- Letter from the Head of School
- RMS 2021-22 pandemic mitigation plan
- FAQs about the 2021-22 school year
- When should my child stay home from school? (Chart)
- Exclusion from School due to exposure to, or diagnosis of, COVID-19
August 13, 2021
We continue to prioritize community health and in-person learning. Our daily operations pandemic mitigation plan has been established with intelligence from recently issued guidance from The Virginia Department of Health and with the universal indoor mask mandate for K-12 schools issued by the state health commissioner, Dr. Norman Oliver.
We remain committed to the vision we created at the onset of the pandemic. This vision serves as the bedrock of decision-making for our students, faculty, and staff.
Our community is healthy and connected, and all students are engaged in high-fidelity Montessori instruction that inspires academic excellence and nurtures human potential.
- Supporting the health and safety of students, staff, and community stakeholders
- Nurturing the emotional well-being of students, faculty, and staff
- Maintaining student-centered continuity of instruction in alignment with Montessori principles
- Ensuring access and equity for all students within a reasonable scope of the school’s capacity
- Building community engagement through transparent and consistent communications with all stakeholders
- Maintaining the fiscal solvency and sustainability of the school
We must remain nimble as we respond to our local community’s health and wellness status over the coming months. This data will help inform our planning throughout the school year, and as such, you may expect to see changes to our operating plan from time to time.
I’m pleased to share that 100 percent of RMS employees are currently vaccinated, which affirms my faith in our professional community’s commitment to our collective health. We look forward to your continued partnership as we nurture your children’s development and inspire academic excellence together on campus this year.
In good health,
Head of School
RMS 2021-22 pandemic mitigation plan
The RMS mitigation plan includes the following multi-layered prevention strategies:
1. Consistent and correct use of masks
RMS has adopted a universal face covering policy in all indoor settings on campus. This does not apply to toddler students under the age of two. Once the toddler turns two, a face mask is required. Face coverings are not required during nap/rest time and while outdoors.
2. Physical distancing
We will maintain three feet of distance between students in indoor learning environments to the greatest extent possible.
3. Health Screening
Families are required to complete the Healthy Roster screening for each of their children before arrival at carpool each day. This requirement applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status.
New this year: We will not be checking students’ temperatures during carpool this year. Please make sure to take your child’s temperature before submitting your Healthy Roster screening result. Only students with a green Healthy Roster screen will be permitted to enter class. All other students are required to stay home and await instructions from the health coordinator.
4. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
Students will be required to wash their hands regularly throughout the day, at a minimum upon arrival to school, before and after lunch/snack, after recess, and after bathroom use. Hand sanitizer will also be available in each classroom and throughout the public areas of the school. Lessons in handwashing, coughing, sneezing, and nose-blowing will be provided to students during the phase-in and transition period at the onset of the school year and as needed throughout the school year.
5. Staying home when sick and getting tested
Since symptoms of COVID-19 can mimic many other illnesses, we will continue to adhere to a strict illness policy this year. Our data show that excluding symptomatic students and employees from school has prevented transmission of the disease at RMS. If your child presents with any symptom, they must stay home from school.
Children may return to school when they meet the following criteria:
• Received either a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or a negative nucleic acid amplification (NAAT) test
• 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND
• Symptom-free OR if symptoms are improving, a written or oral release from the child’s physician is required
6. Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine
Students will stay with their individual class during the school day. However, they may share the playground with other students from their adjacent classroom (same level) - we refer to this as cohorting. Extended day students will also cohort with adjacent classrooms from their level during extended day. Contact tracing is conducted in partnership between the department of health and the school nurse. Typically any student in the same class as the case is classified as a close contact. Siblings of close contacts are not considered close contacts and therefore do not need to be quarantined.
a) Children will be asked to stay home from school to quarantine if they have been in close contact with another person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Children can return to school when they meet the following criteria:
• Fourteen days after the last contact with the case
• Symptom-free, AND
• A negative PCR test or a negative NAAT test
Note: If the case lives within your household, the student will be quarantined for fourteen days after the infected person has completely recovered.
(Recently exposed students who have been fully vaccinated and students who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last three months, may NOT need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic.)
b) Children will be excluded from school and required to isolate if they are diagnosed with COVID-19. Both the school’s health coordinator and the health department will be in touch with your family with instructions for isolation. Children may return to school when they meet the following criteria:
• Ten days since symptoms first appeared
• 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND
• Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving
• Asymptomatic students with a COVID -19 diagnosis will follow the protocol outlined by the department of health (see time-based strategy here)
If the case’s class is in quarantine, they may return when the majority of the class returns to school.
RMS is not currently requiring vaccinations for our community. However, we strongly advocate for vaccination as a pathway to ending this pandemic if and when your child and other family members are eligible. According to the CDC, vaccinations are the single most effective intervention strategy for preventing hospitalization due to COVID-19. Vaccination alone may save the life of your child, the life of a family member, or the life of another member of the community.
The school is equipped with MERV 13 HVAC filters. In addition each classroom has a free standing HEPA filtration unit. Ventilation will be further enhanced with open doors and windows to the greatest extent possible.
9. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities
Classroom furniture, shelves, and materials will be consistently cleaned and disinfected. Infirmaries and other areas of high exposure will be sanitized on an as needed basis. Nightly janitorial services will continue with emphasis on frequently touched surfaces.
10. Visiting Campus
Access to visitors will be limited at least through the first semester this year. Sadly, this limitation extends to parents and other family members. We will continue to offer parent-teacher conferences, other parent meetings, and community events virtually until we can open our doors to you again.
The RMS Pandemic Mitigation Plan was developed in consultation with the school’s medical advisory group, Dr. Alan Dow, Dr. Thoko Lipato, Dr. Jake O’Shea, and Dr. Liz Wolf, all of whom are parents in our community, and with the approval of the Board Chair, Mr. Peter Henderer. Importantly, we continue to partner with local, regional, and national partners in the fields of healthcare and education. We are deeply thankful for their continued support and wise counsel.