February Community Commitment

Our world’s current culture of caution dictates now more than ever that it is imperative we work together as a community. Whether we are ON or OFF campus, we are counting on everyone in our community to be mindful of their choices and adherence to the guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University, Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, State of Texas local health authorities, and the City of Austin

Each classroom’s community is a delicate ecosystem unto itself, and yet part of the greater whole of Athena. We ask that as you read the following you keep in mind all the human beings your choices are now affecting.

(Please review the Community Commitment, particularly the highlighted portions which have been updated recently)

We ask that you help us keep our community safe and healthy by committing to the following:

Spring Break
We ask that you use these helpful guidelines from the CDC while making plans for spring break.
 
A few things to remember:
  • Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.
  • If you do travel, please review the travel section of this document as well as the CDC recommendations for safer travel.
  • If you will be gathering with family or friends, keep your group size below 10 people and try to spend as much time as possible outdoors, socially distanced, and wearing a mask.
  • Be diligent with hand hygiene, washing your hands as frequently as possible, and using hand sanitizer when hand washing is not an option.
  • Please be prepared to quarantine and communicate with a member of the administration team about a plan for your return if you are planning to travel over spring break.

Travel 
Anytime you travel you take on a bit of unknown risk. If you travel by car, you have greater control over the risk of exposure to you than if you travel by plane and spend time in airports. If you spend time where you are going with people outside of those you live with, and you are not outside, or not wearing masks or staying six feet apart, then you need to quarantine for 10 days without testing or 7 days with a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later) before returning to school. Highlights on travel guidelines: 
  • All travel has inherent risks.
  • All non-essential travel is discouraged (but we understand using your “risk bank” during school holiday closures).
  • Traveling by car can provide greater control over your risk than flying.
  • We recommend you take gloves and masks into public restrooms and minimize touch.
  • Staying in places with individual, single unit ventilation is key, like a private house, rather than a hotel or apartment building. 
  • If your family will be traveling by plane anytime, or traveling to a known COVID-19 “hotspot,” you will need to plan to quarantine for 10 days without testing or 7 days with a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later) before returning to school.  Please alert our Administrative team so that we can let your child’s teaching team know.
  • If you will be traveling by car, staying at a vacation rental, and practicing the CDC guidelines of social distancing and not gathering in groups, we feel comfortable for you to return to school without a period of quarantine. If you are staying with family and gathering in groups where you are unable to socially distance, you will need to quarantine for 10 days without testing or 7 days with a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later) before returning to school. 

Defining Quarantine 
Quarantine means isolation from others and only leaving the house for essential needs. And it means that when you are around anyone not living with you, that you are outside, and either masked or more than six feet apart. It is essential that everyone involved agrees to the rules of engagement and conditions of quarantine, risk, and informed consent as we try to keep each other safe. Parents, guides, cleaning staff, everyone who sets foot on campus needs to agree to maintaining the agreed upon practices for quarantine and risk management. 

Prior to Your First Day of School
  • All community members are asked to quarantine for 7 days prior to the start of school.
  • If your child is enrolled in a group care setting during the time period leading up to your first week of school, we request that it is within a small group, that health screenings are performed daily, and that the group care is adhering to the guidelines set forth by the CDC and HHS. It is also our preference that the setting was outside and/or well ventilated. If not, we ask that you quarantine for 7 days prior to starting school at Athena. 

Mask Wearing for Students
All children in our Primary Program are required to wear masks when inside during their work time. They will not be required to wear masks while napping or outside. Primary students should bring a clean mask to school everyday (or five on Mondays) that will be sent home for washing on Fridays. We are currently following the guidelines of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Click HERE to read an article from AAP about children wearing masks. Click HERE to read an article with some great suggestions of what you can do at home to normalize mask wearing for your child.   
 
The protocol in a nutshell:
  • All Primary children need to bring a clean mask to school every day (or five on Mondays);
  • All Primary children must wear masks while inside during work time;
  • Children do not have to wear masks while working in the outdoor classroom (they rotate work time between the indoor and outdoor classrooms), playing on the playground, exercising, or napping;
  • The guides continue to conduct lessons around masks, why we wear them, and why they are important to keep ourselves, our friends, and our family members safe;
  • The guides will conduct frequent check-ins with their students;
  • Masks for children are optional during drop-off and pick-up;
  • Tots children are not required to wear masks.

Mask resources, Athena student-approved: Martex Health, Bailey Blue, Happy Masks

Temperature and Health Checks at Home
Before school each morning, check your child’s temperature and symptoms. 
  • If your child has symptoms of sore throat, cough, diarrhea, headache, vomiting, body aches, or a temperature greater than 99.6 degrees, please notify the front office at (512) 494-6237 and do not come to school.
  • Symptoms that we will monitor critically as a community this year: a temperature greater than 99.6 degrees, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or congestion, fatigue, chills, muscle aches, loss of smell or taste, vomiting, diarrhea, and rashes.
  • If you, your child, or someone in your family has been in contact with, or has been diagnosed with COVID-19, please notify a member of our administrative team and do not come to school until we have made a plan with you.
  • Please ensure that your child is up-to-date with all vaccines, including for the flu.
  • Review proper hand washing techniques with your child and practice these at home (20 seconds with soap).
  • Please provide your child with water and food for the school day. Children should not be sharing food or utensils in the classroom. Be sure to label water bottles. 
  • Make sure Athena has up-to-date information about emergency contacts and who is authorized to pick up your child from school if they become sick.
  • Please ensure that your child arrives at school each day with at least one cloth mask or face covering. 

