About Us

COVID-19

Information for our Harborlight Community

Our goal is to create and sustain an environment where on-campus learning can take place.  To do this, we need the active commitment of every member of the Harborlight community – teachers, staff, parents, and students.
 
This document provides guidance and expectations for the Harborlight Montessori community for the 2020-21 school year.  The guidance and protocols in this document have been adopted after compiling guidelines, recommendations and protocols from numerous sources including other educational institutions as well as international, federal, and state agencies.  
 
We accept that without a vaccine there is an assumed level of risk of contracting and/or the spread of COVID-19, however, we believe that following these guidelines mitigates that risk and will afford Harborlight the opportunity to operate and serve our community as safely and effectively as possible. 
 
We will continuously review these protocols and make adjustments as necessary.

COVID-19 Re-Opening Updates

List of 2 items.

  • July 24, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends,

    I hope you are well and enjoying summer.

    As we finish our first summer session, I want to share what is happening and how it will inform our plans for the fall.

    There are sixty students, Infant through UE, on campus, with a larger number starting next week. We do daily health screenings and mid-day checks, perform lots of cleaning, and have enhanced air circulation in our buildings. Students and their teachers are in small groups, with minimum transitions. Each student has their own space. Playground use is restricted to one group at a time. Students are fully engaged in their work. We have worked to make their experience as “normal” as possible, and, judging from what I see and hear from teachers, that is happening.
     
    We are building upon this model for the fall. We have the luxury of space and small class size - a combination that many school heads would envy right now. Our levels: Infant, Toddler, Children’s House, LE, UE and Middle School comprise discrete cohorts, and the classrooms, each have classes within cohorts. We are working out details for teaching world language, art, science and music within these cohorts, and how to maximize use of our outdoor spaces while keeping our distance. We are constructing a staffing model that will allow students and teachers to remain within their groups though Extended Day, until 5:30 pickup.

    We are following or exceeding state guidelines and regularly comparing notes with colleagues in peer schools in addition to monitoring the experiences of schools that have re-opened in other places. 

    We are also planning for the possibility of having to go back online. Each level is reviewing how we did in the spring, and where and how to improve.

    As with our summer session, our goal for the coming school year is to ensure that we have a safe environment where every student can thrive in a full Montessori program.

    More details to follow. In the next couple of weeks, we will invite parents in each level to virtual information sessions. In the meantime, I am happy to answer any of your questions, and I appreciate those of you who have reached out; it is good to talk with you.
     
    Be safe, friends,
    Paul
  • June 5, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends, 

    I am happy to share the news that with the just-issued EEC guidelines in hand, we are looking forward to opening our summer programs on June 29. That said, there is a lot of work to get from here to there. 

    The guidelines are extensive, but mostly what we anticipated. They mirror our existing Infant/Toddler student/teacher ratios and establish a 10-student group size for Children’s House and the Grade 1-8 summer programs. The major emphasis, as it should be, is on health and safety, which will require changes, big and small, to how we use spaces and the way we do some things. 

    One thing that will not change is that our programs at all levels will continue to be based in our Montessori philosophy and pedagogy. Maintaining the integrity of our program is essential.

    The guidelines also require you to do some things differently. Most importantly, you will need sign in each morning attesting that you have self-screened your child before coming to school, and we will have to screen them again at the front door. You will also have to send your child to school with their own snack and lunch, packed in something we can send home each day. For our youngest children, more changes of clothes will be necessary. We will send you detailed information soon. 

    We expect that some of the guidelines from EEC and DESE will evolve over time, but that many of the practices we are putting in place will continue to be followed throughout the coming school year. We will update you as we keep working through these challenges. 

    One other very important thing: On Monday I wrote you about what is occurring in our country right now and encouraged you to look at the anti-racism resources that our Inclusivity Committee has assembled. These links are also posted in today’s LEAF. If we are to achieve a future where every child has the same opportunity, we all need to understand what is broken and to work at fixing it. 

    Be safe, friends, 
    Paul

COVID-19 Town Hall Recording

  • COVID-19 Town Hall

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Harborlight Resources

Influenza Vaccine Requirement

Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, influenza vaccine will be required for all Harborlight students ages 6 months and up. Influenza vaccine is always important to receive to reduce the risk of getting sick with influenza, reduce the severity of disease if one does get sick (including the risk of hospitalization) due to influenza, as well as preventing the spread of influenza to others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza vaccine will be especially critical to reduce the overall impact of respiratory illness on the population, protect vulnerable populations from severe illness, and decrease the overall burden on the healthcare system.

Harborlight’s Health and Safety Committee is sponsoring a flu clinic at Harborlight on Saturday, October 3, 2020, from 9am-12pm. CVS will be providing and administering the vaccinations. Please contact Lisa at lrobbins@harborlight.net for more information.
 
The CDC has issued guidelines on the administration of vaccines at off-site locations. Harborlight and CVS employees will follow these guidelines. Guidelines Once registration closes we will run a pick a time to schedule appointments. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. 
 
For more information about Influenza please visit the CDC site Influenza.

Public Health Resources

The situation regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) is ever-changing. Harborlight continues to monitor the following resources for up-to-date, accurate information in our decision-making.

Who to Contact

Harborlight COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Health Policy

List of 3 items.

  • If a Student Becomes Symptomatic:

    If a student becomes symptomatic, Harborlight will immediately isolate the student from others and minimize exposure to staff. Whenever possible, children (age 2 and older) will cover noses and mouths with a mask or cloth face covering. Parents will be contacted to have the child picked up as soon as possible. 

