We all play a role in protecting our Heartwood community from COVID-19. Everyone has different levels of risk tolerance. Please consider how your family’s interactions outside of school could potentially affect other Heartwood families when our unvaccinated children interact. 

Thank you for taking the time to review the Heartwood Montessori COVID Plan about prevention, illness, testing, quarantine, and other important considerations. We are stronger together!

The COVID plan may change depending on emerging science, levels of community spread, expansion of vaccines to younger children, and other factors that could steer the course of the pandemic. We will communicate any updates to you in a timely and transparent manner.

The strategies are not foolproof, but layered together, they can offer our community a high level of protection, as demonstrated by Heartwood’s remarkable lack of outbreaks last year. Below are some highlights from the plan. 


At this time, well-fitting masks are optional indoors for everyone at Heartwood except when the level of community spread is considered “high,” when case counts at Heartwood exceed five in the school, and when individuals are recovering from other personal illness. Children will need several masks (labeled with their name) so that they have a clean one available at all times. HMS will maintain a supply of back-ups, but families should plan to provide their own for daily use. 

If keeping an adequate supply of clean masks for your child poses a financial hardship, please contact the Director.

The best mask is the one they’ll wear! It may be helpful to try a few different styles and brands to see which have the best fit and are the most comfortable for your child. Masks should be made from at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric and fit snugly with no gaps on the sides, top, or bottom. Adjustable loops and nose wires can help. Choose designs that are made for children’s smaller faces (fun patterns and colors can help, too).

Many sites are sold out or experiencing shipping delays at this time, but it’s worth checking back or signing up for restock alerts. For more tips on choosing a mask, encouraging your child to wear them, and more, refer to Dear Pandemic: What Are the Best Masks for Kids?

Illness & quarantine

Staying home when sick is essential to keeping COVID-19 and other infectious diseases out of Heartwood. It is also essential for people who are not fully vaccinated to quarantine for 14 days after an exposure to someone with COVID-19. 

Please screen your child for symptoms prior to leaving for school.  If the staff determines that a child is too ill to remain at school, the staff will either refuse admittance, or call the family and request that the child be removed from the facility.

If your child has ONE OR MORE of the more common symptoms:

  • New cough/cough that gets worse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell

or TWO OR MORE of the less common symptoms:

  • Congestion/runny nose
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or vomiting (note that children experiencing either should not be sent to school, regardless of COVID status).

or ANY symptoms during a quarantine period, your child and all siblings must stay home until the ill child receives a negative testfor COVID AND clearance to return to school from a doctor free of other communicable diseases (RSV, strep throat, etc.) If no negative  test AND clearance is obtained, the child must stay home until 10 days after the symptoms began. After 10 days, they may return if they are well enough to participate in daily activities (symptoms have improved, no fever without use of fever-reducing medicine). 

Without a negative test or clearance for the ill child, siblings in the same household will need to quarantine for 14 days past their last contact with the ill child during their 10-day infectious period. This will mean staying home for a total 24 days if the ill sibling was not tested/cleared.

If your child has only one less common symptom (the bulleted second list), please evaluate at home to determine if your child is well enough to participate in normal daily activities.

Refer also to the MDH: Recommended COVID-19 Decision Tree for People in Schools, Youth, and Child Care Programs.


Testing is one of the best tools for stopping COVID in its tracks. There are several testing options available, including community sites, mail-in molecular/PCR tests, pharmacy drive-ups, and tests provided through healthcare systems. Many COVID-19 test sites are free, but a healthcare provider may charge for their time. If your child is age 4 or old, you can have free, highly-accurate, mail-in PCR tests delivered to your home. Visit Test and Home for details.

Some tests, like over-the-counter rapid antigen tests (BinaxNOW, Ellume) sold at retail pharmacies and drive-through rapid antigen tests, may not be adequate for returning to school when a child is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. While positive results from antigen tests are considered fairly accurate, a negative antigen test result should be confirmed with a PCR test when possible. Many antigen tests come in packs of two and recommend repeating the test 36 hours later if the first test is negative. If a family is relying only on antigen testing, we strongly recommend that they follow this two-test protocol and to continue keeping the child home between antigen tests. Visit MDH: Types of COVID-19 Tests for more information.

A person should seek a COVID test:

  • Whenever they have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If they have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for or has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If they have recently returned from domestic travel and are unvaccinated, or international travel, whether or not they are vaccinated.
  • After they have attended a large gathering or were in a crowded setting, indoors or out.
  • If they are not vaccinated and are participating in extracurricular activities, like sports.
  • Have been advised to get tested by a healthcare provider or health department.

Visit the MDH: Testing recommendations chart for a handy quick reference. There’s also good advice here: Dear Pandemic: Do you have practical advice for families around testing for COVID-19?.

In the event of a positive COVID-19 test, families must notify Heartwood immediately so that contact tracing can begin and quarantine periods can be started. All personal information will be protected — positive cases will not be identified to other HMS families or staff.