COVID SAFETY PROTOCOLS

As we look forward to the 2021-22 academic year, we are optimistic that school operations and programming may slowly return to normal and, at the same time, we are monitoring COVID-19 metrics and variants in Harris County as well as CDC guidance. The following policies and procedures are effective as of August 1, 2021, are in place for Semester 1 only, and are subject to change.

We seek to build community across our programs, to ensure a safe return to beloved traditions, to bolster the educational offerings for our students, and to be transparent and timely in our COVID-19 communications.

We seek to build community and provide a diverse educational experience for our students.

Class Schedules. Class schedules will return to weekly course offerings, including the addition of a dedicated music class in each of the Orientation and Primary classes and the opportunity for Upper Elementary students to enjoy Middle Years electives in film and photography in the second semester.

Cohorts. Students will remain within their cohort during the school day, as follows.

  1. Orientation 1
  2. Orientation 2
  3. Orientation 3
  4. Primary 1 & 3 (Effective Nov. 1)
  5. Primary 2 & 4 (Effective Nov. 1)
  6. Lower Elementary
  7. Upper Elementary
  8. Middle Years

Cohorts will not mix on campus. Cohorts are subject to change.

Buffer Weeks. Distance learning will be provided only in the event of quarantine, school closure, and Buffer Weeks/Days due to COVID-19. We believe that students learn best in the classroom, but that a comprehensive contingency plan needs to be in place as we continue to navigate the pandemic. The school continues to reserve the right to implement Buffer Weeks or Days, periods in which only distance learning is offered in response to elevated risks of COVID-19 transmission in the school community and/or Harris County. Buffer Weeks or Days may be imposed following extended school holidays such as Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, and Spring Break. Ample notice will be provided to families.

Bulldog 360. Bulldog 360 after-school programming is slated for return in September 2021, with in-person classes offered to our students by our talented faculty and staff.

We seek to continue safeguarding our community.

Sanitization. The school will maintain high standards of cleaning and sanitization across campus and in the classrooms. The sanitizing shoe bins will be discontinued.

Temperature Checks. We will continue temperature checks at morning carpool, but the threshold for fever will be increased from 100.0° F to 100.4° F.

Masks. Orientation students will not wear masks. Primary, Elementary, and Middle Years students are required to bring two (2) cloth masks to wear daily “as feasible.”

It is not “feasible” to wear masks in the following circumstances, which circumstances will be determined by the person(s) caring for the student at that time: eating, drinking, napping, difficulty breathing.

Faculty and staff will continue to be required to wear masks “as feasible” when interacting with students on campus. Masks are highly recommended for adults in carpool. Adults attending in-person teacher conferences and accompanying their child(ren) onto campus must wear masks and comply with social distancing at 6 feet.

Social Distancing. Homeroom classes will remain small, allowing for continued social distancing, with the recommended distancing for students lowered to 3 feet. Adults will continue to socially distance “as feasible,” with an emphasis in Orientation and Primary on teachers caring for children’s needs.

Water. Water fountains will continue to be out of service. However, water dispensers with bottled water will be available for students who need to refill water bottles during the school day.

Sick Children. All families will be asked to monitor child(ren) for COVID-19 symptoms and to not send sick child(ren) to school. The COVID-19 Scenarios below apply equally to students, faculty, and staff. Families must notify the Head of School by email (pbarker@ssesh.org) if their child is exposed to or tests positive for any communicable disease, including COVID-19.

We look forward to inviting parents back on campus, slowly.

Small Groups. Our return to campus for parents is phased. In August, Parents will be invited individually and in small cohorts to events such as Tears & Tissues (new Orientation parents only).

PTO. With a slow return to large community events, our PTO and Classroom Parents will be instrumental in building connections between parents. Please consider joining our PTO, as our students greatly benefit from your involvement in the school community.

We seek to be transparent and timely in our COVID-19 communications.

The school will be using the following definitions of ON-campus and OFF-campus, which definitions are based on guidance from Harris County.

ON-campus: A school student or employee is “ON-campus” if the student or employee was on campus during the 2 days prior to his/her symptom onset (if they had symptoms) OR 5 days prior to their positive COVID-19 lab result.