  • If a Staff Becomes Symptomatic:

    If a staff member becomes symptomatic, they must cease all duties immediately and be removed from others until they can leave. Staff must regularly self-monitor during the day to screen for new symptoms. 

  • If a Child or Staff Contracts COVID-19:

    Sick students or employees who are COVID-19 positive or symptomatic and presumed to have COVID-19 must not return to Harborlight until they have met the criteria for discontinuing home isolation and have consulted with a health care provider. Together with the student’s family and health care professional, or with the staff member and their health care professional, Harborlight’s Health Care Consultant will 1. determine the date of symptom onset for the student/staff; 2. determine if the student/staff attended/worked at Harborlight while symptomatic or during the two days before symptoms began; 3. identify what days the student/staff attended/worked during that time; 4. determine who had close contact with the student/staff at Harborlight during those days (staff and other students). 

    If the individual tests positive for COVID-19 but is asymptomatic, isolation may be discontinued when at least 10 days have passed from the date of the positive test, as long as the individual remains asymptomatic. For example, if the individual was tested on August 1, isolation may be discontinued on or after August 11 if the individual still has no symptoms.

    If a student or staff has been exposed to COVID-19, regardless of whether the individual has symptoms or not, the student or staff must not be permitted to enter Harborlight and/or must be sent home. Exposed individuals must be directed to stay home for at least 14 days after the last day of contact with the person who is sick. Harborlight will consult the local board of health for guidance on quarantine for other students and staff and what additional precautions will be needed to ensure the school space is safe for continued services. 
     
    If an exposed student or staff subsequently tests positive or their health care professional confirms they have COVID-19 or are presumptive COVID-19, they are to stay home for a minimum of 10 days from the 1st day of symptoms appearing AND be fever-free for 72 hours without fever reducing medications AND experience significant improvements in symptoms. *Release from isolation is under the jurisdiction of the local board of health where the individual resides. 
     
    If a student’s household member or staff’s household member tests positive for COVID-19, the student or staff must self-quarantine for 14 days after the last time they could have been exposed. 

    If an Exposed Student or Staff Remains Asymptomatic and/or Tests Negative for COVID-19: If the exposed individual remains asymptomatic and/or tests negative for COVID-19, they must remain in quarantine and continue to monitor for the full 14 days.

Harborlight Responds to COVID-19

We know that it is not possible to create a completely risk-free environment; however, the processes and procedures are designed to mitigate risk.

Below you will find the list of policies and procedures that are being implemented to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. No single mitigation strategy substantially reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission; we believe a layered approach to be most effective.

To help support the health and safety of the Harborlight community, our Health & Safety Committee will regularly analyze the data collected on the health screening forms and attendance, collect and review daily classroom cleaning checklists, and keep abreast of new information.

We will oversee contact tracing to help minimize community transmission, review policies and procedures, and coordinate trainings and community health and safety initiatives. 


List of 23 items.

  • Air Quality & Ventilation

    Prior to the opening of summer program, June 29, 2020, all HVAC units were serviced and filters replaced. This will be completed again prior to the opening of the academic year and regularly thereafter. The economizers on our HVAC units have been opened up to maximum extent to bring in as much fresh air as possible into the buildings. All classrooms have a portable air purifier, which includes HEPA filtration and a UV germicidal component. All classrooms have multiple exterior windows that are frequently opened to allow for fresh air exchange.
     
  • Arrival & Dismissal

    Harborlight has a staggered arrival and dismissal for students.

    Early arrival for students enrolled in A-Block begins at 7:30AM. Elementary students are expected to arrive no later than 8:15AM. All Children's House and Infant & Toddler House students not enrolled for A-Block arrive at 8:30.

    Dismisals are staggered depending on the student's individual schedule.

    ARRIVAL
    (7:30-8:30)
     
    Infant/Toddler 
    • Parents/guardians bring their children with the signed prescreening form to the staging area located in the Infant /Toddler building entryway. We limit the number of people in the hallway at one time.
    • The designated health screener takes the prescreening form and verifies all questions and that your child is healthy to enter the program.
    • A staff member walks your child to their classroom with their belongings.
    Main Building
    • Parents park and wait in the line on the sidewalk.  We  limit the number of people in the main hallway to one family at a time.  
    • The designated screener obtains the signed prescreening form and verifis all questions have been answered.  
    • When your child is determined healthy to enter the program another staff member walks your child into the building and to their teacher/classroom.
    AFTERNOON DISMISSAL: (11:30 half day, 12:30 half day with lunch, 3:00 Academic Day, 4:30 B block, 5:30 C Block)
     
    Infant/Toddler 

    Parents pick up children from the Infant/Toddler playgrounds or at the classroom door on the deck from the playgrounds. When the parents knock on the door, the teacher brings the child out. 
     
    Main Building

    Students remain in their classrooms until called for pick up when the parent/guardian arrives.  Parents place the pickup card with the student's name clearly written on the dashboard of the car. 

    A faculty member brings the student to their car. This ensures a limited number of students in the hallways during this time. CH students are brought out the main exit; LE students from the secondary exit; and Upper School students from the back exit. 
    We respectfully ask for only one, consistent adult drop-off their student(s) whenever possible.

    Please do not use pick-up and drop-off times to mix and mingle with members of the school community.

    Students arriving late will use the main school entrance (PK-8th) or Infant & Toddler building entrance. Parents/guardians will call the school to announce their (late) arrival and a greeter/screener will allow admission. 

