencing the return of students to campus.
    • A rolling return of students to campus.
  • Consider flexible staffing configurations to accommodate faculty and staff.
    • Faculty in vulnerable populations may wish to teach remotely.
    • Offering courses where a faculty member is teaching remotely — some residential institutions are considering having students come to a classroom, with appropriate social distancing, and have the faculty member projected onto a screen in the room. This might create a greater sense of community than having students participate by themselves.
    • Many institutions may have to cap the size of larger classes to accommodate social distancing, break them into multiple sections, or teach them remotely.
  • Consider how to manage extracurricular activities and athletics: athletics, arts, and many activities (e.g., debating clubs, student newspapers, Model UN) as many might be pursued virtually or with social distancing.
  • Consider limiting visitors to campus. Schools should consider how to limit visitors, parents, and vendors coming onto campus as an effort to limit the transmission of the virus.
  • Consider requirements for instructional hours, days and graduation credits as required by the State Board of Education.
  • Consider in all planning the mental health and wellbeing of the community as paramount after physical health and safety guidelines have been met.
  • Consider creating a succession plan for teachers and administrators who become sick with Covid-19.
  • Consider referencing reopening guidelines created for institutions of higher education, if running a boarding school.

Dear LMEC Families,

I want to offer my sincere thanks for all those who took the time to attend the Friday 6/19 round-table. Your engagement provides a vital exchange of information to strengthen our partnership and assist our school in understanding how to best serve our community. We could not have survived without your commitment.

This letter is a follow-up to the round table with updates and clarification of some of the questions that came up. It provides an overview regarding our preparation and considerations for the fall. Over the summer we will be working on creative ways to offer as full a range of our program as is possible within the requirements and guidelines of various authorities.

Our involvement with officials in re-opening schools

Our school continues to advocate for children to be onsite. Scientific data demonstrates that they are not at risk for fatality from Covid, contrary to the fear raised by media. Keeping childcare and early learning programs open without social distancing or masks throughout our nation and around the world has proven just that. Our early learning and childcare program, which has remained open with only 20 students at the beginning, has now grown in attendance to approximately 90 students with no confirmed Covid-19 cases.

We know that children are, however, at a higher risk of compromised development that cannot be compensated later. The highest impact educators can have on children’s academic, physical, social and emotional development in person.

Our school joined a task force organized by WFIS (Washington Federation of Independent Schools) to advocate for schools to be open in fall. Our work included an appeal to allow each school district as well as each private school to independently determine their ability to meet “safe opening” requirements so that the highest number of students have the ability to stay in school with minimal disruptions.

You will receive, in a separate email, one of the documents I provided to WFIS during our participation in the task force for the Governor and OSPI to consider, while planning for fall school opening. I believe our collective work influenced their decision. My husband, William Duncan, who is a scientist, worked with us to compile this document. It provides links to videos and content of world-renowned scientists on the topic of Coronavirus. William, has passionately followed the path of this pandemic for a long time. I hope you find it valuable.

Living Montessori plans to provide onsite education for all programs
The information below will provide a brief overview of what was discussed during the round-table with updates and areas of consideration as we plan for “safe re-opening and continuation.”

Overview of DOH guidance and Living Montessori application

Physical distance 6’
While it is impossible to maintain consistent physical distance for children under 5 yrs. of age, Living Montessori has an advantage of larger than required classroom sizes as well as an abundance of overall indoor space. We have successfully developed strategies with room set up and workspaces to continue to offer much needed movement and maximize distancing. Recommendations are used in conjunction with age appropriate, developmental needs of the children. Living Montessori’s goal is to move towards full classrooms of 20 students. As we plan for fall we may need to make adjustments to that number and group size, based on our square footage, to reasonably allow for some level of physical distancing. This is a non-issue for the elementary classrooms. The classroom sizes are more than adequate.

Hygiene
All individuals must wash hands or use hand sanitizer (adults only) upon entering the building/classroom. Frequent hand washing is a daily part of our staff and children’s day. All children, current and returning will begin fall classes with a review of hygiene practices that prevent germs from spreading. These practices include washing hands, blowing nose, keeping hands off the face, etc. Teachers will continue to clean and sanitize materials, all surfaces and high tough areas in classrooms frequently throughout the day.

Health Screening
Temperatures of all children and staff will be taken upon arrival. General illness health screening will occur in the form of observation and questions of child’s overall health. Current Health Policy applies. Refer to the handbook for all health policy questions. An updated handbook with Covid-19 addendum will be available in August.

Masks
Effective June 26th. Masks are required by DOH and the Governor for all children ages 5 and over, as well as all staff and adults in the building. We will have a one-week grace period for parents to prepare and for children to adjust. Your children will be supported throughout the day to manage any difficulties that may arise from this new protocol.
The following exceptions to wearing a mask apply:
-Children are not expected to wear masks when outside. (Our school will be planning more outside activities including some academic time, particularly for primary and elementary students).
-If a child or an adult has a disability and cannot comfortably wear or remove the mask
-Individuals with repository condition or those advised by medical professionals or behavioral health specialists.
-Exceptions will be made with a Doctor’s note

Children under 5 are not expected to wear a mask
Our observation is that masks do not meet the intention in young children and is counterproductive. Young children play with their masks, remove them for comfort, misplace them or lose them. Children are more likely to touch their faces when wearing a mask.

No masks are to be worn by children ages 2 and under

OSPI Elementary guidelines / requirements
-Onsite education beginning September
-Minimal to no disruption – unless Governor orders closure
-Unless the Governor orders closures, each district and private school will have the flexibility and responsibility of methods used to meet safety guidelines or determine closures. This flexibility will allow schools, not impacted by Covid cases, to remain open with the least amount of disruptions.
-Private schools must meet 450 hours of instruction for Kindergarten students and 1000 hours for students in grades 1-6.
-School days may be extended into summer if adequate hours are not met.
-Alternatively, shortening school breaks such as winter and spring breaks may make up missing time.

