COVID-19 Updates

March 4, 2022 COVID-19 Policy Updates

Based on the CDC guidance, the GSA community’s high vaccination rates, and our community’s low number of recent infections, we are making the following change to our protocols: Beginning Monday, March 7mask wearing (indoors or outdoors) for all students and employees will be optional rather than required. If you prefer your child continue to wear their mask at school, please reach out to your child’s teacher directly.  

This change comes as welcome relief to many, but it may also create anxiety for some. Our community will always honor students and adults who continue to advocate for themselves and their own health by wearing masks.

 Continuing to Be Vigilant in Keeping Our Community Safe

As we reduce safety restrictions it is essential that we all:

1. Continue to carefully monitor for COVID-19 symptoms;

2. Test if we have symptoms;

3. Report positive cases and close-contact exposures to the GSA Office and await clearance before returning to campus.

If key indicators and the level of risk in the broader Austin community increase, or if we have a significant increase in the number of cases within the GSA community, we may return to required mask wearing and/or required testing at home or school. 

 We will require all visitors that come on campus to always wear a mask. We may return to required mask wearing for all to host important events this spring, such as Spring Concerts. 

2022 COVID-19 Policy Updates

Household Exposures: 

If your child is exposed to a positive case within your household (parent, sibling, other) we are going to implement a “Test and Stay” strategy for those who are vaccinated. You must first notify Dr. Peña or the GSA Office of the household exposure and then follow below:

  • Vaccinated-no symptoms, test on Days 1, 3, and 5 and with negative results can grab their backpack and come to school. Submit test results to Samantha Cruz or Dr. Peña before coming to school on those days. If you need assistance with tests, please contact the school and we will see how we can help.
  • Unvaccinated-must quarantine for 5 full days and test on Day 6. Follow guidelines below for the unvaccinated.
  • Review CDC guidelines for recommendations regarding exposures; it’s not just about isolating.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html

Positive Case on Campus: 

If we have a positive case on campus and your child had contact, we will send you notification and ask you to do the following:

  • Fully Vaccinated Students- those with a complete 2-dose series, those with a complete 2-dose series plus a booster, and vaccination record is on file at the GSA; or had a confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days (tested positive using a viral test):  
    • No Quarantine-You do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms.   
    • Get Tested-get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19 even if you don’t develop symptoms. Test on Day 6 and submit results to Dr. Peña or Samantha Cruz before coming on campus.
    • Watch for symptoms until 10 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • Unvaccinated Students (no vaccine, single-dose, or have not completed two weeks since 2nd dose)-if you were exposed to COVID-19 and are NOT up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations:  
    • Quarantine for at least 5 full days.  
    • Wear a well-fitted mask if you must be around others in your home.   
    • Get tested– test at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19 even if you don’t develop symptoms. You should test on Day 6. Submit results to Dr. Peña or Samantha Cruz before coming on campus.

See link for other CDC recommendations. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html#calculating-quarantine

  • Appropriate Ventilation- the GSA HVAC systems are doing an excellent job of moving air and keeping indoor air quality high. The systems can accomplish over 6 air changes per hour, which is the highest category recommended, and use MERV 13 filters. We will also continue to provide every classroom and every office area with a HEPA filtration system. In an abundance of caution, we will prop our classroom doors open 2-3 inches weather permitting.
  • Lunch, snacks, and water breaks- these will be taken outdoors with distancing so that our students can remove their masks. If we are unable to eat outside due to severe weather, we will provide a different lunch plan so that everyone remains safe.
  • Hand Washing and Sanitizing-we will continue to provide hand sanitizing stations in all classrooms and throughout the campus as well as opportunities for hand washing often.
  • Sick children-please keep your child home if she is sick and contact the GSA office.   
  • Community Meetings-are open for families to join us; however, out of an abundance of caution, we will require visitors to wear masks while on campus even if outdoors!
  • Vaccinations- COVID 19-vaccines are effective and can reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about the different COVID-19 vaccines. Getting boosted increases your immunity from the Omicron variant from 34.2% to 75.5%. If you have not submitted your child’s Covid-19 record, please send it to Samantha in the GSA office.
  • COVID Positive Tests for both vaccinated and unvaccinated-in accordance with CDC modified guidelines, if your child tests positive for COVID, she will need to isolate for 5 days; if on Day 6 she is symptom-free and has a negative test, she can return to school. She will need to wear a mask on campus for up to 10 days. Please contact GSA for guidance if your child tests positive.
  • Quarantine for Exposure-if your child is exposed to a positive case, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, please contact the GSA office as quarantine guidelines and recommendations will need to be followed before returning to school. At the GSA currently we will require the following for exposures:

If the student is unvaccinated or the GSA does not have her COVID vaccination record on file, the student must stay home 5 days, test on Day 6, and if negative and symptom-free can return to school. She will need to wear a mask on campus for up to 10 days.

