Covid-19 Safety Procedures

Last updated 12-1-20

Return to School Plan 2020-2021

The health and safety of our students and our staff during this COVID-19 pandemic is our absolute top priority. 

We are fully committed to holding safe in person classes on campus. The optimal educational environment for our students is one in which they are able to interact face to face with their teachers, and participate in learning and social interactions with their peers.  Our 1st and 2nd grade students have been sucessfully attending in person classes 3 days a week since November.  Our 3rd through 8th grade students will return to in person instruction January 7, 2021.

We recognise that this is a time of elevated anxiety for many of our students, families, and staff members . Our back to school plans have been made with the utmost consideration for both the physical and mental health of our community and in careful consultation with our county health department who have been consistently supportive and measured in their approach to getting students back to school safely in these extraordinary and constantly changing times. 

As the state of the pandemic evolves in Santa Clara county we will continue to be vigilant in maintaining communication with the health dept and keeping up with all new requirements and recommendations for the health and safety of our community. We will remain nimble and ready to modify our plan and procedures as required.

For families who choose not to have their child return to campus for in person classes, we will continue the distance learning model with dedicated teachers for those students.

Shama Hinard, Head of School

David Pritchard, Chair, Board of Trustees

Athena Academy Safety Team: Joanne Mutch, Pam Crain, Anne Boswell, Shama Hinard and Wendy Kaler

Sick or Absent Child

a. If your child needs to miss school for any reason please complete the absence form on our homepage. We are asking you to answer:

i.    Your child’s name
ii.   Why is your child going to be absent
iii.  If due to illness, what symptoms is your child experiencing and when did they start
iv.  Has your student been close to anyone who has tested positive for Covid in the previous 2 weeks

b. The more information that you can provide for us the better we can respond to ensure the overall health and safety of the community.

Safety measures 

1. Drop off, pick up and health screening procedures 


Drop off procedure:

Each cohort will have a specific entrance to the school buildings that they will enter and exit through each day.  If students need to be picked up early or arrive late, they will use their designated entrance (see map below)

  • Following the path indicated on the map (see below), students will be dropped off in front of their cohorts entrance.
  • Parents will remain in their vehicles at all times. Student will remain in the vehicle until staff verify health status.
  • A masked staff member will approach the vehicle and while appropriately distanced  go through a health screening questionnaire with the parent or caregiver prior to the student exiting the vehicle.
  • The questionnaire is based on the health screening questions recommended by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department asking whether the child has been diagnosed with COVID-19, lives in the same household or had close contact with someone who in the past 10 – 14 days has been in isolation for COVID-19 or had a test confirming they have COVID-19, and whether they have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms (fever or chills, cough, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) within the past 3 days. If the answer to any of these questions is YES student will be sent home and directed to seek medical care and testing.
  • A log will be kept of the daily health screen 
  • All occupants of the vehicle will wear face coverings during the health screening and throughout the drop off process. 
  • Once health screening is complete and all answers to questions are NO the student will exit the vehicle and enter campus where they will be directed to their designated outdoor recreation area or classroom

Note – Parents/guardians will be encouraged to review the health screening questions PRIOR to commuting to campus and stay home and seek medical attention and screening if any of the answers are YES

Students who arrive without a supervising adult:

A number of our students  arrive by foot, public transportation or bicycle. These students will remain outside of campus in a designated area with 6 ft between each other until a staff member has confirmed that their parent or guardian has completed the health screening questions within our Brightwheel system. These students will ensure that their face covering is in place before entering the parking lot. Any student who arrives by public transport must wear a face covering at all times while in transit.

Carpools: Families and staff are advised to carpool only with members of their stable cohort, to wear face covering while carpooling, and to open windows during carpooling to maximize outdoor air circulation when feasible.

Note – Temperature screenings at drop-off are not required by the county due to inaccuracy and an increased risk of disease transmission. Therefore, temperature screenings will only be utilized as needed if a student displays symptoms of COVID-19. Temperature readings will be kept confidential and saved in accordance with County requirements. Screening staff will be provided with the necessary PPE.

