South Loop Montessori School Opens Its Doors Amid Pandemic
by Chicago Parent Staff | April 16, 2020
Read the original story on Chicago Parent here: https://www.chicagoparent.com/learn/general-parenting/south-loop-montessori-school-opens-door-during-covid-19-pandemic/
Driven by a desire to support the community and especially essential workers on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, South Loop Montessori School reopened its doors this week.
Newly licensed by the state as an emergency child care center, it is offering flexible child care from 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. for infants through age 9.
Not only will it help essential workers feel comfortable leaving their children in a safe environment, Mahdi Dadrass, the school’s executive director and co-founder, says this move also likely allows parents the opportunity to expose their children to the Montessori environment for the first time.
Strict health precautions are in place, he says, including limiting the size of classrooms to 10 students each for a maximum of 40-50 students in the school. Students and teachers will not commingle between the other classrooms, will have temperatures checked before entering the school, during school and before leaving the school, all need to have a pair of shoes not worn outside to avoid tracking in anything and will face regular hand-washing among other safety precautions, such as masks and gloves for teachers.
Parents will not be permitted inside the school and staff will be decontaminated before entering the school.
“Being one of the first schools and Montessori Schools to obtain this emergency child care license has allowed us to think outside of the box in terms of how we can go above and beyond to protect our staff members and our students,” Dadrass says.
“We really tried to cover all of the bases here,” he says, adding staff has reported feeling safe.
He says the lessons he’s learned along the way are something he’s eager to share with other schools that will face the same challenges when they reopen.
Existing South Loop Montessori students continue to e-learn at home until the governor permits all schools to reopen. Dadrass says he’s been pleased with the success of the school’s e-learning program and the support from parents.
Applications for immediate enrollment of essential workers are being accepted online. Regular enrollment for non-essential workers for the new school year and year-round programs remains open.