If the student is vaccinated, her COVID vaccination record is on file at the GSA, and she is symptom-free, she can attend school. The student will need to test on Day 5. If the student develops symptoms during this time, she should stay home.

COVID-19 Protocols for the 2021 – 2022 School Year 

We are committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment so that we can welcome every student and their families back to campus. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both released new school guidance for the start of the school year with an emphasis on a full re-opening with in-person learning. Our health and safety protocols are based on these guidelines and on the recommendations from the GSA Medical Advisory Council.

  • Masking-Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines to help communities decide what COVID-19 prevention steps to take based on the latest scientific and medical data. According to the CDC’s standards, Travis County is considered currently to have “Low” COVID-19 levels. At this time, the primary recommendations from these new guidelines are: 1) to stay up to date with vaccines, and 2) to get tested if you have symptoms.
  • Ventilation- the GSA HVAC systems are doing an excellent job of moving air and keeping indoor air quality high. The systems can accomplish over 6 air changes per hour, which is the highest category recommended and use MERV 13 filters. There are three exceptions: the strings/piano rooms, the HOS office & conference room, and the MS office. These three exceptions will continue to have the classroom doors cracked open when students are occupying these areas. The rest of the school will not have the classroom doors open as it is not necessary to do so with the excellent HVAC system we have in our school. We will also continue to provide every classroom and every office area with a HEPA filtration system.
  • Screening and Temp Checks-We strongly encourage all individuals to screen for symptoms per CDC Guidelines before coming to campus. We will no longer be performing temperature checks or asking screening questions upon entry to our campus, but rather as the CDC recommends, screening should happen before leaving home. Anyone who is sick should stay home and contact the campus immediately.
  • Lunch, Snacks, and Water Breaks-these will be taken outdoors with distancing so that our students can remove their masks. If we are unable to eat outside due to severe weather, we will provide a different lunch plan so that everyone remains safe.
  • Hand Washing and Sanitizing-we will continue to provide hand sanitizing stations in all classrooms and throughout the campus as well as opportunities for hand washing often.
  • Cleaning-we will continue to follow the CDC recommended cleaning guidelines for schools. We will clean and disinfect highly touched surfaces and areas frequently and will do so immediately if a sick individual has been identified.
  • Sick Individuals- If you or your child are feeling sick, regardless of whether you are vaccinated or not, please stay home and contact your physician and the GSA as soon as possible.
  • Quarantine-Anyone who is unvaccinated and has had contact with someone that has tested positive will be required to quarantine for 5 days. Vaccinated individuals will not need to quarantine if they come in close contact with someone who tests positive.
  • Travel-We ask all our families to follow CDC travel guidelines for unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals.  Please review the school calendar so that travel is not planned during instructional periods.

Medical/Scientific Advisory Council
Dr. Rosa M. Peña
Dr. Michael Grad, MD
Dr. Bri Tristan, MD
Dr. Ami Patel, MD
Dr. Robert Westony, M.D.

On-Campus Action Team
Jennifer Wiebrand (5th grade parent)
Susie Gravette (8th grade parent)
Amy Degner (7th grade parent)
Yohan Faulk (7th grade parent)
Bronson Dorsey (Facilities Director)
Tricia Yost (Board Chair)
Frances Ramberg (Advisor, HS Placement Coordinator)
Dr. Rosa Peña (Interim HOS)

Resources

 Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus (NPR) Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus: Kids worry more when they’re kept in the dark (Child Mind Institute) 

COVID-19 CDC Situation Summary 

CDC Travel Information – COVID-19 

 CDC Coronavirus Information 

GSA COVID-19 Physician Notice

Mask Guidelines and Suggestions