Equity
Schools must determine the most equitable way to educate all children. This could mean, for example, accommodating children who need to quarantine if school is on-site or vice versa, accommodating children needing to be onsite while school moves to distance learning.

Arrival/Departure Procedure
Drop off and Pick up procedure to be announced later. We may continue with the process that has been implemented over the summer with minor changes.
-Temperature of all individuals entering the building will be taken upon arrival.
-Adults must use hand sanitizers to sign their children in and out
-Physical distance will be expected
-Adults entering the building are expected to wear a mask unless they have underlying conditions prohibiting the use of masks.

Tours
Will be limited to 1 family at a time but a maximum of 3 families may be acceptable if physical distance can be attained.

Delivery of our Program

Academic
Private schools are not expected to follow district wide strategies due to varying school and community needs. We plan to maintain the traditional Montessori Method and offer as full a range of our program as much as possible every day.

Before and After School Care
We expect to continue our before and after school care.

Specialty Enrichment
We would love to continue offering all the programs our students have benefited from. Over the summer we will be working on creative ways to offer these programs while managing to avoid mixing groups. The more students within each group participate in the specialty program the less we will need to mix and the more opportunities we can offer.

Enrichment
Music, Art and Spanish (LMA) will continue as normal.

Field Trips
Volunteers for field trips will be limited and may need to drive themselves. Orientation will be required prior to the field trip for all adults attending.
Seattle Children’s Theatre- is expected to continue barring any new restrictions.
Farm Trip – canceled
Science Seattle Science Centre– will be offered with an in-house experience
Elementary overnight– planning is underway barring any unforeseen restrictions.

Recreation/outdoor recess
As much as possible more outdoor time will be offered. This may include some academics as well enrichment activities.

Mealtimes
-Meals may be offered in individual classrooms
-Seating to be spaced out Montessori style – age appropriate
-Adult to serve the meals instead of family style where children serve themselves.

Events
Curriculum night-moved online
Fall carnival – school day celebration by class unless guidance or requirements change.
Advancement– to be determined

Communication
Weekly all school news – will contain weekly minor updates and calendar changes,
Bloomz– for daily communication and updates and any quick alerts
Constant contact-updates monthly, unless major changes need to be announced
Survey– as needed to determine needs

Staff Preparation
As a result of remaining open through the pandemic our staff have been thoroughly training on processes to ensure safety. We have increased our training to include supporting children and families during these unreliable times and transitions back to school.

Living Montessori intends to remain open and offer on-site learning except when driven by the following:

Emergency Care – Quarantine and School Closure
(Quarantine will last for 14 days)

Pod Quarantined
To contain possible spread pods of two or three groups will be created. Individuals in each pod will remain within their assigned pods as much as possible. If a case arises, only the affected pod may quarantine and move to distance learning.

Mandatory K-12 closure only – Directed by the Governor
K-12 will move to distance learning within two days of closure.
K students who are in the Primary classroom may come for childcare. They will remain with their class/teacher
All other programs will remain open

All school – mandatory closure (child care, early education, primary and elementary)
All school will move to distance learning. Over the summer we are considering other tools and activities to ensure a high level of engagement.

Student is quarantined
For example if a student comes in contact with a confirmed case but not showing symptoms or testing positive, student will remain home. Distance learning is being considered for various student quarantine situations. More details of its application will be available in August.

Parent or family member quarantined
Parent to inform the school. DOH guidance to be provided

Staff quarantined
In this case a substitute will replace the teacher on-site until the staff member returns. Lead teachers, if quarantined, may join class via zoom and stay connected to the students. Depending on the nature of staff quarantine DOH will determine if Pod must also quarantine.

Family chooses to remain home if school or child care/early learning remains open
Distance learning for families who opt to keep children home, while program is open, is being evaluated. This situation comes with much complexity and requires a well thought out solution. Our commitment is to ensure consistency for all students and offer a high quality, meaningful program. For some of our programs we are considering the idea of having a dedicated teacher for those requiring distance learning. This may only be feasible if sufficient number of students consistently remains in the distance-learning program for a full quarter or the full year. Having said that, we are by no means advocating for children to stay home. On the contrary, we strongly discourage families from keeping their children home unless they are at high risk. We are very concerned that children are missing important developmental milestones.

Survey
Last week we sent out a survey to determine the needs of our families. We hope you all participated and that it will provide us with valuable information to best serve you and your children.

We know the lockdowns, particularly school closures, have contributed to a great deal of stress on many families. Behavioral problems in children have increased and so has domestic violence and child abuse. Many children are experiencing depression and confusion and drug abuse is on the rise. Our school is committed to doing all it can to bring some sense of normalcy to the children and gain your confidence so you feel safe bringing your children to school.

Our plans are based on current information and guidance. We want to remind you that a lot can change in just a few days. We will continue to keep you informed. We plan to host another round table discussion soon. Please be on the lookout for an invite.

Our Sincere thanks for your continued support and participation.

If you have any questions please email them to: stephaniej@livingmontessori.com

With the Governor’s directive, beginning tomorrow June 26th, masks will be required for children ages 5 years and above while at school.

Please see the Department of Health guidance. This guidance has information on exceptions, so be sure to read thoroughly.
https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DOH-OSPI-DYCF-SchoolsChildCareGuidance.pdf.

As educators we understand this can present some difficulty in young children. For their comfort we are planning on spending more time outside which will reduce the amount of time they will need to wear a mask. If your child is 5 years or above, please send them to school wearing a mask along with a labeled Ziploc bag, where they can store it during food times and while outdoors.

We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

If we can be of any assistance, please reach out to Laurie Langevin lauriel@livingmontessori.com or Stephanie Newton stephanie@livingmontessori.com

Living Montessori Education Community

Dear LMEE Families,

I’m writing you to update you on the plans for Summer at LMEE. Guidance and Plans for Fall will be announced at a later date. The following information is for those of you attending on-site, considering on-site attendance and for those of you participating in Montessori At Home.

