COVID-19 Response: Policies & Procedures


:30 AM CDT October 11, 2021

 


 

As a new mom,…I was also so appreciative of the ACA COVID policies during this time, and the proactive communication with the families around any healthcare concerns. We…highly recommend them to any family!

-Cecilia C., ACA Parent
5-star Yelp Review


 
 
Austin Children’s Academy is in full swing for the 2021-2022 academic school year. Being a leader within the community for 13 years, ACA continues to be your trusted, safe and reliable partner for your family. This pandemic has forced us all to adapt while navigating through these unconventional circumstances. But at ACA, we embrace these challenges because it is important that we lead by example for our children and families with clear expectations and transparent communication. 
 
Please take a look below as we have recently made updates to our Policies and Procedures. We will be implementing these updates to help streamline our processes while being more efficient in our practices. 
 
We are seeing a rise in more families interested in attending ACA but please know that if your family places a deposit, we will be ready for you to join us when you feel its best for your family. The best lesson our team has learned through this process is patience and vigilance. We trust everyone to be responsible and to do what is best for your family to remain safe and healthy. 
 
We understand that not all schools are acting swiftly. Some schools, daycares and other Montessori schools may not be in a position to adapt their current policies and procedures. If your current or former childcare center or school is closed or is no longer an option, we’re here to help all families. Please feel free to contact us so we can assist you and your family.

 

 


 

Austin Children’s Academy has really stepped up during the COVID-19 Crisis. After temporarily closing, they have been able to reopen with full safety measures in place to keep students, parents and staff safe.

My wife and I are essential workers and have been struggling to find a child care situation until we heard ACA was accepting children of essential workers in the community. The staff is phenomenal and friendly and we are impressed with the level at which our daughter is at with , math , speech and her creativity. She was so happy to go back to school and talked about her day when we picked her up.

If you are in the area and in a similar situation and are looking for a good trustworthy Montessori School we highly recommend Austin Children’s Academy!

-Patrick V., ACA Parent
5-star Yelp Review


 

Temporary Hours of Operation

In an effort to take every precaution possible, we will continue with our temporary adjusted hours of operation from 8:00am – 5:00pm until further notice. This will allow the same teacher to be present the entire day in each classroom and will eliminate the need to move students for opening and closing hours.

Daily Health Screenings

The following individuals will ONLY be permitted to enter ACA: 

  • Authorized operations staff
  • Professionals providing services to children 
  • Children enrolled at ACA
  • State licensing officials 
  • Department of Family and Protective Services staff
  • Law enforcement officers

Due to the severity of this virus, there will be limited access to enter the school and those authorized will undergo a routine health screen including checking body temperature with a non-contact thermometer.

As advised, anyone meeting the following criteria will be denied entry to the school:

  • A temperature of 100.0°F or above; 
  • Signs or symptoms of:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Loss of taste or smell
    • Diarrhea
    • Feeling feverish 
  • Known close contact with a person who is
    • lab-confirmed to have COVID-19;
    • under investigation for COVID-19;
    • ill with a respiratory illness; or 
    • has travelled internationally to countries with widespread, sustained community transmission.

Stay Home When Sick

We remind everyone – parents, children and faculty alike – to stay home at the first sign of illness.  Contact your health provider if you experience any signs or symptoms listed above, develop a fever above 100°F, or experience discomfort or distress in terms of breathing.  

If a child is sick at school, they will be isolated from everyone else at ACA and will need to be picked up immediately. 

Children need to be fever-free and symptom-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine before returning to school.

Our top priority is to keep our entire Austin Children’s Academy Family healthy and safe. We ask you for your continued patience and cooperation as we implement and fine tune our procedures to best serve our children and community.

