Planning for the 2020-2021 School Year

Reopening for 2020-2021

Schools are remarkably resilient organizations, and Headwaters is no exception. Resilience is in our roots; it's how we began. After all, courage and agility were required to bring Khabele and Primavera Montessori into existence, nearly 20 years ago. It took strength and chutzpah to merge the two schools nearly ten years later, and it took vision and luck to raise the money for the purchase of buildings on the downtown campus just three years ago. And this is our recipe for resilience--courage, agility, strength, chutzpah, vision, and, yes, luck! Our school is NOT the buildings or the campuses; it's us and how we come together in service of a transformative education for a child of any age.

Each of these qualities has been on display in our hearts and your homes since March. We have heard the stories of job loss or sudden moves or health scares. Parents, especially the parents of our youngest students, have been balancing care for their kids, with (unrealistic) job expectations, alongside a family member who may be in need. In partnership with us, many of you have been educating your children, too.

And even when we might have sounded tentative or exhausted, parents have remained committed to the school and to our vision. We are deeply grateful for your faith in us, and we are excited to welcome you and your children back whether it's through a computer screen, a mask, a face shield, a windshield, or across a picnic table. And please know that we yearn to be in-person with our students and with you; to look you in the eye from six feet away and say through that gaze, "I see you and I see your child, and I can't wait to help them blossom." To paraphrase Rabbi Allan Freeman, there is nothing and there will be nothing VIRTUAL about the way we interact with each other this year. Each of us is invited and expected to bring our whole selves to the school. Let this be a year where we each live authentically, think expansively, and create bravely. 

See the Communications Archive below for the latest news and information shared with our families.

Stages of Opening Rubric

In partnership with our Health Advisory Group that has begun meeting regularly we have created the following Stages of Opening chart based on Austin Public Health's COVID-19 Stages to guide our decision-making process for our campuses.

Please find the updated rubric for the River Campus below. As we move into the spring, we will be reviewing this rubric more frequently with our leadership and the Health Advisory Group, allowing us to modify the rubric as we continue to learn about how the virus operates and how to further offer safety to our students and guides.


We will continue to think creatively about how to provide safe on-campus experiences for each program. Our intention is to bring students back to campus as quickly as possible within the limits of our community's safety.

Here are some key details from the rubric and our planning:
  • We will shift between scenarios based on the Austin Public Health (APH) Stages.
  • As you may be aware, APH and Dr. Escott continue to update their recommendations regarding schools. We want our community to know that the Health Advisory Group is following those recommendations closely, and they will be considered as we shift between stages.

Working Together

Headwaters School continues to assess information in order to act decisively as we develop guidelines and procedures in service of our community.

One way we're adapting this year and thinking expansively is by adding cross-campus groups to steward the school through the challenges that may lie ahead, to help us understand the public health and scientific information being shared by so many different authorities and agencies, and to prepare for the school's future. Here's a quick overview of those groups. As the groups begin their work in earnest, we will experiment with ways to convey that work with the entire school community. It may take the form of a Pitso or a webinar; if permitted to gather in person, it may take the form of a socially distanced gathering in camp chairs;  it may take the form of an email, and it will certainly rely on using The Nest to keep us informed.
  • Health Advisory Group -- The objective of this group is to guide and advise the school on issues related to COVID-19, health & wellness, and our procedures and protocols related to the safety of our students, guides, and families. They are distilling and analyzing data that comes from external sources like Austin Public Health, Centers for Disease Control, or the Texas Education Agency. For the time being, they are meeting weekly. We are grateful to the following for their time and engagement: Jerry Aubin, Amy Nylund, Virginia Luff, Erin Moffitt, Vy Ngo, Sarah Mayes, Marc Lionetti, and Laurie Seremetis. If you have questions for this group, please use this link to pose them.
  • Headwaters Today -- The aim of this group is to support the school in ensuring its viability and resilience during the 2020-2021 school year. They will work closely with the Health Advisory Group and apply their recommendations where needed. Furthermore, this group will distill and analyze internal data and reports like attendance patterns, operational needs or issues, cleaning and sanitization needs, and new survey data from parents, guides, or students, etc. We are grateful to the following community members for their time and commitment: Jessica Rio, Aaron Levy, Ed Muzio, Alex Penry, Roberto Germán, Cait Taylor, Chelsea Scott, Jennie Glass, and Hilda Reilly.
  • Faculty-Staff Community Leaders (FSCLs) -- Similar to the structure of Community Leaders for students on the River Campus, we created an analogous body for faculty and staff members across all three campuses two years ago. This group's purpose is to work closely with the leadership and administration of the school to ensure open lines of communication about issues related to the support and welfare of all employees. In the past, this group met only two or three times per year to discuss items related to employee benefits. This year the group will meet more frequently to ensure a predictable format for faculty and staff concerns and questions. Emily Crumley, Chelsea Scott, Jennifer Skiffington, Jennifer Giroux, Christi Wilson, Kelly Dickens, Lisa Dubuque, Sarah Youree, Robin Scott, Ted Graf, Leslie Hirsch, and Alex Penry.
We would like to lend a big thanks to the Scenarios Planning Group and their work this past spring and over the summer. These members include Jerry Aubin, Jim Rudden, Jessica Rio, Heather Vickers, Amy Nylund, Alex Penry, Paul Cronin, and Ted Graf.

