THE JOURNEY AHEAD
t. Gabriel’s Catholic School will focus on promoting behaviors and strategies that reduce the spread of COVID-19. Health procedures and guidelines may change as virus data is updated and as the 2020-2021 school year progresses. Health protocols will follow recommended guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Texas Education Agency.
All individuals, including employees, students, and visitors, will be required to complete a daily health screening questionnaire about current symptoms and recent exposure. These screenings will be required before entering campus, and strongly suggested daily for all individuals while they are home exhibiting symptoms or self-isolating.
Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
Faculty, staff, and students will be expected to frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at multiple times throughout the day. Hand sanitizer will be available at multiple locations throughout the school and all classrooms.
Faculty, staff, and students will be encouraged to cover coughs and sneezes as suggested by CDC and TEA guidelines.
Facemasks will be required in accordance with CDC and TEA guidelines. There will be variations according to age and developmental appropriateness.
Appropriate and consistent use of cloth face coverings may be challenging for some students, teachers, and staff, including:
Severe asthma or breathing difficulties
Intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, and sensory concerns or tactile sensitivity
While cloth face coverings are strongly encouraged to reduce the spread of COVID-19, there are specific instances when wearing a face covering may not be feasible.
Cloth face coverings will be recommended when physical distance can not be maintained. Face shields may be substituted while students are seated at their desks and socially distanced in classrooms, with health concern as listed above. Please contact the school nurse to discuss necessary documentation regarding health concerns.
Cloth face coverings will be recommended when physical distance can not be maintained. Face shields may be substituted while students are seated at their desks and socially distanced in classrooms, with health concern as listed above.
EPA registered disinfectant wipes will be issued to all classrooms to maintain surface hygiene. High touch surface areas will be wiped multiple times per day.
Students will be required to bring 1 refillable water bottle daily, labeled with their first and last name. Only the filtered water dispenser on the water fountain will be used. Playground “high touch” surfaces such as grab bars and railings will be cleaned routinely.
Additionally, the CDC issued new recommendations on August 7 stating that children 2 and above should wear masks when not able to socially distance in order to prevent the spread of the virus. With this in mind, we will also be responsive to the developmental needs of our youngest learners. Please reach out to your child's teacher or the Head of Lower School with any questions.
Classroom seating and desks will be spaced according to CDC and TEA recommended guidelines. Students will be grouped into cohorts and remain together in their classroom settings. Teachers will rotate classrooms as often as feasible. Large group gatherings such as morning prayers, town hall meetings, and mass will generally be live streamed into the classrooms.
Hallways and stairways will maintain directional arrows for use. Entrances and exits will be assigned to each student as well as restrooms in order to contact trace more easily. Outdoor “fresh air” classroom settings will also be promoted weather permitting.
The school nurse’s office will have one entrance and exit. A waiting room with socially distanced seating, will be utilized for non-illness situations. If a student is feeling ill, with or without a possible fever, they will be placed in the nurse’s office, socially distanced with Plexiglas between the exam tables. This space will be treated as the “quarantine” space as needed for illness.
Deciding When to Stay Home
Important: If at any point the student is feeling well enough, they may participate in school remotely until returning to campus.
Being within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
* Individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).
Individual Returning to Campus
In the case of the individual who was diagnosed with Covid-19, the individual may return when all of the following requirements are met:
At least 24 hours have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever reducing medications),
Improvement in symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath, etc),
At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.
If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay at home period, the individual must either (a) obtain a medical doctor –licensed in the state of Texas, note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or (b) receive two separate confirmations at least 24 hours apart that they are free of COVID-19 via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing location found at https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/.
The CDC recommends that a negative rapid test (i.e. an antigen test) for a symptomatic person be followed by a PCR test to rule out a false negative. CDC recommends confirming negative antigen test results with an RT-PCR test when the pretest probability is relatively high, especially if the patient is symptomatic or has a known exposure to a person confirmed to have COVID-19. Ideally, confirmatory RT-PCR testing should take place within two days of the initial antigen testing. If RT-PCR testing is not available, clinical discretion can be used in whether to recommend the patient isolate.
On December 2, 2020, the CDC updated their guidance for the stay-at-home quarantine period. They state that “these options should be used only in limited circumstances”. The CDC is allowing local public health authorities to determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions and is encouraging schools to follow health department policy.
Travis County Health Department and the Diocese of Austin have now given us guidance to follow the CDC updated quarantine guidelines as we move forward. The CDC still recommends 14 day quarantines as the safest response. However, in certain cases, the following guidelines are now permissible:
If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and were not wearing a mask OR you do live with or work in a setting with people who are at high risk for severe disease, you should quarantine for the full 14 days.
If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and were wearing a mask and do not live with or work in a setting with people who are at high risk for severe disease, the following guidance applies:
Quarantine for 10 days, monitoring your symptoms OR quarantine for 7 days, monitoring your symptoms AND receive a negative COVID-19 test on or after the 5th day following exposure.
If you are a healthcare worker or first responder, quarantine for 7 days, monitoring your symptoms AND receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test result on or after the 7th day following exposure.