image of parents taking their preschoolers back to school

Preparing Your Child to Return to School

“Back-to-school” can be a stressful transition even at the end of a “normal” summer break—earlier bedtimes, days with more structure, a different approach to meal planning. In a year thathas been anything but normal, the challenges are compounded.

This post aims to ease that stress on your family by (1) familiarizing you with what Montessori Center School will look like when we return to school, and (2) offering some tips to help your child feel confident and at home at MCS, even amid the necessary changes.

The New Normal at Montessori Center School

MCS staff and administrators have done extensive research and consulted with professionals to identify the best practices for reopening in these extraordinary times. Our goal, as always, is to maintain an authentic, joyful, and reassuringly familiar Montessori experience for your child—while also keeping the safety of both children and adults foremost in our planning and procedures. The following details COVID-19 procedures for preschool reopening at MCS.

MCS COVID-19 Procedures for Preschool

Some of our new protocols and procedures for the return to school are outlined below. Please understand that some of these COVID-19 procedures for preschool may change, as required, to further ensure the safety of students and staff as the situation, and professional advice, evolves.

Before School

  • Staff will have their temperatures taken at the start of each day.
  • Drop-off: Parents will park and accompany their child to their classroom door which opens onto the parking lot where you will be greeted, outdoors, by a staff member.
  • Your child’s temperature will be taken before entering the classroom. 
  • If your child has a temperature reading below 100o F, parents will sign the attendance sheet placed on a table outside the classroom door, with a legible signature and drop-off time.
  • Staff will take your child for handwashing upon entering the classroom. 
  • A child with a temperature of 100o F or higher may not attend until fever-free for 48 hours without taking fever-reducing medication. The same rules apply to staff.

During School

  • We are strongly recommending face coverings for students 4 years of age and older.
  • Staff will wear masks during school hours. 
  • Daily, parents will provide lunch, snack, and a water bottle for their child.
  • As needed, lunches can be refrigerated and/or warmed.
  • Staff will set lunch tables using disposable place settings.
  • As weather permits, we will be increasing the use of our outdoor environment as an extension of the classroom. 
  • To the greatest extent possible, we will practice social distancing throughout the school day.
  • Any child who develops a fever or other symptoms while at school will be isolated from the group until he or she is picked up. We ask parents to keep our office up to date on all contact information.
  • Staff will sanitize classroom materials after each use and high-touch surfaces (e.g., tables, chairs, door handles, faucets, etc.) throughout the day.

After School

  • Pick-up: Half and Full Day students will be picked up by their parents at the same classroom door used for drop-off.
  • Parents will remain outside and will sign their child out on the attendance sheet on the table by the door with a legible signature and pick-up time.
  • Extended Day students will exit the school though the office. Attendance sheets will be on tables outside the main entrance.
  • The school will be cleaned and sanitized at the end of each day. 

Four Tips to Ease the Transition

1. Start a “School”-Style Routine Early

Beginning a week or two before the return to school, gradually adjust bedtime until it reaches its “school night” time. Do the same with getting up in the morning, and gradually add elements of what a school morning will entail: having breakfast, getting dressed, and so on.

2. Refresh Your Child’s Memory

The few months we’ve been off school represent a large percentage of your young child’s life. Even if you’ve kept him or her in touch with teacher and classmates through distance learning, the physical campus may be a dim memory.

the front entrance of Montessori Center School

You can help your child mentally and emotionally prepare to return to school by spending time together looking at the MCS yearbook, other MCS print materials, photos you’ve taken, or the MCS Facebook page and website. Talk together about the friends, teachers, materials, and animals that your child hasn’t seen in such a long time. Drive over to the MCS campus to build anticipation while practicing the morning routine.

3. Talk, Listen, and Reassure

In the weeks leading up to the return to school, begin to casually mention to your child that some school routines will be different this year, at least at first. In a matter-of-fact way, describe some of these, such as new drop-off and pick-up procedures, teachers wearing masks, sanitizing materials between uses, and so on. Be careful not to overwhelm your child with too many details at once. Emphasize that the people and environment will, for the most part, be just the same as last year.

a preschooler wearing a mask and getting her temperature checked showing covid-19 procedures for preschool

Allow time for questions, and answer them honestly. Ask how your child feels about the change in routines, and offer reassurance that all of these feelings are normal. Focus on what your child can control, such as using a tissue or inner elbow to cover a sneeze or cough, washing hands, social distancing, and so on.

Above all, reassure your child that parents, teachers, and other adults are working together to keep him or her safe and healthy. In addition, model adaptability and confidence in your own demeanor.

4. Practice and Role-Play

As you discuss the new MCS COVID-19 procedures for preschool, try acting out some of them, just as we do at Montessori Center School when we give lessons of grace and courtesy. For example, have your child think of a fun way to greet classmates while maintaining social distance—and then role-play it.

We’ll See You Soon

Montessori Center School staff and administration will be keeping you updated on our plans to return to school as they evolve in response to public health directives. Until we meet again, keep practicing handwashing with your preschooler!

Copyright 2020 Montessori Center School, Phoenix