Headwaters 20-21 Case Count

Headwaters School continues to monitor the state of public health at our schools and will report the updated total number of active COVID-19 positive student and staff cases at Headwaters School campuses as needed.

If you need to report a positive case, please contact a school administrator or call your Campus Manager for next steps. Thank you in advance!

List of 2 items.

  • FAQ

    Q: "What if a parent, caregiver, or non-Headwaters student in the home reports a positive case?"
    A: If this is the case, a student would not pass their morning Magnus Symptom Screening, and would not be allowed to enter school. Question #7 reads, "Have you had close contact (within 6 feet of for at least 15 minutes masked or unmasked) in the last 14 days with someone with a diagnosis of COVID-19?" 

    While we are not tracking parent/caregiver/family cases, it does directly impact the school. If your child has had close contact with a person with COVID-19, please inform the school for next steps.

    Q: “I’ve heard there’s a case at my school, why isn’t it in the total?”

    A: Our process is confirm, contact trace, notify those who need to quarantine, notify as directed, and then list current (not cumulative) totals to this page as needed. Also, please note that the counts include positive cases only, not precautionary quarantines.

    Q: "What about cases for 19-20 school year?"
    A: We are only tracing active cases for the 20-21 school year starting when staff were at school and then when students returned to campus. 

    Q: "I know someone who has been absent for more than a week. Is this a positive case we have not been made aware of?”
    A: All extended absences are not positive cases.  Many situations (another illness, an injury, staying home with a quarantined child, etc.) could cause an absences of multiple days.  

    Q: "I know a student or teacher who is having to quarantine but I don’t see a case reported at their school. Why not?"
    A:  People do not just have to quarantine due to an exposure at a school. They could be under quarantine from an exposure in another setting outside of school, like a family members, recreational sports, church, etc.

    Visit this link to read additional Austin Public Health Frequently Asked Questions on Reopening Austin-Travis County Schools.
  • More Details

    POSITIVE CASE: When a student or staff member reports they have tested positive for COVID-19, a school contact tracer interviews them to determine the date of the test sample and the first date of any signs or symptoms. That determines the infectious period and then the contact tracer works through any ON-CAMPUS close contacts (within 6' of the case for over 15 minutes during the infectious period) so that appropriate self-quarantines can be assigned.

    CLOSE CONTACTS: When students or staff members report they were close contacts on or off-campus of persons who tested positive, a school contact tracer works with them as needed to determine their self-quarantine period. School ordered self-quarantines only apply to someone who is a close contact of a positive case, not "close contacts of close contacts" or other secondary vectors.

Springs & Creek Flexible Calendar Review

We will communicate monthly about any updates to the school calendar. As a reminder, with the flexible calendar, we can extend the school year until July 30 and can utilize previously scheduled holidays (see below for exceptions). 

Month Update
August 2020 No Calendar Updates
September 2020 No Calendar Updates
October 2020 No Calendar Updates
November 2020 No Calendar Updates
December 2020 No Calendar Updates
January 2021 No Calendar Updates
February 2021 Added two days to Creek/Springs calendar due to winter storms
March 2021 No Calendar Updates
April 2021 No Calendar Updates

Flexible Calendar FAQs

List of 5 items.

  • What is the Flexible Calendar?

    In the event of extended closures on the Springs and/or Creek Campuses, school can be paused, and we will implement a flexible calendar – we will add days in during the school year up through July 30, 2021 in order to make up missed days. We will do this by utilizing any available days that were previously scheduled to be professional development days or select holidays.
    • The Springs Campus will not offer distance learning in the event of an extended closure of the campus.
    • The Creek Campus will offer distance learning with limits in the event of extended campus closure. 
  • What constitutes a school closure?

