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COVID-19 Updates

Update 04.16.20

We hope this message finds you all healthy, safe, and enjoying your families while social distancing and remote learning! What interesting times these are… Thank you to all of you for your patience and continued support of Villa Montessori while we adapt to constantly changing information, and figure out how best to manage through this crisis.
 
We are pleased to share that Villa has applied for and received some emergency funds through the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), which is part of the CARES Act. As you may know, the PPP funds are a low-interest loan that may be forgiven if certain criteria are met. These emergency funds will allow Villa to bring furloughed employees back on the payroll through June 30th, at their regularly scheduled rates/hours. We plan to put these funds to use as they are intended under the CARES Act, which is to enable small businesses and not-for-profit organizations like Villa Montessori to maintain pre-Coronavirus levels of employment for their dedicated workers.
 
Villa will continue to deliver age-appropriate distance learning through the remainder of the school year, as Governor Ducey and Superintendent Hoffman have ordered schools to close their campuses to students. This continues to be a challenging undertaking, and we anticipate engaging our returning staff to assist in these efforts. Please provide any feedback on Villa’s continuing efforts to Barbi Smith at bsmith@villamontessori.com. Your feedback – positive and negative -- will be considered and will help us continue to improve the delivery of distance learning to our students.
 
The PPP funds also help offset part of Villa’s significant decline in revenues caused by the pandemic. As Villa closed its campus to students and transitioned to distance learning, we significantly reduced tuition charges, in part, to account for the temporary suspension of childcare services and also to provide relief for families who are navigating their own impacts caused by the pandemic. We want to share with you that many families insisted upon paying their full tuition charges to help make available funds to assist Villa families with financial need and to support Villa. We sincerely acknowledge and deeply appreciate the continued support and generosity from all Villa families.  
 
We are also pleased that the PPP funds enable us to suspend tuition charges for the month of May. This means we will NOT be charging families for any portion of May tuition. Updated statements will be sent out soon, so please review your statement carefully and notify Sylvia Garcia in billing of any questions/issues (billing@villamontessori.com).
 
Even though there is no tuition due for the private programs in May, your children’s teachers will continue to provide remote learning opportunities and the chance to connect with them regularly. For the charter programs, our remote curriculum continues through the processes already established.
 
We’d also like to give a huge “THANK YOU” to the Villa PTO, made up of tireless Villa supporters. The PTO was able to generously provide over $30,000 to Villa from the Fun Run in February, which will go toward classroom needs and costs related to our transition to remote learning, at a time when we need them most. These funds also help offset a small portion of the negative financial impact resulting from the inability to host our annual Auction Dinner fundraising event in late April.
 
We will be reaching out soon with more information on the following items:  
  • Summer School Programs (keep your fingers crossed!),
  • The possibility of an online auction event to replace our canceled Evening of Giving (we have all of these wonderful auction items and want to provide a chance to win them!), and
  • Potential requests for assistance to help Villa meet its year-end numbers required to maintain compliance with our bonds (more information on this as we get closer to June 30th).
 
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. Wishing you all health and safety.
 
Fondly,
Margo S. O’Neill, M.Ed

 

Update 04.10.20

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”– Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

Dear Villa Families,

 

As we prepare for the fourth week of school closure, we may all be experiencing a variety of emotions. These include sadness, disappointment, and fear. Sadness over the loss of a normal life. Sadness at seeing our children struggle with the lack of contact with their friends and teachers. Disappointment that school trips and end-of-the-year celebrations have been postponed or canceled. Fear that a family member or friend will succumb to this terrible virus. At times, these emotions can be crushing.

 

Yet there are many signs of inspiration around us. Sidewalk chalk messages on a neighbor’s driveway that reads, “Love is stronger than germs.” Teens in Santa Barbara delivering groceries to seniors. New Yorkers cheering loudly at 7:00 p.m. each night to honor their city’s healthcare workers. Closer to home, Villa’s teachers are working countless hours to deliver distance learning to our students, something they have never done before. Some Villa families are generously helping other families who are struggling financially.

 

There is hope. Hope that this will all be over soon. With that in mind, we continue to make plans for our summer programs should we be able to open the school. Lead teachers are in the process of signing agreements for next school year. We are collecting information on enrichment classes for the fall. We will be reaching out to all families who are enrolled for 2020-2021 with a request for additional enrollment information, as we do each year at this time.  With an eye on the future, we are eagerly looking forward to having the school fully operational once again.

 

We hope you are staying well. For an update on billing and our PPP loan application, please read the information from Jill Zimmerman below.

