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

Father’s Day 2020

On Mother’s Day, I wrote about the 6 important women in my life. The life expectancy for men was much shorter when I was a child. Consequently, I only knew my maternal grandfather and my own dad. After I married Jerry, I had the good fortune to have a third father figure in my life. 

I adored my granddaddy and when we went to visit my grandparents, it was not unusual for me to ask if I could spend the night with them. I would use one of granddaddy’s undershirts for a gown and sleep on a pallet of blankets on the floor. What I did not know until I was an adult, was that he was an alcoholic. Just months after the birth of his first two grandchildren, he admitted himself to a hospital and never drank again. It was important to him to be his best self for his grandchildren. The love he had for my grandmother and for the rest of his family was without measure. I learned from him that loving others can be the first step in learning to love one’s self. 

My dad had to grow up faster than most of his peers. My paternal grandfather was killed in a car accident when dad was 15. Dad continued to stay in school, but worked during his free hours to help support his mother and younger sister. Then when the war began, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Instead of developing an addiction to cigarettes, he sold the ones issued to him so he could increase the amount of money he could send home to his mother. I learned from him that putting others’ needs first can strengthen a person, especially when adversity occurs. 

In his youth and throughout his entire life, Dad had a love for nature and included all three of his children in some of his hunting and fishing trips. He had a keen eye and could see things that others would overlook. And so from him I also learned that being a good steward of God’s creation helps insure that the next generation will have the opportunity to marvel at one of the greatest examples of God’s power. 

I only knew my father-in-law for 8 years and yet when I met him, it was clear that he dearly loved his wife. My hope was that Jerry would love me in the same way. After almost 49 years of marriage, I can say with confidence that having good role models can positively influence our relationships with others. 

And so what have you learned from the fathers in your life? And what are your children learning from you? I hope that you will take a few minutes today to reflect on both questions. And, if you have not already done so, find a way to fully express your love to those men who unselfishly give of themselves to you. 

Happy Father’s Day. 

Cindy La Porte
Head of School

Our Commitment to Social Justice

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School

As a faculty, we want you to know that, although this is a never ending journey, we are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our dedication to social justice and peace among all people is part of our Episcopal identity. It can be seen in our curriculum, service projects, and chapel themes where we nurture respect and love for the dignity of every human being.

As educators, we want to actively fight racism. The faculty is doing a book study together to start conversations that can sometimes be uncomfortable. We know that we have to examine our own assumptions and beliefs, and work to develop our personal knowledge and growth.

We commit to every child’s experience being seen and heard. We will continue to develop curriculum where differences in our bodies, families, and lives are acknowledged and celebrated. Research tells us young children do notice differences and if we are silent, we only communicate that there is something wrong with talking about them. As children start to recognize that differences are a strength, we will help them reflect on inequality and what we can do to work towards justice.

We commit to using literature for sharing and telling the stories of individuals because we know that increases moral growth, intellectual curiosity, and promotes respect and understanding. Having a diverse library will provide students with both mirrors and windows into the world. Brenna, our Red Room teacher and our new Librarian this year, has already added 20 new titles that include people of color, and she is dedicated to finding more titles that will help children become thoughtful and brave.

Ms. Mo, our chaplain, is committed to a new Chapel theme this year: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are going to use common language about the head, heart, and hands of each child. Our heads are used for thinking and learning, our hearts for loving and showing compassion, and our hands for doing and serving God’s people.

The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” will be the foundation of our Chapel lessons this year with a heavy emphasis on celebrating diversity, and the ways we can serve and stand up to the injustice in our community. UT’s adage states that “what happens here changes the world,” and we firmly believe that it’s our littlest learners who can make that happen.

This upcoming year we will be looking for even more ways to work on social justice as a school family. Below are some resources that may be helpful to your family in addressing these issues at home.

Please share any resources you have. Let’s learn together!

May Message

It was almost exactly twenty years ago that the Board of Trustees hired me to head this sweet little school. I recall my first visit to it and the sense I had of what a wonderful home away from home it was for young children. And it’s still true today. We have worked hard to teach our students not just the academic things that one would expect a school to teach, but also the things that are more difficult to write into a traditional lesson plan. Love your neighbor. Walk away. Keep your friend’s feelings and body safe. Share. Use kind and gentle hands and words. Just try. Be brave. God loves you. And honestly, remembering these words may make the biggest difference in your child’s life.

In Now Is the Time, 170 Ways to Seize the Moment Patrick Lindsay writes, “We each have a unique album of personal memories: mental snapshots of the key moments in our lives. Every so often, look through your album. Relive them. Learn from them.” When I open the albums for the past twenty school years, I will see the faces of a thousand students and the faces of their parents and of our Faculty. But my focus will be on the interlocking hands and on the commitment of each to do what was best for this community of faith known as All Saints’ Episcopal Day School.

Several weeks ago we listened to the weather report and afterwards secured things in the yard. Then we sat outside on the porch and watched, as a severe thunderstorm grew closer. When the blowing rain began to shower us, we opened the door to the house and sat just inside, leaving the door ajar. Sometimes, in the midst of turmoil, it is best to be patient and give the brain an opportunity to clear before one completely retreats; for in the middle of confusion we often find meaning.

Just when I think that I am in control of my life, I witness the power of God and know that it is good to rest in the arms of the one who not only sends the rain to the parched earth, but also sends showers of blessings to us all. I am grateful that He has the power and wisdom to always provide me with new opportunities and endless possibilities. And yet as I look forward to the future, I am saddened that our time together is almost over. I give thanks to God for having the ability to bring together the perfect combination of people for All Saints’ Episcopal Day School this year and every year. We may never completely know why He chose us, but we can be certain that God believed that each of us was the answer to the prayer of someone else who was here also.

My prayer this month is what it has been every May. I pray that regardless of where you may be next year, you will look to God for guidance in your own life and in the lives of your children. And I pray that when we find ourselves separated from those we love or the plans we’ve made, that we’ll keep the faith that even if we don’t know why, God does.

Goodbye, so long, farewell my friends.

Cindy La Porte, Head of School
STRONG MINDS. HEALTHY HEARTS. FULL SPIRITS.

Parents – Thanks for the beautiful flowers!