School Reopening

St. Catherine's Montessori will begin the 2020-2021 school year on August 12, beginning with in-person instruction for Infant Community and Primary children. Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Adolescent Community and High School students will begin the year with Distance Learning and online student orientations on August 18 and 19. Distance learning for these older children will continue through September 8, 2020 at which time in-person learning will begin. 
 
The health and safety of this community is our number one priority, and we have put in place procedures and protocols designed to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. We continue to monitor the situation in Houston and will keep you informed and provide additional resources as we navigate this ever-evolving situation together. We are excited to begin the school year, and look forward to welcoming students back to campus!

 

 

Notices and Emails

 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,

I hope you have found some time this week to rest and connect with family and nature. As we look ahead to returning to campus on Monday, and transitioning more students from remote to in-person learning, I offer these reminders:

St. Catherine’s will continue with our current COVID-19 mitigation efforts as outlined in our Reopening Plan, which include a requirement for all faculty, staff, and students Lower Elementary and older to wear face coverings. Primary students are still required to wear face coverings during arrival and dismissal, as are parents and caregivers.

If your family has traveled to see others over Spring Break or if your family gathered with others outside your immediate household, please keep in mind the safety of the guides, assistants, staff, and other families in our community. Consider keeping your children home for 14 days after your return and/or your guests’ departure to see if COVID-19 symptoms arise for anyone.

Please continue to monitor the health of your family and notify our health care coordinator, Sandra Espinosa, at clinic@stcathmont.org if anyone in your family tests positive for COVID-19 or is in close contact with someone who tests positive.

Additionally, remember that any child or employee who exhibits symptoms that could be COVID-19 will be asked to return home and remain at home until they obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on a negative COVID-19 test or an alternative diagnosis. In the event an individual does not get evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, that individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and cannot return to the community until both of the following two (2) criteria are met:
  1. At least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms AND
  2. 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without fever-reducing medications
We continue to celebrate that we have been able to be Together Responsibly this school year, and look forward to the blessings this spring will offer our community. Thank you for doing your part to ensure we remain healthy.

Blessings,

Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,

Yesterday’s Executive Order from Governor Abbott will not affect St. Catherine’s COVID-19 protocols.

St. Catherine’s will continue with our current COVID-19 mitigation efforts as outlined in our Reopening Plan, which include a requirement for all faculty, staff and students Lower Elementary and older to wear face coverings. Primary students are still required to wear face coverings during arrival and dismissal, as are parents and caregivers. These practices continue to be recommended by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the CDC.

The overall health and safety of our community remains our top priority. At this time many of our faculty and staff have not yet had the opportunity to get vaccinated. Maintaining a face covering mandate – along with hand washing, social distancing and avoiding group gatherings – will help ensure a safe learning environment for the students, guides and staff.

If your family will travel to see others over Spring Break or if your family will gather with others outside your immediate household, please keep in mind the safety of the guides, assistants, staff and other families in our community. Consider keeping your children home for 14 days after your return and/or your guests’ departure to see if COVID-19 symptoms arise for anyone.

Please continue to monitor the health of your family and notify our health care coordinator, Sandra Espinosa, at clinic@stcathmont.org if anyone in your family tests positive for COVID-19 or is in close contact with someone who tests positive.

We celebrate that we have been able to be Together Responsibly and are committed to remaining so as we continue this school year.

Blessings,

Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,

I hope all of our families were able to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way by finding creative ways to connect with others while still being apart physically. As a reminder, as we prepare to return to In-person Learning next week:

If you have traveled or gathered outside your immediate family
If your family traveled to see others or if your family had gatherings outside your immediate household, please keep in mind the safety of the guides, assistants, staff, and other families in the community who will all return to school on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. Consider keeping your children home for 14 days after your return and/or your guests’ departure to see if COVID-19 symptoms arise for anyone.

Please confirm by January 3, 2021 if you will be opting to quarantine by notifying Health Care Coordinator Sandra Espinosa sespinosa@stcathmont.org AND your child’s guide. There will be a learning from home option available for quarantined students in Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Adolescent Community, and High School. Please contact your guide for details.