    At dismissal, parents are encouraged to remain in their cars in the pick-up lane and move along to make room in the lot and eliviate congestion.
  • Campus Cleaning & Health Initiatives

    • Food safety measures include no shared snack and PPE measures for staff during food preparation.
    • Frequently touched surfaces in common areas are cleaned three times during the day at minimum. 
    • Classroom materials are disinfected after each use with UVC germicidal light or wiped down with disinfect.
    • Children are discouraged from sharing materials.
    • All bathrooms are disinfected after each use.
    • Interior doors are chocked open where appropriate.
    • Outdoor classroom spaces are used daily.
    • Outdoor play structures are disinfected after use by a group/classroom.
    • Student belongings are stored in individual, closed locker.
    • Student items are returned home each day for washing.
    Equipment and Supplies added for COVID-19 
    • Portable air purifiers with HEPA filters and UV germicidal lamps.
    • Seaside Disinfectant (hospital-grade)
    • UV germicidal lamps
    • Victory Electrostatic Sprayer
    • Ozone machine
    • Electric sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant
    • Hand sanitizing dispensers throughout campus
    • Touchless temperature checking stations
  • Athletics

    Our athletic programs are a part of the MAC (Montessori Athletic Conference). We have suspended practice and games until it is safe.
  • Classroom Environments

    All classrooms, from the Children’s House Program through Middle School, have a table for each individual student. Tables are placed within required social distance requirements.

    Montessori materials are disinfected after each use using a UV sanitizer wand and/or disinfectant. Materials such as pencils, pens, markers, colored pencils, glue sticks, etc. are used by one student only. Children’s House and Elementary students have a work rug assigned to them that is laundered weekly.  
  • Community Events & Meetings

    Following our state guidelines, Harborlight is not holding group events or meetings on campus. Meetings are held by Zoom.

    Traditional/annual community events and gatherings will be rescheduled to another season or we will be creative in our approach to celebrating what makes Harborlight community special. When necessary, parents have the opportunity to schedule an appointment to enter the building to meet with teachers or administrators outside of school hours of operation.
  • Creative Discovery Clubs & Classes

    Harborlight is not offering clubs and classes for the first half of the year.
  • Daily Health Screening

    Families complete the Pre-screening Health form and bring it to school each day. A staff member also visually screens the student and verbally asks the parent questions prior to admitting the student for the day. If any of daily health requirements are not met, the student will not be allowed to enter the building. We ask families to report a student absent and describe all symptoms present when staying home. Individuals who decline to complete the screening will not be permitted to enter the building. 

    Staff perform a mid-day screening that is recorded on the Daily Health Screening form. Students who present any of the symptoms during the day will be separated from the group and dismissed. (see Isolation)

  • Distance Learning Program

    We are confident that our Distance Learning Program serves the educational needs of our students in the event that our building has to close.  We are working within each level to ensure a smooth transition and to continue curricular threads from classroom to online.

    We recognize that a home environment cannot reproduce all of the experiences available in our classrooms, and it is understandable that every family has a different situation and circumstance at home so engagement in the Distance Learning Program may vary.  While all students in K-8 are expected to participate in the Distance Learning Program, we understand that there will be times when this is challenging.  Classroom teachers will communicate schedules, zoom calls, assignments, etc., and we will be very flexible while implementing the program.  

    While a Montessori program encourages independence, young students will require support with connecting to our Student Management System (SMS) and following the schedule of online Zooms or classes.  

    More details about our Distance Learning Program will be available soon from each level.    
  • Extended Montessori (Before & Afterschool)

    Due to our small class sizes, Extended Montessori is available by prior reservation only.  Toddler students will combine with their assigned cohort for B and C Block. 

    Toddler Cohort 1:  Chestnut and Maple classes
    Toddler Cohort 2:  Sycamore and Beech classes

    Students in the main building will remain in their classes during Extended Montessori B Block and combine with their assigned cohort for C Block (4:30-5:30) at all levels. 

    CH Cohort 1:  CH1 & CH2 
    CH Cohort 2:  CH3 & CH4 
    CH Cohort 3:  CH5 & CH6 
    LE Cohort 1:  LE1 & LE2 
    LE Cohort 2:  LE3 & LE4
    Upper School Cohort:  Upper Elementary & Middle School 

    Each classroom will be disinfected prior to the students combining. 
  • Face Covering/Mask

    For all students age 3 years and older, masks or cloth face coverings are required to be worn during the day. Masks must not be worn while students are eating/drinking, sleeping, and napping/resting. Strict and consistent physical distancing is practiced during these activities. While students are engaged in active outdoor play or learning in the outdoor classroom, and able to maintain physical distancing, masks and facial coverings are encouraged.

    To slow the spread of COVID-19, Harborlight staff wear a cloth face covering when interacting with children, parents, other faculty/staff and when social distancing is not possible. Harborlight staff are required to wear a cloth face covering whenever 6 feet of physical distancing is not possible indoors and outside. Faculty and staff are encouraged to use transparent face coverings to allow for the reading of facial expressions, which is important for child development and for lip-reading.

    Parents/guardians wear a face covering/mask on the premises and at all times during drop-off and pick-up. 