As you know, LMEC has remained open during the Covid-19 pandemic as childcare is considered an essential service. In order to continue providing childcare we are currently following state and local guidelines. As a reminder, the following information regarding attendance groups was sent on May 1st and linked in weekly newsletters. Please take a moment to review. For all other guidelines,
information is included and available in recent newsletters and on our website.

Class and Group Size

  • In order to minimize exposure children will stay in groups of 10 maximum at LMA and 5 to 10 at LMEE depending on age and class.
  • The children may not be in their originally assigned classroom due to small group size.

We are working tirelessly to accommodate attending and returning students within these guidelines. Among the many guidelines to consider we are also managing the assessment of:

  1. Staffing
  2. Consistent groupings of children
  3. The ability to create a consistent and meaningful distance learning program (Curriculum and Packets)
  4. Classroom availability and placement for children returning to on-site learning.

As we assess the ongoing needs of children and classrooms, staffing and guidelines, some considerations for the Summer months will be adjusted. The following updates apply to Early Preschool students beginning June 15th through August 1st. (This information does not apply to the Moonbeams classroom.)

For currently attending students:

As always, teachers are planning a Summer Curriculum full of fun and engaging activities. Your child will stay in the classroom they have been assigned. Beginning June 15th, your child will stay with their current classroom for Circle Time. Beginning June 15th children will be reassigned in Bloomz and Transparent Classroom. For example, if your child’s original classroom was Oasis and they are attending Rainforest, they will now be assigned to Rainforest for the Summer Months.

For children and families attending Montessori at Home considering a return to campus:

You must alert Admissions for classroom placement and start date coordination.

For children and families continuing with Montessori at Home:

Beginning June 15th (through August 1st), 1:1 Zoom meeting times will be limited. Please speak to your individual teacher about continuing options. Zoom Circle and Pick-Up Packets will continue
throughout the Summer.

This has been a challenging time for all. It has also been an opportunity to learn and grow as a team and community. We appreciate your understanding and support. We are grateful we are able to stay open and provide care and support for children and families. Thank you for all of your patience and kind words of encouragement.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Regards,
Stephanie Newton,
Program Director

Living Montessori – New Health and Safety Guidelines and Practice

Safety of all children, family and staff is our top priority. With the recommendations of and guidance from DCYF, Department of Health and CDC, Living Montessori has added some new health and safety practices to our current Health and Safety Policy found in our handbook. Please feel free to request a copy of the handbook if you do not have access to it.

Health Screening at Entry
Living Montessori will check for signs of being sick for all staff and children at entry each day.

  • Staff will wear gloves during screening.
  • Children’s and staff’s temperature will be taken every day. Parent/guardian is requested to take their child’s temperature if possible before arriving to school. If child’s temperature is 100.4 degrees or more the child must stay home.
  • Staff may ask questions about child and family health.
  • Our school is not expected to screen children, students, or staff to identify cases of COVID-19. If a community (or more specifically, a school) has cases of COVID-19, local health officials will help identify those individuals and follow up on next steps.
  • If a child develops or shows a fever or any other symptoms listed in our current Health Policy the staff will follow the Health Policy and procedure.
  • All persons entering the building are expected to wash hands upon entering.
  • Hand sanitizer must be used prior to signing your child in or out. Alternatively, our staff may sign your child in or out.

Drop-off and Pick-Up

LMA Drop off
Please use car-line from 8:15am to 9:30am in the usual drop off location close to the front lobby. Children are expected to be in school by 9:00 am but a 30 min grace period is allowed due to new adjustments that may present some challenges to families.

LMA Pick up
3:00 – 3:15: All pick will occur via car line in front of the library. 3:15 – 5:30: Call ahead for car-line pick up to give your child time to prepare to go home.

LMEE Drop off
Parents/guardians will bring the children in the lobby. Maximum 3 families will be permitted in the lobby at a time.Staff will provide drop off instructions upon entering.

LMEE Pick up
Parents/guardians will pick up from the lobby or classroom depending on the child’s age or need. Maximum 3 families will be permitted in the lobby at a time. Staff will provide pick up instructions upon entering.

Class and Group Size

  • In order to minimize exposure children will stay in groups of 10 maximum at LMA and 5 to 10 at LMEE depending on age and class.
  • The children may not be in their originally assigned classroom due to small group size.
  • Each group will remain together throughout the day. They will not be combined with other groups at any time indoors or outdoors.

Hand washing

  • All adults and children wash hands up arrival with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Frequent hand washing will continue throughout the day and children needing support will be provided hand-washing lessons as appropriate.
  • Hand-washing is encouraged for children after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Staff are required to wash hands after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and encourage children to do he same.

Cleaning and disinfecting

  • All high touch areas are cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day
  • Classroom materials, tables, etc. are sanitized frequently throughout the day
  • All classrooms are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized daily
  • Outdoor play area is sanitized daily
  • Faucets and sinks are cleaned and sanitized at least three times daily

Social Distancing

  • Adults will practice social distancing by maintain a 6’ distance and strategically plan children’s activities to minimize contact.
  • Social distancing amongst children is not realistic and must not be forced.
  • Carline at LMA and drop off and pick up procedures will support further social distancing.

Face Masks

  • Facemasks are encouraged but not required at this time until more clarification is provided by DCYF.
  • No face covering or facemasks are to be used for children the age of 2.
  • Further guidelines will be provided during training and updated of any changes

Yours Truly
Afrose Amlani,
Head of School

My Dear LMEC Families,

I hope you and your family are doing well and staying healthy.

It has been about a month since the “stay-home, stay-healthy” proclamation and I am sure that you and your children are hoping to resume something closer to normal life in the not too distant future.

We thank you for your support as we all work to adapt to this difficult time.

A number of children have continued to attend LMEE and LMA. However, some of you have asked whether you qualify to have your children attend. In particular this question is arising as the State begins to reopen some industries. Another question has come up which is, can my child attend if I am working from home? The purpose of this letter is to clarify the situation.