OFF-campus: A person is “OFF-campus” if the person is not a student or employee of the school OR the student or employee of the school was not ON-campus.

Scenario: A student has close contact with a person (OFF-campus) who was diagnosed with COVID-19 Protocol: Only families in the affected class(es) will receive close contact notices.
Scenario: A student or employee (ON-campus) is diagnosed with COVID-19 Protocol: The school will notify all families. The notification will include the class of the student or employee, but will not disclose whether the individual is a student or teacher.
Scenario: A student or employee (OFF-campus) is diagnosed with COVID-19 or has close contact with a person (OFF-campus) who is diagnosed with COVID-19. Protocol: The school will apply the definition of OFF-campus. The community will not be notified of either scenario.
Scenario: A student or employee (ON-campus) is diagnosed with COVID-19 and an emergency response is required. Protocol: Urgent information on COVID-19 on campus will be shared by text message first, with email(s) to follow.

In the event that a student or employee (ON-campus) is diagnosed with COVID-19 and an emergency response is required, the school will generally follow the communications process below.

  • A text message will be sent to faculty and staff.
  • A text message will be sent to affected families with instructions. Text alerts will come from 95664. Please save this number as St. Stephen’s Campus Notify.
  • A text message will be sent to all families.
  • An email to the community will follow with information on the COVID-19 situation.
  • Contact tracing will commence and school will be canceled until (at least) the first round of contact tracing is complete, which process is estimated to take 24 hours.
  • Students and/or employees who have been identified as close contacts will receive a second email with additional information.

COVID-19 Scenarios

The COVID-19 Scenarios below apply equally to students, faculty, and staff. Families must notify the Head of School by email (pbarker@ssesh.org) if their child is exposed to or tests positive for any communicable disease, including COVID-19.

Close Contact

What counts as close contact?

  • The student has been in close contact* with a person who has COVID-19.
  • A member of the household of the student has been in close contact* with a person who has COVID-19 UNLESS the member of the household is fully vaccinated, as defined by the CDC, and has not developed any COVID-19 symptom(s).

*You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more. You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19. You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them). You shared eating or drinking utensils. They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.

A student who is NOT fully vaccinated may return to campus when the following criteria are met.

  • The student has completed a 10-day quarantine.
  • The student has not experienced any COVID-19 symptom(s) since exposure.
  • The family has provided to the Head of School a negative PCR test result (test must occur on day 5 or later from exposure).

A sibling of a student who is NOT fully vaccinated may return to campus when the following criteria are met.

  • The sibling has completed a 7-day quarantine.
  • The sibling has not experienced any COVID-19 symptom(s).
  • The family has provided to the Head of School a negative PCR test result prior to return to campus.

A student who is fully vaccinated may return to campus when the following criteria are met.

  • The student has not experienced any COVID-19 symptom(s) since exposure.
  • The family has provided to the Head of School a negative PCR test result (test must occur on day 5 or later from exposure).

 

A student who was diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past 3 months may return to campus when the following criteria are met.

  • The student has not experienced any COVID-19 symptom(s) since exposure.
  • The family has provided to the Head of School a medical professional’s note clearing the student for return.

In the event that the student develops any COVID-19 symptom(s) following close contact, the student must comply with the procedures applicable to persons diagnosed with COVID-19.

Diagnosed with COVID-19

A student who is diagnosed with COVID-19 may return to campus when the following criteria are met:

    • At least 14 days since symptoms first appeared and/or a positive COVID-19 test result, as applicable;
    • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication;
    • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving; and
    • The student obtains a medical professional’s note clearing the student for return and/or the student obtains a negative PCR test result, as applicable.

Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.

Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms Without Close Contact

A student who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 but has not had close contact may return to school when the following criteria are met:

    • the student has not experienced any COVID-19 symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours and
    • the student obtains a medical professional’s note clearing the student for return or obtains a negative test result.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms.

People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: Fever (100.4° F) or chills; Cough; Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; Fatigue; Muscle or body aches; Headache; New loss of taste or smell; Sore throat; Congestion or runny nose; Nausea or vomiting; Diarrhea.