COVID-19 Updates

March 12, 2021 – Moving to M-F on Campus starting March 29
Our medical and scientific advisory committee has been reviewing the most recent data on COVID in schools from around the world, the country, and other local campuses. After careful consideration, we have decided to decrease the physical distancing on campus from 6 feet to 3 feet and to return to five days a week of on-campus learning. This means that any family who chooses in-person learning will send their child to campus 5 days a week beginning March 29. We will no longer be using the cohort A/cohort B model, however, we will continue to offer a remote-only option through the remainder of the school year. We are basing this decision on the following factors:

  • All of our learning spaces meet or exceed the present recommended standards for airflow with or without the doors open and include MERV 13 filters (which accomplish over 6 air changes per hour) and air purifiers.
  • The latest data shows little transmission happening in schools for elementary and middle school students when other safety protocols, such as masking, are implemented.
  • The research also shows when all parties are masked there is a minor difference between maintaining 6 feet of distance versus 3 feet of distance.
  • After spring break, almost 100% of our faculty and staff will either be fully vaccinated or will have received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

I highly encourage you to take a closer look at the data and factors in this PowerPoint presentation from our Medical Advisory Council and reach out to me with any questions. We will be hosting a community forum with our Medical Advisory Council on March 24, 2021, at 6 pmto discuss the data and factors for this decision. While we expect the learning schedule to remain the same, there may be slight changes. We hope to share a schedule during the community forum. The meeting link will be shared the week we return from spring break. We will continue with all the safety protocols that have been working to keep our community safe including masking of students, faculty, staff & visitors, frequent hand washing, and daily screenings. It is also important that we maintain our adherence to the GSA Family Commitment by avoiding high-risk activities or quarantining accordingly. Classes will meet 8 am – 3 pm Monday – Thursday and 8 am – 2 pm on Fridays

Pick Up & Drop Off Schedule (March 29 – end of school year)

Drop Off  8th, 7th, and 6th: 7:40 am -7:50 am 5th, 4th & 3rd: 7:50 am – 8:00 am 2nd, and 1st & K: 8:00 am – 8:10 am
Pick Up Kinder:2:50 pm (M-Th), 1:50 pm (F) 1st:  1:55 pm (M-Th), 2:55 pm (F) 2nd, 3rd, & 4th: 3:05 pm – 3:15 pm (M-Th), 2:05 pm – 2:15 pm (F) 5th & 6th: 3:10 pm – 3:20 pm (M-Th), 2:10 pm – 2:20 pm (F) 7th & 8th: 3:15 pm – 3:20 pm (M-Th), 2:15 pm – 2:20 pm (F)

Quarantining Guidelines Following High-Risk Activities
If your child participates in high-risk activities such as traveling by air, eating indoors in a restaurant, or socializing indoors with others without wearing a mask they should quarantine from GSA for 10 days after the event or 7 days after the event with a negative test. If a student has direct contact with a COVID-19 positive person or a person displaying COVID-19 symptoms, they should quarantine for 14 days post-exposure.

 