Is childcare the same as Preschool?

  1. Preschool and Early Preschool fall under the umbrella of Child Care and Early Learning, which has not been closed by the Governor.
  2. School is closed for K-12 only and childcare is available to all age groups including K-12 students (K-6 at Living Montessori).

To emphasize these points, here are three questions with their answers taken directly from the web site for DCYF (Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Family Services) that might help clarify:

Q: Does the request that childcare remain open to essential workers include providing care for currently enrolled families who need care for 5-12-year-olds?

A: Please continue to provide care to already enrolled families, including families with school-age children.

Q: Should my childcare only serve children of essential workers? Am I allowed to stay open if I don’t serve any children of essential workers?

A: Childcare providers can remain open and serve any child. If currently enrolled children need care, then you can serve them regardless of their parent’s essential worker status. You can also enroll new children…….DCYF encourages providers to prioritize children of essential workers and uniquely vulnerable children if there are more children than the provider can safely serve.

Q: Are licensed childcare providers expected to close under Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order? Are they mandated to stay open?

A: Governor Inslee designated child care businesses and workers as essential and exempt from the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Child care providers are not under a mandate to stay open or to close. We encourage child care facilities to continue serving their communities and to make their educated decisions based upon what information and recommendations are coming from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).

So, as you can see, if you wish or need to have your child attend, you may have them do so. In order to maintain appropriate guidelines it is important to provide us with advance notice of your child’s need to attend. With the recommendations of and guidance from DCYF, Department of Health and CDC, Living Montessori has added some new health and safety practices to our current Health and Safety Policy.

An overview of these practices and advance notice timelines will be laid out in a subsequent letter to shortly follow this one.

Again, I thank you for your support and as usual please direct questions to Laurie, Stephanie N or me.

Yours Truly
Afrose Amlani,
Head of School

Dear LMEC Families,

I would like to share a few, hopefully, helpful insights.

Teaching Staff
With your deeply appreciated support we continue to pay our teachers. In our view it is essential to do so. Both to help the staff during this difficult time and, as we return to more normal operation, to ensure children are able to return to an emotionally and educationally stable environment. We note that, of their own volition, a few staff members have chosen to work part time and accept various unemployment benefits. This option is available to all those who prefer it and where it is deemed appropriate. The school has also increased sick leave benefits to encourage staff to take care of themselves. All other eligible benefits continue.

Child Care
As recommended by the governor, we continue to offer childcare to those who need it. Many of you work in high tech (internet, web, communications), medical and other essential fields. It is very important that these continue to operate fully during this time.

The staff’s day is somewhat different to normal! Some are providing care to attending students – two staff members are assigned to each group of 8 children in order to cope with social distancing and additional sanitizing at LMA and even less students per teacher are assigned at LMEE. Other teachers and staff continue to work hard to support your children with distance learning, circles times, one-on-one with the children at LMA and families as needed, music and art videos, in some cases “take home packets” and ideas. They continue to plan, communicate and prepare for the weeks to come and engage in more training. In addition, they, with the Administrative team, are evaluating ways to improve on distance learning and support. We expect that all we learn during this time will be put to good use in more normal times so that we can easily include children who cannot be in the classroom due to illness. Summer Camp planning and AMS accreditation process is also underway.

Operating Expense
There has been a reduction in food cost for non-attending students. It has, however, had minimal impact in our overall budget. The larger cost is our labor for preparing food. Our staff includes three full-time kitchen staff that remains employed, with full benefits. They prepare meals for all attending children and staff as well as assist in maintaining our facility. Full operating expense such as IT, telecommunication, utilities, insurance, janitorial services, as well as rent are all current. No discounts have been available at the present time. On the contrary some cost have increased.

Revenue Loss
A few of our families have dis-enrolled due to loss of employment and others have accepted our scholarships. As much as possible, we would like to continue to support families in need. Additionally, the school has made an exception to the refund policy and is crediting all of the current session’s specialty enrichment cost to families towards their next specialty enrichment session.

Our Commitment
We are committed to ensuring that our students can return to an emotionally stable education community that they are familiar with. This will allow them to rapidly catch up with their education. Our teachers will diligently provide as much remote learning and support as is feasible.

This interesting time with regular changes requires balancing many complexities, not all of which are addressed here. I hope this letter offers some insight. Rooted in our core values, we will continue to make decisions in the best interest of our students while ensuring our organizational stability and our capacity to provide excellent educational services in the long term. Although I believe our teachers are offering excellent remote learning opportunities and are committed to improving the students’ experience and family support, in the short term no one can argue that remote learning is a full substitute for in person care and education. In my communication with families it seems that it has offered other invaluable benefits. I hope to talk with more families in the next week or two and use the information to better serve our community. This situation is in a constant flux and we will endeavor to be in communication as often as possible as well as provide as much transparency as possible so you know your tuition is being used to maintain staffing, the school and the wider community.

Community
We are all in this together, and while it is a difficult time, it is also a time for contemplation on what really matters and for continued mutual support to the best of our abilities. We expect you to return to a vibrant school with even better trained staff where children will easily excel emotionally and academically. We look forward to seeing you in person, hopefully, soon.

Rest assured we are committed to the children, their families and our staff for the long term. Your continued support is very much appreciated in order to achieve this aim and deliver the best we can through this crisis and beyond.

We miss you and your children’s energy and presence.

Much love,
Afrose Amlani
Head of School

Dear LMEC Families,

During these challenging times there has been so much uncertainty, unrest and lack of clarity throughout the school, the city, the country, and in fact the world. People are all dealing with this new reality in their own way. It has been my goal to stay focused on the things I can do to effect positive outcomes for our LMEC Community. I have been working diligently gathering resources and information to afford our school the greatest stability possible in the present days and in the long term.

