COVID-19 Protocols for Beginning the 2021-22 School Year
AGS’s top priorities when considering the upcoming school year are to keep our students safe and to do all we can to ensure they are able to learn in person whenever possible. We strongly encourage all students and family members who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to do so. Our protocols are designed to protect every member of our community, including our youngest students, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. In order to operate a fully in-person program and offer our students an experience that includes arts, athletics, collaborative activities, and more, we have implemented the following protocols:
- In alignment with new recommendations from the CDC, masks will be required indoors for all students, faculty and staff, and visitors. Masks will be optional outdoors for all community members. Visitors will be permitted on campus but must remain masked at all times.
- We will continue to encourage frequent hand washing/sanitizing and implement appropriate cleaning procedures throughout our physical spaces, including special attention to high-touch spaces.
- Social distancing of three feet or the maximum distance allowed by room configurations will be implemented.
- Students should follow CDC recommendations regarding symptoms, close contacts, and quarantine. Our nurse, Monique Rodriguez, can assist you with questions pertaining to your family’s individual situation.
Everyone at AGS appreciates the support and cooperation of our families as we work together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As public health guidance evolves, our COVID-19 Health and Safety Task Force may update our protocols to align with new recommendations and will keep you informed if any protocols change.
The AGS COVID-19 Task Force works to address policies, procedures, and logistics that help the school meet its aim of providing a safe and engaging in-person learning experience to our students in 2021-22. This task force makes decisions based on guidance from the CDC, the World Health Organization, and Georgia Department of Public Health. Key areas considered by the task force include:
- Health and Safety
- Teaching and Learning
- Student Life
- Faculty and Staff
Health and Wellness Pledge
All families must commit to supporting AGS’s health, wellness and safety protocols and must agree to keep students home when they are not feeling well, have COVID-like symptoms or have potentially been exposed. Each family will be required to complete the AGS Health and Wellness Pledge, which is available through Blackbaud and must be completed with the other medical documents required for the start of school.
AGS is returning to its usual uniform policy as outlined in the Community Handbook. Students will bring a PE uniform for PE class and will change clothes for that class. Since outdoor spaces will be utilized as much as possible throughout the day, we request that students come to school dressed appropriately for the weather.
An appropriate mask is required for all students. While we ask that masks do not have logos or distracting designs, students are not expected to wear a mask with AGS branding or colors. AGS masks are available in the school store for purchase.
Of note, AGS has updated its uniform policy in regards to footwear. Students may now wear any closed-toe, flat shoes that cover the back of the foot. Socks are required only for PE. On Mondays, when our students wear the formal uniform, athletic shoes are not permitted.
Mask usage will continue during indoor PE classes; teachers have the discretion to give students “mask breaks” as necessary while implementing ample social distancing. Students will change clothes for PE in the gym’s locker room area and should plan to wear their uniform and bring a PE uniform to change into.
Students will use lockers this year. In an effort to maintain social distancing, no bottom lockers will be used this year, and students will be encouraged to stagger their locker visits.
AGS will return to a regular morning drop-off procedure that does not include health screenings or temperature checks. Students and families are expected to self-monitor for any health symptoms that could be signs of COVID-19 and stay home if symptoms are present.
To minimize crowding in hallways, students will be dismissed on a staggered schedule.
All students will be encouraged to use outdoor eating areas. Indoor alternatives are as follows: Sixth graders will eat lunch in the Middle School Annex; seventh graders will use the Middle School Dining Hall; and eighth graders will eat in the gym. Upper Schoolers will eat in the Upper School Commons and outdoors. Seniors with parental permission will again be allowed to leave campus for lunch. Students will also be able to use the microwaves in the dining areas.
Students will be given the entire lunch period for eating and relaxation; however, students are expected to unmask only for the time they are eating. For socializing during the lunch period, masks will be required indoors.
The Parents’ Circle has generously purchased additional outdoor seating and umbrellas for our outdoor dining tables to help us encourage outdoor dining.