    Families should provide their children with a sufficient supply of clean masks or face coverings for each day.  These personal masks/face coverings must be clearly marked with the child’s name and a mark to distinguish which side of the covering is to  be worn facing outward so they are worn properly at all times.
    Please choose the most appropriate facial covering for your children with health and prolonged use in mind. Some factors to consider are: 
    • fit (a facial covering with adjustable staps or flexibility to fit securely without touching)
    • layered or with a filter that protects airborne particles from being released
    • allows breathing and talking without restriction
    • one-time use coverings are disposed of at the end of day or when contaminated/compromised
    • reusable are laundered daily without altering the shape or level or protection
    • face shields are only used with an accompanying facial covering/mask
  • Finance

    Harborlight tuition will remain the same this year. There will not be tuition refunds issued for closures if it is necessary to pivot to our Distance Learning Program for a short period of time.

    That time will be 'made-up' with the exchange for vacation days or with extending the school year in June, if possible.

    This decision is critical to maintaining or exceeding our current level of quality teaching and to cover additional costs as a result of smaller class sizes and our health and safety precautions for COVID-19. 

    Last spring, we were able to use a one-time source of funds to offer tuition credits going forward.  We have no current expectation that there will be additional funds for this purpose.

    We have taken advantage of grants available for this fiscal year including the ESSER funds (the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund), and the Early Education and Care Capacity Stipend, which is an accommodation grant to defray fixed operational costs through the first two months of reopening. 
     
    As always, we will continue to work with individual families as their circumstances evolve. To that end, we urge families who have not done so to purchase tuition insurance. This is a very modest investment that could be of great help should a student  withdraw at some point during the year. 
  • Hand Hygiene

    Hand washing sinks with soap, water, and disposable paper towels are to be readily accessible to all students and staff. Hand washing instructions are posted at every hand washing sink and where they can easily be seen by students and staff.

    Required hand washing routines are built into the schedule for all students, faculty and staff. These times include, but are not limited to: 
    • upon arrival to school,
    • entering a classroom (from another classroom, recess, etc.)
    • before and after eating,
    • before putting on and taking off face coverings,
    • before dismissal
    • personal care (coughing, sneezing, nose blowing, toileting)
    • before and after using shared equipment such as computer, copier, white board, etc.
    • after contact with mask or facial covering
    • after removing gloves (staff)
    While hand sanitizer (approved product with at least 60% alcohol) may be used by children over 2 years of age with parental permission, handwashing is the preferred and safer method.

    Hand sanitizer stations are positioned in high traffic areas of our campus (indoors and outside).
  • Harborlight Instructional Plan

    Harborlight's Instructional Plan has been developed with the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and families in mind.  Our goal is to have our students on campus, full time for the 2020-2021 school year. Implementation of our safety protocols, small class size, maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and minimizing crossover between students and teachers are essential to that goal. However, our instructional plan is designed for a smooth transition to our Distance Learning Program if necessary.
  • Isolation

    Harborlight will use a designated room for any student with suspected symptoms of COVID-19.

    This is a separate space where a student can comfortably wait to be picked up from school.

    If a student is sent home from the isolation room- all siblings will need to be dismissed as well.

    Symptoms that require isolation:
    • Cough or difficulty breathing
    • Fever (temperature of 100.0 or above)
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Nausea/Vomiting/Diarrhea
    • Excessive fatigue or body aches
    If any student appears to have severe symptoms, Harborlight will call emergency services immediately. Severe symptoms include: extreme difficulty breathing (i.e. not being able to speak without gasping for air), bluish lips or face, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, severe persistent dizziness or lightheadedness, new confusion or inability to rouse someone, or new seizure or seizures that won’t stop.
  • Levels, Classes, and Cohorts

    Class sizes will remain small as we move from summer program into the fall. Classes range between 9 to 15 students, depending on the size of the classroom and program level.

    Most of the students' school day will be spent within the individual classrooms, with some limited interaction within cohorts for a special or Extended Montessori C Block, depending on the level.

    Infant & Toddler Program:

    Infant level: 1 class, 1 cohort
    Toddler level: 4 classes, 2 cohorts

    Lower School Program (Prek through Grade 3):
     
    Children's House level: 6 classes, 3 cohorts
    Lower Elementary level: 4 classes, 2 cohorts

    Upper School (Upper Elementary and Middle School):

    Upper Elementary and Middle School levels: 3 classes, 1 cohort
  • Lunch & Snack

    Lunch and snack are eaten in the classroom at a designated (cleaned) table and with students seated to adequately follow physical distancing.

    Students bring their own individual snacks to school in their lunchboxes and a personal water bottle. Snacks can be packed in a separate cooler or lunch box or should be clearly labeled if packed in the same lunch box to avoid confusion. When students are staying for Extended Montessori, they will need additional snacks. Extra snacks (for when a student runs out or forgets) will be made available by Harborlight in pre-packaged or ready to serve individual portions to minimize handling and preparation. Meals and snacks are not served buffet or family style. Utensils are for individual use.
  • Outdoor Classrooms

    Harborlight has several outdoor classroom spaces that are utilized for learning, weather permitting, on a rotating schedule.  While using the outdoor classroom, students practice social distancing.  
  • Parents/Guardians in the Building

    Parents and guardians are not permitted entry to the building.
  • Recess

    Students remain within their classes during their assigned recess time.  Classes rotate through the different outdoor spaces available. All playgrounds are disinfected between uses.

  • School Calendar

    • Opening day will remain as planned: Wednesday, September 9, 2020. 
    • Adjustments to the All-School calendar have been made for the 2020 academic year since last published (Spring 2020). Please refer to the Harborlight Calendar for the latest version. 
  • Specials

    We are closely monitoring the CDC, Department of Elementary and Secondary School, and Early Childhood Education Guidelines for safety and have made some adjustments to our Specials schedule and offerings.   
     
