Health and Safety – Covid-19

July 23 – Face Coverings

July 22, 2020: Covid-19 Handbook

Sunstone COVID Commitment Form

Education Models for 2020-21

Hybrid Model July 23 Presentation

Home Learning July 10 Presentation

July 27th Toddler and Children’s House Update

Hybrid Model Overview_Feb_2021

Summer Programs at Sunstone

May 5, 2020

Please fill out a short survey to help us provide summer care to as many families as possible. 

Hello Sunstone Families!

We are preparing to reopen our facility for this summer, 2020, following the state requirements for Emergency Childcare for Essential Workers. Under these requirements we are able to offer summer care at every program level, however we are limited in capacity due to the social distancing guidelines provided by the state.

We are hoping to have enough space for every family that would like to have care at Sunstone this summer. We are mandated, however, to prioritize summer enrollment based on the need of families with essential care workers in their household. To that end we are asking every family to please fill out the short survey following this announcement.

Nuts and Bolts of Summer Care at Sunstone:

  • We anticipate opening our summer care programs on July 6th. This date is yet to be set in stone at the state level so please know this may change.
  • We anticipate offering 7 weeks of care this summer ending on August 22nd.
  • Hours of operation will be M-F, 8:30am-4:30pm
  • State guidelines mandate that the childcare groups be consistent throughout the entire summer. This means that the same staff and students will be together in their collective small groups without crossover among the groups.
  • The state is still defining the group sizes, however, currently we expect to provide:

2 Toddler programs at 6 children each
3-4 Children’s House programs at 10 children each
3 Elementary programs at 10 children each

  • Families can register for 5, 6, or 7 weeks of care this summer. 
  • Priority enrollment will be given to families with essential care workers in their households.
  • Our most important priority is the health and safety of our students and staff. To this end we are required to and will adhere to the Oregon Health Authority Emergency Childcare Health and Safety Guidelines including small group sizes, practicing as much social distancing as possible, both indoors and outdoors, daily cleaning and sanitizing procedures, and health protocols such as temperature taking before entering the classrooms and rigorous handwashing throughout the day.

We are fortunate to have a big beautiful campus with lots of space inside and out. We have large indoor classrooms, outdoor classroom environments, a huge front lawn, the blacktop, playground, soccer field, and all of our gardens. All of this space allows us the opportunity to provide for families in need of summer care.

Please take a moment to fill out the short survey (see Tuesday Communications) and let us know if you are interested (or not) in summer care at Sunstone so that we can provide for as many families as possible. Thank you!

Cathy Newman

Head of School


From the Head of School

April 14, 2020

Dear Sunstone parents,

This week, Francesca and I are starting to call all Toddler, Children’s House and Elementary families, respectively. We appreciate hearing your feedback, learning how you are managing this big change and how we can best support you. It has been so wonderful connecting with you!

Next Monday, April 20, we will be launching Google Classrooms for all classrooms. This should be a helpful tool that offers a central location for all of your child’s work options as well as resources for you. We will be following best practices to ensure your privacy. To that end we will assign each student a Google account within our Sunstone domain. Parents will be able to access their child’s classroom using this account. Please look for an invitation email Monday morning that will provide you with all of the details and instructions for getting started with your new Google Classrooms.

A big thank you to the families who donated their discount back to Sunstone-~$7,000 in donations, thank you! Also, thank you to all of you who have offered warm, supportive words; it is an honor and pleasure to be in a community with an amazing group of warm, caring, compassionate people.

In my conversations with you, I’ve received a number of questions that pertain to the larger Sunstone community. Many of you are probably quietly asking these same questions to yourself so I would like to share what I know with all of you now.

Will the summer program run starting at the end of June or July? At this time, we don’t know if it will run at all. We will not be offering any distance learning during the summer program time so we would not expect any payments if we are not able to run our summer program on campus.

