Fall Reopening Plan
Beginning the Year in Plan C – Outdoor Learning
It is our wish to provide the students of our school with a consistent and steady rhythm; therefore the Faculty have decided that we will open the school year in Plan C. Our Plan C moves all of our grades classes off-site to outdoor classrooms. While there is much work to be done to ready these spaces, we could not be more excited about this transition! Study after study has shown that time spent outdoors plays an essential role in better learning and overall health, well being, and brain functioning for children of all ages. Though the grades children will be moving off-site, all of our Early Childhood classes (Nursery, Kindergarten, and Parent-Child Classes ) will continue to meet at our Magnolia Campus in West Asheville. Our EC teachers are preparing their curriculum to include extended time outdoors.
- Drop-off and pick-up will occur throughout a 30-minute window to allow for staggered arrival time.
- EC drop-off and pick-up will occur outside or through the individual classrooms’ exterior doors: parents will not enter the building for drop-off or pick-up.
- Grades teachers will monitor grades students’ arrival and dismissal at their outdoor locations, assuring students walk straight from vehicle to their meeting space and vice-versa.
- If possible, families should designate the same parent or individual to drop off and pick up the child every day, and avoid designating those considered at high risk.
- Parents are encouraged to be mindful of the diverse needs of our community and to respect others’ needs for social distancing and other precautionary measures.
- Parents are encouraged to maintain social distancing in the parking lot and during drop-off and pick-up.
- These precautionary measures are to be held by the adults for the health and safety of all, but as much as possible, the children should not experience explicit directives resulting in fear or anxiety (for example, say “let’s move over here in the shade” rather than “we have to stay 6 feet away or we might get sick.”)
- Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance and exit of each room and available at off-campus sites.
- Children will wash their hands upon entering the classroom or outdoor classroom space.
- Hand washing stations will available at outdoor classroom locations.
- Only children and staff who are required for daily operations should enter the Magnolia Campus building and classrooms with the following exceptions:
- Professionals who support children with health or developmental needs, working in compliance with their agency protocols, are allowed to be in the classroom once screened.
- Participants who are participating in indoor Parent-Child classes are limited to one adult per child participant.
- Large group gatherings such as public festivals, assemblies, and all-school parent meetings may be postponed based on current local and state-level guidelines.
- Class parent meetings may be held virtually or outside to allow for physical distancing.
- The playground is only for the use of classes while school is open (8:00am-5:30pm).
- When possible, circle activities will happen outside with social distancing. When activities require touch or sharing materials, hygiene practices will be implemented.
- The school will ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods.
- Cloth face coverings are not required with the exception of someone who has begun to exhibit symptoms and is waiting to go home.
Protocols Unique to Early Childhood
- EC classes will maintain ratios and group size based on NC Child Care Requirements.
- Nursery and Kindergarten classes will, as much as possible, include the same group of children each day.
- The same teachers will remain with the same group each day if possible, including lunch and rest time.
- Children staying for rest time will have a designated cot and bedding.
- Cots will be spaced out as much as possible, ideally 6 feet apart, and head-to-toe.
- Bedding that touches a child’s skin should be cleaned at least weekly. Bedding will be sent home with parents for washing every week.
- Children will only help prepare food that will be fully cooked.
- Food will be served by a teacher, and the serving utensil/vessel will not make contact with the individual dishes/bowls/cups.
- There will be a designated bin for separating mouthed toys and teachers will maintain awareness of children’s behaviors. When a child is finished with a mouthed toy, teachers will place it in a toy bin that is inaccessible to other children, and wash their hands. These toys will be cleaned and sanitized before returning to shelves.
- Sensory/sand tables will not be used inside.
- Staff will clean and sanitize all toys at the end of the day.
- Soft toys that are machine-washable will be washed at the warmest temperature recommended on the label and dried thoroughly.
Protocols Unique to Grades
- Grades teachers will encourage social distancing in class and in vehicles.
- Grades students will work in small cohort groups as much as possible and large gatherings will be limited.
- In the event of Plan B, there will be no greater than 50% occupancy of the school building, and this will be addressed through outdoor classrooms and off-site learning in creative and varying modalities.
Cleaning and Hygiene
- Staff will clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces throughout the day and after children go home, using proven non-toxic disinfectants.
- The school will have adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors (e.g., soap, paper towels, tissues, and hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol for safe use by staff and older children).
- Staff will routinely check and refill/replace hand sanitizer at entries, soap, and paper towels in bathrooms.
- The school will allow time between activities for proper cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.
- Linens will be washed after each use using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dried completely. Hampers will be cleaned and disinfected according to guidance above for hard or soft surfaces.
- Staff will clean and disinfect shared tools, supplies, and equipment.
- The school will minimize use of shared supplies and label individual supplies and items.
- Teachers will ensure adequate supplies to assign for individual use, or limit use to small groups and disinfect between uses.
- Student’s personal items will be kept separate and in individually labeled cubbies, boxes, or lockers
- Teachers will teach and reinforce hand hygiene guidance for adults and children such as washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice).
- Teachers will incorporate frequent hand-washing and sanitation breaks into classroom activity.
- Hand sanitizing products with 60 percent alcohol may be used in lieu of hand-washing when outdoors if hands are washed upon returning indoors. Hand sanitizer should be stored out of reach of children when not in use. Cannot be used for diapering or eating, preparing, or serving food.
- In addition to usual hand-washing, everyone should wash hands:
- Upon arrival in classroom in the morning
- Before and after eating meals and snacks
- After blowing noses, coughing, or sneezing or when in contact with body fluids
- After toileting or changing diapers
- Staff and children will be encouraged to cough and sneeze into their elbows, or to cover with a tissue, and to avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Protecting Vulnerable Populations
- Staff will review all current learning plans, IEPs, and accommodations identifying those who may be especially vulnerable.