Pick-up procedure:

  • The cohort teacher will walk their cohort out to the parking lot where students will wait in marked socially distanced areas for their parent or caregiver to pick them up.
  • All students will wear a face covering when exiting campus.
  • Parent or caregiver will remain in their vehicle and all occupants of the vehicle will wear a face covering during pick up.

Late or Early Pick-up:

If a student needs to be dropped off or picked up outside of the designated times, the parent or caregiver will communicate this with School Manager, Pam Crain. 

Upon arrival for a late dropoff parent or caregiver will call the school office and alert administration to their arrival. An administrator will meet the vehicle and go through the aforementioned procedures. All safety procedures remain the same.

Upon arrival for an early pickup parent or caregiver will call the school office and alert administration to their arrival.  Student will be escorted to vehicle using the aforementioned safety procedures.

NOTE – Parents and caregivers will not be able to enter campus during drop-off or pick-up times.  

2. Student Cohorts

We will be using the Cohort Model. The purpose of establishing cohorts is to limit the mixing of students and staff so that if anyone develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, the number of exposures is reduced.

Cohort sizes will be kept as small as is feasible for our program. Within a cohort students will be appropriately grouped for their language arts and math needs. Cohorts will have specific lunch and break areas on campus (see below). Each cohort’s teachers will spend most of the school day with their cohort students, with specialist teachers rotating in during different trimesters allowing most specialist teachers to work with one cohort at a time. (see below)

In the event that a student needs to stay home because of illness (COVID-19 or other) the student will have access to assignments through Google Classroom for them to work on at home when they are feeling well enough to do so.

In the event that a whole cohort needs to isolate at home due to possible COVID-19 exposure, classes will take place remotely.

3. Parent Meetings

If a parent or caregiver needs to connect with a member of the faculty or staff, an appropriately socially distanced in-person meeting, phone appointment or video-conference will be scheduled. 

4. Face Coverings

  • All students are required to wear face coverings while arriving and departing from school campus and in any area outside of the classroom, including restrooms except when eating, drinking, or engaging in physical activity requiring heaving exertion.
  • All staff are required to wear face coverings at all time while on campus, except while eating and drinking
  • Students in 2nd grade and below must be encouraged to wear a face covering within their stable classroom cohort as much as possible
  • Students in 3rd grade and above must use face coverings wiehn in the classroom even if they are in a stable classroom cohort.
  • A student experiencing difficulty wearing their face covering will be encouraged to take an outdoor break and remove their face covering
  • Students will bring their own cloth face coverings from home.
  • Students will be taught the reason for and proper use of a face covering.
  • Students will be taught  appropriate procedures for putting on, taking off, and storing the face covering (i.e. during mealtimes, snack times).Students will not share or swap face coverings.
  • The school will maintain a supply of non-medical masks in the event that a student or member of staff needs a replacement during the day.
  •  Signage will be posted on campus reminding students and all staff  to wear face coverings.

NOTE – For the 5% of our students with sensory needs, a face shield is permitted

5. Hand Hygiene

Every person upon entering campus will hand sanitize.

  • Students will be taught how to properly perform hand hygiene 
  • Signage will be posted in restrooms displaying proper techniques, and throughout campus reminding students and staff to wash their hands.
  • Students will be reminded throughout the day to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth, and to cough and sneeze into their elbows.
  • Hand sanitizing dispensers are located at every classroom door and hand hygiene is performed upon every entry into the classroom by students and staff.