For families who have traveled during the Christmas holiday weeks, please click here to review the local health department travel advisories for before and after your trip, as they are subject to change.

For travel outside the U.S., please refer to the CDC’s international travel recommendations by destination.

If exposed to someone with COVID-19
St. Catherine’s is continuing the protocol from TCCB ED and the Texas Department of State Health Services to require a 14-day quarantine for individuals directly exposed to COVID-19. When we return to school on Tuesday, January 5, please be mindful that if your student has been directly exposed to anyone with lab-confirmed COVID-19 they are required to quarantine away from school for 14 days.

Defining direct exposure and close contact
If a student, faculty, or staff member has been identified as close contact to someone inside or outside the school community who is diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual will be required to self-quarantine for two (2) weeks per St. Catherine’s guidelines.

Close contact means:
  • being directly exposed to respiratory droplets (e.g., being sneezed or coughed on); or
  • being within 6 feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes; or
  • having had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them); or
  • having shared eating or drinking utensils with the person
if any of these occurred at any time in the last 14 days at the same time the infected individual was infectious.

Individuals are presumed infectious at least two days prior to symptom onset or, in the case of asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, two days prior to the confirming lab test.

If sick – stay home
In addition, all sick children and sick employees MUST remain at home. Please check for these symptoms prior to the return to school:
 
  • Temperature 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when taken by mouth
  • Sore throat
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for students with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
 
Together Responsibly
Your increased levels of responsibility and diligence during this time have kept our community safe and healthy. We ask for that continued support as we prepare to return on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

Wishing you a safe and happy New Year!

Blessings,

Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,

With the continued spread of COVID-19 throughout our city, country, and world, celebrating the Christmas holiday in a safe way will be of utmost importance in keeping ourselves, family, and friends healthy as we welcome in the New Year. In order to mitigate the spread of the virus during this time of potentially increased social interaction, it is crucial that we continue to practice safety precautions.

Ideally families will find creative ways to connect while still being apart physically.

If traveling or gathering outside your immediate family
If your family travels to see others or if your family has gatherings outside your immediate household, please keep in mind the safety of the guides, assistants, staff, and other families in the community who will all return to school on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. Consider keeping your children home for 14 days after your return and/or your guests’ departure to see if COVID-19 symptoms arise for anyone.

For families who travel during the Christmas holiday weeks, please click here to review the local health department travel advisories for before and after your trip, as they are subject to change.

For travel outside the U.S., please refer to the CDC’s international travel recommendations by destination.

If exposed to someone with COVID-19
St. Catherine’s is continuing the protocol from TCCBED and the Texas Health Department to require a 14-day quarantine for individuals directly exposed to COVID-19. As a reminder, when we return to school on Tuesday, January 5, please be mindful that if your student has been directly exposed to anyone with lab-confirmed COVID-19 they are required to quarantine away from school for 14 days.

Defining direct exposure and close contact
If a student, faculty, or staff member has been identified as close contact to someone inside or outside the school community who is diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual will be required to self-quarantine for two (2) weeks per St. Catherine’s guidelines.
 
Close contact means:
  • being directly exposed to respiratory droplets (e.g., being sneezed or coughed on); or
  • being within 6 feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes; or
  • having had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them); or
  • having shared eating or drinking utensils with the person
if any of these occurred at any time in the last 14 days at the same time the infected individual was infectious.
 
Individuals are presumed infectious at least two days prior to symptom onset or, in the case of asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, two days prior to the confirming lab test.

If sick – stay home
In addition, all sick children and sick employees MUST remain at home. Please check for these symptoms prior to the return of the school:
  • Temperature 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when taken by mouth
  • Sore throat
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for students with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
 
Together Responsibly
Your increased levels of responsibility and diligence during this time have kept our community safe and healthy. We ask for that continued support as we return on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

Wishing you a safe and joyful Christmas!

Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,

This week has provided a much needed break for all of us. It has been a wonderful gift of time to reflect on the many things we can be thankful for. Waking up and retiring each day with images of gratitude guiding thoughts and prayers has nourished the soul and brought immense joy and peace.

In addition to being thankful for my health, family and friends, I am enormously thankful for the St. Catherine’s community, one I am humbled and enriched to be part of. Together we have navigated this difficult time by showing resilience, flexibility and grace for one another.

The depth of gratitude felt for our faculty and staff continues to be profound. Many changed lifestyle habits of being with relatives in order to be in service of the St. Catherine’s children this year. Thank you for their courage and dedication to fulfill our mission. Their heroic efforts have been recognized and appreciated.

To our families, we are thankful for your grace, adaptability and responsibility during this time of crisis. The various ways you have shown gratitude and support continue to nourish our spirit and sustain our will of determination to go forward.
Your increased levels of responsibility and diligence during this time have kept our community safe and healthy. We ask for that continued support as we return from the holidays. If you traveled to see others or had gatherings outside your immediate family, please consider the safety of the guides, assistants and other children in the community by keeping your children home for the 14 day period to see if symptoms arise for anyone.

It remains an honor and privilege to serve the children and families of St. Catherine’s. On behalf of all SCM employees, we appreciate your words of encouragement and your partnership in helping us remain Together Responsibly.
 
Blessings and Gratitude,
 
Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,

With the continued spread of COVID-19 throughout our city, country, and world, celebrating the holidays in a safe way will be of utmost importance in keeping ourselves, family, and friends well. In order to mitigate the spread of the virus during this time of potentially increased social interaction, it is crucial that we continue to practice safety precautions.

Ideally, families will find creative ways to connect while still being apart physically. If your holiday plans do include being together with small groups, please consider eating outside, wearing masks when not eating, maintaining physical distancing, and requesting that all who come into your home wash their hands upon entering the house.

Our community has done a good job following protocols to keep each other safe. We are thankful that healthy practices at home have allowed us to be together in person at school. It requires the vigilance of everyone in our community to ensure the safety of our environment. Thank you for your partnership and consideration for the whole community.

Here are the CDC guidelines for the holidays.

As a reminder, when we return to school on Monday, November 30, please be mindful that if your student has been directly exposed to anyone with lab-confirmed COVID-19 they are required to quarantine away from school for 14 days.

In addition, all sick children and sick employees MUST remain at home. Please check for these symptoms prior to the post-Thanksgiving return to school:
 
  • Temperature 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when taken by mouth
  • Sore throat
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for students with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
 
Have a safe and joyful Thanksgiving! We all have much to be grateful for!

Blessings,

Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,

Thank you for your partnership in observing healthy practices as your children returned to school this year. We are grateful to the faculty and staff for the consistent and vigilant adherence to the established protocols to minimize risk for COVID-19, and attribute the 12 weeks we had together this year without any cases of COVID to the practices that have been put in place.

Having just experienced the first positive COVID-19 case in our school since the return to in-person learning in August, we have followed the required practices as a school. We notified the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Houston Health Department. The Archdiocese directed us on the steps to follow and on the necessary communication guidelines. The Houston Health Department gathered all specific information about the lab-confirmed COVID-19 case and guided us accordingly.

We have had several conversations with the Archdiocese yesterday and today about the legalities of who should be informed and how to disperse that communication. We were seeking a solution that both allows us to share relevant information with our community while also protecting the individual’s identity and personal health information. During these recent conversations it was established that in order to communicate with any particular cohort about a case, we are required to first attach an addendum to our Reopening Plan. We have written the addendum and will submit it to the Archdiocese for their records.

The addendum reads:

In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case, the identity of the person who has tested positive will be kept confidential. We will inform the St. Catherine’s community by email when a positive case emerges, and persons in the directly-impacted cohort will also be individually notified by email. If a student, guide, or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, St. Catherine’s will coordinate with the local health department for guidance on the latest required action steps for the appropriate response to COVID-19.

