The news and social media outlets are full of talk about COVID-19, or corona virus. The spread of this virus and our response to it are having far-reaching effects on our physical and mental health. What can you do to help educate and alleviate fear from escalating in your own Montessori environment?
Keep Everyone Informed
In this fast-paced world of social media, we can reduce fear and panic from spreading by being completely transparent and keeping our community informed of the facts. We cannot speculate on that which we don’t know, but we can share that which we do.
Parents will want to know how your school is addressing the health and safety of their children. You can share these tips for the best ways to avoid transmitting this and other diseases:
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can help children know how long to wash their hands by having them sing the “Happy Birthday” song.
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available.
• Avoid touching your face.
• Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands before touching anything or anyone.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects with a bleach-and-water solution or other approved disinfectant. (Please check your local government guidelines.)
• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• Stay home if you are sick.
• Children should not come to school if they have cold or flu-like symptoms or if they are running a fever, vomiting, or have diarrhea.(Centers for disease control and prevention, 2020)
Supporting hygienic practices within the community
Montessori schools have a distinct advantage since taking care of oneself hygienically is part of the practical life curriculum. Now more than ever is the time to review lessons in nose blowing, coughing and sneezing, and most importantly, hand washing. Still, there are additional steps that we can take to reduce the risk of transmission:
• The arrival and dismissal handshake and greeting have long been part of the Montessori daily routine. However, it may be wiser to bump closed fists or elbows instead.
• Begin a “Handwashing upon entering the classroom” policy.
• Revisit the idea of a self-serve snack area until the crisis has passed.
• Consider suspending tours by prospective parents at this time.
• Use disposable cups, plates, and cutlery for sanitation reasons.
• Replace cloth towels with paper towels for handwashing.
• Use disposable tissues instead of cloth handkerchiefs.
• Replace the community pencil jar with individual pencils for each student.
Instilling these health and safety practices will hopefully reduce the amount of risk for the community of your school.
For information on the latest developments related to COVID-19, visit the World Health Organization, the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and your local health department.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, March 13, 2020.