    Toddler World Language will not be offered in the first half of the year. Toddler classes will have Library in their building and choose books from the Toddler Library for the first half of the year.
     
    PHYSICAL EDUCATION will be taught to individual classes outdoors weekly (CH through grade 8).  Students will not wear masks during PE class activities but will be asked to wear them during instruction and group times.  

    LIBRARY will be held weekly (Children’s House & Lower Elementary) with individual classes.  Students will be asked to wear masks while visiting the library, during story time, and while choosing books.  Individual library bags will be used to transport books from school to home.  

    SCIENCE (GRADES 3-8) Science will be taught to LE in 1, 3rd grade cohort in the Science Lab twice a week.  The classroom will be disinfected before and after class.  Upper Elementary1,2 and Middle School will be taught in their individual classes.  Students will be required to wear a mask during class and will be seated 6 feet apart.

    WORLD LANGUAGE Children’s House Immersion classes will continue to have Spanish (Ch2) and Mandarin (CH1).  We will announce a teaching plan for general CH World Language later.

    Students in grades 1-8 will have lessons for Spanish or Mandarin via Zoom in their classrooms throughout the week.  The grade level group lessons will not be held for the first half of the year.  

    ART Children’s House students will have art activities in their classrooms, prepared by Harborlight’s Art Teacher.  The lessons will be given to the students by the classroom teacher for at least the first half of the year.  

    Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School students will have Art class in the Art Room with their classrooms, with each cohort having an assigned day. There will be time in between each class for disinfecting.  Students will be required to wear their masks during Art class.  

    MUSIC This year will center around in-classroom materials that can be used by the students independently, supported by pre recorded videos or zoom sessions.  Upper School students will either participate in Band lessons over zoom or General Music, focusing on music theory, learning to play the Ukulele, and listening assignments.  

    BAND (GRADES 4-8) Students will have a Zoom lesson weekly in one of the lesson rooms on the first floor.  In person lessons will not be held for at least the first half of the year.
  • Visitors

    For the safety of our commuinity, only essential visitors will be allowed to conduct business at Harborlight during school hours of operation.

Spring 2020 Community Message Archives

List of 15 items.

  • May 29, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends, 

    When I ran a school in the Caribbean and a hurricane shut the island for an extended period, we knew what to do; we had done it before. There is no playbook for our current situation.
     
    We expect to see a draft of EEC guidelines very soon but will probably not have guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) until mid-June, as their focus is on September. The EEC guidelines will determine how we open for the summer. In the meantime, we are planning for a variety of scenarios based on what we know or can reasonably assume. We are committed to using state guidelines as a baseline but going beyond them where we think it important to do so. 

    EEC ratios/number limits will undoubtedly require us to utilize more spaces with fewer students in each group. We also expect there will be limits on adults entering the building, which will require curbside drop-off and pickup. Peter Dickman is leading the development of an enhanced cleaning plan, which will have to involve constant cleaning throughout the school day. We will have lots of windows open and will maximize our use of outside spaces. 

    Chris Wilson, our PE teacher, who is a R.N., is taking on an expanded role as School Nurse. The gross motor room will become the nurse’s office as it is equipped with a sink, a bathroom and direct outdoor access. Chris is already helping to develop our protocols. 

    We are preparing for a summer program for I/T and CH, subject to state permission and guidelines. Based on our survey of Grade 1-8 parents, we are planning an on-campus elementary program with a wide variety of activities to engage and challenge students. We will also offer some online tutorial and academic support. 

    We will keep writing our playbook and are very much looking forward to seeing you all in person. 

    In the meantime,... 

    Be safe, friends, 
    Paul
  • May 15, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends,

    We are spending a lot of time thinking about what reopening our campus will look like. 

    In addition to monitoring the work of various state agencies and sharing ideas with our peer schools, we are also learning from educators in places where schools have reopened their campuses. 

    In listening to these collective voices, I am struck by certain words. Stability and certainty are words that one often hears when talking about a good school. But now the words I hear are agility, flexibility, and uncertainty. Schools and parents are going to have to be agile and flexible in the face of uncertainty. 

    That can be really hard, or impossible, if your education model is one-size-fits-all. And this is where I believe we have an advantage, because our Montessori approach to education is all about meeting each child’s needs. Within the carefully curated structure of the Montessori classroom, our teachers are endlessly flexible and adaptive, as they have so ably demonstrated of late. 

    Yes, there will be changes – smaller groupings, less mobility, and lots of other things all designed with safety in mind. But the essence of what we do so well will not change. That is why so many of you have chosen a Montessori education for your children, and we will continue to deliver on that. 

    Be safe, friends, 
    Paul
  • May 8, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends,

    I hope you and yours are well. 

    Thanks, again, to those who completed our distance learning survey; we had a very good response rate. The results have been shared with the faculty, who have been discussing them in level meetings. 

    We are working on scenarios for summer in the hopes that we will be allowed back on campus on July 1. The EEC, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, is developing guidelines. According to the latest timetable, they expect to issue a first draft in mid-May, and a final document at least three weeks prior to June 29. 

    In the meantime, we are in regular communication with peer schools and colleagues; we all assume that reopening will entail smaller groupings in discrete spaces, minimizing transitions, and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing. We are fortunate that our physical plant allows us separate, direct access to Infant/Toddler and Children’s House classrooms. Elementary and Middle School activities can be confined to dedicated spaces on the second floor. We are reviewing protocols for playground use, and drop-off and pick-up. 

