The Noah's Ark program falls under the Division of Early Childhood (DCE)/Office of Child Care (OCC) within the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and are subject to the guidance they release. Their guidance outlines how programs may open and operate as we move forward through recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantines. Utilizing that guidance (most recently updated in August, 2020), Noah's Ark decided to open for the 2020-21 school year. This opening is not without challenges – we are follow strict group sizes and enhanced health and safety protocols as issued by MSDE/DEC/OCC and the Maryland Department of Health. Noah's Ark is actively monitoring those protocols and group sizes to be sure we follow them.
In the event we are not able to hold in-person classes, our schedule will remain the same, but with virtual sessions for circle time combined with at-home activities to keep the students on track with their year. In the event of a move to a virtual schedule, materials would be available for pickup before the start of the school week for each student.
Because your student's health and safety, as well as that of our staff, is of the utmost importance to us, we feel having our students as a full group will be beneficial with current advisories to be mindful of interactions in terms of contact tracing for the 2020-21 school year. As guidance is updated, other changes may be necessary, and we will continue to keep enrolled families abreast of any effect they have on our current plans. Additionally, Noah’s Ark will be asking all students to wear face coverings (“masks”) while indoors, except while eating/drinking. This is in line with CDC and MSDE guidance for being in an indoor group for anyone over the age of 2, where it is developmentally appropriate. Please work with your student to get them used to wearing masks for an extended time. Some good resources for helping your student with wearing cloth face coverings are linked below:
Tips for helping kids wear masks from actionlearningnetwork.org
Noah's Ark Face Covering Guidance