We appreciate your partnership as we continue the school year Together Responsibly.

Blessings,

Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
September 3, 2020

Good Afternoon Parents,

Next Tuesday marks a new phase of our 20-21 school year. Our older students are returning to campus or transitioning from Distance Learning to Remote Choice instruction, and some of our younger children will re-enter the classroom as well. We are all excited to settle more firmly into the year, and thank you again for your continued partnership in helping our community remain Together Responsibly.

Before these students return to campus, I ask that all parents review the safety and operational protocols we have designed to help minimize exposure to COVID-19. Much of this information is found in full in our Reopening Plan, but I would like to highlight the following:

COVID-19 Parental/Guardian Acknowledgement Form

Email the signed form to eblackman@stcathmont.org by Friday, September 4. Your student will not be permitted on campus without a signed form on file, and returning it before classes resume on Tuesday will assist us with a smooth arrival process. The form is available on FACTS Family Portal and also attached to this email.

Face Coverings

Face coverings can be either masks or face shields. Face masks with vents are no longer permitted. The following protocols are to be observed during the school year:
 
• Parents/guardians/designated adults wear face coverings during arrival and dismissal
• All faculty and staff wear face coverings
• All students Elementary and older wear face coverings
• Primary children wear coverings during arrive and dismissal
• Infant Community children will not be required to wear face covering
We recommend students practice wearing their face coverings in order to acclimate themselves to the habit before returning to campus.

Arrival Times

We will use 15-minute arrival windows and separate points of entry. Families must adhere to these windows to allow us to complete the screening and temperature check process in a timely manner. All families are required to enter through the front gate by car for health screenings.
 
  • Infant Community: 8:15 – 8:30 a.m.
  • Primary*: 8:15 – 8:30 a.m.
  • Elementary: 7:45 – 8:00 a.m.
  • Adolescent Community: 7:45 – 8:00 a.m.
  • High School: 7:45 – 8:00 a.m.
 
*Primary students with Elementary and older SCM siblings may arrive during the 7:45 – 8:00 a.m. window with their older SCM sibling(s).

Watch these videos that demonstrate how the arrival process works for our Primary children and Elementary and older students.
 
Lunch and Snack

There is no in-school or in-class food preparation this year. All students will bring their own:
 
  • Nut-free Lunch
  • Lunch containers out of which they will eat
  • Nut-free Snack
  • Utensils
  • Napkins
  • Water bottle (only 1 bottle is necessary; classrooms are equipped with reverse osmosis drinking water systems for refills throughout the day)
 
Dismissal Times
 
  • 3:15 p.m. (2:15 on Fridays) Primary without SCM Elementary or Adolescent Community siblings
  • 3:30 p.m. (2:30 on Fridays) Primary with SCM Elementary and/or Adolescent Community siblings, and all of Elementary
  • 3:45 p.m. (2:45 on Fridays) Adolescent Community and High School
 
Aftercare is not available for Adolescent Community or High School. Please plan to arrive on time daily for this dismissal, or make other arrangements for pick up.

If You Suspect COVID-19

As St. Catherine's continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, if a member of your household tests positive for COVID-19 or has had direct exposure with someone who has tested positive, please notify our healthcare coordinator by emailing clinic@stcathmont.org.

If your child has a new onset of COVID-19 symptoms, s/he is required to stay home until evidence of alternative diagnosis by a physician with a letter is turned into the school, or test-confirmed negative COVID-19 result turned into the school or until 10 days has passed since symptoms first appeared. At this time, siblings are not required to quarantine in above circumstance unless they, too, have new onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

If any member of the household receives a test-confirmed positive COVID-19 result, all SCM students in the household would be considered close contact and would be required to stay home for 14 days.

We look forward to welcoming more students to campus next week. Best wishes for a restful Labor Day weekend.

