FAQ for Opening in Fall 2020-2021 under the new State Order (July 6, 2020) Innovation Montessori Ocoee/ Innovation Montessori High School
Please note that the following responses may be subject to change based on additional information, guidance and/or requirements from state and local authorities. Importantly, we still need the district and state to approve our ‘innovative learning environment’ (ILE) option.
These will be instructional days that include many of the typical exercises at the beginning of a school year. The ten “distance learning days” will provide opportunities for all staff and students to become comfortable with the IMO-ILE platform, as it will be our default should we need to pivot from “brick and mortar” during the pandemic or bad weather days.
Teachers can also establish communications with parents and students as we work out any problems and answer questions. The school will also use these days to roll out devices and sometimes supplies, build in time for parent training for digital platforms, teacher training, etc… More detail at the beginning of next week.
Every school year during the first 10 days of school, children are actually not counted absent until they show up for their first day of school in that year. This is known as a 10-day count process that schools throughout Florida go through every year. Absences are only counted after you show up for the first time that school year.
During this time we do reach out to families to check on students, so once class lists are released sometime later next week, it would be good for you to contact your child’s teacher and explain when they can be expected to log on and be present if it will not be on August 10th.
In brief the Governor’s order states that “All schools open. Upon reopening in August, all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students, subject to advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health, local departments of health, Executive Order 20-149 and subsequent executive orders. Absent these directives, the day-to-day decision to open or close a school must always rest locally with the board or executive most closely associated with a school, the superintendent or school board in the case of a district-run school, the charter governing board in the case of a public charter school or the private school principal, director or governing board in the case of a nonpublic school.”
Right now, the Florida Department of Health and the local health department as part of that agency in Orange County is not providing any updated advice in the opening of schools within Orange County other than what has been posted at the following link, https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/schools/ You might note that this link also does mention CDC guidelines.
We recognize that the language of ‘survey’ is confusing. We are asking for a commitment to one of the two different options offered. Our concern with receiving the Governor’s order on July 6, 2020 and our previous plans for social distancing could no longer be put into use. Now we have a very tight turn around for building new classes needed based on who needs the ‘brick and mortar’ at the building and who needs the ‘innovation learning environment’. We added language stating that extenuating circumstances will be considered should the decision you make on this ‘survey’ need to be changed. We are sure that our community understands the responsibility we have in building classes in time for opening.
For Lower and Upper El, at the time of writing - noon on July 11, 2020 – with about 43% of parents responding, we have 49% of families choosing face to face and 51% choosing ‘innovation learning environment’. IF this trend continues, we may then be able to move one group of students inside the LE and UE suites to the online environment with one of the teachers within that suite while the other teacher and group of students works at the school. There is still a lot to juggle and I cannot guarantee it will be as easy as this, but it may be possible.
For Middle and High School, the students will likely be placed in homeroom groupings with minimal transitions. Students will access their course materials through Canvas and meet with their teacher through Zoom/BigBlueButton during their scheduled class period from 8:30- 2:30/3:00.
No. While we do offer HOPE virtually for our IMHS students, students cannot enroll in OCVS or FLVS courses while attending IMO/IMHS.
We are still under the state’s requirement for class size, so we do not see how it will be possible for students to move between options. Option 1 does provide the ability to be face to face at the building and still have access to online lessons if a child is ‘quarantined’.
One of the challenges with the new state order is that plans we had considered for reducing the number of children in each classroom are no longer allowed, because we must offer a face to face, brick and mortar option for 5 days a week. Previous ideas we had floated, such as all Middle and High to go online, we could no longer do across the board. We hoped this would give us space to divide out Primary-Lower and Upper El. Additionally, we considered we could also have teachers wanting to work online and build new classes this way which would reduce the numbers more.
When children are attending school on campus, we anticipate a reduced number of children in each suite. We will plan on keeping class groups together for recess and enrichments, with only one group going to the playground at a time. This will impact our schedule, of course. Enrichments will likely involve teachers coming to the classroom to teach (either in person or over video). While in their class groups we will ask children to be mindful about their proximity to their classmates during the work cycle. Everyone on campus will wear a mask and/or shield. Touchless hand sanitizing units are being installed in all classrooms and common areas.
Siblings of students in the primary building will no longer arrive and dismiss through the primary building. Parents will need to go through the main campus car-line first and then proceed to the primary car-line.
The schedule will still be similar, honoring the 3-hour work cycle whenever possible. Enrichment teachers will come to the classroom, either in person or on video with the classroom teacher assistant supporting. Lunch will continue to be in the classroom with some options for eating outside (no mixing of classes). The spacing of the recess schedule to facilitate just one suite group at a time being on the playground will likely impact the schedule somewhat.
