COVID-19 Response: Policies & Procedures


 7:30 PM CDT July 26, 2020

During these tough times of uncertainty, ACA is prepared and ready for the 2020-2021 academic school year. Despite whether or not the public schools reopen, ACA has been going strong for 13 years and we will continue for many more years to come! We are excited to continue creating more unforgettable moments with our students and families. These unconventional circumstances bring challenges, but we are embracing these changes to ensure that your child(ren) and family can rely on ACA to be your choice as your trusted, safe and dependable school. 
 
We are continuing to adapt and make improvements as we progress through this new “COVID-era.” 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 steady rise of more families interested in our school but know that if your family has placed your deposit, we will be ready for you to join us when you feel its best for your family. Please let us know how we can further help your child(ren) and family.
 
We know that not everyone is in the position to reopen their doors to their day care, preschool or Montessori School. So, if your regular childcare center is no longer an option, we’re here to help everyone. Don’t hesitate to contact us so we can assist you and your family during this transition and we would be more than happy to schedule a virtual tour for you

 

 


 

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 Vasquez, ACA Parent


 

To Return to ACA:

  1. Please read the following 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.

 

 

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.

Summer Traveling

We understand that under these current circumstances, it is difficult to maintain a “normal” family lifestyle. As we are in the middle of summer, families will be spending time to vacation. To mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19, it is highly suggested to remain home and avoid traveling. But if you still choose to travel this summer or anytime in the near future, we are requiring families to:

  1. Provide ACA with written notification if you plan to travel within the state of Texas or to any other destinations throughout the country. 
  2. Please avoid spending time in “hot spots” where an increase of COVID-19 cases have been identified.
  3. Your child will need to be quarantined for 14-days to stay home and to monitor their health prior to their return to ACA if anyone in the household has:
    • traveled by airplane, or
    • been in crowded areas, contact with people not wearing masks, and not practicing social distancing. 

At ACA, we take all of these precautions very seriously and we’ve been educating our students about the importance of personal hygiene and safe practices to prevent the spread of germs. Please continue to communicate and maintain these healthy practices with your children before you travel. It is extremely important that your family follows the suggested protocols advised by the CDC

Here are a few suggested resources when planning your travels:

Face Masks for Students and Staff

All teachers and staff at ACA are required to wear face masks at all times. CDC recommends all people 2 years of age and older wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Therefore, we do ask that Primary Students ages 3 and up to also wear a face masks. With lower student-teacher ratios, the Primary Students will be spread out throughout the class, but it is important to know that COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. Wearing a mask acts as another form of protection from those situations and we feel that it is necessary to minimize any potential risks. 

There will be times where wearing a mask will be difficult. During morning and afternoon snack, lunch, nap time and when the children are outside playing, we will not require a mask to be worn. If a child suffers from asthma or has any difficulty breathing, our teachers and staff will make sure to take further precautions to maintain the safety of all children. 

 

Classroom Ratios, Group Sizes & Social Distancing

Classroom ratios and group sizes have been modified to a lower count than the existing minimum standards.  For each classroom, we have created a map, designating the areas of the classroom for social distancing.  An “X” will be marked to visually share with our children where they can safely work.  X’s will show approved locations for table seating, circle time, rug work areas and the placement of cots during nap time to encourage and support “social distancing.”
 
We will be spacing out the classroom for our children as much as possible. Students will be split into two groups, each managed by one teacher. This will help with guiding the students throughout the classroom, the materials that they touch and the areas that need disinfecting.  Other measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation will be rigorously practiced. 
 
ACA has opened additional space within the facility to accommodate smaller ratios. We will incorporate more outside activities, when feasible.  Ratios will continue to be maintained below existing state licensing standards to ensure each child is supervised in a safe environment conducive to learning. 

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 new drop-off procedures:

  • 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 designated lane organized with orange cones.
  • Simply follow the 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 a personal health screening check for your child(ren). We will assist in helping your child out of your vehicle and escort him/her into ACA.  

-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. 

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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