    Grade 1-8 summer programs are different from the rest, and those parents will receive a short survey today to help us with planning. 

    In the event that we cannot reopen for the summer, bundling tuition billing will be suspended, to resume at the regular monthly rate for a ten-month school year. 

    Thank you all for your support and understanding as we navigate these uncharted waters. As a friend reminded me, we are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm. 

    Be safe, friends... 
    Paul
  • May 1, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends,

    I hope you and yours are well. 

    Thank you to the many of you who took time to answer our survey. As we continue to feel our way through a way of teaching that is new to most of us and in so many ways antithetical to our Montessori pedagogy and philosophy, your feedback is extremely helpful. 

    As I listen to teachers each week in our various meetings, I hear them constantly comparing notes, refining, adapting. I am also struck by how much they continue to observe and connect with individual children, in large and small groups and one-on- one. And, of course, there is a new variable: you are often in the “classroom,” and children do act differently with their parents present. 

    Tuesday, May 5th  is Teacher Appreciation Day. We would normally celebrate our teachers in a variety of ways at school, but this year we had to get creative. Those of you who follow us on social media know that this past weekend “World’s Greatest Teacher Lives Here” signs appeared on the lawns of all our teachers. One reports that his neighbors treat him with more respect! Also, on Tuesday, our teachers will be taking a well-deserved day off. There will still be content online, but they will not be “live” for that one day. 

    More about summer plans next week.

    In the meantime, 

    Be safe, friends... 
    Paul
  • April 24, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends,

    I hope you are well, and I have a couple of asks for you. 

    As we look toward the last weeks to the school year, I am reminded of the importance of tradition and rituals in the life of a community. Our Montessori world is full of rituals – the circle, birthday walks, moving up, the Spring Tea, and so many more. The end of the school year is full of rituals, many around closure, in the absence of which we are left with ambiguous loss. We are thinking hard about how to honor these traditions, and we would welcome your input. Please share your creative ideas. 

    The other ask will come next week in the form of a simple survey. We have heard from many of you about distance learning: what is working, what is not, and what might work better. We also want to know what additional resources we might be able to provide to you as parents. Because a lot of this is developmentally specific, Beth and Hiro (I/T), Elisa (CH and LE) and Brian (UE and MS) will be sending out separate surveys. We hope you will take a few minutes to reply. 

    Thank you, in advance, for your input.

    Be safe, friends... 
    Paul
  • April 22, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends,

    I hope you are all well. 

    As you know, Governor Baker has ordered all schools and child care programs closed through the end of June, so we will continue as we have been through the end of the school year, providing lessons, projects, materials, resources, and connection.

    We know that as creative and hardworking as our teachers are, distance learning cannot replicate the nurturing educational environment found in Harborlight’s classrooms. This is especially true for our younger children. 

    We also believe that as a community we need to support each other. 

    With those two thoughts in mind, the Board of Trustees has authorized us to offer partial tuition forgiveness to currently enrolled students for May and June, as follows: 
    • Infants: 75% 
    • Toddlers: 50% 
    • Children’s House: 50% 
    • Grades 1-8: 25% 
    This non-refundable credit will show up on your account this week and will either offset current tuition payments due or carry over as a credit to next year, depending on your payment status. We hope that this will enable you to continue making tuition payments, which is essential to the health of the school. If you have questions about how this works, please reach out to Jed Dickman or me. 

    Harborlight is a diverse community, and this situation has hit some of our families harder than others. If you are able, we would encourage you to designate some or all of your credit as a tax- deductible gift to the Harborlight Fund to help provide additional tuition assistance to families with the most need. 

    We are all in this together.

    Be safe, friends... 
    Paul
  • April 17, 2020

    
    Dear Harborlight Friends,

    First and foremost, I hope you and yours are safe and well. 

    Often between Zoom meetings and conference calls, I surf through our SMS. I am fascinated by the variety of projects, lessons, and resources, and the work our students are engaged in. Engaged is the key. A parent of a Middle School student told me that she was struck by how engaged and independent her daughter was in doing her school work, but then added, “But of course she should be; that is what you have been teaching her all these years.” 

    Indeed, that is our mission, whether we ae doing it in a classroom setting or online. 

    It takes a lot of extra work and creativity to do the latter. It has been a constant learning process for us all, and we greatly appreciate your patience and help, knowing the extra burden in everyone’s homes. This week the faculty has been talking about summer programs - considering multiple scenarios and how we might respond to them. 

    We are also working with prospective parents and newly admitted families. A couple of newly admitted students have joined their classes early, and they have jumped right in, making new virtual friends. 

    So, everything we do is impacted, and we are learning how to keep doing because it is essential that we do. Some of what we are learning will undoubtedly stick with us, but it sure would be nice to be face-to-face again. 

    Be safe, friends... 
    Paul
  • April 10, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends, 

    Talking with parents and teachers, I am constantly reminded of how hard this time is for all of us. 

    Our community is experiencing being isolated, navigating economic challenges, juggling work and children without any of the usual support structure, worrying about family members at risk, or being on the front line as medical professionals and other essential service providers. This takes an emotional and physical toll; we all feel it. 

    It is heartening, in the midst of all this, to experience moments of joy through online connections and in pictures, videos, and stories, particularly from our youngest children, as our students engage in learning and activities. Our teachers are grateful for those moments and connections, and I know you are too. Many thanks to those of you who have shared that. 

