Headwaters is Now Entirely Mask-Optional, Effective 3/7/22

Headwaters School
After careful consideration, Headwaters School will go mask-optional indoors and outdoors beginning on Monday, March 7.
Why the shift
With Austin in Stage 2 of COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidance, CDC community levels tool, and support from the Health Advisory Group, we feel this change is appropriate for our community right now.

COVID-19 at Headwaters
Cases at Headwaters have taken a steep drop from their highest of 3.6% (22 cases) in the entire community in mid-January to our current ~.8% (5 cases) in the entire community.

What this means going forward
We know that we must be nimble and flexible as the virus ebbs and flows. We will rely on established mitigation measures like up-to-date COVID-19 vaccines, ventilation, getting tested, and staying home if you are sick. If you choose to wear a mask you will be supported and even provided a high-filtration mask at school.

Learn More

What about vulnerable community members? How can we support them?
We highly recommend that those who are immunocompromised or with immunocompromised family members at home continue to mask with a high filtration mask. We also hope they are able to talk to their own medical professionals, too. We also highly encourage all immunocompromised people who are eligible for the vaccine to be up to date with their doses.

We also know that we have vulnerable students/staff and those with vulnerable family members at home. We want to support community members in wearing high-filtration masks and looking at classroom environments to find seats with the best ventilation. We also want to support these members in taking advantage of regular on-campus testing, keeping physical distance, and staying home when sick.

Should unvaccinated people still wear masks?
Headwaters recommends masking for any unvaccinated community members and highly recommends getting the vaccine when possible.

What if I want my child to wear a mask? What if I want to wear a mask?
We will support any community member who wishes to continue wearing a mask for any reason and will provide high-filtration masks to any community member who requests one. We also hope to normalize mask-wearing as a layer of protection when needed. Whether it be after travel, the end of a cold or flu, or when you want to protect others or yourself–masks are a tool at our disposal to help with all types of airborne illnesses.

If you’re a parent who wants their child to wear a mask, let your guide and child know so they can work together.

Here are some useful articles about one-way masking:

What are Headwaters vaccination rates?
We highly recommend COVID-19 vaccination and boosters to all eligible community members ages 5 and up. Being fully vaccinated is the best way to prevent COVID-19 hospitalization. At this time we have 96% of faculty vaccinated, 76% of students at Creek, and 82% of students at River (please note, we are still working on compiling data for Spring students at this time). Please update your Magnus records to help us track vaccination rates. 

What happens if there is a surge or spike in the future?
In the event of a surge or spike we will “ride the waves” and communicate any policy changes as necessary. If there is substantial spread in a classroom or grade, we may require or highly recommend masks. 

What about after Spring Break?
We have updated our policies for post Spring Break to require masks indoors only for all community members (Primary and above) for three days after Spring Break (Monday, March 21; Tuesday, March 22; and Wednesday, March 23). If there are any updates to this policy, we will notify the community when we return from Spring Break. 

To echo the CDC, we highly recommend testing before and after any travel. Click here for Austin-area testing locations and click here for ways to get rapid antigen tests before you travel. APH and the CDC also highly recommend vaccination and boosters for everyone to help with severe COVID-19. 

Finally, if someone is unwell for any reason, please follow illness protocols and do not send your child to school.

This decision is based on the fact that many people travel outside the city for Spring Break. In an effort to stop transmission that can occur after Spring Break, bringing masks back indoors for three days is a good example of our nimbleness around COVID-19 and masking as we move forward.

Does this mean other policies for those who had COVID or were close contacts have changed?
No, pre-existing policies that will remain in place after positive cases or COVID close contact:
  • We will continue to require anyone who is in a 5-day Test-and-Stay or 5-day quarantine to continue masking indoors and highly recommend outdoors for the entire 10 days from exposure. Those who are vaccinated are highly recommend to continue masking for the 10 days from exposure, too.
  • If someone tests positive for COVID-19 and is able to return to school after a 5-day isolation period, they are required to wear a well-fitting mask indoors and recommended outdoors at school for 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10).
  • See the COVID-19 Addendum for more. 

What if I want my child to talk to someone about these changes?
We know this news will be received differently by each community member. Whether you are excited to mask off, cautiously optimistic, or not ready to remove your mask–there is space and grace for everyone at Headwaters to do what is best for themselves and those around them. 

K-12 has counseling services available. We can also work with any Springs families who need support. Here’s how:

What is a good way to calculate risks in these times?
This is a great article from Your Local Epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina called Understanding Risk

I have questions about this decision and what it means for me.
If you have questions around this decision, please talk to your program director.

Thank you!
As always, our community is one of Peacemakers, Advocates, Creators, and Thinkers who work together to create this school. We are grateful for your patience, understanding, and support. 


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As a 501(c)3 non-profit school, Headwaters School does not discriminate because of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other classes protected by federal, state, or local law in its admissions, hiring, or board membership processes.