Letter from the Director
In developing the COVID Response Plan for the 2021-2022 school year, our primary goals always are to keep the members of our community safe and to provide a joyful in-person school experience for all. While it is quite unfortunate we are still discussing and planning around the pandemic, we are grateful for our community’s ability to respond accordingly. As a ministry of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, the Day School is required to follow the policies implemented by the Episcopal Diocese which requires parishes to use CDC guidance along with community and congregation data to set policy. As such, the Day School has reviewed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and local medical professionals. We also have considered the most recent data from the local community, including neighboring schools, to determine our initial policies and practices. The policies and practices established in the COVID Response Plan are based on data currently available. They will be reviewed regularly and adjusted to meet the needs of the moment.
One of the central tenets of the Reggio approach is to make learning visible. It is grounded in the belief that transparency in the process of learning fosters broader and deeper understanding for the entire community of learners. In full transparency, I began the summer believing the pandemic was nearly behind us. I was hoping to move forward with as close of a return to pre-pandemic practices as possible. With over 95% of the Day School staff vaccinated and very low rates of infection for children, I thought we could limit additional safety practices for the 2021-2022 school year. Two things changed my thinking about this. On the last day of summer camp, we had a child test positive for COVID-19. By the end of the quarantine period, community spread resulted in two adults and two children testing positive – both adults were moderately ill while the children had mild symptoms. Not long after that, information about the Delta variant indicated that the virus’s transmissibility was higher, and the vaccination rates in the community were not high enough to control the spread. First-hand experience with these facts quickly shifted my thinking and approach to school opening preparations. My hope to return to many of the practices that make our community deeply connected remains the same; however, we will need to incorporate some health and safety protocols to achieve our overall goals of staying safe and in school together.
Our COVID Response Plan outlines the prevention and protection strategies we will begin the school year implementing. Understanding that circumstances continue to change rapidly, we will review the policies regularly and make changes as appropriate. We will start the year with a few noteworthy changes. They are as follows:
- The Day School will have a nurse on staff. Nurse Amy Goldin will be with us two days a week, and we are looking for opportunities to increase our coverage. The Goldins have two children joining the community as well.
- We will have HEPA air purifiers in each classroom and office. The filters circulate and help clean the air every thirty minutes.
- Parents will be welcomed back in the building this year with limitations. We will have to be diligent about mask use while indoors. Because we can not confirm a person’s vaccination status, parents are asked to wear a face-covering at all times when in the building.
- Household members of a person who is in quarantine due to close contact will not need to quarantine unless any household member has any symptoms, is awaiting a COVID test result, or is diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Children with non-COVID illnesses may return to school after consultation with the school nurse (who may require clearance from a doctor) and being fever-free without medication for 24 hours.
While no one wants to continue adjusting their lives in response to this pandemic, it will take all of us working together to keep our children safely in school. Please read through the COVID Response Plan thoroughly and commit to following the guidelines designed to keep us safe and together. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
COVID Response Plan
The policies and practices outlined in this document were developed within the context of the St. Anne’s Day School and Enrichment Programs community and informed by the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines. As federal, state, and local guidelines and regulations regarding COVID-19 change, including the eligibility for vaccination of young children, the School will adjust the health and safety protocols throughout the school year, adding and removing restrictions as needed. Please note that the COVID Response Plan is a temporary addendum to the St. Anne’s Parent and Employee Handbooks.
It will take all of us working together to remain safe and keep our children in school. Please read through the COVID Response Plan thoroughly and commit to following the guidelines designed to keep us safe and together. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the following strategies for preventing and reducing transmission of COVID-19 in early childhood education settings. This document outlines the policies, practices, and protocols related to each strategy being implemented in the Day School.
- Mask Use
- Physical Distancing and Cohorting
- Handwashing and Hand Sanitizing
- Health Screening
- Contact Tracing, Isolation and Quarantine
- Cleaning and Disinfecting
The Day School strongly encourages everyone in the community who is eligible to get vaccinated. Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC defines full vaccination as two weeks after a person’s second dose in a 2-dose series, such as Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. If a person does not meet these requirements, regardless of age, they are NOT fully vaccinated.
Children should arrive at school with two clean masks each day, wearing one of them during carpool dropoff.
In groups that include participants who are not fully vaccinated (including children under 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination), masks are required for all those 2 years of age and older.
Children and employees may temporarily remove masks when actively eating or drinking. Because we can not confirm a person’s vaccination status, anyone not employed by St. Anne’s, including parents, should refrain from eating, drinking, or any other activity that would require the removal of a mask indoors.
If there is a meeting or gathering where it can be confirmed that 100% of those in attendance are fully vaccinated, such as parent-teacher conversations, masks are not required.
Because we can not confirm the vaccination status of everyone in large gatherings, all indoor events will require masks for individuals two years old and up.
Employees are not required to wear masks when they are alone in their classroom or office, or if they are in a classroom or office with only other fully vaccinated people.