- Community members will be allowed to self-identify as high risk for severe illness.
- Teachers will provide remote learning for at risk families.
- At risk staff will be allowed to teach or work from home.
Monitoring for Symptoms
- Before arrival, parents are required to screen their child for symptoms including temperature or request their student to be screened at school by staff.
- Parents will be given a copy of the daily health screening questions, and upon arrival at school, will sign a document indicating that before arriving, they have taken their child’s temperature, assessed symptoms/questions listed on the screening questions, and determined their child is allowed to attend based on provided guidelines.
- No one may enter the school grounds if they have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms, or they have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19.
- Children or staff members that develop fever, chills, shortness of breath, new cough, or new loss of taste or smell will be sent home as soon as possible.
- A staff member will wait with a child needing to return home, in a place physically distanced from other children and staff; the staff member should remain cautious about contact while maintaining visual supervision and emotional connection.
- ONLY if the child will easily tolerate and understand a face covering, the child will be given a cloth face covering or a surgical mask to wear.
- Anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;
- Anyone who cannot tolerate a cloth face-covering due to developmental, medical, or behavioral health needs.
- Cloth face coverings should not be placed on:
- The school will notify local health authorities of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children and staff (as required by NCGS § 130A-136).
- The school will adhere to the following guidelines for allowing a child or staff member to return to child care:
- Has it been at least 10 days since the person first had symptoms?
- Has it been at least 3 days since the person had a fever (without using fever-reducing medicine)?
- Has it been at least 3 days since the person’s symptoms have improved, including cough and shortness of breath?
- If a person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but does not have symptoms, they can return to school once 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test.
- If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 based on a test, their symptoms, or does not get a COVID-19 test but has had symptoms, they can return to school once they (or a family member for a young child) can answer YES to ALL three questions:
- If a person has had a negative COVID-19 test, they can return to school once there is no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines and they have felt well for 24 hours.
- If a person has been determined to have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, they can return to school 14 days after their last known exposure, unless they test positive. In which case, criteria above would apply. They must complete the full 14 days of quarantine even if they test negative.
- A person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has been presumed positive by a medical professional due to symptoms does not need to have documentation of a negative test in order to return to school after following the above guidelines.
Letter to our Community - June 16th
Asheville Waldorf School is reopening for the 2020-2021 school year. We, like schools across the state of North Carolina, expect that students will be able to return to their classrooms. As of June 11th, the state of North Carolina has provided guidelines for the reopening of public schools and childcare centers. For public K-12 schools it is a three phase plan. If current COVID-19 cases in the State stabilize or decrease, public schools will implement Plan A, which allows students to return to school with minimal social distancing. If COVID-19 metrics worsen, Plan B will be implemented, which still allows for in-person education with moderate social distancing. If metrics worsen significantly, Plan C requires remote learning for public schools.
We teachers at Asheville Waldorf School believe that we can adhere to state guidelines regarding COVID-19 protocol in a way that aligns with our human-centric educational practices and goals. Some new practices will need to be implemented, some more natural than others. For example, under Plan A and Plan B, students will need to be screened by their own parents or by teachers before coming to school for symptoms of COVID-19. Any students or teachers that are symptomatic or that have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 will not be allowed in school until protocols are met.
Some aspects of our COVID-19 response may differ slightly from the State guidelines. Under Plan B, public schools are to limit students to 50% of the building’s capacity. While this may mean alternate-day schooling for some schools, we are planning on providing in-person class for each grades student every day through outdoor and off-site class modalities. In the unfortunate event of a Plan C phase, grades students will participate in off-site learning, along with project-based learning to provide a more creative and healthier approach to distancing learning protocols.
The guidelines pertaining to Early Childhood classes are based on The Interim Guidance for Child Care Settings published by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on 6-9-20, and adapted as needed for our setting. After consultation with Buncombe County Partnership for Children, we have determined that our Early Childhood Classes: Parent-Child, Bridge, Nursery, and Kindergarten, would fall under the category of “Child Care”. Our kindergarteners do not spend the majority of their day sitting at desks doing academic work, and our classes are mixed-age. Therefore, the guidelines for K-12 do not apply to our Early Childhood program. The guidelines for NC child care do not include Phases in the way the K-12 plan does; ongoing and updated guidelines may be released as the situation changes. As long as childcare is allowed to remain open as an “essential business”, we expect that our Early Childhood Classes will remain open and in operation, even if the grades program moves to a more restrictive phase. We intend to spend more time outside, and take other precautions as outlined below. Teachers will not wear masks or face coverings, and children will not be required to either.
We are also concerned with protecting those vulnerable individuals in our community. Therefore, even though we will be offering in-person classes, we will provide a distance-learning curriculum for those who are unable to physically attend class due to health restrictions. Other practices will be less complicated, such as the teaching and implementation of proper hand-washing, or students bringing their own water bottles.
The topic of the use of face masks is a complicated one. The results of our parent survey showed us that the opinions about mask use within our parent community vary greatly. At Asheville Waldorf School we strive to tend to the children’s physical, social, and spiritual health, and we deeply value human connection. Therefore, we will not require the use of cloth face coverings among those who are not symptomatic.
While COVID-19 was an unprecedented challenge for all of us this spring, we now have the knowledge to make clear choices for our students that will best protect the health of the community while providing a true education for our students. We look forward to welcoming the children back very soon.
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Educating the whole child, in mind, body, and spirit,
for a life of continuous learning
and meaningful engagement with the world.
ASHEVILLE WALDORF SCHOOL
531 Haywood Road
Asheville, NC 28806
Main office: 828.575.2557