    As to when we can welcome you back to campus, I doubt that anyone has the answer. I also know that reopening our campus will be harder than shutting it down, because we need to know that we can reopen safely. Safety will be our absolute priority. We talk about this daily and we connect with colleagues at other schools to share thinking. 

    As many in our school community celebrate Easter and Passover this week, we are reminded that even in dark days there is hope. It is hope, along with a lot of hard work, that will see us through. 

    Be safe, friends... 
    Paul
  • April 2, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends, 

    In my conversations with a number of parents, several questions have reoccurred, so I thought it might be helpful to provide some answers where I can, knowing that there are questions for which we do not have answers, as things evolve day-to-day. 

    Learning: First, I need to acknowledge that this is not “business as usual.” There is no substitute for the hands-on learning and engagement in our Montessori environments. That said, teachers and staff, from Infant/Toddler through Middle School, are working hard to deliver instruction, maintain connections, and provide resources to students and parents. We meet weekly as a whole team and in level groups to share and refine our delivery models. Your feedback is essential to that, so please communicate with your children’s teachers. 

    Reopening the campus: The earliest we can welcome students back to campus is May 4th and that decision rests with Governor Baker. We continue to plan for a variety of scenarios , including extending the school year to the end of June, and offering summer academic programing to offset the potential of a “summer slide” by keeping our children moving forward on their educational journey. We will keep you updated as these plans develop. 

    Tuition: We are a tuition-dependent independent school. Nearly 90% of every tuition dollar goes to compensating teachers and staff, who continue to work on academic programing. The remainder pays for program costs like classroom educational material, and for fixed overhead such as utilities, insurance, and facilities maintenance. There is little to cut at this time of the year. Donations to the Harborlight Fund account for only about one percent of our revenue. 

    As a non-profit, independent school, we carefully align projected tuition revenue with expenses at the beginning of our fiscal year each July. Most independent schools collect tuition annually or semi-annually. In order to help our parents, Harborlight collects most of its tuition monthly, even though the enrollment contract is annual. This means we do not have a large reserve of prepaid tuition to see us through. We rely upon your continued monthly tuition payments. 

    We have not laid off any teachers or staff. They are providing education and support to students and families. They also continue to work on school-wide tasks, such as the State Licensing renewal due this spring and working with new families enrolling for the next academic year. We need tuition payments to continue paying faculty and staff, to whom we have made annual commitments based on your annual contracts. 

    Tuition Assistance: This pandemic has had a significant economic impact. We have enhanced our financial aid program to help individual families who may need some help. This can take a variety of forms. Please email me (paul@harborlight.net) if you think you may need assistance. 

    We know there are additional financial issues, and we appreciate your patience as we work through this changing landscape. We want to find a balance that supports our families and ensures the health of the school, looking forward to the time when we can all be together again. 

    I will continue writing to you weekly, and more often if there is something important to share. As always, I am happy to talk about your concerns and to try to answer your questions. Please reach out. 

    Be safe, friends...
    Paul
  • March 27, 2020

    March 27, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Friends, 

    I need to start by just saying I miss you. I miss daily visits from Stella and her
    stuffed animals, Elin and Althea acting over the top, Charlie doing a number chain, Rose being shy when I say good morning, Farren rolling her eyes at my lame humor, and the late afternoon “customers” at Lisa’s candy jar. I miss their parents and teachers, too. We are above all a community, and it is dislocating not to be able to see you. 

    We are doing everything we can to maintain our community and to make sure your children are engaged in learning. For this, a huge shout out to our teachers and staff, who, like you, are doing this daily work from home, many surrounded by their own children. School is open, we are just doing it differently, and it is hard work. We are meeting as a faculty and in level teams on a regular basis, sharing feedback, and improving the delivery model and content as we go. 

    The earliest we can welcome students back to campus is May 4.

    In the meantime, we are 
    developing contingency plans, including extending the school year to the end of June and offering summer academic programing to ameliorate “summer slide” and keep our children moving forward on their educational journey. We will keep you updated as these plans develop. 
     
    We deeply appreciate the support and feedback we are getting from you. It has been really great to see some of you sharing Harborlight moments on Facebook and other sites. We also rely upon your financial support. Harborlight is a tuition-driven independent school. We are all in this together, and by each of us contributing in our own way to the community, we will get through this difficult time. 

    As always, I am happy to talk about your concerns and to try to answer your questions. Please reach out. 

    Be safe, friends... 
    Paul
  • March 15, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Families, 

    Governor Baker has just ordered a three-week suspension of all Massachusetts public and private schools, effective Tuesday through April 7th. 

    Teachers will be working tomorrow to complete plans for delivering educational resources to you. They will continue to connect with their students throughout this period. 

    Our paramount concern is the health and safety of our community. We will do everything we need to do to contribute to that while continuing to support you and your children. 

    Be safe.... 
    Paul
  • March 13, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Families, 
    We have made the decision to close the school for the next two weeks. Similar decisions have been made by public and independent schools throughout the region. We plan to reopen on Monday, March 30th, but will continue to monitor the situation. I will communicate any changes to you promptly by email. 
    Teachers will be at school this Monday, preparing educational materials for your children. There will be a variety of level-appropriate educational resources available so that your children can continue to learn during this period. You will receive information about accessing these resources on Monday. 
    During the time we are closed we will perform an extra level of deep cleaning of the entire school. 