Town Hall Wrap Up 
November Town Hall FAQs
What do we need to bring for lunch?  Please bring a simple lunch, a yoga or beach mat/beach towel, and a clean mask in a ziplock bag. We will not be using lunch vendors this fall. The mat can be any size, teachers will help space them out so that students are 6 ft apart. What happens if it too cold to eat outside?  We will try to eat outside whenever possible. In extreme weather students will eat inside with both doors open and plexiglass dividers between students. No talking will be allowed if masks are off inside. If you would prefer your child to eat outside no matter what, please let your classroom teacher and your child know. What is my child’s specific schedule?  Please see our MySchool page for grade level details. What will remote learners be doing when another cohort is on campus?   Remote learners will continue to do a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. Your grade level teachers will let you know when you need to live stream into the classroom. Will study hall of aftercare be offered during Phase 5?  No, in an effort to limit the mixing of cohorts, there will be no aftercare or study hall during phase 5. Will GSA remain open for in-person learning between Thanksgiving and Winter Break?   Yes, our school calendar will remain as is. If your family plans to go to remote only during this time, please let your classroom teacher or advisor know as soon as possible. Do we need to quarantine if we travel for the holidays?  It depends on how you are mitigating risks (traveling by auto or plane, seeing others inside or outside, using masks, etc.) Please review the GSA Family Commitment and the CDC guidelines to determine how your travel plans elevate your risk and reach out if you have specific questions. What will the protocols be if there is a positive case on campus?  If there is a case of COVID-19 within an on-campus group, anyone who was in contact with that individual will have to go back to distance learning only for at least two weeks. Multiple cases could result in the whole school returning to distance learning only. We will let our families know if there is a positive case in our community, and confidentiality will be maintained. Please see our  COVID Response Policy for more details. How will GSA ensure adequate air-flow in all learning spaces?   All of our learning spaces meet or exceed the present recommended standards for airflow with or without the doors open and include MERV 13 filters (which accomplish over 6 air changes per hour) and air purifiers. One or both doors will remain open as the weather allows. Students should dress in layers. Is the school in a stable financial position?  Yes, the school is in a stable financial position but the success of this year, and any year, is reliant on full enrollment and meeting our fundraising goals. Can the school livestream or share summaries of board meetings and medical council meetings? The GSA Board of Trustees will be settling into a more customary meeting and community report schedule.   The Board will meet once a month and distribute a community report within the two weeks following a meeting.   The Board meetings are closed meetings, but consideration will be given for future forums like the one we held January a year ago.   This will be done in collaboration with our Head of School to ensure cohesiveness.   We will also begin to send a recap of the medical council meetings. What are the times for drop off and pick up? See times below. Students with siblings arrive with the oldest sibling and depart with the oldest.
Drop Off 8th, 7th, and 6th: 7:40 am -7:50 am

5th, 4th & 3rd: 7:50 am – 8:00 am 2nd, and 1st & K: 8:00 am – 8:10 am

Pick Up Kinder:1:30 pm 1st:  2:55 pm 2nd, 3rd, & 4th: 3:05 pm – 3:15 pm 5th & 6th: 3:10 pm – 3:20 pm 7th & 8th: 3:15 pm – 3:20 pm
Phase 5 Information 
  • Students will remain in cohort assignments. We are following an A/B model (Cohort A on campus Monday and Wednesday, Cohort B on campus Tuesday and Thursday). Your teacher will reach out if your daughter’s cohort is changing.
  • Please reach out to your classroom teacher/advisor if you are switching from on-campus to remote or vice versa as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly.
  • Complete the Phase 5 Pre-Attendance Check-list each day your child is on campus. Please bookmark this new link. 
  • There will be a 20-minute lunch break outside (except when it is below 55*F and/or strong rains).
  • If cold and/or rainy, students will eat in classrooms with desk dividers and only remove masks to eat.
  • Students should bring lunch from home; please send a simple lunch.
  • Students should bring a beach mat or yoga mat every day to sit on during lunchtime; this will allow us to maintain physical distancing. Students will take their mats home daily for cleaning.
  • Students should bring an extra mask in a baggie to put on a clean mask after eating lunch.
  • The following rooms and outdoor areas will be utilized during Phase 5:
    • All Lower School Classrooms
    • 2 Middle School Classrooms Upstairs
    • Science Room
    • Art Room
    • MUB
    • One Converted Classroom in Lisa’s House
    • Music Room for individual piano lessons
    • Upstairs Deck
    • Outdoors Spaces as much as possible
  • All of our learning spaces meet or exceed the present recommended standards for airflow with or without the doors open and include MERV 13 filters and air purifiers. One or both doors will remain open as the weather allows. Students should dress in layers.

Moving to Phase 5 – November 9, 2020 We will be moving into our Phase 5 plan on November 9. In our phase 5 model each cohort in grades 1-8 will be on campus two full days a week. Kindergarten will be on campus four days a week. Our Phase 5 schedule is almost complete and we will share that with you next week.  Please let your classroom teacher or advisor know if you plan to switch from remote only to on-campus or vice versa for Phase 5. We will be holding town hall meetings the week of November 2 to go over Phase 5, review safety protocols, and answer your questions. The lower school town hall will be on Wednesday ((11/4) evening 6 -7 pm and the Middle School town hall will be on Thursday (11/5) evening 6 -7 pm. You may submit questions ahead of time on our My School Page. Please submit questions by noon the day prior to the meeting. A zoom link will be sent via email next week. Phase 4 Details Phase 4 Begins on October 5, 2020 Phase 4 Pre-Attendance Checklist Phase 4 On-Campus Schedule 

