MSCU is thrilled to be coming back to in-person schooling, Monday through Friday, for the 2020-21 school year! As we look forward to our first day of school, August 17, 2020, we know that families may have many questions on their hearts and minds. Below is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that may be helpful to you as you begin to envision with your family what school will look like in the fall.
Please note: While we will make every effort to maintain stability in our policies and procedures, we ask that you approach these FAQ responses with the understanding that ultimately these answers are still subject to change; for the good of our school and community, as the COVID-19 situation evolves in our state and our nation, our policies may need to evolve as well.
Fall Return-to-School FAQs
The information in this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section may evolve as our region’s situation evolves, so please check back regularly for possible changes. We will contact all of our families via email if any major changes arise.
Health & Safety
What types of precautions are you taking to ensure the safety of our children?
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols and services
- Intensified focus on health and hygiene with staff and children
- Social distancing measures, including mask-wearing and keeping children in cohorts
- Maintaining illness and health management protocols
Will my child be required to wear a mask? Do all children have to wear masks?
Yes. All children over the age of 2 will be required to wear masks except when eating, sleeping, or playing outdoors and able to maintain 6 feet of social distancing, unless they are medically unable to wear a mask.
I’m concerned about my child wearing a mask all day. I’m not sure if they can tolerate mask wearing.
We understand. This is a “new normal” that all of us are navigating together! One thing to remember is that children are tremendously adaptable, even more so than we might be as adults. We’ve found since our summer start that families who have been committed to practicing at home and sharing with their children about the importance of wearing masks have experienced tremendous success. Our children who have come in used to wearing masks already are learning, growing, and playing in the classroom as if they don’t even realize they have a mask on. Even our toddler group has been able to keep masks on all day without any major issues. We are thankful for all of our families’ support of our new health and safety policies which has made this transition so far so seamless!
As firmly as we believe, based on what we’re seeing first-hand, that the children not only can tolerate mask wearing but that their social and emotional joy in being together has transcended the sense of inconvenience posed by the masks, we recommend being completely sure that you can fully be behind this policy before enrolling at the school. This is an important decision for your family and because we will be firmly upholding our new health and safety policies as shared for the foreseeable future, it is important that you feel comfortable as a family with being able to fully support these policies as well if you are choosing to enroll for the new academic year.
Will you continue mask-wearing and social distancing policies in the Spring?
We will continue mask-wearing and social distancing policies until we are in Phase 5 of our state’s recovery plan. Our health and safety policies are dependent upon what Phase of recovery the State of Illinois is in at any given time, and are not determined by semester or season. Please see our COVID-19 School Action Plan for full details.
Will teachers and staff be wearing masks?
Yes. All staff will wear masks in the school at all times unless eating or medically unable to wear a mask.
In addition to wearing masks and social distancing, what else should we expect?
Classes & Schedules
Will it still be Montessori?
Yes! We are still planning on individualizing our instruction in a prepared environment. Some of the works may change but our commitment to providing a Montessori experience will remain the same.
Do you have any availability for the fall semester?
Due to high demand for the upcoming year, we are nearing capacity for the Primary Program (Pre-K and Kindergarten) and Upper Elementary/Secondary programs. If you are interested in applying, we recommend that you do so ASAP. We are currently waitlisting for Toddler and Lower Elementary (Years 1-3) programs.
My family already received, signed, and returned our tuition agreement and paid the $400 enrollment fee ($300 for additional siblings) much earlier in the year. Is our spot secure?
If your family has already paid the enrollment fee and signed and returned your tuition agreement, your spot is secure. You should have returned a scanned/photographed copy via email and put the originals in the postal mail to the school. We save the spot for you as soon as we have the scanned/photographed copy and enrollment fee at a minimum, as we know postal mail can be slow at times and these are time-sensitive documents. If you are unsure of your status, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time to check.
What programs will you offer for the fall? Do you plan to offer half day, partial, or full day programs? How many days a week will school be in session?
We plan to offer 8:30AM-2:30PM (3:00PM for Elementary and up) and 8:30AM-5:30PM, Monday through Friday (5 days a week) for our programs based on demand and our staffing availability. If we need to change the programs we offer due to demand and/or staffing availability and your child’s program is affected by the change, we will let your family know via email and offer the opportunity to either change your program, keeping your school spot, or waitlist until your preferred program is available again. Classrooms will be at significantly reduced sizes (Until further notice: Toddlers = 12 students maximum per classroom; Primary, Elementary, Secondary = 15 students maximum per classroom)
What about Early Care (7:30AM-8:30AM)?
Currently we are not offering Early Care at the beginning of fall. However, we will continue to re-evaluate whether we can offer it later in the year and will let families know immediately if the situation changes.
Will you offer a dedicated Nap Room (Toddler/Primary)?
Our toddlers will have a dedicated naptime within their own cohort each day.
Our Primary students will not have a dedicated Nap Room this year, due to our need to balance both having students in cohorts and continuing to honor the Montessori philosophy of mixed age classrooms. We currently will not be able to offer a nap cohort for as long as we need to keep students in cohorts. Cots will be available in each classroom for children to rest in as needed in the afternoon while other children work on quiet activities, but there won’t be a scheduled/dedicated naptime in the room. If you plan to enroll your child and s/he needs an afternoon nap, please be sure to indicate this on the online application form so we can know to have a cot available for him/her.
Will students be changing rooms during the course of the day?
No. Due to the need to keep students in classroom-specific cohorts per public health guidelines, students will be staying in the same room from dropoff to pickup for the foreseeable future. Cohorts will not mix on the playground either; they will take turns using the playgrounds. Please see the Return to School Highlights page and our full COVID-19 School Action Plan for specific details.
My family is a returning family. Is my child guaranteed to have the same Director/Directress as in previous years?
We will do everything in our power to keep our returning children with the same Director/Directresses as in previous years, as we also wish to preserve the stability of the children’s learning experience over the 3 year learning cycle. However, in some cases, due to new cohort and scheduling restrictions, this may not be possible.
What If Our Region Goes Back to Phase 3 or Lower?
If the school goes back to FULL CLOSURE, what will happen with my child’s program? What about tuition payments?
We will work with public health, ISBE and DCFS to operate within their guidelines. In case a full closure is mandated, we will work with our community to provide remote learning materials to continue the Montessori experience for each of our programs (Toddler, Primary, Elementary, and Secondary). At the moment we don’t anticipate making changes to tuition payments.
If the school is required by state or local authorities to engage in a partial closure and lower its student numbers, how will the school determine who stays with in-person schooling and who goes to the waitpool?
We sincerely hope that the situation will never come to this, but if state or local authorities mandate that we must reduce our in-person schooling, we will prioritize safety and serving families of essential personnel in our community.
Are there any changes to drop off and pick up?
Yes. We will be doing staggered drop off and pick up windows. Schedules will be based on the program and classroom that your child is enrolled in. Priority for the earliest dropoff window will be given to families who originally wanted Early Care as part of their programs.
What other changes are important for families to know about?
Please see the Return to School Highlights page and our full COVID-19 School Action Plan for specific details. We will expect all families to be familiar with and abide by the protocols in our COVID-19 School Action Plan, in addition to our regular school rules as shared every year in the Parent Handbook.
Please keep in mind that as the situation with coronavirus in the U.S. and specifically Illinois evolves, our policies may evolve as well. We deeply appreciate our families’ flexibility and we are committed to walking together as a community as we navigate these unprecedented times!