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.

Working Together

As we begin the 2020-2021 school year,  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 three 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.
  • Headwaters Tomorrow -- The mission of this group is to guide and advise the school in planning for its future after COVID-19, and, in particular, for the 2021-2022 school year. The following community members have committed their time and talents to this group: Jim Rudden, Cheline Jaidar, Taina Palombo-Price, Allan Cole, Abby Moncrieff, Avé Luke-Simpson, Paul Cronin, Jason Lewiss, Jennifer Phillips, Erica Hudgeons, and Terra Lynch.
  • 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.

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.

The rubric (below) is the guide we are we are currently following, though changing conditions could force us to make changes. 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.
  • When APH moves to a lower, less restrictive Stage (for example, from Stage 4 to 3), we'll transition into the new protocol a week from the following Monday (for example if we go into stage 3 on a Wednesday, we will transition a week and half later on a Monday). This allows us time to prepare the facilities and adjust staffing plans. If APH moves to a higher, more restrictive stage (for example, from Stage 3 to 4), it will begin the following Monday. 
  • 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.

Flexible Calendar Review

In prior communications and in reference to implementing a flexible calendar for Springs and Creek Campuses, we stated we would be reporting to the community quarterly about any shifts. We determined that that is not frequent enough. So, our first reporting about calendar is planned for late September and designed to address August and September.

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On Tuesday, August 25, 2020, the City of Austin today moved into Stage 3 (down from Stage 4) on their COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines chart. Per our protocols created with the support of our Health Advisory Group, this means that on Tuesday, September 8, we will move into our Stage 3 plans. You will receive more information about these changes on Friday, August 28 in your campus Weekly Update. We will share what this means for your campus and your child in that communication. Please reach out to us with any questions in the meantime.

Headwaters Helpful Links

Resource FAQs

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  • 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.

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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