Will we extend this school year into summer because of the closure? Most likely we will not offer an extension of this school year beyond our original end date of June 12. We will continue to offer distance learning through June 12, and starting Monday, April 20, we will transition our distance learning to the Google Classrooms platform in an effort to provide a more comprehensive and supportive experience.

What will happen with PFCs for the 2020-21 school year? Will we be obligated to pay for 50% of the tuition as of June 2020? Is SMS postponing that? At this time, no decision has been made; the board needs to discuss this issue and I will keep everyone apprised of this situation as it evolves.

Will there be more aid made available? Someone mentioned that they currently have a job, but what if they were laid off in the future, would they have the opportunity to apply for aid? Currently we are assessing all requests for aid and once we offer aid to these families, we will be able to determine what we are able to offer in the future, if anything.

What will happen with Graduation? We are currently discussing our options and I will be sure to communicate with everyone once decisions can be made.

What will happen with the graduate trip? At this point we have not decided what, if anything, can or will happen with the graduate trip. We understand how much this event means to the graduates and how hard they have worked to plan and raise the funds for it. We are still discussing this.

What will happen with the Shakespeare performance of Romeo and Juliet? Again, we are currently discussing our options.

Will we have a Gala? How will Sunstone be impacted without the fundraising? We have a few ideas and hope to come together with a celebration once we are able to.

I wish I had more definitive answers to all of these questions, but, as you know, these are times with many unknowns. We are not able to plan definitively for future events until we know what the future holds. We are being thoughtful about you (the parents) and the students, as well as the staff, and trying to find a balance in these uncertain times while striving to maintain a healthy thriving school community.

As always, I welcome your questions and ideas.

Be well, take care of each other, and yourself.



There is a lot of conversation lately about caregivers feeling frustrated with child behavior. That’s understandable. Everyone is going through a huge transition right now, and your children have been experiencing the same kind of collective trauma that the adults are experiencing. However, children don’t always have the tools, experience, or self-awareness to express what they are truly feeling inside, and these uncomfortable feelings can manifest as negative or undesirable behaviors.

We offer you this article by Letty Rising and Elizabeth Slade, AMI Elementary diploma holders, to help navigate the negative behaviors in your children that might be heightened right now due to the huge transition your they are experiencing. This article is aimed at the Elementary child but good information for all parents. Click above to read.

From The Board and Head of School

April 7, 2020

Dear Children’s House and Elementary Families,

The world is facing challenges that are still new and that can feel overwhelming. Please be assured that everyone at Sunstone is working hard to ensure that we hold true to the Montessori mission as we move from educating in the classroom to educating online. Although we cannot be on our beautiful campus at this time, we are committed to maintaining our community and providing Montessori-themed learning.

To that end, you should be receiving daily emails from the Guides, as well as videos, and scheduled Zoom meetings. This online learning is new and challenging for us as educators (and for you as the recipients), but please know that we are dedicated to making this work, we are listening to your needs and your feedback, and will continue to evaluate and evolve our online platforms as we learn together. Our goal is to keep the children’s love and passion for learning alive and well, and, as always, we continue to welcome your input on how it is working for your family.

Thank you to those of you who have shared your concern for the staff at Sunstone; we will be applying for the Payroll Protection Program, and thank you all for your patience as Sunstone’s Board of Trustees works through how to best take care of our community and Sunstone Montessori. These are extraordinary times, and as we work to keep the organization stable and financially sound, we know that many of you are dealing with emotional and financial stresses. The Board cannot work to provide for Sunstone as an organization without considering how our families are faring. Paramount to the organization’s mission is supporting our community. Therefore, Cathy and the Board have decided the following:

We will credit all families for before and aftercare in April and May. In addition, we are dedicating $100,000 from Sunstone’s reserves to help support families during this time. From this fund, we are offering all Children’s House and Elementary families a per child discount of $160/month. The remaining money in the fund is available for families needing further tuition assistance through Sunstone’s financial aid application. Please contact Dee or Cathy for the application.

