With the safety of students at the top of parents’ minds and the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise in parts of the province, Westmont Montessori School in Metchosin has released its guidelines for the return to school.
According to an Aug. 25 media release, students from preschool through high school set to return on Sept. 8 are grouped in multi-age cohorts that already enjoy larger physical classroom spaces. Westmont Montessori, which was founded in 1954, has about 180 students in three buildings, including a Montessori-inspired, nine-classroom facility completed in 2019.
Learners this year will be organized into student groupings of 32 to 50 students amongst many indoor spaces that are larger than schools in their district, said Magnus Hanton, head of school at Westmont Montessori.
“Moving forward, these spaces will be extended to outdoor educational spaces as well,” Hanton noted, with the goal to reunite classmates and teachers so they can resume studies in a safer and more flexible environment.
The school is planning to increase outdoor space and learning time on its 10-acre property to utilize Westmont’s natural surroundings. That includes a large learning shelter, learning garden, meadow, and forest area, as well as the beach at Witty’s Lagoon. Plans include direct outdoor drop-offs, a doubling of janitorial coverage, including midday cleaning, and additional handwashing stations. Staffing has also been adapted to meet the new guidelines.
Westmont is also prioritizing the importance of students not feeling isolated, and to continue to feel supported by teachers and peers in the event they need to learn at home. The school has gathered feedback from the community regarding the development of an online learning program since the early days of the pandemic.
“Building on our online learning pilot program from March, we have expanded our remote learning capabilities for the upcoming school year through the development of a Montessori materials lending library, a virtual learning platform with in-classroom interaction, as well as teachers designated specifically to supporting remote learners,” Hanton explained.
The board of directors, administrators and parent community have worked throughout the summer to ensure Westmont is ready to welcome students back on time, and to provide the best possible educational programming, indoor and outdoor spaces, and safety and hygiene measures.
Enrolment for the 2020/21 school year is continuing for those beginning pre-school or kindergarten, and for older students seeking an alternative educational experience. For a virtual tour or more information, visit west-mont.ca/fall2020.
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