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Montessori schools make plans for the fall

Montessori schools are known for their hands-on education. So, how do they plan to be physically distant, and safe with the students they have?

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Shanna Honan, the Head of School at Chesapeake Montessori School, said they're ready for students to return.

"We are planning on going back face-to-face in the fall, wearing masks," said Honan.

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, Honan said they've had a spike in phone calls with people interested in attending.

"A minimum of five a day,” said Honan.

Her school teaches infants through 6th grade. Honan said in a year without a pandemic, they have 170 children enrolled. 

However, she said they had to ask people to voluntarily dis-enroll, to lower the capacity to 150 this year because of the coronavirus and to follow state guidelines.

Yet, Montessori schools are known for their hands-on education. So, how do they plan to be physically distant, and safe with the students they have?

"We feel that we've done everything we can to make it a safe environment for the children," said Honan. 

Honan said students will be separated by class and because they use three-year age groups for classes, they can keep some families together and help mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

The President of the Montessori Foundation, Tim Seldin, said each school chooses to resume in-person classes independently, but many will return to in-person instruction, with a strategy.

"Commonly what I hear is, we are creating pods of children who have contact with a minimal number of adults,” said Seldin.

Honan said they will only have two adults per class, and they've added more cleaning, plexiglass barriers, and air filtration systems.

“Our school is set up in such a way that they are able to take special precautions that many schools aren't able to take,” said Shay Bocks, whose kids attend Chesapeake Montessori School.

She said she feels comfortable sending her kids back to school in person, but her opinion might change between now and the start of the school year.

"Like 20 times between now and when school starts, but I know that of anywhere, this is where I want them to go back if they go back,” said Bocks.