ASHTON, Md. — For weeks, school districts like Fairfax County, Montgomery County and D.C. have been trying to decide the best way to return to school in the Fall.
Meanwhile, a small school in Ashton, Maryland seems to have things worked out already. Alicia Davis Enright is Head of School at Mater Armoris Montessori.
On September 8, students will be welcomed back into their new 13-acre outdoor classroom.
“We’re going to have tents up and possibly some umbrellas as well to expand the space further. Each of our classrooms has a door that leads outside from the room itself so being able to float in and out to get materials and work outside is simple for us,” said Enright.
The school has about 41 students ages 2 to 12-years old. According to Enright, the Montessori style schooling gives students more flexibility on what they work on and when they work on it under teacher supervision.
As far as weather, the school has fans for hotter months and heaters when it gets cooler. If it becomes too cold, indoor classrooms or virtual learning are always an option. Virtual learning is also an option for families with compromised immune systems or those who don’t feel comfortable sending their kids back yet.
“Remote learning, I feel like we did okay with that. Families were happy, but what has become clear is children being at home all the time is not ideal for many many reasons,” said Enright.
Since announcing its plans, the school said it has been inundated with requests from interested parents. Normally the school can accommodate 150 students. However, with the pandemic that number is much less, but the head of school said they do still have space available.
Enright tells WUSA9 in the event of a suspected positive coronavirus case, they would contact the Office of Childcare and Department of Health and Human Services for guidance.
But for now, the school is looking forward to welcoming most of its students back in person.
“It’s hard to have that same level of connection when you’re across the screen. The amount of time alone is one element, but we all know being with someone in person creates a stronger bond,” said Enright.