Health + Wellness
The health and wellness of students, faculty, staff, and parents are all connected and vital in this delicate, fragile equation of interdependence during this intersection of COVID-19 and the operation of the school.
For our plan to work well, the school must focus particularly on two matters: our students, faculty, and staff and the primary risk reducers – mask wearing and six-foot separation from others – universally recommended by the medical community. Those two behaviors function as two core strategies of this entire plan.
Additionally, the health of our students and the safe operation of the school are contingent on:
- Face Masks
- Social Distancing (Separation) Guidelines
- Mask + Social Distancing Compliance
- Campus Healthcare Provider Key Contacts - (912) 638-9981
- Mental Health + Counseling
- Responsible Social Distancing Off-Campus and Out-of-Area Travel
- School + Home Hygiene / School Restrooms
As we open the school year in August and until circumstances merit revisiting this policy, all students and all teachers will wear masks indoors, including inside classrooms. Teachers may wear face shields either as a substitute for the mask or in addition to the mask only while teaching. Students are NOT permitted to wear face shields as a substitute for a mask. It is the responsibility of the family to provide masks for their children every day. The school has a limited supply of masks for emergency situations. Other FA employees will also be expected to wear masks while on campus.
The wearing of masks, while inconvenient and uncomfortable, dramatically reduces the chances of a “high-risk exposure” as defined by the CDC in its 6-15-48 rule. High-risk exposure is defined as anyone who has been less than six feet apart for upwards of 15 minutes with someone with COVID-19, including up to 48 hours prior to symptoms presenting themselves. Student desks will be stationed six feet apart in every classroom, but invariably over the course of a period, a day, a month, or a semester, students will unknowingly or unintentionally violate the six-foot standard. Wearing cloth masks more safely allows for brief incidents of closer contact and decreases the need for extensive contact tracing within any given classroom.
Our plan is designed to support uninterrupted education for healthy students and timely recovery for ill students. Simply put, mask wearing increases the likelihood of continuously operating our on-campus schooling option.
Mask wearing in all classrooms by all students also better protects teachers from contracting the virus. Decreasing the health risks of faculty is incredibly important because some teachers are in a high-risk category and/or have family members in a high-risk category. Their level of exposure is significantly higher teaching as many students as they teach. The pool of quality substitutes is shallow, so if multiple teachers contract the virus at the same time, the school will be challenged. Keeping our teachers virus-free is a pursuit definitely worth the inconvenience.
All students and all teachers are required to wear masks to every indoor gathering with the exception of lunch, even if the six-foot separation standard can be enacted.
All students and teachers need to wear masks in transitional moments between classes, especially in the hallways of buildings, but even outdoors unless a six foot separation is guaranteed.
When outside, students do not need to wear masks when interacting more than six feet apart. This includes lunchtime, recess, physical education classes, and any designated “mask free” opportunities allocated for students to responsibly unmask.
The large tented areas are ideal for events or activities that would be enhanced in a sheltered space from either sun or rain; but again, “mask breaks” under the tents require six feet of separation as well. Teachers are encouraged to conduct classes outside either under the tent or anywhere else on campus that is conducive to imparting their lessons. Masks do not have to be worn in outside classes if students remain six feet apart during the class.
Lower School students will need to keep a plastic baggie in which to store their masks when not in use. Middle and Upper School students will be trained on how to properly clean and store masks.
Students are responsible for providing their own masks and should arrive on campus each morning wearing them. Mask guidelines for students and adults are as follows:
- Disposable and cloth reusable masks are acceptable. Cloth masks should be frequently washed.
- Face coverings attached behind the ears and head as well as tubular masks (e.g. neck gaiters) are permitted.
- Solid color masks are permitted. Masks with print, stripe, or geometric patterns are permitted. Examples of print patterns are floral, plaid, paisley, polka dot, etc.
- Masks with the FA logo are permitted and are being sold by the FA Booster Club. Click here to view images of the masks and click here to order the masks online.
- Masks with collegiate logos are permitted.