6. Classroom Settings

  • Class groupings will be as small as possible at all times, with a maximum of number 10 students for academic classes.  PE will be held outdoors whenever possible with a maximum of 18 students, when PE needs to be held indoors, it will take place in the auditorium where that many students can be socially distanced.
  • Signage is posted at each classroom door to remind students and staff of safety protocols
  • Desks in classrooms are set up 6 feet apart (see photos of class set-up), with students having assigned seats
  • Student desks do not face each other
  • Each cohort is assigned specific classrooms where their classes are held
  • Teachers may use clear masks when instructing students in order to support the students’ language based learning disabilities.
  • When engaging in one on one teaching, student and teacher will be seated on either side of desk separated by a plexiglass screen
  • Teachers and staff will always have on a face covering.
  • Students wear masks throughout the day, except when eating or engaging in heaving physical activity.  Social-distancing is maintained when students are eating or engaging in heaving physical activity.  
  • Student supplies are kept in individual, school provided, bags at their desks to reduce sharing and minimize the need for students to be up and moving around the classroom
  • Teachers will not share supplies
  • Gloves are provided for students and teachers to use when sharing supplies can’t be avoided
  • When possible, windows and doors will be left open to increase ventilation, and HEPA air filters are in each classroom
  • Cohorts will spend as much time outside as possible
  • Outdoor shade tents have been set up for each cohort to allow for students to work outside as wherever practical

7. Physical Education and Specialist Classes

  • PE classes take place outside with equipment cleaned between classes
    • On rainy days, PE is held in our auditorium and distanced/individual activities such as yoga are focused on
  • Specialist classes, such as music, art, drama, will be rotated on a trimester schedule in order to minimize the cross over of these teachers between cohorts.  The curriculum for these classes will not include aerosol generating activities. 

8. Recess and Lunch Breaks

  • Students will take breaks, eat snacks/lunch in a designated outdoor area. Times will be staggered, and each cohort will have a designated break area to allow for physical distancing. Each cohort has their own microwave and set of sports equipment to use during breaks. 
  • Students will not be required to wear face coverings while eating, drinking, or engaging in heaving physical exertion.
  • Hand hygiene will be performed prior to and after snack and lunch breaks.
  • Students will bring their own water bottles which can be filled at a designated touchless water fountain.
  • Hot Lunch will be provided by My Green Lunch. My Green Lunch follows strict food service, cleaning, and sanitizing requirements as mandated by the Santa Clara County Health Department.
  • All  lunches, including sides and snacks, will be separately packed and labeled with the student’s name.
  • The My Green Lunch driver will not enter campus. They will ring the doorbell and an administrator will receive the lunches and layout for students. The administrator will put each cohort’s lunches in a designated space within the specific lunch areas. The administrator will wear gloves while setting up the lunches and a cohort teacher will ensure that each student gets their lunch. 
  • Families may opt into My Green Lunch’s hot lunch delivery system – their protocols are available upon request

9. Emergency Procedures

Fire Drills will be practiced separately by each stable cohort to avoid mixing of cohorts during the drills.  Upon return to class after a drill, all students and staff will use hand sanitizer before returning to class.

Earthquake drills will be practiced in the classroom. 

In the event of an actual emergency, such as fire or earthquake, all students and staff will have masks on as they exit the building and will gather in designated areas for each cohort.  Social distancing expectations will be maintained to the best extent possible.  

10. Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • A cleaning service will come in each night to clean and disinfect classrooms, administration offices  and bathrooms
  • Staff will sanitize lunch tables, sports equipment, and microwaves used by students after each break
  • Administrative staff will sanitize their work spaces throughout the day.
  • All rooms have disinfectant wipes. Teachers will sanitize desks and high touch areas throughout the day 

11. Signage

  • Where useful, markings will be placed on grounds/floors as visual reminders to practise physical distancing
  • At all entrances, signs will be posted instructing students, staff, and visitors not to enter campus if they have COVID-19 symptoms and to wear a face covering
  • In classrooms, restrooms, and throughout the campus, signage will be installed to remind students and staff of physical distancing requirements, and to remind everyone of regular hand washing throughout the day.

12. Misc

  • We do not provide transportation services
  • We do not provide before or after school care
  • Parent participation on campus is not possible this school year
  • There will be no field trips until health conditions improve and guidelines are provided
  • There will be no community gatherings or events on campus until health conditions improve and guidelines are provided
  • School events will be limited to students and staff only and restricted to cohort groups
  • All staff will be tested on site for COVID-19 approximately every two weeks.
  • On site testing is available for all students

General Campus Safety Protocols 

Physical Distancing and Source Control:

  • Everyone entering campus will have on a mask – for the 5% of our students with sensory needs, a face shield is permitted
  • Everyone coming to campus is asked the required health screening questions prior to entering and will only be allowed entry with NO responses to all questions

Should a member of staff answer YES to any health questions they will be immediately asked to return home and seek medical care and testing

  • Everyone uses hand sanitizer upon entering campus
  • A distance of 6 feet will be maintained between individuals at all times
  • Signage will be posted throughout the campus (and on the ground) to remind everyone of 6 feet distance. 
  • Visitors to campus will be limited to essential maintenance workers, delivery people, scheduled parent visits, scheduled student visits.
  • We have multiple entrances to campus to allow for cohorts to enter and exit campus with minimal back up
  • Teacher break room has been closed.  The school has provided mini-fridges for each teaching cohort
  • Staff and faculty are encouraged to eat meals outdoors while complying with physical distancing requirements
  • The library is used only by teachers 
  • Student lounges have been closed. 
  • Space at lunch tables is limited to ensure students are 6 feet apart
  • Staff will minimize talking when unmasked while eating or drinking.
  • Administrative staff will not share supplies
  • Administrative staff desks are spaced more than 6 feet apart, administrative staff will rotate working from home if possible
  • Bathrooms are assigned to each cohort, teachers only allow one student out at a time to use the bathrooms
  • Students do not have lockers and are encouraged to bring only their lunch to school with them.  Hooks, spaced apart, are provided for students to hang their lunch boxes/backpacks on


Response to Suspected or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19:

School staff will receive COVID-19 training prior to the return to school.  Training will include recognizing the signs and symptoms of the disease and the protocols in place if a student or staff member shows signs of the disease.  Training will also include prevention strategies, hand hygiene, face coverings, physical distancing and disinfection techniques for classrooms and workspaces.

If a student feels ill while at school or if staff suspect that a student is showing signs of COVID-19 we have designated one of our empty offices at the front of the campus for the student to wait in until their parent/guardian is able to pick them up.

If a staff member feels ill while at school they will immediately go home and seek medical attention and testing.

School has 3 touchless thermometers. A trained administrator will temperature check students who feel ill during the day and maintain a confidential log.  Administrator will be provided with and use appropriate PPE when checking temperatures.


Scenario Immediate Actions Return to Campus
A student or staff member either exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, answers “yes” to a health screening question, or has a temperature above 100.0 Staff member is sent home immediately and instructed to get tested

Student is isolated in designated office space and parent/guardian is contacted to arrange for immediate pickup

Student or staff member may return to campus 24 hours after resolution of fever and other symptoms improve.

Student or staff member must bring evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or medical note if testing was not performed.

A family member or someone in close contact with a student or staff member (outside the school community) test positive for COVID-19. Student or staff member is sent home and instructed to get tested around day 7 after exposure to case.

Student or staff instructed to quarantine, even if they test negative, for a full 14 days after date of last exposure.

School Administration must be notified

Student or staff member may return to campus after completing quarantine for 14 days after date of last exposure to COVID-19 case

If a close contact continues to be exposed to a case during their isolation (e.g. household member) quarantine ends 14 days after the case’s isolation period ends.

A student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. Student or staff member is sent home, if not already quarantined

Student or staff instructed to isolate for at least 10 days after symptom onset AND at least 24 hours after resolution of fever AND improvement of symptoms. (If never symptomatic, isolate for 10 days after positive test)

School based close contacts identified and instructed to test and quarantine for 14 days. 

  • In stable classroom cohorts: entire cohort is considered to be close contacts.

School Administration and Public Health Department must be notified.

Student or staff member may return to campus after completing quarantine and meeting symptom resolution criteria with a medical note


Contact-Tracing and Testing


In the event that any student or faculty are confirmed as COVID PCR positive, Athena Academy will provide information to the Santa Clara Health Department and request recommendations in order to initiate the appropriate contact tracing interview of the case to determine close contacts. 

Interview questions will include:date of symptoms onset, hours that they worked surrounding onset of symptoms, and any faculty or students they know they encountered during this timeframe.  