I want to thank you all for your support and participation in remote learning. I understand most of you have engaged in the Zoom circles and some will be doing so by the end of the week. Although it cannot be a replacement for physical learning I have received glowing reports about how much is possible with the online experiences. It is my observation that this connection is also beneficial to our staff that is participating. I want to say a big THANK YOU to my leadership team and staff for their love and dedication to our learning community.

Here is the latest update regarding COVID-19

Governor’s order – Essential Workers

According to the “Proclamation by the Governor Amending Proclamation 20-05” Stay Home – Stay Healthy

  • Workers supporting public and private childcare establishments, licensed pre-K establishments, K- 12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of distance learning, or the provision of school meals, or child care for the children of essential workers across all sectors and for uniquely vulnerable children)
  • Communication and Information Technology is among essential workers

 

Our school is aware that a number of our clients fall into the Communication and Technology service category as well as other Essential Workers categories, as described in the Proclamation.

It is up to each client to determine their status/category and whether childcare services are needed. It is not the role of the school to question or determine their eligibility. Rooted in our core values of Collaboration, Empathy, Respect and Trust we are here to support all members of our learning Community.

Living Montessori will therefore remain open for services to all those who deem it necessary in order to perform their essential duties.

One organizational method we have employed is to divide the Administrative Team into specialized partnerships so that we can manage the increased volume of information and need to communicate with greater efficiency. If you have any questions or information to share please forward it to the following team.

Stephanie Newton and Laurie Langevin have been focusing on supporting the distance learning opportunities as well as the coordination of the childcare being offered on site. As I have been in contact with many schools I am confident that we are offering our students a meaningful learning experience while we are not conducting classes in person. Maintaining connections with the children is essential for them as well as the families in this challenging time. Stephanie Newton and Laurie are available to answer questions about the school operations, curriculum and program related questions and teacher communications. Stephanie@livingmontessori.com Lauriel@livingmontessori.com

Aliya Hirji and Crystal Pumilia continue working with all admissions and enrollment related questions. aliya@livingmontessori.com Crystalp@livingmontessori.com

Stephanie Johnson and Laura Michaud have been working on compiling information from reliable sources like the CDC, King County Health Department, WFIS, and the Governor’s office. You may also email Stephanie J. if you are unsure of where to take your questions. She will connect you with the appropriate individual that may or may not be listed here. stephaniej@livingmontessori.com lauram@livingmontessori.com

Lead Teachers are available to help you work with your child and provide a meaningful distance learning experience.

As we continue down this path where the future is ever changing please trust that we care for and value each of you. Be gentle to yourselves and acknowledge all that you are holding. Our greatest wish is that this is short lived and we can get back to business, healthy and with many lessons learned. I also wish that this experience can bind us together as a stronger, greater community doing the most important work of all – shaping the future of humanity. Our school’s stated purpose demonstrates our pledge and commitment to the future: Our purpose is to develop empowered global citizens in partnership with their families.

Thank you for being part of Living Montessori. We look forward go working together to achieve a peaceful humanity.

Sincerely,
Afrose Amlani
Head of School

Dearest Members of the Living Montessori Educational Community,

I am writing today to let you know how much you are each appreciated. I wish to express my thanks to the families. Everyone has been impacted in the current situation yet you have been supportive at every level including words to champion our teachers, staff and administration. The teachers have most graciously taken on the new adventure in online learning with enthusiasm, creativity and commitment to their children. By this evening all of the LMA families will have had their initial meeting on Zoom. The LMEE families will have their initial meetings early next week. The two meetings that happened yesterday were a great success. The teachers, support staff and administrative team have been working tirelessly in the face of an ever changing landscape. Their support and flexibility have been invaluable.

Tuesday, March 17th the entire staff had its first Zoom staff meeting. I was extremely impressed that the questions from the staff primarily focused on the topic of our children and how we will serve them. I was deeply moved by the fact that they participated with little concern for themselves. We are so fortunate to have such an amazing, committed staff.

As we move forward please support your child by having them continue to stay in touch with their class communities. They are affected by this change as much as the adults are. Allow us to support you with suggestions and activities that will keep your child engaged and excited about learning.

I ask that you please continue to support us as we all move through this temporary experience together. During times of tests and short term hardship it is most beneficial to think long term. Pulling together for a common cause will strengthen us all as a group as well as individually. We are all committed to the children, the Montessori Method, and a better more unified world.

Have an amazing weekend, stay well.

Sincerely,
Afrose Amlani
Head of School

Dear LMEC Families,

Once again, I want to thank you whole-heartedly for your dedication and support in this difficult time. I know you have faced disruption in your home and work. During this time I hope you have found comfort in the love, structure and stability our teachers have provided. I also hope you feel confident in the Health and Safety practices our school has ramped up. It is crucial this environment continues as we manage through these troubled times.

Governor’s Decision
As of yesterday (3/13), Governor Jay Inslee has closed all public & private K-12 schools effective March 17 through April 24, at minimum. Private schools may keep their school buildings open for staff and administrative teams. The teachers/staff are expected to work. He has not ordered closure for all other early learning and childcare facilities for children who do not fall in the K-12 category. Additionally, he has been clear that childcare is to be offered to all students whose families need to work. This includes K-12 students. This was further clarified to Washington Federation of Independent Schools (WFIS), of which Living Montessori is a member, via phone with the Governor’s office.

Our Plan
The school will close through Wednesday March 18th in preparation of virtual learning. By March 18th, families will receive details of virtual learning. Our facility will open on Thursday March 19th to offer childcare.

Elementary
The Elementary school program will be conducted through alternative methods. By Wednesday March 18th, further instructions will be sent to families and students regarding expectations, instructions via zoom, student projects and responsibilities, one-to-one teacher-student contact and group contact time.