    A school closure would be any day that was a regularly scheduled school day on a campus where no students are able to attend school  on that campus due to the virus. That could be because we have a case in our community and are required to close the campus entirely and disinfect, or because the government has required schools to close.

  • What holidays will you not extend

    If we must implement a flexible calendar through July 30, 2021 for the Springs and Creek Campuses, all weekdays (including previously scheduled holidays and professional development days) could become instructional days except for the following:
    • November 26-27, 2020 Thanksgiving Break
    • December 24, 2020-January 1, 2021 Winter Break
    • January 18, 2021 MLK Day
    • July 5, 2021 Independence Day
  • Are there plans to help communicate and support the kids during the start/stop disruptions?

    The flexible calendar allows for an extension to the school year and we will be asking guides to forgo some of their summer break. This means that during periods of closure, the guides will effectively be on their "summer break," even if it is the fall or winter.

    The administrative team will be in communication and available for any questions during those times. 
  • What guideline are we following if we have to shut down? Who determines a shut down?

    If we have an individual case, we will follow Austin Public Health’s guidance. We are required to report to them if we have a case or symptoms. If the governor chooses to close all schools, we’ll be required to comply. In addition, Headwaters School can decide on closure as deemed necessary without ruling from any other body. We are carefully monitoring all national, state, and local authorities, and closely monitoring local statistics like infection, transmission, and hospitalization rates.

Resource FAQs

List of 7 items.

  • Digital Etiquette

    Her is a short video on video conferencing etiquette. Created by a colleague at Awty International School in Houston, it is an excellent entry point (or reminder) of how to comport ourselves while participating in an online class. Parents are encouraged to view it with their students, too.
  • How Can I Learn to Use the Nest?

    We have created a regularly updated tutorial document with text and video directions for many of the need-to-know details. Check it out at this link. 
  • How Do I Access a Bulletin Board?

    To access Bulletin Boards for your child(ren), please follow these steps:
    1. Login to the Nest
    2. On the top left, you will see either the name of your child OR the word Children. Click here to access your child’s Progress tab.
    3. Scroll down and under Courses, Activities, or Community, you will see a list of your child’s groups by category The name of the group is hyperlinked and can be clicked. Click the name to get to the Bulletin Board.
  • How Do I Access the Nest?

    Any user can access the nest by going to Headwaters.org and clicking “Nest Login” at the top right or by clicking this link. If you forget your username or password, just click “Need help logging in?” to be guided to a page to recover your username and/or password with just your email.

    Middle and High School students may use the Google Apps for single sign on (SSO).

    If you have further login problems, please reach out to
  • What are Nest Notification Settings?

    Last summer, we went ahead and opted parents into all pertinent Nest Notification Settings so that we could use the Nest in a useful and effective way with more frequent use of Announcements and News notifications for the various groups you and your child are a part of. For most parents, this is welcome information that is not overwhelming or taxing on your inbox. If you ever need to adjust your notification settings, just follow these steps:
    • On the left, under Account Settings, click Notifications.
    • Here, you can choose the email and the phone number your could receive notifications.
    • Then, in the next section, you will see various types of communications and checkboxes for types of notifications via e-mail or text. If you can’t check a box, it’s because you need to adjust the Setup Options, just click and check the boxes for the groups you wish to receive that specific type of communication.
    • It auto-saves, so you are all set!
    To learn more on how to Set Notification Settings and what settings we suggest, just click here.
  • Why Screencast-O-Matic?


    Guides will use this to narrate/do a voice-over of a lesson, read a book, explain an assignment, and more! This allows guides to give a lesson any time via a link.

    No option for any guests to join. 
  • Why Zoom?


    We will be using Zoom for classroom meetings. Zoom is a great platform that doesn’t require users to have an account--all you need to do is click a link that your guides will provide.

    In addition, we will also be recording the Zoom sessions for availability after the meeting ends. 
    Those recordings may be available as guides get more familiar with the system.

    Those who do not wish for their children to be video-recorded may opt to attend the meeting with audio only.

Communications Archive

List of 3 news stories.

View All News

Springs Campus

18 months to Pre-K
6305 Menchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78745
Phone: 512-443-8843

Creek Campus

Elementary School
9607 Brodie Ln.
Austin, TX 78748
Phone: 512-804-2708
Fax: 512-628-4810

River Campus

Middle & High School
807 Rio Grande St.
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-480-8142
Fax: 512-480-0278