 

Best wishes,

 

Margo S. O’Neill, M.Ed

Head of School

Villa Montessori School

 

 

___________________________________________________________________________

 

Hello Villa Families:

 

We are hoping that you are all staying safe and healthy, and navigating these challenging times as best as you and your families are able. 

 

Now that we have some additional information regarding extending school closures through the end of the school year, as well as new information on federal assistance programs, we wanted to provide you with an update.  Below please see updates related to specific billing situations, which may or may not apply to your family’s situation.

 

May Tuition for Infants/Toddlers/Primary/Kindergarten (Private School Programs)

Last Friday, Villa Montessori applied for federal relief funds under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provisions of the recently passed legislation known as the CARES Act.  We are awaiting notification from our bankers as to whether or not Villa has been approved for these relief funds.  If we are approved, Villa will not charge any portion of tuition for the month of May for any families.  If we are not approved, Villa will charge the same 25% for Infant/Toddler programs, and 45% for Primary/Kindergarten programs, as was charged in April.  This will help us to keep as many private school employees retained as possible, as well as to help us cover a portion of our fixed facilities costs for the month of May.  We will notify all families as soon as we receive word on our PPP loan application.

 

March Enrichment Fees (Primary, Elementary and Middle School)

Back on March 26th, we communicated to families with children participating in enrichment classes that we would not charge for any April enrichment classes, and would make final adjustments to families’ accounts in May once we knew whether or not makeups are possible for the two weeks missed in March.

 

Now that we know we will be closed through the remainder of the school year, we will not have the opportunity to make up the two weeks of missed enrichment classes later.  Therefore, we will be issuing a credit to all applicable families’ billing accounts, for 50% of your March enrichment fees.

 

Pinerock 4th Grade Overnight Trip

On March 26th, we communicated to families with 4th graders about our efforts to reschedule or replace this trip with an alternate experience.  Now that we know we will be closed through the remainder of the school year, we believe we will not have the opportunity to provide this trip experience at a later date.  Therefore, we will be issuing a credit to all applicable families’ billing accounts, for the full charge of $115 for this trip (or amount paid to date, if not paid in full).  Thankfully, we had not paid any non-refundable deposits to the trip vendor for this trip yet, therefore the full amount is refundable.

 

7th and 8th Grade Adventure Trips (Middle School)

Back on March 26th, we communicated to families with middle school students about our efforts to replace these trips with alternate experiences or to reschedule them to dates later in the summer.  Our trip vendor has been in contact with the National Parks department, the bus companies, and other outdoor experience providers, trying to work out a solution to this situation, as we know the students look forward to these trips all year. 

 

Unfortunately, given the heat conditions and lower water levels on the Colorado River over the summer months, and the fact that the non-refundable permits we have already paid for do not allow our students to be on the river later in the year, we have made the difficult decision to cancel these trips altogether.  We have already paid the trip vendor for nearly 100% of the cost, including some permits, planning efforts and supplies that are non-refundable.  Working together with the trip vendor, we were able to work out a refund plan where all but $125 per student will be refunded.

 

For families with 7th graders, we will be crediting your account for $470 ($595 full trip price, less $125 non-refundable deposit).

 

For families with 8th graders, we will be crediting your account for $500 ($625 full trip price, less $125 non-refundable deposit).

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

The Villa community is truly amazing, and we are humbled by the displays of support for the school, the teachers, the staff, and the leadership.  Several families have reached out to us to let us know that they have thankfully not been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they would like to continue to be billed for their full tuition, enrichments, or trip fees in order to help Villa wherever the funds are needed most.  This enables us to offer limited scholarships for those families who may have different situations, where they are being impacted financially.  We are handling those requests on a case-by-case basis as they are brought to our attention.

 

If you are so fortunate as to be able to continue to pay your tuition or fees during the school closure, and want to apply this assistance to another family in need, please reach out to Sylvia (billing@villamontessori.com) or Jill (jzimmerman@villamontessori.com).  We will reflect this as a “donation” on your billing account, and utilize those funds for another family who is being financially hurt by the current situation. 

 

Thank you to all of those families who have given already, and thank you to those who may be able to consider doing so.  The Villa community is grateful for your support and generosity.

 

If you have any questions, please contact me directly to discuss.  Please stay safe and healthy…

 

Best regards,

 

Jill Zimmerman

Chief Financial Officer

Villa Montessori School

2802 E. Meadowbrook Avenue

Phoenix, AZ 85016

602-399-3016 direct

602-955-2210 school office

jzimmerman@villamontessori.com

 

 

 

Update 04.01.20

Thank you all for your patience and understanding as we continue to try to navigate the constantly changing circumstances of the challenges Villa is facing. Here is a brief update, and more information will follow again soon as we learn more…
 
As you have no doubt heard through the local news, Governor Ducey extended his school closure order for K-12 schools through the remainder of this school year. Please remember from our previous communication last week, that Villa’s Board has directed us that while the risks of infection and community spread are climbing exponentially in Arizona, we should also suspend the private school programs as long as the state’s K-12 schools are ordered to remain closed. We still believe this is the right thing to do as a member of the community, to do our part to help limit the impact of COVID-19. Therefore, ALL classrooms will remain suspended through the end of May at this time.
 
