Coronavirus response

Updates and Information on Our Covid-19 Response

In an ongoing effort to remain aware and prepared for the impact of the Coronavirus, GCA has developed this web page with continuing communication from the campus administration. Please check here for any additional updates. They appear below from the most recent to the oldest news.

03/03/2021- Update re: Gov Abbot Announcement

Yesterday, Governor Abbott issued a statement changing the State of Texas’ required COVID mandates, removing the capacity requirements in businesses, and lifting the mandated safety protocols.   These changes are set to take place on March 10th.  In the statement, he gave the freedom (and responsibility) of adopting safety protocols to each individual business.

This isn’t a big change from what we have already been doing.  As a private school, we’ve been given the primary responsibility to adopt COVID protocols we consider prudent to operate effectively.  In addition, our leadership team has been in the process of discussing how to best finish this year and transition to normalcy. Based on what we were hearing, we assumed that major changes would most likely be implemented later in the year, probably the next school year.  

In light of Governor Abbot’s announcement, the GCA Lead Team is obtaining additional school-specific guidance from local, state, and national authorities so we can make well-informed plans.  As you know, the 8-hour/day school experience is not easily comparable to say, dining at a restaurant or going to church, so we can’t just replicate the decisions of a restaurant or church.  It makes sense to get counsel specific to our field, which we expect to get in the coming week.

For now, all GCA’s COVID-19 policies and protocols remain in place.  We’ll keep you up-to-date as plans unfold. Our commitment to you, our GCA family, is to seek to make wise and God-honoring decisions, utilizing the best information available.

We appreciate everyone’s continued patience and flexibility as we navigate our ongoing response to COVID-19. 

01/25/2021 - Safe Return to School

Following some positive cases among our staff and students we did a school-wide push to get people tested and see results. Here are the results of this survey:

  • 85 people completed the survey
  • 52% tested Negative, 43% were not tested and 4% are waiting results
  • We had 2 who tested positive and were already quarantining last week. No new students have been exposed.

We feel confident that return to school is safe and will continue our COVID-19 protocols to reduce spread and keep our community safe. Thank you for doing what you can to keep our school and community healthy.

01/12/2021 - Update

From the TEA/CDC, updated 12/2/2021:

Stay-at-Home Period for Close Contacts of Individuals Who Tested Positive For individuals who are close contacts to individuals who tested positive, a 14-day stay-at-home period was previously advised by the CDC based on the incubation period of the virus. As of December 2, 2020, the CDC amended their guidance to allow two shorter options for the stay at-home period. Based on current CDC guidance, the stay-at-home period can end for individuals experiencing no symptoms: – On Day 10 after close contact exposure without testing, – On Day 7 after close contact exposure and after receiving a negative test result. If individuals return to school from these shorter stay-at-home windows, they should regularly monitor themselves for symptoms to ensure they remain symptom-free and take appropriate precautions (e.g., more consistent mask usage) for the duration of the 14-day incubation period.

GCA Application for individuals within the same household:

The first day of the count for a person who has had close contact within a household is the LAST day the close contact occurs. If a member of the household tests positive and is not able to quarantine from the rest of the family members, the members of the household would begin their count on the 10th day of the quarantine of the person who tested positive.

GCA will follow the 10 day window for quarantining whole classes if close contact occurs on campus.

If close contact occurs off campus, individuals may opt for the shorter quarantine dates, but must check with GCA before returning to school.

Note: Due to the length of time is takes to get test results, the quarantine of classes may seem shorter than 10 days. GCA will begin counting with Day 1 as the last day a potentially contagious person was on campus and Day 10 as the first day classes will be allowed to return.

12/04/2020 - Update

Safe return to campus following any illness with COVID-like symptoms. If a staff member or student experiences any COVID like symptoms, we ask that you notify the school office or Amy Smith at amy.smith@gcafrisco.org AND then do one of the following:

  • Get a doctor’s note to return to campus,
  • Get a negative COVID test, or
  • Quarantine for 10 days from the 1st day of symptoms.
COVID symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Sore Throat
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Difficulty Breathing (for students with asthma, a change in their baseline breathing)
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • New onset of severe headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle or body aches
COVID Exposure
If a student or staff member has experienced a known COVID-19 exposure, please contact the school office at 972-836-9422 or email Amy Smith at amy.smith@gcafrisco.org. CDC Definition of Exposure: Within 6 feet for total of 15 minutes or more with a person who has COVID-19.