  • Kinder will meet four times a week from 8:30 – 11:30 am, Monday – Thursday.
  • Grade levels 1- 8 will be split into two cohorts (A&B) to allow us to utilize more learning spaces including classrooms.
  • Grades 1-5 will meet two times a week from 8:30 – 11:30 am either on Monday & Tuesday or Wednesday & Thursday.
  • Grades 6-8 will meet twice a week from 1 – 4 pm Monday – Wednesday. They will also meet on Thursdays 1-4 pm, one grade level at a time, once every three weeks (6th – 10/8, 7th – 10/15, 8th – 10/22, and so on).  See the schedule above for details.
  • All students K-8 will have distance learning only on Fridays.
  • Students will have both core and special areas on campus, specific subjects will vary by grade level.
  • On the days your daughter is not on campus she will be live streaming into the classroom with the teacher and cohort that are on campus for core instruction. This will be done through Zoom.  Students who are doing distance learning only will zoom into class on A & B days.
  • Each grade will continue to also have distance learning with synchronous and asynchronous activities when they are not on campus.
  • In addition to outdoor areas, lower school students will be using their classrooms and 5th grade will be using the science room. Grades 6th-8th will be using the 4th grade classroom, science room, and the MUB.
  • Both classroom doors will be open in every classroom throughout the day and the MUB wall will be open. The Medical/Scientific Advisory Council has compared our HVAC systems to a Harvard study, and it shows that our systems can accomplish over 6 air changes per hour (ACH), which is the highest (Ideal) category in the study. The GSA HVAC systems use MERV 13 filters and are doing an excellent job of moving air and keeping indoor air quality high (see table for details). Thank you to the council for putting this together. For the few classrooms that do not meet the target ACH we are doing the following: increasing outdoor air; using MERV13 filters; and adding portable air cleaners with HEPA filters to the classroom. We have added HEPA filters to all the classrooms and the MUB as an extra precaution.
  • Grade level schedules are available on the MySchool page.

Community Update September 17 – Reminders for Phase 3 Preparing for Phase 3 Please follow the steps below if your child will be attending the on-campus learning opportunities

This week 

  • Please make sure you have returned the GSA Family Commitment and if you have not already, your 20-21 health form.

  • Talk to your daughter about healthy habits on campus – remaining 6ft from others, washing/sanitizing hands often, and closing the toilet seat before flushing.

  • Have your child practice wearing her mask and taking it on and off independently.  Watch our ‘How to Wear a Mask’ video.
  • Be sure you have been following the GSA Family Commitment for 14 days prior to your child coming on campus. See our COVID page for requirements around learning pods and extracurriculars.  Contact Dr. Peña if you have questions.

The Morning of Your Child’s On-campus Class.  

  • Complete the daily health screening before arriving on campus. 

  • Students should pack a water bottle, a mask, a spare mask, and a ziplock for a used mask. No large backpacks please (learning materials will be provided unless you have heard otherwise from your child’s teacher).

When You Arrive 

  • Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes before the start of class time. 
  • Pull through driveway and let your child out at the health screening station (they must be wearing a mask).
  • Your child should remain in the car until the health screening station is available.

  • Please remain in your car during drop off.
  • Pull forward in the driveway or into a space until your child’s temperature check is complete.

What Your Child Can Expect on Campus 

  • Everyone on campus will wear masks at all times. Teachers may also be wearing face shields.
  • Hand sanitizing stations are present around the campus, including the entrance. Everyone should sanitize their hands before entering the campus.
  • Students will remain 6 ft apart from their peers and teachers while on campus.

  • Students will follow the one-way traffic flow to avoid passing others.

  • Students will be completing teacher-led activities in the MUB (with the sidewall open) and/or outdoor spaces (+ the art room with doors open for 8th grade)

  • The indoor areas will be cleaned between grade levels

  • HEPA filters have been installed in the indoor spaces we are utilizing in Phase 3.