Rest assured that the board has done its due diligence in determining that this money will best be used at this time to help our families weather this tough situation, but please note that it means this money will not be available for future endeavors. For this reason, we ask that you please let us know if you are able and willing to donate your discount back to Sunstone so that we can provide more assistance to other families.

We are hopeful that these offerings will allow us to stay together as a whole community; a community committed to Sunstone and dedicated to educating our children in partnership. In our hearts, we believe that we are all in this together!

May you and your families stay well during these trying times, and always.

Kind regards,

Terry Campos
Board President

Cathy Newman
Head of School


From Cathy – March 31, 2020

Feedback Welcome!

Good afternoon parents,

As we enter into this first full week of online work I want to ask that you please reach out to your child(ren)’s Guide(s) to share feedback of what you are receiving. The Guides and Admin have been working to create online education that we believe will best support your child’s needs, within a Montessori framework. Since this is all new to us, we would like to hear from you about what is working and what isn’t working. Your feedback will be crucial to our success!

I’m also here to receive your general questions and concerns, but please be sure to include your Guide with all classroom related inquiries.

Thank you all and hang in there!

Kind regards,

Cathy Newman

Head of School

From Cathy – March 21, 2020

The Building is Closed, School is Open

Dear Families and Staff,

First, I’d like to thank all of you for the thoughtful, helpful, kind emails I have received from so many of you. It is so important that we are here for each other in times like these.

I hope conferences provide time to connect with your Guides to hear about your child’s life at school and to learn more about what support they will receive during our closure in April, and possibly beyond.

The Board of Trustees and Administration have been working on how to best proceed. At this time the buildings are closed but our school is still open.

I will do my best to keep you up to date on our decisions, and so at this time, I’d like to inform you of our plan for closure through the end of April.

Although our doors are closed, our school is still open and we are committed to continued education and support of our students. We need a little time to pull this together. The Guides are working now to make new plans, resources, and other options like video lessons available to students in April. In April, we will continue to charge tuition; however, we will not be charging before and aftercare fees for those who pay monthly.

These are difficult times, times where we need to be here to support our entire Sunstone community as best as we can. We will all need to work together so Sunstone will ready to receive our students, staff, and families when we open our doors again.

Thank you.

Kind regards,

Cathy Newman

Head of School

From Cathy – March 18

Extended Closure

Good morning families,

I’m sure that all of you have already heard that schools will be closed until April 28. We will continue to follow the Governor’s recommendations to stay closed until then, for the safety of our families and staff.

I will be sending out more information as soon as I am able to gather all the information from PPS, and our insurance companies. As of now, I am making every effort to keep all of our staff employed so that when we reopen we have all these wonderful people ready to receive your children.

Please know that I am working hard to find the best balance to keep everyone safe, and also provide what we can to all of you.

If you have questions, please let me know, and I’ll do the best I can to answer based on what information I have. For those of you who have emailed me, thank you for your patience as I work through answering all of them.

Thank you all for your support and understanding.

Kindest regards,

Cathy Newman

Head of School

From Cathy – March 13

COVID-19 Update

Good morning Sunstone families,
Sunstone will be closed starting Monday, March 16 and will remain closed until April 3, and, as of now, will return to school on April 6.  I will keep you updated if this changes.
Some ideas of what you can say to your children:
  • School might be closed for a while because of a virus in the world right now that can easily spread from one person to another. Lots of schools are closed until there are fewer of these germs around.
  • Even if we catch the virus, we don’t need to worry because we will feel better soon, and our family will be fine.
  • We have had colds and viruses before, and we know what to do when that happens, rest, fluids, healthy food, medicine, (etc., whatever your family does).
  • There’s a good chance we won’t get sick if we wash our hands, avoid touching our faces, and getting too close to people who are coughing or sneezing.
  • If we accidentally do touch our faces, we will wash our hands with soap right away. Parents, too! We will wash our fingers, the backs of our hands, and our wrists, too.
  • If you can’t be at school to do your work for a while, we can still practice some of the things you have been doing!
  • Question for you: If the school has to be closed for a while, what things will you miss most? Listen, acknowledge, reassure.
 The Guides and Admin have been working on a Learning From Home Handbook. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE HANDBOOK.  In addition to using this handbook, on school days, your child(ren)’s Guide will be sending out daily emails with other suggestions/communications.
Your child(ren)’s Guide will be in touch with you to schedule conferences sometime during this closure, either via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or by phone.  In addition, you will be receiving a conference report from Francesca.
Thank you to all of you who have already emailed me with lovely words of kindness and support.  It is times like these that we have to be here for each other, and support our precious community.  As always, I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have, and want to be of service to you, as best as I can.
Please take care of yourselves, and your loved ones, try to stay home as much as possible so that we make a positive impact on our Portland community.
Cathy Newman,
Head of School