We intend to continue offering performing arts and athletics opportunities to our students. As with our general protocols, athletics and performing arts protocols are designed with our students’ safety at top of mind. Since these distinct activities each require special considerations, families can expect to receive information regarding any special protocols directly from the teachers, coaches, or administrators overseeing these activities.
Decisions about social activities will be made on a case-by-case basis and based on the school’s ability to uphold protocols that create a safe environment for our students and community. We are hopeful that many of our social activities will be able to resume this year, particularly given our learnings from the return of some favorite traditions in spring 2021. The COVID-19 Task Force will review protocols for social events and keep our community informed of those decisions.
AGS will evaluate requests for virtual learning on a case-by-case basis. Any student choosing virtual learning will follow her normal schedule and attend classes via Zoom. While we are unable to guarantee that the virtual experience will exactly mirror the in-person student experience, teachers will work closely with virtual students to ensure clear and realistic expectations from both parties. If you have questions regarding your family’s circumstances, please reach out to Upper and Middle School Director Krista Parker and School Nurse Monique Rodriguez.
All students, faculty and staff, and visitors are required to wear a cloth mask or similar while on campus. The following masks are acceptable:
- Washable cloth face mask, including neoprene masks
- Single-use, disposable surgical, medical, or dust masks
Please note that face shields or bandanas may not be used as substitutes for masks and that masks must be properly worn over the nose and mouth.
Signs will be posted to remind students to practice physical distance. Classroom and communal spaces are being re-configured to determine the best layout and arrangement of furniture to allow students to distance themselves. Current CDC guidelines encourage distancing of three feet in conjunction with masking and other protocols.
We will use a combination of factors and metrics to decide if we need to adjust any of our protocols temporarily or for the duration of the year. While our decision may or may not align with other schools, we will consider government/state mandates, student and/or faculty absenteeism that may prohibit us from executing our mission in person, high risk of school/local/state spread of the disease, and guidelines provided by the CDC and local and state health officials.
Families are required to notify the school nurse, Monique Rodriguez, about any diagnosis of COVID-19. AGS will immediately notify families whose daughter may have been exposed via email. Only those AGS community members who were in close contact (exposed) with the infected individual will be informed, not the entire school or campus community.
How will my child continue her learning if she needs to stay home for a confirmed case of COVID-19, close contact, or symptoms of COVID-19?
Each faculty member has the necessary tools and training to conduct hybrid classes as needed. If a student is quarantining but still able to attend virtual classes, she will follow her normal schedule and attend classes via Zoom. Due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19 quarantines and the priority placed on in-person learning, we are unable to guarantee that the virtual experience will exactly mirror the in-person student experience. Teachers will work closely with virtual students to ensure clear and realistic expectations from both parties.
Virtual learning is reserved for COVID-19-related situations only and should not be used for other purposes.
Per CDC guidelines, a close contact is defined as anyone that was within six feet of an infected person, with or without a mask, for 15 minutes or more. If you take care of someone in your home who is COVID-19 positive, you had direct physical contact through kissing or hugging, you shared eating or drinking utensils, or if a person who is COVID-19 positive sneezed or coughed on you, you are considered a close contact.
If your student has close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, please follow CDC and Georgia Department of Health guidance regarding quarantine. Contact AGS Nurse Monique Rodriguez for further guidance regarding your child’s quarantine.
Teachers and students are not required to be tested for COVID-19 unless they have been exposed to COVID-19 or are exhibiting symptoms. The Georgia Department of Health does not currently recommend universal testing.
The Georgia Department of Health recommendation is to get your student tested when there is possible exposure or when the student is exhibiting symptoms.
Yes, AGS classrooms and common areas are equipped with air purifiers installed in HVAC units. Every HVAC unit on campus is equipped with an ionization unit that ionizes the air to kill bacteria and viruses before being blown back into the room.