What Your Child Can Expect Off-Campus 

  • The rest of your child’s distance learning schedule will remain the same, except for the time(s) they are scheduled to be on campus. (see Phase 3 schedule).

  • Please refer to your grade level teacher’s communications on how students who are continuing with distance learning only will be participating during this time.

  Community Update September 10 – Preparing for Phase 3  We will be moving into Phase 3 of our learning phases on September 21. We will remain in this learning phase until at least October 5. Phase 3 Schedule Preparing for Phase 3

  • Make sure your family is following the GSA Family Commitment. 
  • Fill, sign, and return the GSA Family Commitment to info@thegirlsschool.org or mail to GSA.  Please return by September 18. 
  • Have a selection of masks for your child that she is comfortable wearing (see our mask guidelines).
  • Watch our How to Wear a Mask Video with your daughter and have her practice taking her mask on and off independently.
  • Practice regular hand-washing. Make it fun – use songs, visuals, or challenges (ex. wash off a stamp).
  • Have your child get in the habit of shutting the toilet seat before flushing. Practice the “close, flush, wash” routine.
  • Make sure 20-21 health forms have been returned.

Phase 3 Q & A

What was the rationale for moving to phase 3 at this time?  Given the current local context of COVID cases, our medical and scientific council has recommended that GSA can safely move into Phases 2 – 4 for our next learning phase. Taking in to account the number of families that are willing to come on campus, our available spaces, and staff availability, Phase 3 was the best fit for September 21. We are already evaluating our next move which will start on October 5 – this could be a move into Phase 4, remaining in Phase 3 or even moving back into Phase 1 or 2 as local conditions dictate.

Why is each class only meeting for two and a half hours a week?  During this phase, only one grade will be on campus at a time in either the MUB or outdoors. This allows us to keep our total number of people on campus low and have one cohort per grade. One grade will meet in the morning and a second group will meet after lunch. The only exception to this is Monday afternoons which will have 5th and 8th grade on campus at the same time, this is possible because we have a smaller group for 8th grade who can utilize the science room.

Why isn’t GSA doing more on-campus learning at this time?   The size of our campus and classrooms prevent us from having more than 9 students per grade safely in the Lower Grade classrooms and no more than 4 students in the upstairs Middle School classrooms attend at a time unless we utilize the MUB for each class. As we look to move into the next phases of learning, we will need to split the groups into cohorts to accommodate everyone safely. Another factor to consider for our small school is our limited number of faculty and their own commitments, risk factors, and comfortability.

What if I changed my mind about our family’s participation in distance learning from the answers we gave in the survey?   Now that we have shared more details of the next phase your answer to whether you will participate in on-campus learning may have changed. If that is the case, please reach out to your classroom teacher/advisor and copy communications@thegirlsschool.org so that we can plan accordingly.

What happens if there is a COVID case on campus during Phase 3? If there is a case of COVID-19 within an on-campus group, anyone who was in contact with that individual will have to go back to distance learning only for at least two weeks. Multiple cases could result in the whole school returning to distance learning only. We will let our families know if there is a positive case in our community, and confidentiality will be maintained. Please see our  COVID Response Policy for more details.

Our daughter is participating in a learning pod, can she attend in-person classes at the GSA?   When planned and implemented carefully, learning pods can be a safe and effective way to share childcare and education responsibilities between several families. However, if safety precautions are not followed properly, learning pods can drastically increase the risk level of all those participating. Our Medical/Scientific Advisory Council recommends learning pods follow all safety precautions. Keep the groups small (ideally 6 or fewer people), wear masks, remain 6 feet apart, and spend as much time outdoors as possible.  Every student should have her own equipment and be on her own screen when online with their classes. If you have questions, please contact the GSA school administration.

Should we continue to consider distance learning if my daughter wants to take part in indoor sports or activities?  Indoor sports (ie. karate, basketball, dance, gymnastics, etc.) are considered very high risk because of the level of effort, the duration, and the indoor spaces in which these classes usually occur. Any time you exercise at a moderate to high level, breathing becomes deeper and more rapid making it more likely that you will spread the virus if you are infected. If your daughter wishes to participate in an indoor sport, please engage in distance learning only.

