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Updates to Health and Safety Protocols

March 04, 2022
By Jacques A. Weber

Dear AIS Community,

We were very pleased to learn today that Austin has moved to Stage 2 of risk-based guidelines for COVID-19. Our school has seen a precipitous and sustained drop in the number of cases and close contacts over the past three weeks. Based on reduced risk and new guidance from APH and CDC, AIS will move to Level 1 protocols based on our adaptive protocols listed in our 2021-2022 Campus Opening Guide:

  • Face coverings. Masks recommended indoors. Masks optional outdoors.
  • Physical distancing. At least 3’ distance, where feasible, when masks are not used indoors. There is no physical distancing requirement outdoors.
  • Cohorting. Reduced contact between cycle-level cohorts.

With these adjustments, it is very important that all families and staff members abide by the requirements outlined in our Health and Safety Protocol form—namely, that no person exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 is permitted on campus until recovered from illness. Our staff will continue to monitor for symptoms and families will be asked to collect any potentially ill children from school.

Updates to Mask Usage Recommendations
During this morning’s meeting with public health authorities, it was explained that city will continue to recommend indoor masking through the end of the spring festival season, which is March 20th. APH encourages school communities to wear masks indoors through that period.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has offered new masking recommendations for families following updated CDC guidance. AAP advises families to consider the following factors in making a decision to wear masks:

  • if their child is between ages 2 and 5 and currently ineligible for COVID-19 vaccine;
  • if their child is immunocompromised and may not have a protective immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine, or is at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness;
  • if their child is not immunized;
  • if other members of their family are at higher risk of severe disease or are not immunized; and/or
  • if they live in a community with “high” COVID-19 transmission.

The choice or whether or not to wear a mask will be left to families and/or students. Making this decision with your child is an important part of fostering independence and autonomous decision-making. With mask usage moving to recommended indoors, it is critically important that students and their families fully respect other students’ and families’ decisions to wear a mask or to not wear a mask. It is neither acceptable nor permissible for any AIS community member to make another school community member feel bad about their choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask. We thank you in advance for talking with your children about the essential elements of respect, empathy, autonomy, inclusiveness, and kindness that form the bedrock of our community.

PS/MS Mask Usage Strongly Recommended
With Level 1 face covering protocols in place, masks are now recommended indoors and optional outdoors. Because children under the age of 5 are currently ineligible for vaccination, it is highly recommended that students in PS/MS continue to wear a mask while indoors. This strong recommendation is in place until your child is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and/or if they have recovered from COVID-19 within the last 90 days.

Future Mask Requirements
We have received requests from some families about mask requirements in the 2022-2023 school year. Though it is too early to give insight into what the global health situation will look like in August 2022, there are several important elements that apply not only to next year, but the remainder of this year as well:

  • AIS may return to requiring masks if the COVID-19 situation worsens.
  • Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have had symptom onset in the last 10 days will be required to wear a mask anytime they are on campus (i.e., under our current test-to-stay protocol).
  • Individuals who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 will be required to wear a mask following exposure for at least 10 days.
  • Choosing to wear a mask is always an option; it is a family and/or student decision.
  • During times when masks are optional or recommended, all AIS community members will be required to respect others’ individual choices to wear a mask or not wear a mask; any form of disrespect or bullying of another community member’s choice will not be tolerated by the school.

Any changes to mask requirements or safety protocols will be communicated via the Friday Flash and/or through a Head of School eCommuniqué.

COVID-19 Testing after Spring Break
AIS will require all students and staff to complete a rapid antigen test on March 27th or the morning of March 28th, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection. Any person who tests positive will be required to isolate per our current protocols. Families may choose to test by:

  • Completing an at-home test: Write the name of your child, date, and time of sample collection on the test, snap a photo, and email it to our records@ address;
  • Completing a test at a testing center: After completing a test at a testing location near you, forward your negative test result to our records@ address; OR
  • Completing testing at AIS: Testing by appointment will be made available on the morning of Monday, March 28th. To request an appointment, send an email to our COVIDtesting@ address..

If you have any questions about this post-vacation test-to-return requirement, please don’t hesitate to reach outto me via email.

Merci ! ¡Gracias! Thank you!
We truly appreciate and value your collective support of one another. At its most basic level, a community is simply a group of people who share something in common, such as being part of AIS. A true community, however, is composed of individuals who care about what we have in common, care about each other, interact with one another, are passionate about our common purposes, have shared core values, and care about our community as a whole. I am proud to be part of such a strong and supportive community.

Thank you for all that you have done thus far to keep each other safe and all that you will do in the future to protect the health and safety of AIS community members and their families.

I wish you a pleasant, restful, and safe weekend!

Sincerely,

Jacques

Posted in Communiqués