Plans and Policies for the 2020-2021 School Year

The Circle School is framing our plans and procedures for students returning to campus around evidence-based public health guidance to mitigate health risks to students and teachers in balance with the educational and support needs of our students. Our school and co-op is uniquely positioned to cope with the uncertainty of this pandemic given our small campus and class size, adaptability, and commitment to each other. We are able to maximize the use of outdoor learning spaces and continue to provide a whole child education while maintaining small classroom cohorts. We also recognize that we are more than just a school, we are a compassionate co-op community that takes our responsibilities to protect each other and our children seriously. We have been following local community updates, surveying our community, listening to parents’ concerns about returning to campus, and closely reviewing the following public health guidance for schools: 

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics Guidance for School Re-entry “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with the goal of having students physically present in school.” The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of increased screen-time and school closures in the spring of 2020. The AAP guide also has low, medium, and high priority items for returning to a physical campus, with different recommendations for different ages, that will shape our operations.

  • The CDC’s Considerations for Schools distinguishes between the risk levels of different school options with all-virtual/home-based learning as the lowest risk option for disease spread and a conventional school setting as the highest risk option. The middle ground of “small, in-person classes” with procedures to eliminate mixing student groups is the option that The Circle School will be offering for in-person learning for 2020-2021.

 

The Circle School will be starting the 2020 fall semester virtually in compliance with the Metro Health Directive.  We are prepared to pivot to different learning models as this unpredictable year unfolds.

Once it is safe to return to full in person attendance, our policies will follow the plans outlined below.  A temporary distance learning option is included for families who choose to stay home for a longer period.

 

Our plan for reopening our physical campus includes limiting access to school buildings to staff and children only, keeping classroom groups separate while in common areas and on the playground, and maintaining elevated cleaning protocols throughout the day. 

 

  • All families and staff will sign a pledge prior to the start of the school year to limit their own exposure while outside of school as much as possible.   

  • Only staff and children will be allowed inside school buildings: parents will drop-off and pick-up from outside the school in coordination with teachers & staff. Multiple entry and exit points will be set up to minimize crowds. 

  • Parents/adults will be required to wear mask during pick-up and drop-off. 

  • Students will have a daily health check each morning and a COVID-19 decision tree to follow regarding testing and quarantine procedures. Children will need to be symptom free, without any medications, for 72 hours before returning to the facility. 

  • Students will come to school and go directly to their individual classroom teacher. 

  • Indoor student spaces have been rearranged to maximize space for social distancing. 

  • Scheduled cleaning of high-touch and high-traffic areas will happen throughout each day. 

  • Teachers and staff will wear masks when working inside and during activities outside that do not allow for social distancing.

  • Additional handwashing sinks have been installed throughout campus. Children will be required to wash their hands using CDC recommended handwashing procedures throughout the day.

  • Children will bring their own snack and lunch. No communal food will be prepared in the kitchen or stored in common containers. 

  • We will suspend large common group activities such as communal circle times.

  • Outdoor learning and time outside will be maximized amplifying the outdoor learning environment that is a long-standing feature of our curriculum. We are exploring additional options for how we can make the best use of our outdoor classroom spaces and learning options. 

 

If you have concerns about your student(s) returning in person, we will support short-term periods of learning at home: 

 

This option is available as short-term support for families that opt to stay home in response to elevated risk during periods of high community transmission in our local San Antonio area. This is also designed as a system of student support for instances where families need to self-quarantine due to possible virus exposure. This option for short-term stay-at-home support would maintain your child’s spot in our classes with the intention of their eventual return to the classroom and you would maintain full co-op membership.

 

  • Parents have the option of keeping students home and engaging with the classroom online learning platform (Google Classroom and/or Seesaw). 

  • Parents can pick up student learning materials (workbooks, etc…) from the porch. 

  • Teachers will post assignments in core academic areas each week and will review and return student assignments that have been “turned in” to the Google Classroom.

  • Teachers will provide one Classroom Connection opportunity each week for students to connect with their classmates and teacher through a video conferencing platform. 

  • Teachers will be available to answer parent questions during one regularly scheduled Office Hours period each week. Teachers may schedule alternate parent meetings at their discretion. 

  • Parents may choose to have their students return to campus for in-person learning at any point in the fall semester and will communicate with their student’s teacher to make a plan to transition back to the classroom.