Blessings,

Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
 
This communication is to provide you with our Reopening Plan for the 2020-2021 school year. With the support of the Board of Directors and Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston we are opening as originally planned with Infant Community and Primary on August 12. The Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Adolescent Community and High School will begin the year with Distance Learning with online student orientations on August 18 and 19. Distance learning will continue through September 8, 2020 at which time in-person learning will begin.
 
Thank you for your prayers, patience and understanding as we have filtered through the extensive resources, data and guidance to formulate our reopening plans. We appreciate your input as we strive to make the best possible decision for our community.
 
We are especially grateful to those in our community who are in the medical field and who have shared advice and expertise to guide our decision-making process. An ongoing Medical Advisory Team is being formed to advise actions and field questions going forward.
 
These last months have been difficult for all of us and I know there have been questions, worries, and prayers about the right thing to do for our children. There is no one right answer. What I do know is that we are all making the best decision we can with the information we have and that as a community we are living Together Responsibly. Attached is our comprehensive Reopening Plan, and below are the phasing in dates for the beginning of the school year.
 
St. Catherine’s will begin the 2020-2021 school year by phasing in the different levels.
 
August 10
  • Online Parent Orientation for Infant Community and Primary

August 11
  • Infant Community and Primary Looking Day by appointment

August 12 & 13
  • Returning Infant Community children – 8:30 – 11:20 a.m.
  • Returning Primary children – 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

August 14
  • Returning Primary children – Regular schedule for AM & PM.  Aftercare program closed.

August 17
  • Online Parent Orientations for Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Adolescent Community & High School
  • Begin phasing in NEW Infant Community and Primary children
  • Primary aftercare open for enrolled Primary PM children           

August 18 & 19
  • Half day online orientation for Distance Learning for Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Adolescent Community & High School 8:00 a.m.  – 12:00 p.m.

August 20
  • All-day Distance Learning begins for Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Adolescent Community & High School – 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (M – Th) and 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (F)
 
Blessings, 
 
Susan Tracy                                                Chris Jordan
Head of School                                             Board President   
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community, 
 
This communication provides no new information, but rather offers clarification in hopes of minimizing any undue stress. At St. Catherine’s we are committed to delivering our mission through an educational experience founded on community interaction and rooted in on-campus programming, while also supporting those who are unable to be on campus due to illness or significant health risks.
 
To that end, we offered a survey to gather information about how many felt there would be a significant health risk to them or their family when school opened. The survey was for the purpose of giving us numbers for planning purposes and never intended to be a request for a rushed decision. Since that time the state of health in Houston and the HISD's current plans have amplified uncertainties.
 
As communicated by the Superintendent of Catholic Schools this morning and with St. Catherine’s Board support, we remain hopeful to begin the school year on August 12 with on-campus instruction. The Archdiocese is waiting for an expected announcement this week by Judge Hidalgo to determine if there will be local health orders that we are required to follow.  We will let you know as soon as we know new information.

For us to plan effectively, it is important for us to know if families have health considerations that prevent them from feeling safe sending their children to attend school in person when we open. To assist with this planning we ask that each family complete the survey, the deadline for which has been extended to Friday, July 24. Parents may edit their responses until the survey closes next Friday at 5:00 p.m. We recognize that your decision may change as conditions in Houston evolve; we are interested in how you are feeling at this point, and we encourage you to contact us if your decision changes.
 
Thank you to everyone in this community for your grace as we navigate together through all of these unknowns.
 
Peace and blessings,
 
Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
 
I hope this message finds your family well and that you have been able to spend joyful family time together this summer.
 
I am writing today to update you on our planning for the 2020-2021 school year at St. Catherine’s. While we recognize that the COVID-19 numbers in Houston continue to be a concern and uncertainty about the future prevails, our goal remains to provide an educational environment that keeps the children at St. Catherine’s as safe and healthy as possible. Referencing the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Texas Education Agency guidelines, St. Catherine’s is following the recommendations to bring children back to school in August. Our staff has worked tirelessly this summer to develop procedures to mitigate risks, to modify the environment to function in the safest possible way, and to be prepared for any eventuality.
 
