Reopening Plan

Reopening Plan

RMS Return-to-School Planning Framework Summary
COVID-19 Risk Mitigation
School Year 2020-21


The RMS return-to-school planning framework is focused on providing mission centric continuity of learning for students, while maintaining the highest possible level of health and safety mitigation measures for faculty, staff and students. The following details summarize the comprehensive plan which can be viewed here.


Health and Safety Protocols

  • Social distancing required (strive for six-foot separation and no closer than three feet to the greatest extent possible)
  • All staff and students (excluding toddler students) wear face coverings to the greatest extent possible, allowing for and promoting mask breaks. Those who are unable to wear a mask must submit a physician’s note citing the medical reason and are required to wear a face shield. Due to the dynamic nature of our Montessori learning environments, it is critical for parents to support us regarding the use of face coverings. Should you need an exemption for your child for medical reasons, please contact our health coordinator, Darlene Marschak. We encourage you to follow this practice over the coming weeks so that your child is comfortable with this new routine at school. All students should have a mask for the morning. Full-day students should have an additional mask for the afternoon, and extended day students should have a fresh mask for extended day. It is suggested to keep at least one mask at school for back-up purposes. Please follow these guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health when selecting masks for your child:reopen-plan
    • Face coverings should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of your face and cover your nose and mouth
    • Face coverings should be secured with ties or ear loops
    • Face coverings should be made of more than one layer of fabric that you can still breathe through
    • If cloth, face coverings must be able to be washed and machine dried without damage or change to shape
    • Face coverings must be worn each day
    • Gator style/face buff style coverings and are not permitted
    • Masks with exhalation valves or vents are not permitted
  • Hand-washing at a minimum: after entering school, before and after eating, after outside play, after using the restroom, before and after sharing supplies or equipment, after coughing/sneezing/using a tissue
  • Access to hand sanitizer in classrooms and communal areas
  • Scheduled, staggered use of outdoor spaces
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – washable masks, gloves, aprons, face shields provided for staff. Infirmaries stocked with N95 masks and gowns in addition to standard PPE
  • Staff and students trained on proper hand-washing techniques
  • Limit/restrict access to school buildings by visitors volunteers and parents
  • Health screening at home: staff self-screen and parents screen students at home, avoiding school and contacting their health care provider if a COVID-19 symptom is present
  • Health screening at school: health screenings are conducted at carpool and on any person entering campus buildings based on health department guidelines. Individuals with a COVID-19 symptom will not be allowed access.
  • Infirmaries: both campuses have two infirmaries. The COVID-19 infirmary is available to isolate students with symptoms; the standard infirmary serves students with other health issues. Cleaning protocols follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the VA Department of Health recommendations. Protocols are followed for staff and students who develop symptoms at school
  • Parents required to pick up sick children within 30 minutes
  • Quarantine for staff and students is 14 days. 
  • Staff or students who test positive for COVID-19 should notify the school and begin isolation according to directions from their health care provider and the health department
  • Staff or students who match the health department’s definition of “close contact” with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 will be excluded from school and must quarantine for 14 days.
Please see COVID-19 FAQs which describe multiple scenarios involving exposure, quarantine, and isolation of students and staff and their coworkers and classroom cohorts.

Health Chain of Command

  • Medical Advisory Group to guide our health coordinators and staff
  • A clearly defined chain of command and decision-making-tree
  • Established protocols and training for staff and administratorsreopen-plan

Communication and Safety Information

  • Accurate and ongoing messaging on COVID-19 updates and changes using newsletters, social media, Classtag, and marquee
  • Community meetings and regular updates from the Head of School and the RMS Board of Trustees
  • Comprehensive FAQs on website updated as needed
  • Parent and staff education on COVID-19 and related RMS policies
  • Posters, decals, signs and protocols posted throughout school
  • Timely notification of close contacts for quarantine
  • Notifications to school community concerning cases of COVID-19 in the community (without revealing identities)
  • Notifications to classes, cohorts, or sections of the school closing due to COVID-19 with regular updates

Health Coordination - Training and Resources


  • All RMS employees maintain current first aid and CPR certifications. All lead teachers, specialty teachers, front desk staff, and many Montessori Enrichment personnel hold MAT certifications. Individuals on both campuses hold DMAT certifications.
  • The Return to School Steering Committee completed Contact Tracing training with Johns Hopkins University. Members of the team completed Pandemic Coordinator Training with Joffe Emergency Services. The team regularly interacts with and references the following organizations staying abreast of best practices and current guidance for schools: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) The World Health Organization (WHO) The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) The Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) The Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) The Henrico Health Department The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS)


General Use of Facilities and Grounds

  • All campus spaces assessed and measured for social distancing planning and locations secured for storage of excess equipment and furniture
  • Two infirmaries created on each campus to allow for isolation of staff or students with COVID-19 symptoms
  • Shade installed for outdoor learning spaces to facilitate increased use
  • Modified carpool procedures established to include health screening, minimal person-to-person contact, and maximum efficiency

Infection control: cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting


  • Staff trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace. Material data safety sheets (on the three products in use) are available for staff to view if desired
  • Nano-technology self-cleaning strips installed on doors and other high-touch areas
  • Daily campus-wide disinfecting process established using an electrostatic spraying system that disinfects all materials, surfaces, and equipment (after school)
  • Nightly deep cleaning by contracted janitorial service

Maintenance: HVAC, Water, Indoor Air Quality

  • Upgraded filters installed across campus HVAC systems with regular replacement schedule
  • HEPA filter air purifiers provided for all classrooms
  • Encourage open windows and doors for additional fresh air circulation
  • Fans available to improve air circulation
  • Water fountains disengaged


Personnel Considerations

  • Plan to support the emotional wellbeing of faculty and staff
  • Robust substitute teacher resource list established
  • Clear and well communicated protocol outlining when employees must be excluded from school


  • All students will have an opportunity to phase into the new school year. Phase-in will take place the week of August 31 from 8:10 a.m.-11:45 a.m. Please note that this is a change to the original school calendar and includes all RMS students.
  • Note: RMS plans on-campus learning with extended day until 3:00 p.m. for toddler and primary students if VA schools are ordered to close by Governor Ralph Northam. In the instance of such an executive order, childcare can be provided in accordance with standards stipulated by VDSS
  • Each primary student will receive a personal kit of supplies and wipeable work mat

Remote Learning (elementary and middle school when necessary) and Instructional Technology

  • Establish clearly stated educational goals and learning outcomes
  • Provide professional development to instructional staff on the Google Classroom platform
  • Provide adequate training to students and parents on the Google Classroom platform
  • Organize Google Classroom in a way that students can easily navigate
  • Ensure equity and access to digital learning tools for all students (one-to-one Chromebook program for elementary students/one-to-one MacBook program for middle school students)
  • Provide training for staff to assist in identification of students in need of additional support for remote learning


Hybrid Learning

  • Developmentally appropriate work packets created for student use during exclusion from school
  • Each student in the elementary program will be assigned an essentials material kits that will be used at school as well as at home in the case of a remote learning scenario
  • Strategy established for individual students and or small groups of students who may be excluded from school while remaining students attend in person

Academic, Social & Emotional, Physical Support

  • Continue to support students through the Instructional Support Team
  • Provide reasonable accommodations to the greatest extent possible for students with documented disabilities
  • Establish a plan for students with difficulty observing social distancing or those who are unable to tolerate facial coverings

Classroom Safety, Cleaning and Distancing


  • Auxiliary classroom spaces created for all classes to provide secondary learning environments, allowing for break-out groups and decreased classroom density as needed
  • Decrease typical class caps to allow for social distancing of three to six feet to the greatest extent possible
  • Students remain in “cohorts” (the same groups of students each day in the same spaces each day) to the greatest extent possible. Students stay in cohorts with cohort staff and in cohort spaces to the greatest extent possible in extended day as well
  • Suspend extracurricular programs during the first semester since providing this service would undermine our efforts to keep students together by cohort. Fall soccer league canceled.

Food, Lunch, and Snacks

  • External lunch services are suspended; all lunches are brought from home
  • Snacks for toddler, primary and extended day are provided from home (elementary & middle school students bring snacks from home as before)
  • Microwaves will not be used. Students should bring hot food in insulated containers
  • Outdoor spaces used for snack and lunch whenever possible



  • Restrooms will be assigned to classes and cohorts to the greatest extent possible
  • Restroom protocols implemented to ensure social distancing
  • Establish a restroom protocol for students and staff (one student at a time etc.)


  • Full transparency in sharing school's reopening plan with the community
  • Centralized system for feedback established
  • Strategic community engagement plan underway in collaboration with the Richmond Montessori Parents’ Association
  • Continued commitment to action-oriented feedback


  • Virtual tour videos created to clearly articulate the RMS mission
  • New pathways for interviews, parent orientation and education developed

reopen-plan Return to School Planning Framework Steering Committee:

Darlene Marschak, Director of Montessori Enrichment - Steering Committee/Health Coordinator

Grainne Murray, Head of School - Steering Committee/Pandemic Coordinator

Kimberly Waite, Assistant Head of School - Steering Committee/Teaching & Learning

Tracy Wilburn, Director of Finance & Operations - Steering Committee/Operations; Facilities, Financial & Human Resources

Lane Burgess, Director of Marketing & Communications - Community Engagement

Jill Williams, Director of Advancement - Community Engagement

Maureen Nay, Director of Admission & Enrollment Management - Community Engagement

In consulation with:

The National Association of Independent Schools
The Virginia Association of Independent Schools
The American Montessori Society
The Virginia Council for Private Education
The Virginia Department of Education
RMS Legal Counsel; McGuire Woods and Kaplan Voekler Cunningham & Frank

We offer our sincere gratitude to the following people for their valuable time and expertise in shaping the RMS Return to School Planning Framework.

Faculty Advisory Group

Janet Deyo - Technology Plan/Remote Learning
Michelle Fojtik - Curriculum
Kristin Giacco - Curriculum
Bree Linton- Remote Learning
Stacy O’Shea - Remote Learning
Jerry Rodriguez - Technology Plan

Medical Advisory Group

Dr. Alan Dow, Physician, VCU Health
Dr. Thokozeni Lipato, Primary Care Physician, VCU Health
Dr. Elizabeth Wolf, Pediatrician, Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU; Board member, American Academy of Pediatrics - VA chapter