First Day of School 2020-2021: September 9
Dear Castle Island Community of Parents, Staff and Partners,
Our goal for this fall is to reopen as safely as possible:
bringing children back to our school facility for in-person learning, five days per week.
Our Reopening Plan (and our 2020-2021 Family Handbook) contains the health and safety practices that we have implemented to enable reopening of school for in-person learning this fall. These practices will be modified throughout Fall 2020 as we continue to monitor and assess the needs of our school’s students, all working and growing, in a Montessori learning environment. Our school staff and children benefit from our large facility - 5,500 square feet that houses less than 50 people; and, with the cooperation of school staff and students, the physical layout of our school provides ample space for social distancing.
To ensure the safety of all students, staff, and families concerning the spread of COVID-19, Castle Island will maintain vigilant in mitigating the outbreak with the objective of protecting our health. CIBM reopened our school building on June 29, 2020, for summer camp students and will open on September 9, 2020 for the school year operations.
Reopening CIBM entails some increased risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus for all families, students, and staff because attending school involves daily human contact among children and staff, who will then be in contact with others in their own homes.
Our decision to reopen recognizes that:
(1) for CIBM families and staff, risk of COVID-19 contraction is balanced against the educational, social, economic and other costs of remaining closed,
(2) our school building must reopen with many health safety protocols to ensure that we responsibly mitigate that risk to the extent possible, and
(3) each family and staff member must decide how to balance those risks, and whether to return to CIBM.
During CIBM facility’s closure, a complete cleaning and disinfection procedure was implemented, while cleaning and disinfection was conducted and overseen by the maintenance coordinator and school director. CIBM staff will continue daily cleaning and disinfection procedures upon the reopening of the facility. CIBM will conduct another extensive cleaning and disinfection of the entire facility, furniture, equipment, and materials between the end of summer camp and the beginning of school.
Our classroom environments are designed to harness the developmental forces of each plane of a child’s development for the child’s own optimal self-construction through experiential interactions with the environment. Our ability to guide that development is diminished in the absence of a face-to-face learning environment. By reopening our building we aim to fulfill the mission of CIBM: to provide a world-class and accessible education immersed in English and Spanish in a fully implemented Montessori learning environment.
This Plan explains the policies and procedures we are employing to mitigate COVID-related risks at school and may be changed and amended based on further information. The school director is responsible for overseeing the implementation of this Plan and to set a good example by following the Plan at all times. This involves practicing good hygiene and school wide safety and prevention practices. The director will ask for and monitor the same behavior from all employees. Staff will explain and model safety, physical distancing, hand washing, and hygiene procedures to students in an age-appropriate manner.
This Plan is built around intensive new health monitoring and screening procedures, as well as new procedures within the classroom and school day schedules and are designed to reduce the number of contacts during the school day and limit the group size and interactions. These procedures will encourage children to wear masks in the classroom and will require children to observe the social distancing rules. Adults are required to always wear masks when working with or in the same room with children and within 6 feet of another adult. We believe reopening with these new protocols represents an important first step in responsibly living with this virus.
CIBM has concluded that reopening our building under these conditions is in the best interest of the community and that each family will make its own decision about the balance of risk, and what is best for their children. The information in this document will provide clarity around the practices and procedures established to minimize exposure to our community but in no way warrants that COVID-19 or other communicable disease infection will not occur through participation in our programs.
If the academic program shifts again to remote learning, full tuition is still expected to be paid in full. We will adjust our school calendar as necessary. Our financial resources are funded almost entirely by families’ income-based sliding-scale tuition. At this time, there are few options from which to draw if parents suddenly decide to withdraw their child or discontinue tuition payments.
Our mission remains steadfast: providing world-class and accessible education immersed in English & Spanish in a fully implemented Montessori learning environment for your children. Committing your child to the school for the 2020-2021 school year is committing to the total financial obligation for this school year regardless of whether or not we are physically present in the school building.
The success and safety of the facility’s reopening rests on the shoulders of our entire school community. The school’s ability to maintain an in-person education will be determined by what we all do now:
Stay home as much as possible
Wear clean masks
Wash and sanitize hands
Stay away from large social gatherings
Avoid unnecessary travel & adhere to NY State travel restrictions
Monitor for symptoms & seek medical attention as necessary
Contact the school immediately if someone in your family has flu-like symptoms
Stakeholder Engagement in Planning for the Reopening:
Diane Nickerson, MS Ed, CIBM School Director & COVID-19 Safety Coordinator
Kathleen Millett, RN, BSN, FNP-S, CIBM Health Consultant
CIBM Board of Trustees
CIBM Board of Advisors
CIBM Parents & Staff
Community Partners: Capital District LATINOS; Alfredo Bailarín, City of Albany Common Council Member; Officer Lynch, City of Albany Police Community Resource Officer
Albany County DOH
"Education is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child."
-Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind,