Health and Safety has always been a part of our ethos at La Tierra Community School, but this year it involves more analysis than usual, as well as new expectations, since the world around us has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In our efforts to fulfill our vision of “working together to nurture the whole child and inspire passion for learning” we have created new policies, communications and expectations for our school community. These will allow us all – students, staff, teachers, & families – to enjoy in-person school feeling safe and secure. Our community’s support, flexibility, and respect have been appreciated more than ever before during this time of change!
There are many new aspects to health and safety at LTCS, and we have outlined them in detail in our COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for School Year 2021-2022 and LTCS Face Covering Policy.
We are committed to keeping our families updated with new or changing information in a timely way – as our families have already experienced this year as policies have evolved – it’s best for all of us when we have the latest knowledge and clear expectations. And now, more than ever, our open door policy is vital to our community. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the office and we will be happy to speak with you!
The two questions we are asked most frequently right now are “What is the mask policy?” and “What are you doing to keep our kids safe?” The first question is answered in detail in our LTCS Face Covering Policy, but can be summed up with: face coverings are required to be worn by everyone in the building.
The second question has a longer answer and we’re happy to share with you some of the new safety protocols students are experiencing at school:
- Disposable masks are available for any student who forgets their mask or whose mask malfunctions during the day.
- We are encouraging staff and students to wash or sanitize hands frequently during the day, especially before and after lunch, recess, or changing places within the school. Frequent hand-washing has the benefit of preventing many kinds of illnesses, not just Covid19, from spreading throughout the school.
- Our small class sizes allow for physical distancing in our classrooms and common areas.
- As is normal for our experiential learning model, we take many of our lessons outside in a variety of outdoor spaces.
- We are eating lunch outdoors, unless it rains.
- We have divided the school into pods (grades K-3 and grades 4-7) for lunch, recess, and other gatherings, which limits interaction and helps us contact trace if it becomes necessary.
- Grades 4-7 will be pool testing every Monday and Rapid Result tests are available at school.
- We’ve increased our ventilation and circulation of clean air wherever we can with open windows, new HEPA filters in every classroom and HVAC systems set to maximize ventilation.
- Our staff has been trained on frequent cleaning of high touch areas, sanitizing classrooms 3 times each day, and deep cleanings as needed.
There are also many things happening to keep our community safe that might not be so visible but are important:
- Approximately 90% of our staff are vaccinated.
- We’re asking families to do their own health screenings at home – if your child is exhibiting ANY signs of illness, keep them home. We are committed to making sure your child stays caught up at school if they must miss days – we will partner with you to make this happen.
- We have a communication plan in place for changing scenarios, or in the case of a Covid19 outbreak within our community.
- We have new Community Transmission Metrics to better understand how Covid19 is presenting itself in our school community and the community at large.
- In the case of someone in the LTCS community contracting Covid19, we have a robust plan for conducting a case investigation, contact tracing, notification, and quarantine guidance.
As you can see, we understand the seriousness of the pandemic and the precautions that have been advised, and we have worked hard to analyze and implement the measures that make sense for our school community. Nothing is more important to us than keeping our community safe – LTCS is a special place that we want to see continuing to grow and thrive. And that is why we are also taking the Social and Emotional health of our students very seriously.
During the 2020-2021 school year, LTCS staff noticed the social emotional needs of our students increasing, including anxiety, grief, fear, self regulation, and difficulty adjusting to on-campus procedures. In response to our students’ needs, we will have our Counselor on campus 2 days per week during the 2021-22 school year. And again, if you have concerns, our open door policy means we are here to talk to you – just call the office.
We are a community full of support, care, and respect for each other, and we are confident we will have a wonderful and successful school year. It may look a little different than other years, but the fundamental pieces of La Tierra Community School are intact – we continue to provide experiential learning and value diversity, focus on educating the whole child, and have a commitment to social and environmental justice.
Welcome back to school, we are thrilled to have our community back together!
About La Tierra Community School
At La Tierra Community School, teachers, parents, staff, and students work together to create a school culture of collaboration, respect, and high expectations. Through our expeditionary learning-inspired approach, trust, respect, responsibility, and joy in learning permeate our community and our students know they can impact their world. Enrolling K-7 in Prescott, today!