LEARNING AT SCHOOL
 
At St. Catherine’s we see the tremendous value of learning in community.  We heard from you last winter about why you came to St. Catherine’s and what you value about this community.  The three main narrative principles synthesized from your comments are that at St. Catherine’s: 
  • We support the development of the whole person in preparation for life.
  • We foster a culture of love and recognition of each person’s human dignity.
  • We encourage each person’s natural desire to make a contribution to the world.
This is why we are here.  This is what is learned best in community.  Our children need to be together to learn how to live in harmony with others, to problem-solve collaboratively, to be inspired and to inspire, to show compassion and kindness to others, and to learn their role as a responsible and contributing community member.  We will offer in-person classes this school year until mandated to do otherwise.
 
REMOTE CHOICE
 
While we know that children construct their personalities best by working within the interdependency of a social organization such as their class community, we recognize that there are a few who have health considerations that prevent them from feeling safe to return in August.  We will make every attempt to help those in this situation stay connected to their classmates and the work of the class until they are able to be part of the community in person.  Exactly what this looks like for each individual will be determined by the guide and the family prior to the start of school.  If you are determining that your child needs to stay at home at the start of school, we ask that you commit to Remote Choice from August 12 until at least October 2, 2020.  This will give the class, and your child, consistency, and predictability while they learn the new routines for this year.  To protect each cohort, students enrolled in Remote Choice will not be allowed on campus.  Once enrolled, we will revisit each family’s particular situation one (1) week prior to October 2 to determine if they will continue with Remote Choice for another 7-week period.  Knowing the number of families needing this option will assist our guides in planning for the upcoming school year.  By Friday, July 17 at 5:00 p.m., please click here to answer two (2) short questions to declare whether your family will select Remote Choice or on-campus learning for the beginning of this school year. 
 
DISTANCE LEARNING
 
Should there be a need to learn from home for any length of time, St. Catherine’s has redesigned Distance Learning plans to more seamlessly be aligned to the sequence of the day and activities the children experience when at school.  Materials are being prepared this summer for students so they can have familiar tools to work with at home.  Guides will be offering an opportunity for the whole class to come together, frequent small group lessons, weekly check-ins and conferencing, ways for students to share work, synchronous and asynchronous feedback and accountability, and office hours.  This plan will allow us to be flexible enough to respond to changing circumstances and still follow a familiar routine. 
 
UPDATED HEALTH PROTOCOLS
 
St. Catherine’s will follow updated CDC and TEA guidelines for re-entering school, and details of the most recent versions will be included in a handbook distributed prior to school starting.  Students will remain in the cohort of their own class with their guide and assistant. Aftercare will be available for Primary PM and Elementary students only in their own classroom with the class assistant for students enrolled in the After School Program. The outdoors are being prepared for each class to have a dedicated space for outdoor work and eating.  Classes will also have daily access to the larger outdoor spaces on a rotational basis.  
 
FACE COVERINGS
 
Face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. Face coverings can be either masks or face shields. All employees will be required to wear face coverings during arrival and dismissal and when inside the building. Faculty will wear face shields during presentations that require clear articulation and visibility of the mouth.
 
High School, Adolescent and Elementary students will be required to wear a face-covering during arrival and dismissal and when inside the building. Primary children will be required to wear a face-covering during arrival and dismissal.  Infant Community children will not be required to wear a face covering. We believe that reopening in August with these procedures in place is an important step in living responsibly with this virus. Please remember to complete the Remote Choice survey by this Friday at 5:00 p.m.
 
Blessings,
 
Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
 
“Everything has suddenly changed. What we previously took for granted seems to be uncertain: the way we relate with others at work, how we manage our emotions, study, recreation, prayer, even the possibility of attending Mass…”   -- Pope Francis
 
In this unprecedented and continually changing time, we recognize there are many questions on everyone’s mind. What will school look like next year? Will we be back together in person in August? What safety protocols will be in place? What will remote learning look like, if we have to go to that for any period of time? Thank you to all who responded to our survey giving us information about your needs, concerns and perspectives; we appreciate hearing from you as we continue our preparations to open in the fall.
 