Primary
By March 18th the Primary teachers will send educational instructions, resources and expectations via email to all Primary families to use if they do not need to bring their children to school. Expectations and consistent virtual teacher contact for Primary, including K students will be determined based on capabilities and other variables. Montessori mixed age group and student readiness criteria may only apply if teachers determine its viability. More details will follow. We will begin slowly so children and families have time to adjust. Instructions and resources will continue as long as needed with regular communication, evaluations and adjustments to ensure success.

LMEE
By March 18th, Early Education program will offer guidance and ideas, via email and perhaps Bloomz, of initial activities to support families who will be keeping their children home. This will be followed by emails, Bloomz and phone communication to evaluate and adjust continued support to ensure success.

All School
Beginning Thursday March 19th, childcare at LMA and LMEE will be OPEN and continue as usual with normal operating hours for all children who need to come to school. This includes the Elementary students whose families need to work.

Beginning Friday March 20th, all families who expect to bring their children to school must confirm their attendance every Friday for the following week. If you already know what you will need, through April 24th, please make that information available as soon as possible. The more information we have in advance the better will be our planning.

Please provide information to admissions@livingmontessori.com. Please do not directly email Gina or Nancy.

We are confident in our understanding and ability to maintain strict CDC COVID-19 guidelines and diligently practicing our Health Policy.

Our Commitment
Our mission is to develop empowered global citizens in partnership with their families. Living Montessori is committed to continue providing excellent care and education to all of its students, regardless of its form. As a true Montessori community we will support you as best as we can while you carry out your challenging role of taking care of your children and managing your workload. We know this is no “walk in the park.” We are here for you!

Living Montessori has always supported and paid its staff during all emergency closures. Our teachers give fully, providing a vital role of stability essential at all times and most critical during troubled times such as the one we are currently facing. As Head of School I am committed to ensuring my staff are paid while we offer a high quality education, in whatever form we need to, as well as physically provide care to all the children whose families need to work.

As you can understand, this commitment can only be fulfilled with continued tuition. I am asking every family in our school to keep this in mind and diligently continue their enrollment and tuition payment. I cannot stress enough that in these stressful and disruptive times children are highly impacted. It is essential that they have a stable, emotionally familiar environment to come back to. We can absolutely do this by working together. Scholarships can also be made available for families in our community, whose livelihood is threatened by loss of jobs, so that their children are not left behind. Please contact me directly if you find yourself in this position or would like to help someone in need.

“childcare and early learning serve a vitally important function in allowing parents to continue working, which has a significant public health and social benefits. Parents still need to work and children need safe and enriching spaces to spend their days.”
-Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, March 12, 2020

Personal note
I have dealt with some enormously difficult situations in my personal life and business and have come through a stronger, perhaps kinder person. At one point in time I was even homeless as a single mother with three young children. When I was a young girl of 17 my family lost all they had in East Africa, during Idi Amin’s regime, when they were forced to come to this privileged country as refugees. It is the support of generous and welcoming communities that made my family’s success possible. These are the times our capacities are confronted and hopefully developed and our relationships, commitments and values are tested.

I am thankful for Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and all other organizations, which have the capabilities to support the wellness of their employees, have stepped up. Our heart goes out to all those who have lost their dear ones, whose health is compromised, those struggling to keep their jobs and the small businesses barely managing to keep up.

I can tell you with certainty that all of you who have expressed their gratitude and their support for our teachers and the school have fueled our resilience to help us whether this storm together.

All my love,
Afrose Amlani
Head of School

Dear LMEC Families,

First of all I want to thank all of you for the tremendous support you have shown to our school community in these trying days as we navigate through uncharted territory.

As we make decisions we are thinking about the effects this virus has had in our students, staff and families. Our goal is to balance the needs of everyone involved and make decisions with everyone’s safety in mind.

As we have already done we will continue to follow the guidance of our governor and the relevant authorities. Jay Inslee ordered all private and public K-12 schools to close, beginning Tuesday March 16th. Inslee has also asked for childcare to be offered to those families in need.

Closure
To prepare for distance learning as well as think through how offering childcare can be managed. The school has decided to extend our closure from Friday March 13th through Wednesday March 18th.

What this means
Elementary: The Elementary school program will be conducted through alternative methods. The teachers will continue to communicate the timeline and what this looks like with their families, in order to maintain an enriching educational experience for our students.

Primary: The primary teachers will continue to gather resources and educational materials to support students at home. More details on how this will all work will be communicated by Wednesday, March 18th.

LMEE: Early education program will offer guidance and ideas for activities and support for families through Bloomz, phone calls and emails.

All School: We are evaluating the possibility of offering childcare to all LMEC families in need. This will require careful thought and preparation. On Friday March 13th, our administrative team will participate in the DCYF (Washington State Department of children, youth and families services) webinar specifically for childcare providers. In this webinar we hope to gather valuable insights and guidance that will shape our decisions moving forward.

We understand that this still leaves many unanswered questions. In the days to come, our goal is to clarify how we can best serve our families and staff.

Sincerely,
Afrose Amlani, Laurie Langevin & Stephanie Newton
Head of School | Program Directors

Dear LMEC Families,

I want to inform you that in the wake of the press conference earlier today, regarding Jay Inslee’s order to close all EVENTS that gather 250 people or more, the Seattle, Lake Washington, and Bellevue School Districts have announced their school closures for the next two weeks. There has been no order from the State of Washington to close public or private schools.

For now the school will remain closed on Friday March 13th as scheduled, as well as Monday March 16th (not previously scheduled) to allow for preparation in the event of an ordered closure. Unless there are new developments, we are planning on keeping our school open after the two day closure.

In the meantime, we ask you to do the following:

  1. Practice social distancing as much as possible
  2. Follow proper hand washing and sanitizing procedures
  3. Inform us of any travel
  4. If you are sick, have an alternate drop off/pickup person or drop off and pick up your children from the lobby
  5. Keep sick children at home We respect each family’s individual decisions about what is best for their children.

Thank you for your support and dedication to our school community.

