Students at the Montessori School of the Desert dance around inside their classroom.
The childcare facility is an essential service, and never had to move to an online platform.
“We reopened on May 4th, and so far we’ve had the same children come. Nobody’s gotten sick. We do have safety procedures and health checks that we do everyday,” said Cecilia Payne, the director.
The staff teaches small, isolated classes of students who range from preschool to sixth grade, and says in-person education has been a benefit to their students.
They also have after school programs available for families of essential workers.
“It’s not just the academics but the socialization that they’re getting as well,” said Payne.
The school implements temperature checks and sanitation, and the program could be a model for other Coachella Valley campuses as Riverside County allows schools to apply for an in-person waiver.
The wavier is only available for transitional kindergarten through sixth grade, but would bring students back to campus.
Palm Valley School in Rancho Mirage has already sent in their application, but says if approved, parents can still choose what option is best for their family.
“First and foremost is health and safety and well being of all of our families. And then it’s about options. Creating options for those who want to be in person, for those who want to remain at home, or a variation there of,” said Dr. Steven Sherman, the head of the school.
Dr. Sherman also says their 40 acre private campus allows them to spread students out.
“We also have very small classes which enables us to keep our kids safe, and yet have them in person,” said Sherman.
All local public school districts, which have a much larger student body, have not yet filled out the waiver.
In a statement, the Dr Gandera, the superintendent of Coachella Valley Unified, says, “At this time, we are still reviewing the waiver process and determining the needs of our district. Our rigorous distance learning model will continue for now.”
Not all applications that are submitted will be accepted, but Palm Valley staff says their goal is to be prepared.
“We recognize this is very fluid. You never know what is going to be happen. We have to be smart enough and agile and nimble enough to respond to increasing numbers and changing mandates from the health officials,” said Dr. Sherman.
Palm Valley School expects to hear back within the next two weeks.