St. Catherine’s remains committed to dynamic planning and preparation for a safe return for the 2020-2021 school year. Our goal is to have all students on campus in August in the safest possible way, if allowed by relevant public health and governmental policies and recommendations. We intend to remain flexible and adaptable, and will communicate plans as they evolve. Here is a communication from the Superintendent of Catholic schools about returning in the fall.
 
We know that in-person experiences are better for everyone – students, families, faculty and staff. Our environments are designed to support the child’s needs in the process of self-construction through experiential interactions with the environment and community. By re-opening we intend to fulfill the mission of St. Catherine’s Montessori and will do so as safely as possible to minimize risk and keep our community healthy. Here is an NPR article that discusses the positive results of many childcare centers that operated for essential workers all through the lockdown.
 
We have faith in the belief that it is in human nature to adapt and the Montessori experience gives children an opportunity to learn to adapt to their circumstances. Montessori talked about her work, not as a method of education, but as preparation for life – for adapting to whatever life holds in the future. In the classroom we will introduce the children to any changes or restrictions, not as limitations of freedom, but rather as new ground rules of the environment to keep everyone safe. Students will be guided through the use of grace and courtesy lessons to remember that new procedures are important strategies to protect each other so we can be together as safely as possible.
Task Forces
 
We have developed task forces to gather information and define protocols and strategies for health and safety, facilities and operations, pedagogy, technology, and community. Our goal is to have our full plan completed by mid-July.
 
Safety protocol for a confirmed COVID-19 case at school
 
The policies and procedures to mitigate COVID-related risks at school are built around CDC recommendations; local, state, and federal guidelines; and health protocols of our own community. While our safety precautions of daily temperature screening, daily symptom and exposure screening, minimizing group size by keeping to class cohorts, frequent hand washing, social distancing when possible, and face coverings when appropriate are designed to be preventative measures; in order to ultimately protect the health of our school requires the commitment of all of us in the St. Catherine’s community to practice healthy decision making in our lives outside of school. If someone does test positive for the virus, everyone in that one class would be notified, be quarantined for 14 days, continue lessons remotely, and follow the protocols for returning which are outlined here.
 
Remote Learning
 
While our desire is to be together in person as much as possible next year, we may on some occasions be required to be at home. This summer we are preparing for all possibilities. Guides have been collaborating with AMI trainers and other Montessori schools globally to share ideas about what has worked well translating the lessons to a virtual environment. Our guides are also taking many professional development classes this summer in specific content areas, technology, and COVID-19 safety training (required). This summer, in preparation for remote learning, guides will be video-taping lessons, preparing packets of materials, developing on-line schedules, defining time for small group lessons, defining how to manage individual conferencing for student accountability, and incorporating office hour opportunities for parents. With this preparation, if or when the time comes for a need to work from home, both students and guides will be ready and know what to expect. Our Instructional Continuity Plan will be submitted to the Archdiocese by July 15.
 
Aftercare
 
We recognize there is a need for aftercare for many families, especially since we will not be having children join together for after school sports or music. This year we will be providing aftercare for Primary PM students, Lower Elementary students and Upper Elementary students in their own classrooms with the class assistant. This allows us to keep each cohort separate all day, minimizing exposure. We will unable to offer aftercare for Adolescent Community or High School.
 
Community
 
We know that being together in person is optimal for our social and emotional health. We have considered guidelines to mitigate risk and provide for the health and safety of our children and ask that families recognize their own responsibility for keeping our community safe. Each family will have to make their own benefit/risk assessment about their children coming to school. Our children are already accustomed to exhibiting behavior that shows respect and care for others. They are well suited to adapt to the changes required. Montessori’s philosophy of “Education for Life” is the basis for teaching our children how to live their lives in a changing environment and develop the skills for dealing with life.
 
More specific plans for next year will be communicated mid-July. Stay safe and healthy!
 
