As back-to-school season approaches, both parents and teachers are starting to think about the best way to keep students safe while helping their education advance. Here at Austin Children’s Academy, we’ve taken a wide range of precautions to reduce transmission risk and ensure a healthy learning environment.
Our original school schedule had each student interacting with multiple different teachers and assistants throughout the day. Teachers would take shifts, allowing ACA to remain open for extended hours to meet our community’s childcare needs. This kind of system is great for socializing the students, but it’s not a good choice for social distancing.
Instead, we’ve switched to a slightly shorter schoolday that teachers can complete in a single working shift. Each set of students will only interact with the same set of staff members. This greatly reduces the risk of transmission and ensures that if one student tests positive, it won’t be spread to the rest of the school.
New Entry Protocols
To protect everyone in our extended community, we’re limiting entry through the academy doors to students and staff members. All employees have been briefed on appropriate measures to reduce potential spread throughout the day.
In the same vein, we are now following a drive-up pickup and dropoff procedure. This allows teachers to maintain proper social distancing while ensuring that the kids are supervised at all times.
As part of the pick-up procedure, we’ll be checking all student’s temperatures and monitoring them for potential symptoms. A student who shows symptoms will be temporarily isolated, and their guardian will be called for immediate pickup.
One of the simplest ways to keep the risk of transmission down is by reducing the size of classes. ACA has dropped group counts down below minimum standards to ensure that every student comes into contact with the least number of people possible.
In the classroom, students are being taught about proper social distancing and handwashing procedures. Hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the classroom, and kids are encouraged to use them. Teachers are keeping track of movement so they can disinfect objects and surfaces.
Work areas are marked on the floor to make it easy for kids to remain a reasonable distance apart. Every ACA student has a unique cubby where they can keep their belongings during the school day. Students should bring their own lunches, but they’ll also be provided with two individually-packaged snacks throughout the day.
Every school is making a different set of changes, but we’ve found these procedures incredibly effective for ACA. Our current setup allows students to interact normally during the schoolday and even engage with other students while reducing the risk of transmission to a minimum. We’re looking forward to another exciting school year with the students and families we love.