Santa Clara Health Department or a healthcare consultant designated by Athena Academy will review the circumstances of the exposure to assess risk and then notify and provide guidance on self-monitoring or testing recommendations to the close contacts deemed at risk.

Staff testing:

In consultation with Santa Clara Health Department all staff working on campus are recommended to have a COVID test once every month.

In the event that any student or faculty member is confirmed as COVID PCR positive, Athena Academy will contact the Santa Clara Health Department to ask for guidance on surveillance testing strategies for  asymptomatic staff /students and which contacts should be prioritized for testing. Guidance will be requested as to best test site location to accomplish this testing.

Training and Communication

We will orient all faculty, students, and families to these procedures in multiple ways.  

  • We will post this plan on the website for their reference.
  • We will utilize faculty meeting time to review these expectations and guidelines and to answer any questions the faculty and staff may have
  • We will hold a “Town Hall” style meeting via Zoom to talk through this with the parents and answer any questions they may have
  • We will rollout the return to campus procedures starting with small groups allowing for us to orient and train each group on the expectations and routines
  • We will update everyone via email should any changes be made to the guidelines or expectations

Campus Map:













Drop-Off Map:

Community Expectations 

Athena Academy is very committed to the health, safety and well-being of our students, teachers, staff and overall community. We’re doing everything we can to reopen our school safely…but we need your help!

Everyone at home plays an important role in keeping our community safe.

With in-person school starting on January 7, 2021, we feel confident that as a community, we can find ways to provide our students with a safe, joyful, and caring learning environment, both in-person and remotely! Being able to open campus, and keep it open, depends on the ability of our whole community to adhere to safe behaviors.

The health and safety protocols we are implementing on campus are strengthened by the choices you make at home. We encourage and ask everyone in the Athena community, including children, families, teachers and staff, to practice the same safety measures our children are using in-person at school, and please:

  • Adhere to current physical distancing, mask and hygiene guidelines in public both on and off campus.
  • Avoid large social gatherings, refrain from expanding your social circles and pledge to keep your social circles small.
  • How you pick up your child after-school, along with after-school and weekend activities your family engages in – impacts the potential exposure for not just your family but also for our campus.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel outside our community, when possible.
  • Notify the school if anyone in your immediate household tests positive for COVID, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • Observe and teach healthy hygiene habits we use at school at home: 20 second hand washing, appropriate use of face coverings, catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue or your elbow.
  • Make the hard decision when necessary to stay home when sick.
  • Be an example for your children and neighbors in modeling safe, responsible behaviors and compassion for others.

We all have an important role in returning children to in-person learning in a safe and respectful manner. We ask that everyone practice kindness, patience and respect with each other, especially with those who may need safety reminders or suggestions.

We do our best work when we work together! Thank you for your support and continued partnership.


10 Things to Do Before Returning to School



Teach your child to sing the ABCs or count for at least 20 seconds and use proper technique Handwashing: A Family Activity and Videos / Handwashing


Ensure your child’s immunizations are up to date and plan to get the flu shot early this year. 

CA Immunization Requirements


When possible, face covers should be washed daily. Consider making or buying multiple face covers so you have time to wash them between use. 

How to Make Cloth Face Covers and How to Wash a Cloth Face Covering


Contact your child’s physician if you have concerns for returning to school and need more support.  Provide documentation if your child has a chronic Illness and/or requires medication during the school day.


Students will be required to wear a face covering upon entering school, in the classroom and on the playground. How to Safely Wear and Remove a Face Covering


Have your child bring a reusable water bottle to school. 


You will be required to check your child’s temperature and symptoms each day before school. If your child has any signs of illness or a temperature of 99.6F or higher, they must stay home and your school office must be notified. 


If your child presents with COVID-like symptoms, they will be placed in an isolation area/room and will need to be picked up immediately. Please ensure that a contact can be reached and can pick up your child from school within 15 – 30 minutes. 


Review physical distancing with your child. Consider measuring the distance on the floor and temporarily laying pieces of paper down for a visual.


Educate yourself from reliable sources such as the CDC and San Mateo County Health. 

Coronavirus CDC, CDC Back to School Decision Making Tool.