Blessings,
 
Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
 
Sent to all parents, faculty and staff
 
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
 
I hope you all have been able to shift into summer break!
 
I know everyone is anxious to hear plans for the start of school. While things still remain uncertain in the world, we have spent a considerable amount of time planning and deliberating about next school year. We have taken into account current CDC and TEA guidelines as we seek to establish our plans for reopening. Updated guidelines are expected from TEA on June 16.  
 
At St. Catherine’s we recognize the need for social interaction for children and at the same time place the highest importance in mitigating any health risks as we come together. We plan to begin school on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. Our strategy is to perform daily health monitoring and screening procedures, incorporate frequent hand-washing, and to have children interact only with the small group of their own class. By keeping to their own cohort, we can minimize exposure and facilitate effective contact tracing. If there is an exposure, only the cohort would have to isolate and not the whole school.
 
Health and Safety Protocols
 
All faculty and staff will sanitize their hands, answer a daily checklist of symptoms, and take their temperature before signing in and entering the building.  Children will have their temperature checked at the car before they get out of their seat belts to verify that it is below 100°F, and parents will verify that the child does not have the following symptoms:
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea
 
Children will wash their hands upon arrival, before and after work choices, before and after eating, before and after going outside, after using the restroom.
 
Cleaning and Disinfecting
 
Staff will routinely clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, especially materials.  At the end of each day the environments will be disinfected using an electrostatic spraying device that coats even hard-to-reach places.  St. Catherine’s uses a non-toxic disinfectant that is EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19.
 
Food
 
There will be no food or snack preparation at school. Children and adults will bring their own lunches, utensils, napkins, place mats, snacks, and water bottles. The water fountains at school have been removed. Children can fill their water bottles in their classrooms with reverse-osmosis filtered water.
 
Arrival/Dismissal
 
All children will arrive to the outside door that goes directly into their classroom. The Primary children will go through the Welcome Center to the courtyard and directly into their class. The Elementary students will go to their outside door and the AC and HS students will go to the double doors between the HS and the gym. Infant Community parents will park in the spaces by the gym and then walk outside to the IC outdoor area. Dismissal times will be staggered.
 
Outside Time
 
Regular outside time is encouraged without mixing classes. All classes have the possibility for children to work, garden, and eat outside with their own cohort.
 
Trips
 
There are currently no trips planned for the school year. We will continue to monitor the situation to assess the possibility for later in the year. If no trips are taken this year, the portion of the fees that would be used for that purpose will be refunded.
 
Sports/Music/Aftercare
 
These after-school activities will be temporarily suspended until it appears to be safe to mix cohorts. We are exploring options to provide aftercare in each class, where necessary.
 
Mass
 
Mass will be virtual and live-streamed at a time that can be watched at home.
 
Lessons
 
The guides are preparing a variety of materials that each child can take home to continue working, should there be a need for remote learning. The guides will be engaging with students in small group lessons or following up with lessons they have had. The guides will also be creating a depository of video-taped lessons that families can reference when needed.
 
Face Coverings
 
Face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. It is not developmentally appropriate for students younger than five years old to wear masks or face coverings. At St. Catherine’s, IC and Primary children will not be wearing masks.
 
Social Distancing
 
St. Catherine’s does not expect that young children will distance themselves from other children or adults while at school. All ages learn by engaging with their environment, which includes other people. What we can do is prepare the environment in such a way that encourages spacing when doing independent work.
 
Parent Meetings
 
Orientation, conferences, and parent education will be done virtually. Tours will be done virtually and observations are suspended. To maintain health and safety, parents and visitors are restricted from coming on campus. This is an overview of beginning considerations to give you an idea of how we are attempting to keep a balanced approach so that we might stay in school together for the maximum amount of time next year. Information will be updated as necessary. We know that coming together in person is in the best interest of our children and we strive to do that in the healthiest possible way. 
 
Blessings,
 
Susan Tracy
Head of School
 
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 
 
Reopening  Plan
2020 - 2021
 
 
Addenda updated December 10, 2020