Our Head’s Statement on COVID-19 & Beginning the School Year Safely

Dear Families,

I hope you and your family are well. We are missing you and looking forward to the start of school. As we prepare our hearts and minds for this new adventure, I thought it was important to reach out to you. I would like to speak with you directly about your questions and concerns. I will be calling each family. Please sign up here if you would prefer a scheduled time for a check-in phone call.

I know it is an uncertain time and we’ve all been affected, but I draw comfort from knowing that we are up to the challenge. The teachers and I have been attending a variety of Southwest Association of Episcopal Schools (SAES) and National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) webinars, and reading current Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Texas Education Agency (TEA) guidelines, to stay up to date on the science that informs our procedures and policies.

What we know now is that children are less likely to get Covid-19, and of the smaller number that contract the virus, few have severe symptoms or are hospitalized. It is also encouraging that the American Pediatric Association has recommended that children go back to school, when safety precautions have been met, and they are emphasizing the importance of mental health and social and emotional needs for child development.

https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

While children are less likely to transmit Covid-19 between each other, there is a higher risk of transmission between children and adults. Since we do not know who in our community is high risk or has a high risk individual in their household, it is imperative to implement the best practices possible to ensure the safety of our students, teachers, and families. We know we can not avoid all risk, but we can make changes using current science to prevent the virus from entering the school, and mitigate spread from any possible case. I want to share those changes with you.


Update on Health and Safety Procedures 

Daily health screening and temperature checks for all staff and students:

  • Staggered pick up and drop off times outside of the building at our two carpool areas
  • Greeting you at your vehicle where you are given a sanitized touchless thermometer to take your child’s temperature & check in about any changes in your child’s health
  • Hand sanitizing for all students before entering the building

Increased cleaning and disinfecting with CDC approved methods & cleaners:

  • Daily use of an electrostatic sprayer which is shown to be most effective in sanitizing every surface https://victorycomplete.com/#applications 
  • UV light used daily to disinfect all classrooms
  • Three month supply on hand of disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and cleaning products 

Strict sanitation and handwashing routines throughout the school:

  • Hand washing will be done immediately on arrival, before and after each activity, and as always before and after eating, after using the bathroom, and after going outside
  • Sinks and toilets will be used by one child at a time 
  • Toilet lids will be closed before flushing to avoid germs spread by water spray

More ventilation and cleaner air:

  • Air purifier will be use to clean the air https://www.nuwaveairpurifier.com 
  • Windows will be opened for air circulation
  • More time will be spent outside in both free play and structured learning activities

Increased spacing, small groups and limited mixing between classes:

  • Class size is limited this year 
  • Yellow room will be used to split classes larger than 11 children into smaller groups 
  • Early Birds and Stay & Play (before and after school care) and Chapel, will use the cohort model, where no more than 22 possible children will be mixed, with Red and Blue room students in one cohort and Green and Orange room students in another
  • Students enter and exit from the playground classroom doors to limit shared use of the hallway and Orange room uses the double red doors
  • Social distancing taught in the first week and encouraged as much as possible
  • Separate classroom materials for each child 

Masks and face shields:

  • All teachers, staff members, and adults on campus will wear a mask 
  • Masks are not required for students and may not be developmentally appropriate for young children
  • Masks are encouraged for children who are comfortable with wearing and handling it
  • Child-friendly face shields will be provided for each student, for small group times and other activities as needed, cleaned daily and kept in cubbies

Limited access to school building by adults:

  • Non-staff adults will only be permitted inside the building on an as-needed basis with a health screening and temperature check
  • All events, meetings, and conferences through December will be virtual, or limited to one family at a time with social distancing, masks for adults, and cleaning and disinfecting between

School calendar allows for emergency shut downs:

  • Added 38 flexible make-up schools days to the calendar to use as needed
  • On-line learning will be used to maintain connection with students, knowing that young children learn best with a hands-on, play based curriculum that we can provide during make-up days 

Suspected or Lab-Confirmed Covid-19 Protocols

Children, teachers and staff will be sent home with suspected Covid symptoms:

  • A fever greater than or equal to 100 degrees or 
  • Any of the following unusual symptoms: loss of taste or smell, cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, headache, chills, sore throat, shaking/excessive shivering, muscle aches and pains, and diarrhea

If diagnosed with Covid-19, the person may come back to school when ALL three of the following conditions have been met:

  1. Three days or 72 hours have passed since the recovery with no fever reducing medication
  2. Improvement in symptoms
  3. 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

If the person has symptoms, but does not get evaluated by a medical professional or tested for Covid-19, they may not return to school until completing the three-step process listed above.

If the individual has symptoms, but wants to return to school before completing the stay at home period, they must do ONE of the following:

  • Get a medical professional’s note that clears them to return based on an alternative diagnosis 
  • Receive two negative Covid-19 tests at least 24 hours apart

If a child has symptoms at school, they will be separated and moved to an isolation area and:

  • Child’s temperature will be taken immediately
  • A tent in the Head of School’s office will serve as an isolation area while waiting to be picked up by a parent
  • Any school area used by that child will be cleaned as quickly as possible

Parents will be notified when:

  • Someone in close contact at school develops symptoms
  • There is a lab-confirmed case anywhere in the school

Parents must:

  • Report close contact with any individual who has lab-confirmed Covid-19 and have the child stay home for the 14 day incubation period
  • Ensure that they don’t send children to school with Covid-19 symptoms listed above

Thank you for both your patience and bravery during this unprecedented time. We love our small, tight-knit school family.  We know that you will help us to keep kids and teachers safe by following our new protocols and procedures, and being flexible when those have to change based on new information. None of us have been in this situation before and we will need to give each other grace, and be ready to adapt and learn as we go. The staff and I are encouraged by what we’ve learned so far, and excited to get back to work! I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Wishing you well,

Gigi Khalsa, Head of School