Frequently Asked Questions
At Achievement First, your child’s health and well-being are our highest priority.
We will continue to implement CDC health guidance and safety measures to ensure our scholars, staff, and families are safe. Below we’ve answered frequently asked questions for families. Please check back here regularly for new information and updates.
General Safety Measures & COVID-19 Vaccination Policies
What safety measures will be in place to ensure students and staff are safe?
Every Achievement First school will follow public health guidelines to keep children, families, and staff safe and healthy. These guidelines have evolved and will continue to do so, and AF will continue to stay up to date with current recommendations. We employ a multi-layered strategy that includes daily health screenings, wearing masks as indicated by public health officials and local districts., ensuring staff/students stay home when experiencing symptoms, maximizing distance between everyone in school to the extent possible, encouraging and providing weekly, asymptomatic testing, and washing and disinfecting hands, and mandatory vaccination for staff. Our schools provide high-quality (N95, KN95, KF94, or surgical) masks for any staff or student who will need them.
Do you conduct daily symptom screenings for students and staff?
Yes, all staff and scholars must submit a health screening via ParentSquare before leaving for school every day. Your scholar will be allowed in the building once their screening is completed and passed. Anyone who displays any symptoms of COVID-19 must stay home until they (1) are fever free for 24 hours without medication AND receive a negative lab-confirmed COVID test OR receive two negative at-home test results separated by 24 hours. If a student/staff member chooses not to take a COVID test after experiencing symptoms, they must follow the isolation timelines for confirmed positive cases.
What is your staff vaccination policy?
All Achievement First staff must be vaccinated, with medical and religious exemptions available to those who qualify.
Do you require students to be vaccinated?Achievement First, unequivocally, believes that everyone who is medically eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine should do so. This is the safest way to keep our schools open for students and staff. We also recognize the past and present medical abuses and mistreatment that negatively impact BIPOC communities and justifiably contribute to vaccine hesitancy in our community. We encourage anyone that has concerns about the vaccine to talk with a doctor or public health expert to get the information you need from someone you trust.
AF students ages 5+ are currently eligible for vaccination. We do not currently require COVID-19 vaccination for our students. If the department of education (DOE, CTSDE, RIDE) requires vaccination for children, that will apply to our schools and we will communicate any changes and updates as they occur.
What safety measures will be in place on school buses?
On school buses, windows are open to improve ventilation when it does not create a safety hazard. We will follow our local district and CDC recommendations for masking on the school bus.
If someone on the bus tests positive for COVID-19, everyone on the bus is considered a close contact.
What measures are in place for ventilation?
Ventilation measures follow CDC guidance and will look different in different buildings. Schools with centralized HVAC systems will maximize ventilation rates. In schools with windows or window A/C units, windows will remain open and fans or air conditioners will be turned on to increase air circulation, classroom doors will remain open at all times, unless they need to be closed for safety reasons. Additionally, rooms without windows that are designated as safe will be equipped with an air filter system, and rooms that are not well ventilated may not be used. Scholars are encouraged to bring a sweater / sweatshirt to school.
Is there a school nurse?
Yes, all schools have a nurse.
Does staff regularly disinfect surfaces throughout the school?
Yes, we actively clean high-touch surfaces (door handles, desks, tables, etc.) throughout the day.
Are hand washing stations or hand sanitizer available throughout the school and when will children be required to wash their hands?
Hand sanitizer is in each classroom. Time will be built into daily routines for students and staff to clean hands, especially at key times like after bathroom breaks, before lunch, or after recess.
Are visitors allowed in school buildings?
Yes. Achievement First Schools are excited to welcome visitors back to our schools beginning on March 7th, 2022. All visitors must follow all safety policies at the school, including maintain 6 feet of social distance, our most updated masking policies, not coming to the building when sick, and in NY, being fully vaccinated. Those interested in visiting schools should reach out to your child’s school directly to schedule a visit so that we can ensure all safety protocols can be implemented with fidelity.
In the interest of safety, both arrival and dismissal will take place outdoors. We encourage you to check the weather for the day and ensure your scholar is prepared for inclement weather with the right jacket and cold weather / rain gear. Additionally, during arrival we will conduct our health screening procedure before students enter the building which may take additional time.