What are the uniform requirements during Phase 3? Because our students may be outside for longer than usual during this phase, they may wear any GSA uniform shirt (including spiritwear) with navy uniform bottoms and closed-toed shoes (mary janes, flats, or tennis shoes). We have lots of gently used uniforms available in our ‘uniform closet’. Contact Dr. Peña to make an appointment.


Community Update September 2 – Our Next Learning Phase For our next learning phase, we are recommending a modified version of Phase 3. This will allow all grades K-8 to meet on campus one day per week for approximately two hours. This learning phase will begin on September 21, one week later than what was previously announced. This brief delay will allow our faculty and staff sufficient time to operationally modify current distant learning schedules, learning objectives, and logistics. This extra week also gives families enough time to review and prepare using the family commitment guidelines. I realize for some, our move for on-campus learning is too slow; however, it is important to keep in mind that the GSA footprint and the limited number of teachers per grade level, do not allow for faster movement at this time. As stated before, all phases will be adjusted as needed based on local health conditions and guidance from various governing bodies.

Modified Phase 3 – What You Need to Know 
  • GSA will move into a modified Phase 3 on September 21, 2020.

  • Each grade (K-8) will come on campus one day a week for approximately two hours.
  • Class activities will be determined by the grade level team and may include academics, specials, and enrichment.
  • Families who wish to send their daughter to campus in phase 3 must start following the family commitment guidelines beginning on September 7.  If you have questions about an activity, please contact Dr. Peña.

  • A schedule by grade level will be sent out as soon as we have it available.

  • More specific plans of what students will be doing during that time will be sent out by grade level teachers/advisors.

  • We are assessing our live streaming capabilities and other creative solutions for those not participating on-campus.

  • We will use outdoor spaces and the MUB (multi-purpose building aka the gym) to accommodate one cohort per grade.

  • Our medical/scientific council has determined the use of the  MUB to be safe for 10 or more girls and a teacher. With the sidewall open, the MUB has very good ventilation and students can be spaced 6 ft apart.

  • Teachers may also reserve a time to meet with individuals or small groups for advancement or support.
  • If you have not already submitted your child’s annual health form (signed by a physician) please do so before they return to campus.

Community Update August 11 – Virtual Town Hall FAQs

When will families receive grade level schedules? 
Schedules will be sent by Friday, August 14.

Will GSA follow AISD and delay the start school by three weeks?  
No. School will begin on August 19. The first three days of school will focus on relationship building and will look a little different. Our regular schedule will start on Monday, August 24.

What will distance learning look like? 
Distance learning will include all core subjects and specials. Students will complete synchronous (live meetings with the teacher) and asynchronous (independent work) learning Monday – Friday. Instruction will begin at 9 am. The amount of time per day will vary by grade level. All grades will have built-in breaks and self-paced assignments. K-3 will be using Seesaw and grades 4 – 8 will use Canvas to organize assignments.  More details will be provided in the schedule and by your grade level teachers.

Are students required to wear uniforms during distance learning? 
No. Students are required to be dressed for the day (no PJs) and GSA shirts are recommended but not required.

Are health forms still required prior to August 19? 
No. We understand that some families are delaying well-checks due to COVID-19. Health forms (signed by a physician) will be required before your daughter can return to campus.

How will we receive learning materials/school supplies and how will ‘open house/orientation work this year? 
We will let you know our plan for materials and open house by Friday, August 14.

Will middle school receive grades? 
We will return to our regular grading scale/protocols that we used prior to the spring semester. See the handbook for details.

What will trigger a move between phases? 
We are committed to getting our students back on campus as soon as it is safe to do so. The medical/scientific council is working closely with the task force to regularly evaluate our next move. We are using an evidence-based approach; however, there is no single factor that will trigger a decision. We will be closely monitoring local community spread, hospitalizations, test positive rates, and guidance from local authorities.

What if GSA moves to on-campus instruction before a family is ready to do so?  
Distance learning options, such as live streaming, will be available for families who elect to stay home during the hybrid phases 2-5.

How will GSA respond to a positive case on campus? 
GSA will contact the health department and follow their recommendations. We will promptly inform families of any positive cases in our community.