Sincerely,
Afrose Amlani, Laurie Langevin & Stephanie Newton
Head of School | Program Directors

Dear LMEC Families,

I want to inform you that we are in daily communication with our Health Nurse as well as King County Health Department and keeping up-to-date with the CDC’s recommendations. No change has been advised as yet.

The risk to children for Corona Virus remains low and the school continues to strictly observe the standard Health and Safety policy with emphasis on very careful and frequent hand washing, practicing safe sneezing, coughing, nose blowing and additional measures such as weekly deep cleaning and frequent sanitizing of all the high touch areas.

Here is the CDC report, as can be seen, children are at far more risk from the flu than Corona Virus. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm

Our teachers have begun the process of preparation for continuity of our Primary and Elementary students’ education in the event the school needs to close for a period of time. We will endeavor to keep these works/lessons fruitful for the students and yet simple for parents to give guidance and help while managing their own workload.

For Toddlers and Early preschool students, it is not appropriate to send works home nor does it seem feasible for parents to manage this task while working from home. However, if families need the support our teachers are happy to provide appropriate parent guidelines and ideas that may be helpful as you try to fulfill this dual role.

As always, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if we can provide any support.

Sincerely,
Afrose Amlani, Laurie Langevin & Stephanie Newton
Head of School | Program Directors

Dear LMEC Families,

In a continued effort to practice safe, conscientious operations at Living Montessori, we have made some adaptations to our scheduled Programs and added other precautionary steps.

All School Temperature Checks
Beginning Monday March 9th, please be prepared to have your child’s temperature taken either upon arrival or at our earliest available opportunity. If your child is in before-care please walk them to the cafeteria or LMEE MPR respectively, when arriving before 8:00 am. At that time you may be asked to confirm that your child has been fever free in the past 24 hrs., without the aid of medication. Children with a fever of 100 degrees or more, or children medicated to reduce fever will be sent home or not be admitted. Please be sure to give yourselves a little extra time each morning in order to accommodate this important process.

LMA Activity Changes
For the time being, any activity where parents are invited to the school will be cancelled or adapted. This action is in accordance with the recommendation to avoid large gatherings. Please read the following details about specific events and how they are being changed or cancelled.

LMA STEAM Fair
The students will follow the timeline set out at the beginning of the project. Students will bring their projects to school on Monday, March 16th. Instead of being a school wide event, the presentation will be held in the individual classrooms over two days (March 19th and 20th). The families will not attend as originally planned. This will remove the “large gathering of people” element while still allowing the children to be excited about science and have practice presenting to a group of people. The school will be closing at 3:00 pm on March 20th, as planned to allow the school time for deep cleaning and sanitizing the classrooms.

LMA Pick Up Time Logistics on March 20th. (STEAM fair day)
All pickups will be via carline only. Elementary, Juniper and Poplar students will need to be picked up from the service entrance on the West end of the building. All other students will be picked up outside the front lobby entrance. Staff will be available to guide the carlines. Students will take home their science projects. All student cubby contents will be sent home to be sanitized. Relevant items may be returned on Monday.

LMA Piano Students
All Recitals will be cancelled for Friday, March 6th and Monday, March 9th.

Elementary Ballroom Dancing
The Ballroom Dancing Demonstration will be filmed, no parents should attend. You will be able to watch the demonstration with your children.

All School Absentee Notice
Since many families have chosen to keep their children home during this time we are experiencing a lot of wastage of food and time in special dietary preparation as well as staff planning. This can be better managed with at lease 48 hrs. of notice. Please email ginak@livingmontessori.com for LMA or lmeeadmin@livingmontesori.com for LMEE, if you plan to keep your child home. Please inform us of the duration of time if you have that information. For example, a day or two or a week at a time.

All of us at Living Montessori thank you for your concern and support in these unusual times. We continue to stay abreast of the most current updates from the CDC, King County and Washington State Department of Health, the State Board of Education and our visiting State Health Nurse. All recommendations are to continue to follow Health policies and remain open. We will implement changes as required to insure the safety of our students, staff, and families. The school will remain open until the above authorities advise otherwise or at the discretion of our leadership team as the evolving situation demands. We respect the rights of each family to make choices regarding the attendance of their children.

For your information, the school is exploring ways of implementing virtual learning for students as age appropriate. More information will be made available soon.

Wishing you good health and much love,

Sincerely,
Afrose Amlani, Laurie Langevin & Stephanie Newton
Head of School | Program Directors

Dear LMEC Families,

I ask that you read this notice in its entirety.

I am writing to inform you that we are continually monitoring the situation and staying up to date as new information becomes available regarding the Coronavirus, what the school is doing, and how we can all work together to ensure the safety of our learning community.

The Health and Safety of our children, families and staff is paramount.

For now it is most important to get “grounded in facts” and take all preventative measures. The virus is still in the process of being fully understood and naturally misinformation can lead to fear and panic. It is vital that we work together with accurate information to protect our learning community. To that end, I’ve included links to some helpful, factual resources.

Schools have been advised to continue with normal operations; diligently following Health and Safety policies that are in place and staying current with Washington State Department of Health guidelines:
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Schools: Information for School Nurses and Administrators
Washington State Department of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19) Information Portal

Preventative measures are our best option.

We have reviewed our processes and increased our preventative measures as needed. The first step was an increased effort in emphasizing our hand washing and sanitizing procedures throughout the school. We have employed extra resources to sanitize surfaces that are normally not within the normal scope of work and within DEL and State Health Department guidelines. We continue to follow guidelines from the Washington Board of Education, Washington State Department of Health and the CDC. Please reference the links provided for more information on the most up to date recommendations. Although most of these recommendations are already a part of our normal routine, the school has taken additional steps to minimize the risk to our community.