10/27/2020

10/23/2020

With the holidays before us, we know that if is as important as ever that we stay SAFE at school and not risk bringing any sickness home to you and at the holidays–home to you and your loved ones!!

Current Covid Procedures
We have taken time this week to reinforce and improve our Covid procedures–which have been going great, by the way!!

We don’t love all the procedures, but we DO love our at risk family members and other loves ones, and we remind ourselves that we are doing this for our community and for them!

  • We have taken time to measure distances in classrooms and outdoors in keeping with our distancing guidelines.
  • We have increased our distance for removing face covering outdoors and while eating to 10 feet.
  • We have continued to watch our cohorts and our face covering guidelines and enforce them.
  • We continue to wash hands often and hand sanitize often.

We do ask you to continue to screen your students each day before dropping them off, and we THANK all of you have taken the extra steps to keep students home who might be sick.

Christmas Break Change

  • In light of our fall schedule– we have decided to make finals week, Dec. 14th-17th a VIRTUAL week for all students taking high school level finals.
  • We have also decided to NOT have any in person classes that week for lower school-as those are typically half days with Christmas activities.
  • Lower School and Middle will also NOT transition to virtual–but teachers will cover this academic content before that week.
  • This means your last school day will be Dec,. 10th unless you are taking high school final exams, virtually.

Why the change?

  • We want to give our GCA families and teachers the chance to quarantine where needed before seeing high risk grandparents or loved ones on Christmas Day.
  • This small change will give all of you the time to be away from this larger in person community before you rub shoulders with all of your family and friends that you will see during the holidays.
  • Some of our teachers will be able to see extended family – even local extended family -that they have not been able to see since school started due to the risk.
  • Your teachers feel confident that they can work in the material either before and then after Christmas and know that this may take a little extra work on your part– but will keep our community safe.

9/1/2020 - Reminder: Campus is Closed to Visitors

Due to Covid-19, The GCA Campus is closed to visitors. If you are an essential volunteer, please come at your scheduled shift and check in at the south desk. Please wear your GCA name tag (get this from the check in desk) and your helping hands t-shirt while on campus. You will be screened upon entry. Please do not come to school if exhibiting any symptoms of illness. Thank YOU for volunteering!

8/15/2020 - Video Update

7/29/2020 - Q&A

What types of face coverings can our children wear?
Face coverings can be any color/ brand/ style, but should cover the nose and mouth. They should not have any offensive or controversial messaging or images and should not be a distraction to the class.

Why are we doing Parent University and Mini Day virtually?
The reason we decided to move the Parent University virtually– is due to the number of people being in the building all at once– and the fact that these would all be adults (more at risk than kids) and would be a higher number than will be on campus on regular school days. We also don’t really have protocol in place for social distancing, and even moving people around to the various classrooms in a way we felt would be lower risk. We also felt it would be more personal to see and meet your teacher with no mask on– as we can do on Zoom, but at school- the mask might make it harder to see his or her expressions and connect with him/her. It would absolutely be our heart and goal to bring everyone together in person in one big event and we hope to do that as soon as possible!

What will virtual Parent University look like?
The schedule for that day is being reworked to make it clearer and better suited to our virtual platform. It will be a combination of Livestream– via Youtube– sessions AND Zoom time where you can see and meet your teacher and the other parents in your class.

What will the virtual option look like?
See the “Covid Plan” for the current updates. We commit to working with each family that chooses this option to be sure that their needs are being met and that they are receiving live and personal instruction from a teacher and will have some opportunities to interact with their class.

7/23/2020 - Video Update

7/15/2020 - Procedures and Policies

Drop Off and Pick Up Guidelines

  • Parents will self-screen students at home.
  • GCA will implement a “green card system”
    • Families will green card with screening steps
    • They will show/ hold up the green card when dropping off students to indicate to staff that they have screened their children.
  • A temperature check will be taken at the door
  • Drop off and pick up times/ locations will be staggered; times will stay the same as current schedule is already staggered

What about face coverings?
“Face coverings” include face shields, masks, and cloth face coverings

Guiding Principles:
GCA is a “face covering-friendly” campus. We encourage the use of face coverings by all students and teachers, and may create requirements for them to be worn based upon current conditions and the mandates of our authorities. We also respect the decision of those who choose not to wear a face covering while off-campus, during the Lower School cohorts, or any other times allowed.

GCA upholds the scriptural view that we can embrace fellow believers who make decisions before the Lord that are different from our own. GCA expects that students not engage in criticism of other students or staff who choose to wear (or not wear) a face covering in allowed contexts.

