March 24, 2021

Photo of purple and white crocusesAs spring slowly settles in, we look toward what we can expect for next school year.  We continue to follow the health mitigation policies we instituted in the fall, and have slowly loosened some of the restrictions as metrics and policies have evolved.  Overall we remain conservative and vigilant in our approach.  Teachers are actively pursuing vaccination opportunities, and a good portion of our faculty and staff has already had their first shot.  We anticipate that by the end of April the majority of faculty will be fully vaccinated.

So what does this mean for the fall?  We anticipate that we will be able to return to previous classroom sizes, and pods will be less likely.  Adults in the community will be vaccinated, and masks will most likely remain a constant during the school day.  Students will probably not be vaccinated, but we’re hoping they may be eligible in late fall or early winter.  Large school gatherings may still be a thing of the past, unfortunately, but overall our planning will focus on returning to our Montessori pedagogy.

As our campus starts to reopen, students will once again experience their peers in their divisions and across the school.  Outside learning will still be a staple and we will continue expanding that moving forward. If there was one positive from the pandemic, it was getting students outside on a more consistent basis.  Our faculty provided more opportunities for creative play and use of our spaces, and the school is developing a comprehensive long-term plan to expand and engage with the outdoors and nature-both prominent in Montessori philosophy.

The pandemic taught us a few things.  The emotional and social well being of our community is paramount, and the inequities of the broader education landscape are very real.  Riverbend needs to create a toddler through middle school SEL program we can be proud of.  This includes a comprehensive approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work, and an examination of all our policies for anti-bias and inclusion.  We need to review our curriculum to include an anti-racist approach.  And lastly we need to see our school in the context of the larger community by maintaining community service opportunities, and teaching our students they have an obligation to serve, lead, and innovate.

There is optimism in the air.  I am proud of our community and how it has persevered, and continues to do so, through a tough year.  Out of adversity comes resilience, and our school would be remiss if we did not embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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