Immediate Actions the school has taken as a preventive measure:

  1. To elevate cleaning and sanitizing, we have employed an additional cleaning crew to come in weekly and sanitize all high touch areas. This includes all lobby furniture, counter tops, LMEE fish tank, all school faucets, sinks, toilets and door knobs, cafeteria, LMEE MPR and LMA gym mats and equipment, etc. etc. This is in addition to our normal procedures.
  2. As a preventative measure, we have reviewed our Health & Safety policy, relevant to preventing spread of disease, with all staff as a reminder to follow it strictly.
  3. To emphasize hand washing, teachers are reviewing proper hand washing lessons with children. We ask that you employ these procedures at home. Additionally, our teachers will begin showing CDC hand washing videos created for children. Feel free to show them at home.
  4. These will not be shown to our infants. They may be shown to our young toddlers in Ocean and Lagoon classrooms at the discretion of our Program Director and their lead teacher.
  5. Teachers are consistently reviewing lessons on sneezing, coughing, and nose wiping with children and each other.
  6. New hand-washing reminders are posted throughout the school. All individuals visiting the school are asked to wash their hands and follow all appropriate safety procedures.
  7. Hand sanitizer has been made available for all adults only at the sign in desk for use prior to touching the sign in/out tablet and/or operating the door.
  8. Large group gatherings at school are minimized. Please look for updates for all upcoming events.

 

How you can help:

  1. Our school is as safe as we make it. Your efforts are equally important. Follow our Health Policy. Our complete Health Policy can be found in your LMEC Parent Handbooks and I encourage you to review it. We will enforce it, strictly!
  2. Keep sick children home.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  7. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  8. If your child needs to be sent home you will receive a Health Notice spelling out when your child can return. Be sure to pay attention to that and follow those instructions. If you do not receive a Health Notice, the LMEC Health Policy applies. Children must be symptom free without the aid of medication for 24 hours prior to returning to school.
  9. If you are sick please DO NOT ENTER the classroom. Stay in the lobby and ask our office staff to take your child to their classroom.
  10. Please use the provided hand sanitizer prior to touching the sign in/out tablet and/or operating the door.
  11. Please assist us by making sure your children are consistently washing their hands upon entering their classroom or before joining their before care group. If your children are in before care at LMEE please have them wash their hands in their classrooms or the nearest classroom prior to joining their group in the MPR.
  12. If you are traveling, please inform us of your destination. Currently, the CDC is recommending that all travelers from China (including school students, staff and volunteers) arriving in the United States AFTER February 2, 2020 at 2 p.m. stay at home, away from others, and monitor their health for 14 days.
  13. Please call us if your child will be absent and provide details if it is for health reason.
  14. If you or your child is diagnosed with COVID-19 or any contagious illness please stay home and immediately inform the school. This will allow us to quickly take the safety measures as per the authorities’ guidelines and our Health Policy. We will, at all times, maintain your privacy.
  15. If you are diagnosed and your child is well please inform us and we will advise you according to the Health Department guidelines.

 

Thanks for getting to the end. We appreciate joint efforts in keeping our community safe.

Please do not hesitate to contact your respective Program Directors, Laurie Langevin and Stephanie Newton, or me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Afrose Amlani
Head of School

LMA Families,

We wanted to reach out and respond to parent concerns about group gatherings, here at the school, surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Our upcoming Steam Fair specifically is being looked at carefully. We are monitoring the situation, and if action is required we will make that decision closer to the date.

In the meantime we want to pass on these cleaning guidelines, from the CDC, and encourage you to follow as closely as possible at home to ensure consistency for the children as well as lower the possibility of germs spreading.

WA State: Department of Health: Cleaning Tips for Teachers

In light of this new information, we ask if you are unwell or showing any symptoms, that you take caution when you are dropping off or picking up your child. Please utilize the carline (8:15-8:55, 3:00-3:15). If you are outside of those times and are still unwell, please come into the lobby and a staff member can bring your child out to you, in order to limit exposure.

Continuing with our policy, please remind your child to wash their hands immediately upon entering the classroom.

Thank you for partnering with us.

Sincerely,
Laurie Langevin & Stephanie Newton
Program Directors

Dear LMEC Families,

Please read below information from Washington State Department of Health.

OLYMPIA – As the investigation into 2019 novel coronavirus continues, the Washington State Department of Health is sharing important data points to help the public understand and track the progress and the work being done statewide. The immediate health risk from novel coronavirus to Washington residents is still considered low at this time.

Across the state, we have identified 8 persons under investigation (PUI). A person under investigation (PUI) is an ill person with possible 2019 n-CoV infection who is in the process of being tested.

The current number of close contacts stands at 63. This is the number of people potentially exposed to the virus who are being actively monitored in Washington state. A close contact is a person who has been within about 6 feet of a person with confirmed 2019 n-CoV infection for a prolonged period of time or has had direct contact with secretions from a person with confirmed 2019 n-CoV infection. The definition used in Washington is the same as the CDC definition. We plan to update the number of close contacts daily at 3pm here on the Department of Health website.

We will update our website daily with:

  • The number of confirmed 2019 novel coronavirus cases in Washington.
  • The number of people who are currently being monitored due to having close contact with a person who is confirmed to have 2019 novel coronavirus.
  • The number of ill persons under investigation (PUI) for possible infection.

 

The patient with confirmed 2019 n-CoV is still in satisfactory condition and in the same unit at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. Providence is coordinating with the CDC, the Department of Health, and the Snohomish Health District to monitor and treat the patient. No discharge date has been set.

The 2019 novel coronavirus is concerning because it’s a new strain and can cause pneumonia. The Washington State Department of Health wants to ensure that the public is aware of the ways we are working to keep the public informed every day. The multi-agency public response to Washington’s first case of 2019 novel coronavirus is ongoing, as these teams partner to learn more about this emerging issue.

There are steps people can take to reduce their risk of getting any viral respiratory infections. These include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces

 

It is also important for people to stay at home away from others if they are sick and for people to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash their hands.

DOH has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

More information on 2019 novel coronavirus is available from:

The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of information.

Rest assured, the school will continue to follow our Health Policy and practice and the above, Washington State Department of Health, recommendations.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Newton & Laurie Langevin
Program Directors