We will be reaching out for more guidance around the expectations for ‘seat’ time as the order does provide limited flexibility. We do know that expectations around student engagement and academics will be more rigorous than during COVID learning in the spring. Students will receive lessons and then complete follow-up work, mimicking the Montessori work cycle. Students will also have virtual enrichment time. Right now, as we understand the language unlike our online experience in the spring, students will be available in real time, rather than on their own schedule. Again, this is what we know and understand right now.
No, students will remain with the class they are assigned to in August. While we understand that this is not ideal it is our best way to manage the challenges of educating during the time of COVID. As of today, July 10, 2020, we have received 100 responses out of 540 students in IMO, with 50% choosing face to face and 50% choosing the ILE at-home option. If this trend continues, we may have an easier time placing students with either their classroom teacher or with the other teacher in their suite. Again, this may change.
Middle and High School students will likely be assigned to a homeroom where they will complete their class assignments with minimal transitions. At this time, all classes (on campus and virtual) will meet during the regularly scheduled class period. This will provide an environment for all students to engage with the teacher in real time.
We will consider this, when possible, as we agree that it could reduce the quarantine implications for families.
Students will be frequently reminded to wash their hands while also having set times when everyone will either wash using soap and water or the touch-free hand sanitizers in each room.
Students in the classrooms will have individual school supplies, such as pencils, crayons and scissors. We are looking at cleaning options in between students using Montessori materials.
Classrooms will be well stocked with cleaning wipes for adults to use to clean as needed, while we will also have custodians rotating in a few times a day to clean the most used surfaces, handles, etc.
Students will have lunch in the classroom or outside but Primary, LE and UE classes, if eating outside, cannot mingle and we will limit how many students eat together since they cannot wear a mask as they eat. Hot lunch and free and reduced lunch will continue to be available.
Yes, but just with their class only.
Guidelines and guidance from health department is still coming in around how this will be handled. We do expect to be involved at some level of contact tracing, while the privacy of students and adults will be protected
Yes, all will work unless Department of Health guidance changes. Hats attached to shields will be permitted to be worn inside the classroom. Shield hats and masks will not need to be in school colors. They will need not to have anything inappropriate for school on them, of course.
We are still waiting for some of these specifics as we get closer to school starting, but we know it is a part of the plan as well as contact tracing. All notifications will be anonymous, protecting the privacy of the person who is sick.
From what Dr. Pino, Florida Health Department in Orange County, shared at the OCPS work session last Tuesday that will be decided on a case by case basis. There are no specific guidelines listed yet for schools, but I expect to see these more fleshed out as we get closer to the start of school. Option A does allow for students to stay connected to lessons while at home should a quarantine situation arise.
Same as above but we will have to use subs, as we have done before. In our situation we typically have our own TAs move into the teacher role and the sub covers the TA role.
We are waiting for guidance from OCPS on this. They have put in for waivers for exit drills since they typically place too many people in close quarters outside.
Innovative Learning Environment (at home)
While parents are not expected to guide or work on content with their children, they may have to help with getting them to school (meaning up and working at the laptop). All families will be asked to sign an academic integrity policy to ensure that children are submitting work that only they have completed.
Right now, we do not expect to have packets, but we have been working on ways to broaden the tools we used during the spring for online submission that is easier for children.
It will be hard to make this guarantee because we must adhere to class size averages and cannot have people jumping from one class to another. As a smaller school we only have so many options. While no guarantees can be made, extenuating circumstances will always be considered.
Yes. We are still working on what that will look like right now. We want to increase the engagement we had this spring.
Yes, that is one of several things that the teachers felt worked well during the spring. Some classrooms had more success than others and all want to expand on those options to give students a chance to connect.
Absolutely. Our online teachers will be working to build that community and relationships with students. Be it face to face or in the ILE, our IMO/IMHS teachers are very student centered and fully understand the importance of building relationships with their students.
We actually have had ‘rising parent videos’ ready for a month. We had planned to release them last week but then we got the state order and needed to get the ‘survey’ out. I believe Cathy is planning to release them next week. WHILE we know we will have to update the information for those choosing the ILE option. At the current time we anticipate that Meet the Teacher and Parent Ed events for the semester ahead will be hosted virtually.
We anticipate serving our Casa students in the classroom setting, following all guidance from the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Families. If you are a Casa family with a medical situation that makes the ILE option a better one for you, please email us. One challenge with doing Casa online is that, right now, the Early Learning Coalition has advised that we may not provide VPK online. Students who don’t participate in VPK with us as four-year olds, do not get the VPK bump in the lottery, which is so important in securing a kindergarten spot.
Yes. If your child has been with us for a year you will be able to claim previous Montessori experience, which will be of benefit in the lottery as it gives a priority bump. It isn’t a guarantee of getting a spot again, though.
While this is certainly not the way that anyone had hoped we would be starting off the 2020-2021 school year, with no end of ever-changing challenges, we are grateful for the trust and support of the IMO/IMHS community. We thank you for your continued patience and grace as we move through these trying times together.