GCA is committed to the scriptural view to follow the dictates of our God-appointed authorities, unless asked to violate a clear dictate of Scripture.

Our goal is always to protect our community, its health, and model the love of Christ for one another as we make decisions we feel are right before the Lord.

GCA has added baseball caps to the Land’s End uniform page for students who desire to wear a baseball cap styled face shield. Any similar cap is acceptable for this style of face shield.

  • Students Grades K-3
    • These students will begin the year by wearing face coverings when interacting with students outside of their cohort.
    • These include but are not limited to:
      • Drop off/ pick up line
      • Transitions between classes
      • During specials classes when not able to maintain a distance of 6 feet from the teacher
    • These students will not be required to wear a face covering during select times of the day when they are with their small cohort only. These might include these times:
      • While in their homeroom classroom with the 8-12 students in their own grade.
      • During PE doing physical activity and maintaining social distance from the teacher and also with their own cohort only.
      • During recess with their cohort only.
      • During lunch while eating with their cohort only.
  • Students Grades 4-12
    • These students will be required to wear face coverings or shields while on campus except during athletics and physical exercise and while actually eating their lunch.
  • Teachers, Staff, and Volunteers
    • Adults representing the school will be required to wear face coverings or shields while on campus, except while eating lunch.

How will the school be kept clean and safe?

  • Hallways
    • will be one-way and will have floor markings indicating 6 feet for social distancing.
  • Bathroom usage
    • will be monitored and traffic directed.
  • Check-in desks
    • will have plexiglass barriers and staff members will wear face coverings
  • Health care staff members
    • will wear gloves and face coverings when assisting students with health needs.
  • Hand sanitizing stations
    • will be placed near all classrooms.
  • Social distance signs
    • will be placed throughout the facility.
  • Classrooms
    • will be sanitized each day and between groups of students
  • Gym and playground
    • will be sanitized between groups.
  • High touch surfaces
    • will be sanitized several times a day.
  • Library
    • protocols will be put in place to keep the library system safe

How will social distancing be maintained?

GCA will be employing the concept of “cohorting.”

Students will be grouped (by class) and stay together with the same students throughout the day in order to minimize student to student contact.

Classes with mixed groups/ cohorts will keep a social distance of 3-6 feet between cohorts.

Cohorts in the Middle and High School

  • Middle School cohorts will be grade level for 6th, 7th and 8th grade
  • Upper School cohorts will include 9/10th and 11/12th grade level combinations.
  • Mixed math classes will maintain 3-6 feet social distancing between “cohorts.”
  • Mixed specials groups will maintain 3-6 feet social distancing between “cohorts.”

Teachers

  • Elementary homeroom teachers are considered part of the cohort of their homeroom class.
  • Upper School teachers and Elementary “specialists” will move from room to room each hour. They will socially distance from the students.
  • Teachers, administrators, and support staff will socially distance from students and from other teachers.

Administration, Support Staff, and Essential Parent Volunteers

  • All administrative tasks that can be performed from an off-campus location will be moved off campus or to an on-campus distanced location.
  • Front desk staff and nurses station will have plexiglass barriers, and will maintain minimum staffing to perform the task.

Student Education

  • Students will be trained in proper handwashing techniques
  • Students will be trained in proper coughing and sneezing techniques
  • Teachers and students will practice and be trained in social distancing techniques and classroom management methods that will support a safe environment.

What if someone in “close contact” with a student tests positive?

Close Contact Definition
“For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.” (definition from CDC)

If you have come into close contact with someone with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis:

  • The cohort will be notified if a member tests positive or is suspected to have the COViD virus.
  • Self Quarantine for 14 days from last exposure and monitor for symptoms
  • A fellow cohort member would be considered a close contact

Example: If a 9th-grade student is diagnosed with Covid-19 and attended class while considered contagious, the cohort (the 9th and 10th grade students) would self-quarantine for 14 days.

If an upper school teacher tests positive:

  • That teacher must self quarantine for 14 days.
  • The cohort will be notified if a member tests positive or is suspected to have the COViD virus.
  • At the discretion of GCA, students of that teacher may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Sick students and teachers at school or returning to school

  • If a student has exhibited COVID-like symptoms of a high fever, sore throat, and cough, we ask that you stay home and consult your doctor.
  • If a student or teacher tests positive for COVID, a mandatory 14 day self quarantine will be required whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic.
  • After a positive diagnosis of COVID, we ask that you get clearance from your doctor before returning to school.
  • Any other illness will follow a stricter than usual protocol for the year 20-21 of requiring a student or teacher to be symptom and fever free for 24 hours before returning to school.
  • A student or teacher who begins to feel ill while at school will immediately be isolated from others and sent home. GCA will maintain an isolation room for this purpose.