From Cathy – March 12, 2020

Gala Postponed-School Closure Status

Good morning families,
Due to Governor Brown’s ban and PPS’s announcements regarding this large events ban, we are postponing our Gala.  At this time, we can’t tell you when we will hold this event, but we are hopeful that we will find time for a party, a celebration of our wonderful Sunstone community.
Many of you have asked me about school closure.  At this time, I am looking to PPS and the Oregon Health Authority to make that decision.  I want to be in sync with what they are doing so that we are making a concerted effort to flatten the curve.  If you are concerned about sending your child to school, please, by all means, keep them home.
Thank you all for your support and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
Kindest regards,
Cathy Newman
Head of School

From Cathy –  March 9, 2020

Covoid-19 Update

Dear families,

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve, we are continuing to closely monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oregon Health Authority and will continue to rely on their recommendations and expertise to inform our decisions.

On Sunday, March 8, this recommendation containing interim public health recommendations for the response to COVID-19 cases in Oregon schools was issued by the Oregon Health Authority. The recommendation in the document is as follows:

At this time, OHA recommends against closing schools and campuses where no cases of COVID-19 are present. OHA also recommends that schools, colleges and universities consider all alternatives before closing a school, college or university in the event that a COVID-19 case is detected among students or staff. Schools, colleges and universities should make decisions in concert with public health authorities, based on real-time information about COVID-19 and its transmission and using public health best practices. Meanwhile, schools, colleges and universities should emphasize the simple things people can do to keep healthy and remind students, faculty and staff who are ill not to attend school and remain at home. OHA will continue to reassess this recommendation as the outbreak continues.

At this time Sunstone does not plan to close, and we remind all families to please keep your children at home if they are experiencing cold symptoms. Our staff is doing the same.

The health and safety of our community continue to remain our highest priority. I wanted to share some of the actions Sunstone is taking to help protect everyone here at Sunstone.

  • We have increased the frequency and rigor of cleaning and sanitization in all of our environments.
  • We have doubled the frequency of our janitorial services. A cleaning crew now comes 4 days per week, Tuesday-Friday.
  • We have created and implemented a daily disinfecting plan around the campus including:
    • Wipe down/disinfect/sanitize all toilet seats and flush handles
    • Wipe down/disinfect/sanitize all light switches
    • Wipe down/disinfect/sanitize all doorknobs
    • Wipe down/disinfect/sanitize bathroom partitions
    • Wipe down/disinfect/sanitize all sink handles and soap/paper towel dispensers
    • Wipe down/disinfect/sanitize all phones
    • Wipe down/disinfect/sanitize all railings/bannisters
    • Take out trash/recycling/compost
    • Spot clean doors and walls
    • Wipe down/disinfect/sanitize kitchen sinks and counters
  • Classroom staff has been asked to be even more vigilant in their daily classroom cleaning including disinfecting all tables, surfaces, fixtures, and doorknobs. In addition, we are asking every staff member to remind and reinforce the proper handwashing technique and practices. Children are asked to sneeze/cough into a tissue or their elbow and directed to wash their hands immediately after.

As circumstances develop, we will continue to make our decisions with the health and well-being of our community as our top priority. Thank you for your cooperation and flexibility as we move through this together.

Cathy Newman,

Head of School