Masking Plans for Rest of Spring Semester 2022

Ted Graf, Head of School
Dear Headwaters Community Members, 

As we continue through the 21-22 school year, we are reflecting on the incredible year we have had so far. We have so much to be thankful for this school year and we are thankful that you trust your children to us each day. As the spring has progressed, we are so happy to have brought back many important events that are special to the school like Greats and Grands Day, The Forward, and many more. 

We have also entered a new phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic at our school. For the first time in two years, we are mask optional and the City of Austin is in Stage 1. While the pandemic is not over, we are now looking at new ways to live with the virus. 

We’d like to share how we are navigating and deciding mitigation, including mask-wearing, with you as we navigate through the rest of the semester with COVID-19. 

Our Metrics for Masking

With the debut of the CDC’s latest tool, CDC COVID-19 By County, as well as Austin’s updated COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines Chart, Headwaters has updated the way we are looking at masking. We are looking at APH’s numbers as well as our case-load to help make decisions about masking for the rest of the semester. 

Here’s what we are looking at:
  • Hospital beds being used
  • Hospital admissions
  • The total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area
  • Cases at Headwaters
  • Absences for students and guides at Headwaters
Our goal with providing this road map is to help our families understand our decisions around COVID-19 as we become more nimble with change. When the City of Austin changes their stages or we notice a surge in cases and absences on our campuses, we too will change our protocols around masking as follows in the chart below and notify families with an email:
 

Mitigation Moving Forward

We know that our mitigation methods of ventilation, handwashing, staying home when sick, and others are important ways to keep our community healthy. These will not go by the wayside in this new phase of COVID-19, infact, we hope to lean on them more. We also know that well-fitting, high filtration masks work to mitigate COVID-19, especially in times of high transmission. So while masks are optional right now, we may recommend or require use of masks in the future. No matter where we are with COVID-19, we are always looking to the future to be prepared and learning from the past.

Additionally, our pre-existing policies 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 recommended 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.

BA.2 and Other Possible Variants

Corona viruses, like all viruses, continue to mutate. COVID-19 is no exception. We are continuing to watch the rise of other variants like BA.2 as it sweeps through China, Europe, and the UK. In the past, the US tended to follow the UK, but it may not be the case this time. On March 23, Epidemiologist  Katelyn Jetelina shared her projections on the possibility of a rise in cases in the US, “BA.2 now makes up 23% of cases in the U.S. and we expect this to increase to 100% over time. We don’t know what BA.2 will look like in the U.S. We could see a second hump, like Europe, or no overall increase, like South Africa. Or, perhaps we may see an increase in only some states. (This is exactly what happened with Alpha and has my vote.)” (State of Affairs: March 21)

Please Get Vaccinated and Boosted

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. 

People can find vaccine providers using Vaccines.gov or by texting their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic. APH clinics offer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations without an appointment, although creating an account online in advance saves time. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 or visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19

What About the 22-23 School Year?

Headwaters School continues to adapt and be flexible as the COVID-19 Pandemic continues. We are hopeful as we look forward to next school year with more normalcy in the classroom, activities, and beyond. We know that we can lean on mitigation measures when the virus surges and we know that we can relax them when there is low transmission. This roadmap for spring 2022 will be a helpful tool in setting policies for the 22-23 school year.
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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