We are working with our banker on the government assistance provided through the expansion of the SBA 7(a) program. We are expecting to be able to apply for this Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the next few days. If we are successful with this application, we can then alter our plan with regard to asking Infant/Toddler/Primary/Kindergarten families to continue to cover a minority portion of the private program tuition to help keep staff employed. Please note that for teachers in the Primary program, only 1/3 of their compensation is covered by state funds, and for Infants/Toddlers, none of their compensation is covered by state funds – the rest is covered by private school tuition, therefore the Board’s decision to continue to charge a smaller portion of tuition became necessary in order to try to cover the full cost of both compensation for those employees plus the fixed costs of those programs.
 
Please know that we are having to adjust every family’s billing account manually, therefore we will not be charging anyone’s Tuition Express until all accounts have been adjusted, and after we have sent out revised statements for everyone’s review. We are planning to have all account adjustments done this week, with updated statements out to each family by the end of this week at the latest. We will then allow for a little time for your review and any questions to be addressed, and then we will charge Tuition Express later next week for any families who have balances remaining. We’ll keep you all posted as we work through this process, as it is laborious and needs to be accurate.
 
We cannot determine what will happen with May until we know more about the SBA program and if we are approved for a loan, but we plan to keep families informed as we work through the loan application process in April. Thank you in advance for your support and helping to keep the Villa community strong during these unprecedented times. We are grateful for all of you!
 
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any other questions, and please keep an eye out for more communication to come soon after the SBA application process is underway. Wishing you are all healthy and safe.
 
Best,
 
Jill Zimmerman
Chief Financial Officer
Villa Montessori School
2802 E. Meadowbrook Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85016
602-399-3016 direct
602-955-2210 school office

 

Update 3.26.20

Let me begin by saying how much I appreciate the patience and understanding from our Villa families during this very difficult and unsettling time. After hours and hours of deliberation, here is the latest update from Villa’s Board and administration.

As you have no doubt heard on the news, Governor Ducey extended the mandated campus closures for K-12 students until at least April 10th. You may also know that Governor Ducey and AzDHS have encouraged childcare providers to accept children on-site to accommodate families who need childcare. Villa has populations of both types of students (K-12 and private childcare), so we have been working diligently to determine the best course of action. 

Please understand that we are limited by the latest information available and continuously refer to and rely on guidance from government and health care leaders locally, nationally, and internationally. The situation remains fluid and our plans are based on our understanding of the current best available information. If new information becomes available, we may need to adapt. 

We have had inquiries from families regarding billing, given the limited operations due to COVID-19. Please know that we have been analyzing all of the financial information that impacts the school, our staff and our families, and we are wrestling with the significant implications this pandemic is having. Villa has over 130 employees, plus fixed costs such as bond and facilities expenses. And while the school is currently on solid financial footing, Villa – like all organizations – cannot absorb a significant, indefinite decline in revenues without undertaking modifications to expenses, including payroll, which is far and away Villa’s biggest expense category. In consideration of these competing factors, Villa’s Board of Directors has been meeting regularly over the past few weeks to evaluate a myriad of options in response to the pandemic. Given the current situation, the Board is guiding us as noted in the links below regarding refunds and charges pertaining to tuition and fees for both March and April.

In closing, here are some wise words from the founder of Conscious Discipline, Dr. Becky Bailey:

Now more than ever, safety and active calming have become [critical] for families everywhere. Regardless of how many years we've been developing our own social emotional toolset, it's difficult to help a child co-regulate when we feel anxious ourselves!

It's important to remember:

·      Our calm increases children's calm.
·      You are the most important Safe Place for your child.
·      The brain requires safety and connection. Be intentional about cultivating both.
·      Create a "new normal” together using routines and play.
·      Provide helpful ways for children to contribute every day.
·      Consciously choose to see the best in others and circumstances.”
 
Let us all try to see the best in others and in our present circumstances. Thank you for your support of all in the Villa community. Take good care of yourselves.
 
Margo S. O’Neill, M.Ed.
Head of School
 
If you did not receive the email with the breakdown of tuition information by level - please reach out to our CFO - Jill Zimmerman. Her email is jzimmerman@villamontessori.com
 

 

Update 3.17.20

We hope you are all staying well. As you know, Arizona schools have been mandated to remain closed until at least March 27.