COVID-19 Testing & Potential Exposure Response
What should I do if my child is exposed to COVID-19 outside of school, or develops symptoms of COVID-19?
If your child is exposed to COVID-19 or develops symptoms, please notify your school immediately, stay home, monitor their symptoms, and contact your physician.
Will I be informed if there is a positive case in the school?
Your school will send an update to all families via Parent Square, relaying that there has been a case in the school.
In New York and Rhode Island, the school will contact all families of children that were in “close contact.”
- A child is considered a close contact if they have been within three feet of an infected child indoors (six feet if it’s outdoors or during a mask break), or six feet of an infected adult for 15+ minutes over a 24-hour period
In Connecticut, aligned with state guidance, we will not identify close contacts, or require close contacts to quarantine. We will send a general notification when there has been a positive case to the entire classroom or school bus, and continue our policy that individuals who are sick/symptomatic should not come to school.
What happens if my child is a close contact?
In our CT/RI schools, If your child is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 while at school, they can continue to attend school if (1) they are not experiencing any symptoms of the virus; and (2) they wear a high quality (N95, KN95, KF94, or surgical mask with cloth mask over it) on days 1 to 10 after exposure.
In our New York schools, if your child is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 while at school, they can continue to attend school if (1) they are participating in the “Test-to-Stay” program and receive a negative test result on at-home tests; (2) they are not experiencing any symptoms of the virus; and (3) ) they wear a high quality (N95, KN95, KF94, or surgical mask with cloth mask over it) on days 1 to 10 after exposure.
If a student is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 OUTSIDE of school, you should contact your health provider and your child’s school for more guidance.
Do you offer on-site testing at schools for students?
We are currently offering opt-in asymptomatic COVID-19 PCR testing. Our goal is to test 20% of the school population weekly to increase our ability to identify and isolate positive cases in our school community. Mask wearing, social distancing, and staying home when sick are all vital components of our strategy to keep our schools safe.
The vendor, Genomic Expressions, provides saliva based PCR testing. This is a significantly less invasive form of testing. Genomic Expressions worked with Yale University on this test, and it is proven effective in detecting and confirming COVID-19 cases. Watch this video on Genomic Expressions PCR testing for more information.
You will be notified of your child’s test results. Please contact your school if you need to update your contact information. If your child tests positive, please immediately let your school’s Director of School Operations know, and they will follow up with specific isolation protocols. We will continue to follow our existing positive case protocols until further notice.
To sign your child up for testing, please complete this form. If your child previously participated in testing this year, you do not need to complete any consent forms. While we will take reasonable precautions to ensure safety, please understand that Achievement First shall not be liable for any accident or injuries that may occur to your scholar relating to the administration of the test in accordance with applicable law.
Are masks required for students, teachers and staff?
We are following our local districts in mask requirements for our schools. If and when our districts lift the mask mandate, we will follow their lead assuming it aligns with CDC recommendations. We will communicate any changes on our policies directly via parent square.
What should I do if my child requires an accommodation or special mask?
We are committed to supporting our scholars with special needs and/or medical conditions who may require an accommodation or special mask. If your student has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, please contact your school.
What measures will be in place in classrooms?
Classroom furniture will be arranged, and desks will be spaced as much as possible, to allow for distancing according to CDC guidelines. This may look different from school to school and classroom to classroom.
What safety measures will be in place for enrichment classes such as music, band, and art
Depending on available space and weather, schools will use outdoor areas for any classes that require movement, and increased voice projection (including PE, dance, and music), and students will be spaced as much as possible during these classes. Additionally, writing utensils (pens, pencils, paintbrushes, markers, crayons, etc.) cannot be shared among students. Each student must have individualized writing utensils.
Are students allowed to participate in sports and extracurricular activities?
We recognize that sports and other extracurricular activities are important for our scholars’ continued development. Sports and after-school activities have resumed for the 2021-22 school year.
Do elementary students still have recess?
Yes, recess will take place outdoors, weather permitting. Students must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after recess.
Will students attend field trips?
Effective March 7th, students are able to attend field trips to both outdoor and indoor locations. All safety protocols must be followed during field trips.
What if I have additional questions?
Please add your additional questions to this Google form and it will be answered via email ASAP.
*Updated on March 4, 2022. All protocols are subject to change.