Frequently Asked Questions
At Achievement First, your child’s health and well-being are our highest priority. We are looking forward to returning to school in person, with a focus on learning and ensuring all children feel safe and loved.
We will continue to implement all 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.
Will students return to school in person for the 2021-22 school year?
We are ready to safely accommodate 100% of our scholars back in school in person! We are so excited for this return to learning together, safely.
What safety measures will be in place to ensure students and staff are safe?
Every Achievement First school will follow CDC 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 will pursue a multi-layered strategy that will include wearing masks, ensuring staff/students stay home when experiencing symptoms, maximizing distance between everyone in school to the extent possible, and washing and disinfecting hands.
What safety measures will be in place on school buses?
In keeping with CDC guidelines, masks will be required and windows will be open to improve ventilation when it does not create a safety hazard.
What measures will be in place for ventilation?
Ventilation measures will 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.
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.
Will visitors be allowed in school buildings?
To limit exposure for students and staff, and to reduce the number of people within the building to allow for social distancing, we will keep our temporary building entrance policy for Achievement First schools in place until further notice. (NY and Hartford schools co-located in district or board of education buildings must defer to the district or board of education’s guidance if it is more restrictive.) For now, we are not allowing entrance into our buildings for family members during arrival or dismissal, including when there is bad weather, or if a scholar arrives late or must depart early. A staff member will escort scholars to/from the entrance, and family members must remain outside.
We strongly encourage that meetings with anyone not on the school or building team take place via phone or video. In the rare instance where a meeting must occur in person, all safety protocols must be followed. Schools must maintain a visitor log that specifies the exact time of arrival and departure, purpose of visit, and what spaces they will be in.
Will students and teachers be tested for COVID-19 when we return to school?
We know that COVID testing is an important safety measure to keep our scholars and staff safe. Any staff member who does not show proof of vaccination will participate in weekly COVID-19 testing beginning September 20. We will also offer regular voluntary weekly testing of 10% of all in-person staff with proof of vaccination AND scholars to monitor the spread of COVID within our schools. In keeping with CDC guidelines, students and staff who are fully vaccinated with no COVID-19-like symptoms and no known exposure will not be required to participate in weekly testing.
What should I do if my child is exposed to COVID-19 or develops symptoms?
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.
What will happen if there is a positive case at school?
In alignment with CDC guidance, Achievement First will consult with the school district and local health authorities when a positive COVID case is reported at a school. We will notify students, families and staff at that school and follow local/regional guidance regarding the recommended quarantine protocols for students and staff. We’ve included below links to access the specific positive case and quarantine procedures for the applicable district or board of education’s for our schools:
- Rhode Island Schools: https://reopeningri.com/
Will there be a school nurse?
Yes, all schools will have a school nurse.
What should I be prepared for during arrival and dismissal?
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.
Are masks required for students, teachers and staff?
Yes, as of 9/9/21 everyone is required to wear a mask on school property in both indoor and outdoor settings. Previously, masks had been required for indoor settings. Scholars may remove masks for mask breaks or activities that make mask wearing impossible, such as eating or playing instruments.
Your school will provide two reusable masks for each student, and schools will have disposable masks available for emergencies. Scholars may use their own mask from home, as long as it meets the mask requirements.
Are students allowed to wear face shields at school?
A face shield may be worn in addition to a mask, but not in place of one.
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.
Are students required to be vaccinated?
Some of our older students are currently eligible for vaccination, and the CDC is expected to expand access to the vaccine for younger students in the coming months. While vaccines are not currently required for students to return to school, they remain a critical step to keep everyone in our communities safe and healthy. Vaccines are available, for free, for everyone 12 years and older regardless of immigration status, and they are the single best way to protect yourself, your family, and our community from serious illness, including the delta variant. That’s why we, as educators, are strongly recommending that all eligible students, staff, and family members — including any family members you see frequently — get the vaccine as soon as possible.
We will work with community agencies to inform our school community about COVID vaccines and connect any student and family who wishes to get vaccinated with information and/or available resources within the community. You can also get the latest information, and find out where to get vaccinated, at the CDC website.
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
Additionally, writing utensils (pens, pencils, paintbrushes, markers, crayons, etc.) cannot be shared among students. Each student must have individualized writing utensils.
Will hand washing stations or hand sanitizer be available throughout the school and when will children be required to wash their hands?
Hand sanitizer will be 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.
Will 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 symptoms subside and they are symptom-free without medication for 48 hours.
Will staff regularly disinfect surfaces throughout the school?
Yes, we’ll be actively cleaning high-touch surfaces (door handles, desks, tables, etc.) throughout the day.
What else can you share about safety and the return to in person school? Is there a virtual option?
Throughout the pandemic, we have proceeded with an abundance of caution in all decisions related to in-person school opening. That has not changed. We are prepared to return to 100% in-person school because it is by far the best option for students, and nationwide and internal data (from our CT and RI schools) show us it can be done safely. Returning to in-person school will offer the best option for students in terms of their learning, their emotional well-being and their social development. The evidence for this, from scientific studies across the country and from our own experience, is strong. Every Achievement First school will follow CDC guidelines to keep children, families and staff safe and healthy. If you and your family have concerns about returning to in-person school in the fall, please fill out the form at this link and someone will reach out with more information.
Will students be allowed to participate in sports and extracurricular activities?
We recognize that sports and other extracurricular activities are important for our scholars’ continued development. We anticipate that sports and after-school activities will resume for the 2021-22 school year.
Will 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 be allowed to check out library books or books from classroom libraries?
Yes, books are permitted to be shared among students. Students should clean hands after using shared materials.
Will middle school and high school students change classes?
Yes. We are minimizing transition times to be less than 10 minutes per transition to minimize close contact between students
Will students attend field trips?
At this time, students will not attend field trips through October 1 so we can focus on safety within our schools. There may be a few exceptions to this policy, based on specific needs, and we will ensure students and staff follow CDC guidance for field trips.
Beginning October 4, students will be able to attend field trips to outdoor locations that use yellow school buses or are within walking distance of the school.
*Updated on September 3, 2021. All protocols are subject to change.