Face Masks 

All teachers and staff at ACA are required to wear face masks during all times. Masks are optional for children attending in-person classes at ACA. Please confirm with the CDC guidelines for suggested best practices for children in and out of a school environment. If you feel that your child does NOT need to wear a mask or would simply like to opt-out, we support your decision. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: There will be times where wearing a mask will be difficult and exceptions will be made during the following situations: 
  • Morning and Afternoon Snack,
  • Lunch,
  • Nap Time, 
  • Playtime or anytime children are exercising.

If a child suffers from asthma or has any difficulty breathing, our teachers and staff will monitor each child throughout the day and take further precautions to maintain the safety of all children. Please find below more information about face masks:

Vaccinations 

The majority of teachers and staff have been vaccinated and our executive management team strongly encourages vaccinations. 

 

Curbside Drop-off & Pick-up Procedures

As more businesses start to re-open, traffic will also increase. Please allow yourself additional time due to traffic, inclement weather and the following new drop-off and pick-up procedures.  The curbside drop-off and pick-up procedures will occur outside ACA in the parking lot.

  • We require face masks to be worn at all times during drop-off and pick-up. 
  • Parking lot safety is critical to keeping our children and staff safe. 
    • Reduce your speed. 
    • Stay alert at all times when approaching and departing the parking lot.
    • Turn off your engine. 

-DROP-OFF: To maintain a smooth morning transition, please prepare your child, by communicating to them about the following drop-off procedures.

ACA will be conducting curbside drop-off ONLY between the hours of 8:00am – 9:00am.

  • The parking lot will be one-way only.
  • The entrance will be located adjacent to the neighboring business as you approach ACA directly from RR 620 N.
  • You will notice one lane approaching the drop-off area designated by orange cones.
  • Simply follow the line to the orange cones and please turn off your engines.
  • Please be patient and stay in your vehicle.
  • Wait for our staff to approach to complete your child’s in-take and health screening. 
  • A member of our staff will perform personal health screening checks for each child.
  • Then we will assist in helping your child out of your vehicle and escort him/her to their classroom.  
The early morning hours are the best time in the day for a child to focus and concentrate specifically on their individual Montessori and group work.
 
We encourage all of our students to arrive no later than 9:00am to take advantage of your child’s natural alertness. 
 
This is our suggested drop-off time. We understand that mornings get busy and ACA will continue to support all of our Parents and Families. So, if you find yourself arriving after 9:00am and do not see the cones designating the curbside drop-off area, then simply complete the following sequential steps: 
  1. If you anticipate arriving after 9:00am, then first communicate a message via Preschool2Me or call in advance to notify the ACA Administration of your estimated time of arrival.
  2. Once you arrive at ACA, please park your car in a spot closest to the ACA main entrance ramp.
  3. Walk your child to the front door and ring the doorbell to notify our ACA Team of your arrival. 
  4. A member of our ACA Team will then greet you and your child at the door.
  5. They will proceed with our routine health screening checks by taking your child’s temperature and asking the typical COVID-19 screening questions.  
  6. If there are multiple students and parents approaching the front door at that time, please organize into a single file line to help expedite the check-in process. 

Important Reminder: For the safety of our Teachers and Staff, we require facial coverings such as face masks to be worn at all times when interacting with a member of the ACA Team.

-PICK-UP: We will be utilizing the messaging feature on our PreSchool2Me app during the pick-up process. The provided Name Tags will be required for use during afternoon pick-up. Please be patient with us as our staff will be working very hard to accommodate all of our families during the afternoon rush. To make this pickup process run seamlessly, please complete the following:  