How can we support teachers/GSA during this time? 
Although many of our teachers have been busy preparing over the summer our official start date was Monday, August 10. We appreciate your continued support and ask for your patience and understanding as we work to finalize schedules and iron out the details this week.

How will GSA build community during distance learning? 
Building a community will remain an important part of GSA while we are off-campus. Efforts will include, relationship building within grade levels, weekly community meetings, sister group activities, virtual hangouts, and adapting our GSA traditions.

COVID-19 Update – March 6

Dear GSA Community,  

We are continuing to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation to ensure the health and safety of our community. At this time the risk to our community remains low

Continued Learning in the Event of School Closure
Our task force for continued learning has met and communicated with all faculty to start developing a plan. We are currently gathering information, and we will solidify our plan for continued learning in the event of a school closure in the coming days.

You can expect that our teachers will provide continued learning in the event of a school closure using technology tools, online resources, journal assignments and their regular communication tools. Your daughter will have daily assignments; however, they will not occupy the students for the full number of hours that they would be in school 

If your daughter does not have access to the internet or a device at home, please let us know. 

We will follow recommendations from local authorities and as with other school closures we will follow suit if AISD were to announce a district closure.  

Travel 
GSA recommends that families do not travel abroad in the upcoming weeks, including spring break. If you do opt to travel out of the country or if you have visitors from abroad (particularly from areas with a risk level 2 or higher) over spring break we ask that you keep us informed by contacting the office. 

Following recommendations from the CDC, any studentfaculty or staff member who travels to (or has visitors from) a country designated by the CDC as a warning level 3 area, and/or anyone who has been advised to self-quarantine, will be subject to a 14-day period of self-isolation away from school upon their return.  

Precautions
The best precaution that we can take right now is to follow the same guidelines recommended for cold and flu season: 

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with an elbow or a tissue, and then immediately dispose of the tissue.  
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when sick. 
  • Avoid touching your face.  

We are continuing to add extra sanitizing to our daily cleaning routines and requiring regular and effective hand washing with our students.  

We’re all hoping that our community stays healthy and Coronavirus free, and we are prepared should we have to close temporarily. 

Thank you for your support and partnership, 

Shanna Prewitt-Hines and Frances Ramberg  

Coronavirus Precautions at GSA

Dear GSA Community,

We want to assure you that we are monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff. To date, there have been no cases in our local community and the current risk is very low.

The best precaution that we can take right now is to follow the same guidelines recommended for cold and flu season:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with an elbow or a tissue, and then immediately dispose of the tissue. 
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when sick. 

We reviewed these precautions with our students, faculty, and staff this morning.  We have requested that teachers and our janitorial service implement extra sanitizing to their daily cleaning routines. To note, currently our janitorial service follows CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing and all classroom surfaces are cleaned and sanitized daily. Additionally, they will be spraying all rooms monthly with a proprietary sanitizing product developed for medical facilities.  Lastly, we have requested that teachers review CDC recommended handwashing practices with the girls. GSA will continue to closely follow the situation and adhere to CDC guidelines and recommendations from local health authorities. We are developing a plan to ensure the girls’ continued learning in the event that we need to close the school. 

If your family plans to travel over spring break,  please refer to the CDC travel warnings and do not travel if you are unwell.

Our community’s health and safety is our top priority. We will keep you informed of any updates. 

Sincerely,

Shanna Prewitt-Hines and Frances Ramberg
GSA Co-Leaders 

Pre-Attendance Checklist
GSA COVID-19 Family Commitment 
GSA COVID Response Policy
GSA’s Mask Guidelines
How to Wear a Mask Video
GSA Academic Phases & Community Risks Chart

Medical/Scientific Advisory Council
Rosa M. Peña
Dr. Nicola Davies
Dr. Michael Grad, MD
Dr. Bri Tristan, MD
Dr. Ami Patel, MD
Dr. Nehal Rana, MD

On-Campus Action Team
Jennifer Wiebrand (4th grade parent)
Susie Gravette (5th & 7th grade parent)
Amy Degner (6th grade parent)
Yohan Faulk (6th grade parent)
Bronson Dorsey (Facilities Director)
Tricia Yost (Board Chair)
Frances Ramberg (Director of MS)
Rosa Pena (Interim HOS)

Resources