    The Student Management System (SMS) Parent Directory has a “map” feature, which you can use to connect with other families who live near you. You might find it helpful in sharing resources. 

    Parent-teacher conferences scheduled for March 27th are canceled. Progress reports will be available online as usual. 

    We need you to communicate with us should any member of your household test positive for COVID-19. This is critical information, which will help us as we plan for our reopening. We will respect your privacy and not share this information. 

    Please direct any questions or concerns to me, paul@harborlight.net. If I cannot answer, I will direct your question to the person who can. 

    Our absolute top priority is the health and safety of our community. Thank you all for the support you have given us during this challenging period. We will get through it. 

    Best, 
    Paul
  • March 12, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Families,

    We have some more information to share with you. 

    First: We do have two families who have elected to self-quarantine after a parent in each family learned that they had been at an event a week ago where another attendee was subsequently diagnosed. None of these family members has any symptoms, but they are being cautious and responsible, for which we are grateful. We look forward to their healthy return to school. 

    Second: Our UE and Middle School students are currently in rehearsal at Gloucester Stage Company, with performances scheduled for next weekend. Rather than risk bringing families and friends together in a crowded theater space, the performance will be done as “live TV” without an audience. 

    Third: We are looking into how to continue to provide instruction should the school have to close for some period of time. This will vary from level to level, providing math, reading, and writing materials in grades 1-8 is not a significant problem. 

    Again, thank you for reaching out with your comments and concerns. 

    Best, 
    Paul
  • March 10, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Families, 

    As the CODIV-19 epidemic continues to spread, we are closely following developments. In addition to monitoring information from public health agencies, we are in touch with our peer schools here and in other parts of the country. 

    In addition to taking measures to maintain a safe school environment, we are also evaluating activities that would take us out into the community or bring the outside community here. We are doing this on a case-by-case basis; a class trip to New York City poses a different level of risk than a hike on an Essex County Greenbelt property. 

    We will continue to do everything we can to keep your children and their teachers safe, but YOU are our first line of defense. If you have reason to believe that you or any member of your household has been exposed, we need to know it and we need you to keep your child home until cleared by a physician. Each of us has to be responsible for the wellbeing of our community. 

    We will continue to update you as necessary. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to us. 

    Best, 
    Paul
  • February 28, 2020

    Dear Harborlight Families, 
    As news about COVID-19, or coronavirus, develops, Harborlight is following the situation closely. We are closely monitoring information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 
    While this is a public health concern, the CDC continues to report that the immediate risk to the general public remains low at this time. Yet, in today’s connected world the potential for infectious disease is always of concern. As with all seasonal flu and strep infections, there are general precautions we can all take to remain as healthy as possible. 
    Specific measures we take to keep the school environment safe include: 
    • Sending out illness notifications to individual classrooms. 
    • Staff regularly clean and disinfect their classroom areas in accordance with EEC’s Policy 
    on Sanitizing-Disinfecting. 
    • Cleaners disinfect sinks, toilets, counters, floors nightly. 
    • Cleaners and teachers do extra disinfecting when there are multiple illnesses reported. 
    • The school disinfects with Sea-Cide, a hospital grade EPA certified disinfectant. 
    • We employ an ozone disinfection machine and a disinfecting UV light as needed. 
    We need you to be our partners in this: everyone needs to take proactive precautions. Because the coronavirus, like influenza, is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing by infected people, it is important to take the following actions to stay healthy: 
    • Wash your hands frequently. Use warm water and soap. This can't be done too often. 
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you sneeze or cough. Do 
    not sneeze or cough into your hands. 
    • Avoid sharing drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, dishes, towels or other items. Wash 
    these items thoroughly with soap and water after use. 
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick whenever possible. 
    • Call your doctor if you have questions about your child's symptoms. 
    Above all, please follow the school’s illness policy (see below). 

    We are deeply committed to the wellness of our school community and will share information with you as we receive it. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to us. 

    Best,
    Paul
    From Harborlight Montessori Parent Handbook: 

    Illness 

    Please keep your child home if there are symptoms of illness. Fever, sore throat, cough, or greenish colored discharge from the nose are clear signs of illness. When students come to school sick, they jeopardize the health of their schoolmates, faculty and staff. Harborlight may send a child exhibiting symptoms home. 

    Please report any communicable disease to the School. 

    Parents should notify the School Office in the morning if the child is sick and will not be coming to School. If your child has a communicable disease such as strep throat, G.I. ailments, or respiratory illnesses, please notify the school so that other parents may be on the lookout for symptoms. Please keep your child home with symptoms of illness. A child should be symptom- free for 24 hours before returning to school. 

    If during the course of the day, a child manifests any symptoms requiring exclusion from participation in school activities, the parents will be notified by phone. If the parents are unable to be reached, the child’s emergency contacts are notified. Food and liquids are offered if the child’s condition can tolerate them. The teacher will take the child’s temperature, note any presenting symptoms and notify the program director, and the head of school, if necessary. The child will remain with a staff person in a quiet place until dismissed for the day. The child will be closely monitored by a staff member and parents will be informed of any care given in writing or by phone. It is imperative Harborlight have all available forms of reaching parents during the day. 

    When a communicable disease is reported to the school, the members of that child’s class will be informed. An email will be sent out to all families in that child’s class. 
     

About Harborlight

Harborlight Montessori is an independent, co-educational, day school for children from infant-toddler through grade 8 that is committed to innovative teaching and learning.