Teachers have been working diligently on preparing for our students to continue learning at home. We are looking at this week as a bit of a transition week, so information on general types of learning opportunities will be sent home by teachers. Next week we will be adding some more formal lessons and assignments. Should the mandatory school closure remain in effect longer than this initial date of March 27, we will continue providing those things.

They say the more we can create predictability for our children and ourselves, the better off we will all be.  There’s no question that it’s hard to stay focused when there’s not a rhythm or a plan. We believe it would be helpful to create a set schedule for your child to complete school assignments.

If your child does not have access to the internet, access to a computer or tablet, or has other obstacles to being able to access education from home, please let his or her teacher know. Accommodations will be made to address this.

Here is something I found comforting that was posted on Instagram and written by Kitty O’Meara:

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

 And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

 And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they been healed.”

I would also like to share a resource sent by a parent that may be helpful to your family during this time of uncertainty. Calm.com/take-a-deep-breath is offering free resources.

Please be sure to check your email daily for updates from the school as well as for information from your child’s teacher.

Please take good care of yourselves.

Sincerely,

Margo S. O’Neill, M.Ed.

Head of School

 

 

UPDATE 3.13.20

We are writing to share the latest information regarding the COVID-19 virus, and our current plan for addressing this ever-changing health concern. 

The Board of Directors for Villa Montessori held an emergency meeting today to discuss the current Coronavirus pandemic, and to determine how to move forward in the short term.  The Board approved a motion to close the school for the week of March 16-20, in an effort to take proactive measures to help contain the spread of this virus.  While difficult, we believe this decision is in alignment with Villa’s core values and supports our commitment to the greater good of the community.  We want to assure you that this is not a decision we have made lightly or without considerable thought and consideration.  We recognize and understand the impact this will have on our families and staff, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

Up to this point, we have followed the guidance of the medical experts at our local and state health departments in our approach to responding to the community health crisis.  We believe that the decision to close the school is the proper and prudent course of action at this time.  We will be reevaluating this decision on a weekly basis, with input from local and national officials and Board guidance.  We will be communicating with you regularly about these plans.  Please make sure you are reading all communications from Villa, and update your contact information with us as needed.

Since the school offices will be closed, if you have questions or concerns, please send them via email to Barbi Smith at bsmith@villamontessori.com, and Barbi will be directing all communication to the appropriate person where possible. Also, calls to the main office will be forwarded to our school receptionist Marilyn Likens.

Next week, we will be working on developing alternative methods of delivering instruction, in the event that the closure extends further.  This may be accomplished through providing paper copies of learning materials and some technology based solutions for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade.  We can also provide suggestions for continued learning for infant through Primary students.  While these alternatives do not replace the learning that is experienced in the classrooms, they provide a continuity of educational instruction.

Also next week, we will have a vendor performing a “Clorox 360” cleaning in all school buildings, which will help us ensure the safety and cleanliness of the classrooms prior to students and staff returning.

UPCOMING TRIPS FOR ELEMENTARY II AND MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS

We are continuing to monitor the advice from both state health agencies and our trip partners, and will make determinations about continuing or cancelling any scheduled trips as the dates for such trips get closer.  Should we determine that cancellation of a trip is necessary, we will work with the related camps and vendors on the possibility of refunds for the school and for families.

TUITION AND FEES

As this is a developing situation, we need some time to determine the impact on each of our programs, and how we can work with our families on refunds or reimbursements where we are able.  We will be sending out additional information on this as soon as we have made those determinations based on a financial analysis.

SUMMER PROGRAM REGISTRATION
We were scheduled to send out the information related to Villa’s Summer 2020 programs on Monday, March 16th, however due to the school closure, there will be a slight delay in getting this information to you.  Please keep an eye out for separate communication on this topic.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR YOU

azhealth.govazed.govcdc.govwho.int

Thank you for your support and patience as we navigate these unchartered waters together.  The Board is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, and we will keep you posted. Stay well and we look forward to seeing everyone back at school soon.

 

3.12.20

Villa Montessori School is monitoring the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation carefully and taking proactive and prudent measures to try to ensure the health and safety of every member of our community in accordance with the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, and other health officials. The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and families is our priority.

As of right now, we WILL BE OPEN on Monday, March 16th, and the school is planning to operate normally. We are in close communication with Maricopa County Department of Public Health, DHS, and the Department of Ed – all of which are NOT recommending closure at this time. Should that change we will notify you immediately. 

Recommendations put forth by various government agencies may change based on new information regarding the spread of COVID-19. This page will provide timely updates specific to the School’s response and planning efforts.