Mask use is not required when outdoors except during carpool.
CDC Guidance for Face Coverings
Physical Distancing and Cohorting
Where practicable, classroom cohorting and social distancing will be used to limit the number of children and staff who come in contact with each other for significant periods of time.
During the school day, students will interact only with their classroom cohort while indoors. Classrooms are large enough to allow for three feet of distance between people, and students will be encouraged to distance when feasible.
A limited number of classes will attend weekly Chapel in the Church sanctuary, sitting in classroom cohorts that are sufficiently spaced.
Every classroom and office has been equipped with HEPA air purifiers. The HEPA technology circulates and purifies the air every thirty minutes.
Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer
Everyone entering the building will be required to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when they arrive, before and after eating, upon return from outdoor activities, and after using the restroom or diapering a child.
Hand sanitizer is available throughout the school for times when soap and water are not readily available.
Daily Symptom Assessment BEFORE School
Before arrival, parents are asked to screen their child(ren) and employees are asked to screen themselves for any symptoms of COVID-19 and not come to school if showing any signs of illness, especially the following:
- Fever (temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher)
- Sore throat
- New cough
- Diarrhea, vomiting, or stomachache
If a child or employee exhibits any symptoms, please stay home and contact the school at email@example.com.
Individuals Exhibiting Symptoms at School
If a student exhibits symptoms while at school, they will be escorted to the nurse’s office. Parents will be called to pick them up immediately.
Individuals with non-COVID illnesses may return to school after consultation with the school nurse (who may require clearance from a doctor) and being fever-free without medication for 24 hours.
Parents, guests, and employees who develop symptoms while at school should leave immediately and notify the nurse or school administration.
Contact Tracing, Isolation and Quarantine
The CDC defines close contact as someone who is within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosis.
Students, employees, volunteers, and visitors should stay home and isolate under the following conditions:
- They have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- They have symptoms of COVID-19 (See Screening Section).
- They are not fully vaccinated and know or believe they may have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with or has symptoms of COVID-19.
- They are not fully vaccinated and awaiting COVID-19 test results for any reason. If someone in the household has symptoms or suspects they are positive and is awaiting test results, no unvaccinated person from that household should come to school (see number 3).
Fully vaccinated people who do not have symptoms do not need to quarantine after an exposure according to updated CDC guidance but should get tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask indoors for 14 days or until their test result is negative.
Household members of a person who is required to quarantine due to close contact do NOT need to quarantine as long as the household member does not have symptoms and is not diagnosed with COVID-19.
***Please contact the school at firstname.lastname@example.org to report absences due to any of the above. Contact the school nurse at email@example.com for clearance before returning to school after any of the above circumstances.
School Contact Tracing and Quarantine Protocols
If there is a positive case of COVID-19 in the school, individuals (or parents of children) who had close contact with the diagnosed individual will be contacted and provided information about quarantine requirements. The rest of the community will be notified through the weekly Day School Dateline. Current quarantine requirements are based on the Georgia Department of Health:
- 10 days – Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if there have been no symptoms during daily monitoring.
- 7 days – Quarantine can end after Day 7 if a PCR test, not a rapid test, taken on or after day five returns negative and there are no symptoms during daily monitoring.
Distance learning will only be provided for specific age levels in the case of a whole-school closing lasting longer than two weeks.
“The overlap between COVID-19 symptoms with other common illnesses means that some people with symptoms of COVID-19 could be ill with something else. This is even more likely in young children, who typically have multiple viral illnesses each year.” CDC Guidance for Early Childhood Centers
Please note that anyone who is absent or sent home due to any other illness shall not be permitted to return to school until they have been:
- Fever free without medication for at least 24 hours,
- Other symptoms have improved; and,
- They have been cleared to return by the school nurse (who may require a doctor’s note).
Alternatively, if the parents provide a doctor’s note indicating the child is clear to return to school, children may return to school.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Teachers will maintain the sanitizing of the classroom and materials.
Banisters, door handles, light switches, etc. will be sanitized on a continuous basis throughout the day by the cleaning staff.
At the end of the day, our professional cleaning crew will clean and disinfect all rooms to ensure coverage of materials.
Events and Visitors
Events are scheduled to be in person except where noted. The format for events may change based on updates to information and guidance regarding the pandemic. All visitors will be required to wear a mask upon entering the building.
Parents are invited to participate in classroom and school activities. When there are any individuals present who are not fully vaccinated (including children under the age of 12 years old), all individuals ages two years and up are required to wear a mask indoors. Parents are asked to refrain from eating or drinking while indoors with unvaccinated individuals, including during classroom visits, celebrations, and activities.
If there is a meeting or gathering where it can be confirmed that 100% of those in attendance are fully vaccinated, such as parent-teacher conversations, masks are not required. Because we can not confirm the vaccination status of large gatherings, all indoor events will require masks for individuals two years old and up.