Montgomery County private school to hold classes outside

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ASHTON, Md. (WDVM) — Controversy surrounds the decision to send students back to school buildings or keep them at home this fall. One Montgomery County private school has decided to do things differently.

In Eastern Montgomery County, students at the Mater Amoris Montessori School in Ashton have the option to return to school, spending most of their time learning outside.

“Children enjoy being outside, it’s good for their growth and development. It’s really merging the best of both worlds,” said Alicia Davis Enright, the head of school at Mater Amoris.

She says the school’s size of just about 45 students, all ages 2 through 12, allowed leaders to get creative when it came to drafting a plan to return this fall.

“While we were able to put a remote learning program in place, there are definitely things we just cannot accomplish in a remote setting,” she explained.

Davis Enright says back in June, the school tested out a model outdoor classroom, using the children of school staffers as stand-in students. They found that things like clipboards and overhead tents will make outdoor learning more comfortable.

“We found a few little things, I’m sure there are many more of those kinds of little life lessons that we’ll learn along the way. We’ve started figuring them out and we’re ready to evolve and develop as we need to,” she added.

Though, with outdoor learning, you risk the weather throwing a wrench in your plans. Davis Enright says it’s conversation they’re having and leaders are working to mitigate the risks associated with bringing students back indoors.

“Face masks will be worn indoors. We’re looking at our air filtration systems, air purification systems and changing out our filters to a higher level of filtration,” she said.

Davis Enright says the school will still operate a remote learning program this fall, to accommodate students with immunocompromised family members and those who aren’t ready to come back to school.

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