A New Normal: Guidepost’s Health and Safety Guidelines
A letter from Jocelyn Scotty, Senior Vice President of Schools and Operations, on Guidepost Montessori’s latest approach to in-person learning.
The Guidepost Team
I recently read that the Word of the Year for 2020 was, in fact, two words: ‘pandemic’ and ‘unprecedented’.
I must admit I chuckled when I read this. I feel like I’ve said those two words so many times this past year that I’d be happy to not utter them again in this lifetime.
It got me thinking — I wonder what the word of 2021 will be? A few immediately sprung to mind: ‘resilience’, ‘hope’, ‘connection’, ‘belongingness’. Then, the other day, a word popped into my head that I think accurately represents our entire school community –– from our amazing staff to our incredible students, to you, our dedicated parents.
That word is ‘courage’.
It has been more than a year since COVID-19 entered our collective lives. Over a period of hours, days, and weeks, all the puzzle pieces that make up our worlds were tossed up in the air. We’ve been working on putting them back together ever since, and thankfully, we’ve had each other to lean on and support. The holistic well-being and development of our children has served as our north star.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we implemented extremely tight health and safety policies and procedures in order to limit the spread and risk of COVID-19 at our schools. It took courage for you to entrust the care of your children with in-person school. It took courage for our guides to come back and work as a team outside of their family bubbles. It took courage for the children to join a classroom of adults and peers wearing masks. In fact, when I think about it, the acts of courage small and large are countless.
We continue to support the health, safety, and well-being of our parents, students, and staff. This is focused on COVID-19, but also on the broader psychological need for normalcy, regularity, and connection. COVID-19-constrained environments have not only protected but have also taken –– and continue to take –– a toll on our ability to offer our fully implemented Montessori program.
As we hopefully begin to enter a post-COVID-19 landscape, we see this as the right time to engage in a thoughtful revisit of our health and safety guidelines. It takes courage from each of us to look where we are headed and simultaneously acknowledge our current state.
Adjusting our health and safety guidelines involves a tricky balance of deep care and concern for our communities and the evidence-based reality of scientific research –– two things that sometimes seem to push in opposite directions. In consideration of the full set of facts, we’ve concluded that it is time to transition back to our fully implemented Montessori programs and the vast majority of our standard health and safety procedures.
We will, of course, continue to follow any local and state mandated requirements. We will also continue to make decisions based on the current reality of infection rates and spread in individual communities, and we can’t guarantee if or when we may need to recalibrate due to local or state requirements or mandates.
Winston Churchill once said, “Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision.” I look forward to a year when each of us continues to grow and thrive, when courage rules the day, and, hopefully, the pandemic continues to fade into the past.
The Guidepost Team
The Guidepost Team is a group of writers and educators dedicated to helping demystify all things Montessori.