- Masks with other branding, graphics, text, or logos are NOT permitted.
When appropriate, teachers may wear face shields while teaching so that students who have auditory issues may better process a teacher’s lesson. Students are NOT permitted to wear face shields as a substitute for a mask. The CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. Click here for more information.
For children who have not regularly worn masks this summer, it is recommended that they transition to gradually wearing masks between now and the start of school. Again, no student may exit a vehicle in the morning without a mask.
All visitors to campus must check in with Catherine Holt in the Administration Building or Ashley Lavallee in Corn Hall, have their temperature taken, and must wear a mask. The mask must remain on until they return to their car to leave campus. This includes visiting parents, parent volunteers, tutors, community coaches, and vendors.
- All students and teachers are expected to preserve the six feet of separation from others when on campus even when one is wearing a mask. This means that students and teachers should attempt to remain six feet apart when they are outside in classes, transitioning between classes or activities, and at larger communal gatherings, as well as at lunch and break times.
- All desks in all classrooms will be positioned at least six feet apart and should remain in those arrangements throughout the year unless otherwise directed.
- Any potential seating within Hamilton Hall and other communal seating areas must be guided by the designated seating marks positioned six feet apart.
Nikki Pope, the School Nurse, is the designated contact person for all three divisions. Her school extension is 492, and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam Norman, the FA Athletic Trainer, is an additional contact for Middle School and Upper School athletic-related COVID-19 questions or information. His school extension in the Murray Field House is 520. His email address is email@example.com.
- Parents are certainly invited to check in with teachers, the school counselors, or Nurse Pope prior to the start of school to discuss concerns about a child and anticipated school protocols.
- A school counselor will offer guidance programs/curriculum specific to mental health issues related to pandemics. A mindfulness curriculum (best practices for treating anxiety) will be implemented in both Lower and Middle School. For more information, please contact Rachael Lee (Lower and Middle School Counselor) or Laura Nevins (Upper School Counselor).
- Signage will be placed strategically throughout the campus educating/reminding students about emotional self-regulation and where to go for support/help.
- Both school counselors will provide 1:1 and group support for students identified by teachers or parents particularly anxious about COVID-19.
- A best-practice intervention will be available to address grief/loss individually and school-wide, if applicable.
- Faculty will receive ongoing training regarding mental health implications and care, signs of emotional distress, common language to use with students, and how to make referrals.
All school personnel, students, and parents depend on each other during this pandemic to live within safe and healthy guidelines generally endorsed by the medical community. Not wearing a mask in public spaces shared with others and not maintaining a six-foot buffer around oneself with others simply puts our school community members at higher risk of transmission when one in turn directly or indirectly interacts with them.
Families and faculty members travelling out of state or outside of the Golden Isles, and especially air travel, in the fall is discouraged but not prohibited. Identified hot spots appear daily and travelling to such places increases the risk of one contracting the virus and bringing it back to our school community. Quarantining for 14 days is not always tenable or enforceable nor even necessary for some travel, but common courtesy and respect for our community requires travelers to rethink and amend their level of interaction with others upon returning from a trip.
- Teachers and signage will remind students about the importance of proper hand washing throughout the day and to use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Effective hand washing and hand sanitizing are critical to this plan. Hand sanitizer stations are available in every classroom and in common areas on campus. Students will be required to use hand sanitizer or soap when leaving and entering classrooms (“gel in and gel out”). Students are also encouraged to wash their hands when returning home.
- Cloth masks should be cleaned daily.
- Lower School students should not share cubbies and should utilize a desk tray to help keep supplies separated when transitioning between classes. Teachers will sanitize and clean these items and areas daily.
- Middle School and Upper School students should use their lockers to store personal items.
- School Restrooms: Students, employees, and campus visitors should use the Hand Sanitizer Stations or wash their hands when entering and leaving the campus restrooms (“gel in and gel out”). Communal bathrooms will be restricted to two people at a time. Lower School will implement a bathroom break plan to help mitigate congestion during class transitions.