What virtual learning options will be available?

Individual Virtual Learning
The “Individual Virtual Learning” option is for students who are unable to join their classes when GCA is in normal operations mode (green) and will be geared toward helping that student to join in following the lesson plans already being created for the “on-campus” students.

This option will allow families extended flexibility in making the choice that best meets their needs during full operation (green) stages of school operations.

We trust that once the COVID numbers are reduced and our society shifts back to a normal state, these students would plan to rejoin us at school at that time. We realize that families may choose this Individual Virtual Learning option for the entire year, and we will work together with each family to make it a successful experience.

These students may opt for this solution and stay at home for the following reasons:

  • At-risk family members
  • Quarantine or exposure to COVID
  • Illness of any kind
  • Safety concerns related to the spread of COVID-19

Features of the Individual Virtual Option
Updated 8/1/2020

  • In class instruction will be delivered via Youtube live. Videos will be remain on the Youtube live channel for access by the Virtual students for 2 days. Students may opt to watch the videos live or delayed. Those students who watch the stream in real time with their class will be given opportunities to ask questions and/or interact with the class at least once per class period. The video will not be running during breaks, snacks, lunch, passing periods, and independent work times. Teachers will start each class hour with the video time, usually followed by interaction or questions. If time will be used for independent work, that will be scheduled for the end of each class period. Lower School teachers will provide a schedule to Virtual learners for the times of day that the live videos will stream. Upper School students can consult their class schedule for their video schedule.
  • Regular homework assignments posted for home days will be the same for virtual and traditional students.
  • Teacher plans for school days will be written with the parent at home in mind and will include topics, page numbers, and any resource material or worksheets that are used in class. The at home parent is encouraged to consult these plans before the class period begins.
  • BJU teacher’s guides will be provided with assistance in working through these lessons as needed. Please request these from Christian Cook if you need access to the teacher’s guides.
  • Some video direct teaching. This will be made available via livestream or on-demand video (Loom or similar) of the teaching portions of the class time for certain subjects.
  • Appropriate classroom teacher coaching and/or tutoring.
  • Communications: grade reporting, teacher conferences, and all other communications will be the same as for the on campus students.
  • Extra-curricular activities, field trips, and events will still be accessible to these students with a clear bill of health.
  • Group projects will be geared to a platform that includes virtual meetings.
  • Parental involvement. Lessons may require a parent to follow along and co-teach some of the subject matter.

All School Virtual Learning

GCA will be ready to transition/pivot the entire school to online/virtual learning should the state of Texas require it. In this instance, GCA commits to these things for all grades:

  • In-person instruction via video and Zoom or similar
  • Lessons tailored to the home learning environment
  • Personal coaching and tutoring as needed

“Green” – Regular GCA Model
UMS model with health provisions

  • Distance Program available on request – may need to commit to a grading period
  • Placement of messaging in school for safety and distancing
  • Entry requirements and temperature check
  • Flexibility in attendance policy
  • Restrict mixing of classes
  • Lunch in classrooms
  • Modifying classroom space
  • Daily cleaning
  • Hand sanitizing stations
  • Field Trips on case-by case with likely limitations
  • Reasonable social distancing in class
  • Face masks and/or shields if required by governmental authorities, NAUMS, or GCA Board
  • Wellness table with supplies
  • Designated room for sick students

Criteria

  • Full freedom from federal, state, and local authorities
  • Vote of confidence/ decision from Lead Team

“Yellow” – Modified UMS Model
Toggle school days and zoom days

  • Tues/ Thurs. 1 day for ES 1 day for US
  • Opposite day will be full video at home
  • Mondays for US – video or work day at home
  • Maintain full academic rigor

Criteria

  • Directions from governmental authorities, NAUMS, or Board
  • Vote of Lead Team
  • Significant increase in COVID cases in Collin and Denton counties

“Red” – Full Distance Model

Individual class or whole school meeting solely through distance learning

Criteria

  • Directions from governmental authorities, NAUMS, or Board
  • Vote of Lead Team
  • Significant increase in COVID cases in Collin and Denton counties
  • Diagnosed COVID case in a student or staff member (a class or classes could be put on “red” as part of their quarantine)