Symptoms at School and Exposure
A student presenting with COVID-19 symptoms while at school will be sent to the front office while they await pick up by an authorized adult.

  • We ask that you arrive within 30 minutes of notification that your child needs to be picked up.
  • Anyone with a fever (99.6 and greater) must not return to school until they are fever free without the aid of medication for 24 hours. 
  • Any staff member or student who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to notify the school immediately, and quarantine for 14 days. We will report all cases to the Austin Public Health Department. They will advise on who is considered a close contact and how long the classroom may need to be closed. In the event that we have to close a classroom for a period of time, we will provide virtual content for that classroom for that period of time. 
  • Any student who has been exposed to COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for 14 days. If your child has a fever, cough, GI symptoms, rash, and/or any other COVID symptom we will ask that you make contact with your doctor before your child returns to campus. Your medical professional will help to determine if your child needs a test or not. We will need your doctor’s recommendation in writing. 
  • If a child could not attend school due to an illness with COVID-related symptoms, a doctor's note or a negative COVID test is required for readmittance to Athena.

Suggestions for Talking about Risk and Consent 
We are all learning new skills in initiating and being responsive to conversations about safety, risk, and consent. It is ideal that we enter into these sensitive conversations from a place of informed consent and equity. Ideally we recognize that everyone has lived a life and incurred injury and betrayal regarding consent and informed consent. We will each come to these conversations with a different set of expectations and the more transparent we can be about this from the beginning the more likely we are to arrive at a place of mutual understanding. Start from a place of genuine curiosity, perhaps even a checklist of what you need to discuss to keep you on task, and remember to listen carefully as you speak.

Behavior Away from Campus (Children and Adults)
  • Always adhere to and practice the CDC guidelines for healthy habits 
  • Properly wear a face covering when around others in public
  • Wash hands often 
  • Avoid close contact
  • If eating at restaurants, eat on the patio
  • Get takeout and grocery delivery when possible
  • Clean and disinfect often
  • Do not touch your face with unwashed hands
  • Monitor your own health daily
  • Adhere to social distancing recommendations of staying a minimum of six feet apart from people that do not live with you

Extracurriculars and Camps 
  • If your child is enrolled in a group care setting throughout the year, we request that it is within a small group, that health screenings are performed daily, and that the group care is adhering to the guidelines set forth by the CDC and HHS.
  • Our recommendation is that these programs be outdoors and the adults are wearing face coverings.
 
Babysitters and Nannies
We understand the need to hire babysitters from time to time. Attached are two documents to assist you in making the safest choices possible for your family and the community at large during this historical time. 
 
  • HERE is a document that will assist you in setting the guidelines. It includes suggested questions for conversations regarding COVID safety for in-house childcare providers (babysitters, nannies, and friends coming to provide support).
  • HERE is a Childcare Provider Commitment Based on COVID-19 Regulations + Safety that you can print out and share with your babysitters/nannies. 
 
We strongly recommend that you ask your babysitters to wear masks, properly, at all times while around your children and ask them to plan as much of their time outside as possible. 
 
 
Birthday Parties
At this time, the CDC guidelines are still recommending that no more than 10 people gather in groups, if possible. We recommend that if you gather away from school it be outdoors, like in a park, with no more than a couple of families at a time. We recommend hosting an outdoor birthday party with just a few families where the expectations and guidelines for safety are very clear and communicated up front (i.e. adults are wearing masks, parameters for social distancing, and a plan for restroom use), and the total group size does not exceed 10 people. 
 
Playdates
In optimal settings, smaller gatherings are much more preferred during this time of airborne transmission of the virus. Setting up a playdate with one other family at a time has the potential to create minimal risk while also allowing for a layer of normalcy and intimacy. When considering setting up playdates with another family, we recommend: 
  • Invite your companions in the playdate into a dialogue around behavior to set up consensual agreements regarding mitigation of risk, before getting together. 
  • Set the tone for what all parties involved feel comfortable with, such as location, masks or no masks on the children, sharing of food and spaces, prior to the first playdate and make plans to continue to connect regarding any periodic changes that occur.
  • When discussing plans, define how each of your families are handling things such as school, travel plans, playdates with other families, work life during the pandemic, etc.
  • Enjoy playgrounds and swimming pools (the chlorine is a good protectant from the virus), and wear masks when not distanced. 
For more information regarding our illness policy and what you can expect from the Athena Team, refer to our Parent Policy Handbook, its Addendum and our Health and Safety Protocols.

According to Austin Public Health guidelines, child care programs must operate in accordance with The City of Austin Guidance for Open Child Care Programs, The Emergency Rules from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, The Open Texas Child Care Checklist, and The Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open released by the CDC. Our recommendations are made using these sources, along with guidelines from our local Covid consultants and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Our protocols are subject to change regularly as we learn more about the virus and how it impacts our community. We commit to continue to improve or modify our protocols in order to protect you, your children, our teachers, and our staff. We commit to continue to work very closely with our medical and public health advisors, and to practice honesty and transparency in our communication with you. We will do our best to give our community at least one month’s notice in the event of a policy change that affects our families.
Revised February 2021
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