Families with young children are keeping administrators at Landmark Preschool in Westport busy this summer. With many neighboring city schools still working on their reopening plans for the new school year, Fairfield County has seen a rush of families moving to the area in the hopes of providing their children with a safer and more familiar preschool experience. “We have seen great interest in our program this summer - particularly from out-of-state families,” says Director Siobhan Powers. “These families are accustomed to high-quality preschool programs and appreciate the unique approach and dynamic introduction to academics that Landmark offers students.”
Kevin and Eva Audit recently moved to Westport with their daughter, who is a newly enrolled Landmark student. “When selecting a preschool, we were looking for a place that was prepared to adapt to the current world we live in all while still being able to provide a warm, nurturing environment for our daughter. We also wanted a school that had protocols in place for in-person, hybrid or at-home learning as we do not know what lies ahead,” Audit commented.
Since June, the school has enrolled 23 new students and continues to add students to the admission pipeline weekly. “Our families appreciate the careful planning for safety protocols that we have done in preparation for the return to the classroom, as well as the remote learning choice we are offering them,” states Powers.“ We are committed to providing in-classroom learning - as long as health recommendations allow - but If any family is uncomfortable with sending their child to school, we have invested in additional technology so that students can participate in classroom activities via Parallel Remote Learning from their home.”
Parallel remote learning allows students who remain home for any number of reasons to still participate in classes happening in real-time on campus through the use of classroom cameras and monitors. Students will have the opportunity to interact with their teachers and classmates. Teachers will schedule the best times for remote learners to join class online so they can enjoy their classmates and engage in authentic learning experiences. “The impression we got is that all the teachers and administrators are more than equipped to continue the high level of education for our children regardless of the situation. Everything from the daily schedule, the diversity of curriculum as well as the rooms presented as a very warm and welcoming environment gave us zero pause in selecting Landmark,” states Audit.
Regardless of the participation path, Landmark is focused on offering a positive and comprehensive learning experience and important student-teacher-class connection. Another step the school is taking to strengthen those connections is “looping” the Threes and Fours students this year. Last year’s Threes students will remain with their
same classmates and teachers as they move into the Fours program this year. Meanwhile, last year’s Fours teachers will loop down to the Threes and will stay with that group of students for this school year and next. “Numerous studies have shown that looping benefits both returning students and new students, and a recent survey of our families showed that there was strong support among our parents for this plan,” said Powers.
In their comprehensive Roadmap to Reopening plan, the school has carefully considered a number of factors when it comes to mitigating risk and safely delivering their program this year. Students will be kept in small cohorts, handwashing will be increased and ventilation improved. Following enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols will provide the safest possible environment for the Landmark school community. The school has hired additional cleaning crews and purchased disinfecting foggers. Faculty and staff will also be given specialized training in proper health and sanitation protocols prior to re-opening the school and every teacher will be provided a special COVID-19 sanitation kit for use in their classrooms. Additionally, teachers will be outfitted with clear face masks so that their young students won’t miss out on the visual cues that research has determined are an important learning tool for young children.
No matter which method of learning parents choose for their child, children at Landmark Preschool will engage in purposeful learning experiences that support their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. And their teachers - some of whom have been teaching preschoolers for over 20 years - cannot wait to be in the classroom again with them.