  • Message your child’s classroom at least 10-15 mins prior to your arrival and provide the following information:
    • your estimated time of arrival,
    • make, model, and color of your vehicle,
    • license plate number, and 
    • the name of the person that will be picking up your child.
  • If this person is anyone outside of the two primary guardians, they will need written authorization via email.
  • Any persons other than the two primary guardians may be asked to provide photo identification.  
  • Upon your arrival:
    • Place the Name Tag you have been provided on the window facing the building so that our staff can easily recognize your vehicle when your child is being escorted to you.
    • Provide our staff ample time to help your child gather their belongings and change their diapers or go to the restroom. 
    • Our staff member will then safely escort your child to your vehicle. 
  • If you anticipate arriving at or after 5:00pm:
    • Communicate a message via Preschool2Me or call in advance to notify the ACA Administration of your estimated time of arrival.
    • Once you arrive at ACA, please park your car in a spot closest to the ACA main entrance ramp.
    • Walk to the front door and ring the doorbell to notify our ACA Team of your arrival. 
    • A member of our ACA Team will bring your child to the front door for pickup.
    • Important Note: Late pick-up fees apply. 

Enhanced School Cleaning 

In addition to our standard 5-day nightly deep cleaning procedures performed by our professional cleaning company, ACA will also be conducting the following enhanced cleaning measures:

  • We are frequently sanitizing all surfaces including high-touch areas like door handles, light switches, classroom sink handles, countertops, nap cots, tables, chairs, and cubbies. 
  • Learning materials, toys and other frequently used objects are being routinely deep cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected on a rotating basis. 
  • Please bring your child’s bedding in a new, unused, large, white trash bagclearly labeled in large print with your child’s name and classroom using a black marker. This will help keep them isolated and separate from other student’s bedding. Like usual, bedding will be taken home on a weekly basis, each Friday or if any “accidents” occur during the week. 
  • Each student has a designated, separate personal cubby available for storing items from home such as jackets, spare clothing, and lunches prepared at home. 
  • Please be sure to send multiple weather-appropriate changes of clothes for your child. 

Healthy Hand Hygiene

ACA has reviewed and trained proper hand washing procedures with our staff and have performed Quality Assurance checks to ensure proper hand washing policies are being followed.  We also have added hand sanitizer stations in all classrooms and common areas.  

Teachers and staff will supervise children when they use hand sanitizer and assist the children with hand washing. All children, teachers and staff will engage in proper hand hygiene multiple times throughout the day especially at the following times: 

  • Arrival to facility and after breaks
  • After assisting children with hand washing including infants 
  • Before and after preparing food or drinks
  • Before and after eating or handling food, or feeding children
  • Before and after administering medication or medical ointment 
  • Before and after diapering 
  • After using the toilet or helping a child use the bathroom
  • After coming in contact with bodily fluid
  • After being outdoors
  • After handling garbage or waste 

Food & Snack Preparation 

ACA does not provide lunch service but does offer healthy snacks both in the morning and afternoon. Each child will be provided individual snacks not to be shared with one another and served inside their classrooms.  

Often times, parents may have their child bring additional healthy snack options for preference or dietary restrictions. We ask that they be provided in sealed containers inside their insulated lunch bags to avoid spillage and contamination.

Refrigerators are for ACA use only. Sinks used for food preparation will not be used for any other purposes.  

If COVID-19 is confirmed in a child or staff member

Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) protects children by regulating and educating child care providers. Child Care Licensing responsibilities include (1) regulating all child-care operations and child-placing agencies to protect the health, safety, and well-being of children in care and (2) permitting and monitoring operations and agencies for compliance with state licensing standards, rules and laws.

If at any point we have a person within our school with a confirmed case of COVID-19, we are advised to:

  • Contact our local health authority to report the presence of COVID-19. 
  • Contact Child Care Licensing to report the presence of COVID-19 in our facility.
  • Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the areas.
  • Wait up to 24 hours or as long as possible before we clean or disinfect to allow respiratory droplets to settle before cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, and common areas.
  • If more than 7 days have passed since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.
  • Continue routine cleaning and disinfection.

To Return to ACA:

  1. Please read the above Updated Policies & Procedures advised by the Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) and the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) Child Care Licensing (CCL).
  2. Complete and submit the Student Return Form.
  3. Email the form to info@AustinChildrensAcademy.org.

 

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