20.21 Cohorts, Schedules, and Return Survey

[This is the body of the August 14 “20.21 Cohorts, Schedules, and Return Survey” email sent to all Lyonsgate families]

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

As promised, we have your children’s cohort class lists for you this week, including the daily schedules for each cohort. Next week we will be sharing details of what at-home support will look like this year in cases of extended absences, cohort closures, or full school shutdowns. (Please see the July 31 communication “COVID-19 Exclusion Criteria”  for details on when required absences and potential closures will occur).

Standard Disclaimer At This Point: We have been keeping you up to date on the need for the final pieces of legislation and operational guidance documents. We have been hesitant to communicate details that we cannot guarantee are finalized, but at this point you need to know what the school year will look like in order to make decisions for the health and safety of your children and families. We received the operational guidance document for the Primary campus late yesterday (Aug. 13) afternoon and are presently reviewing it to ensure we are in compliance and meeting or exceeding the most recent health and safety mandates. There is still documentation to come from Hamilton Public Health and potentially new legislation from the Ministry of Education that may change some of what we are communicating to you.

Cohorts, Schedules, and Survey

This week’s communication includes a “Return Intention” survey. This survey asks you to please let us know which direction you are leaning at present regarding the return to school in September. The survey has options for “Yes”/”No”/and “Maybe” regarding your present position on the return to school, and there are different survey options depending upon your answer. There is an abundance of media coverage concerning the difficulty of and displeasure with the return to school plans, and we know how difficult it is for everyone on all sides; we are both school operators and parents.

There is also an abundance of often contradictory research reporting, and often cherry-picked research results, regarding children, schools, and COVID-19. We have been keeping track as best we can and are finding confidence in multi-source, evidence-based conclusions that, while schools do of course pose some risk for COVID-19 transmission, as long as infection prevention measures are in place and rates of community transmission are low the risk to children, staff, and families is significantly minimized.

This conclusion was echoed by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health during an August 13 press conference. It is also a conclusion shared by one of your fellow Lyonsgate Montessori parents.

Sarah Neil-Sztramko is an Assistant Professor of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact at McMaster University and has been quoted in recent news articles about McMaster’s work in reviewing the emerging studies of COVID-19, children, and schools. Sarah has shared with us the most recent findings of their ongoing work and provided this link that leads to the most recent (Aug. 11) version of their work: “Rapid Review: What is the specific role of daycares and schools in COVID-19 transmission?” Sarah has also very graciously offered to be available to discuss the return to school with Lyonsgate families. Please contact jason@lyonsgate.ca if you would like to get in touch with Sarah.

Sarah also provided a tool developed by an economist at Brown University in the U.S. to help parents with their decision-making on sending children back to school, and has echoed the conclusion that, “I think our number one comfort right now is our low rate of community transmission which hopefully we can hold on to for as long as possible.”

Things are re-opening, but we are still living in the midst of a global pandemic. As always, we urge and plead with everyone to please continue to follow all public health guidelines for the health and safety of your family, and the wider community, so that we can all participate in a full and safe 2020.2021 school year. Keeping community transmission rates low is essential.

We are confident that we have risk-reduction strategies in place that go above and beyond the presently legislated directives from public health officials at the provincial and municipal levels based on the current rates of community transmission, and we have received positive anecdotal reports from schools that are currently open, and child care centres that operated as emergency centres during the spring lockdown period, that these measures work.

Please make what you feel are the best decisions for the health and safety of your children and family.

We are most definitely not trying to convince you to not return to school, but we also know we must remain completely open and transparent for the health and safety of everyone. We cannot wait to be back in the classrooms with your children.

In these turbulent times there has been some staff turnover, and you will note that we are currently seeking qualified Montessori guides for the Casa South and Toddler classrooms. We are interviewing daily to ensure that the right people are in place for your children. Each cohort will have staff members the children know and are familiar with. We will have a comprehensive staffing update soon.

Please complete and submit the “Return Intention” survey by 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Click here to access the survey.

The survey results may require changes to the cohort class lists. As of Sept. 1, a 14-day period will come into effect wherein families are required to make a decision about accepting an offered spot at a licensed child care (the Lyonsgate Primary campus for Casa and Toddler program children).

Please see the links below for cohort lists and their respective daily schedules. Your child may not be in the same class as last year. At the Elementary level, the classes will operate as two distinct cohorts referred to as the Lower and Upper Elementary cohorts based not by age, but by whether they are using the main floor classroom or the newly renovated upstairs classroom. Please find your child’s name and take time to review the daily schedules, which also include information on drop-off and pick-up procedures; reviewing the schedules will also show you how we are going to be keeping the cohorts separated. Adherence to the daily schedules will be critical.

Thank you, and please stay safe; we want more than anything to be safely back in the classroom, guiding and learning along with your children.

Please see your August 14, 2020 email with the subject “20.21 Cohorts, Schedules, and Return Survey” for cohort links and schedules.