Fall 2021 Back-to-School Update
As of August 27, 2021
Almaden Country Day School resumes 100% in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year, featuring an array of proven COVID-19 precautions in place that kept all of our students and staff safe last year with zero virus transmission on campus.
In the 2020-21 school year, ACDS families enjoyed three attendance alternatives to choose for their children, ranging from full-time in-person learning, to full-time remote livestreaming with our proprietary Simulcast platform. By all accounts, students at ACDS thrived last year and enter school this fall prepared, confident, and ready to learn.
We agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics that “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” This year, our students and staff return again to campus for in-person learning supported by the school’s total commitment to the health and wellness of our students, staff, and community.
Since March 2020, ACDS invested over $700,000 in campus safety enhancements, featuring three separate state-of-the-art air purification and disinfection systems (see below) that can operate simultaneously in all classrooms to support safe, well-ventilated learning environments.
We believe this substantial investment in protecting students and staff is vital and warranted, especially given the level of uncertainty and concern with which all families continue to struggle during the extended pandemic. Our goal is to provide a safe, healthy campus environment and offer each of our students a balanced, challenging, joyful learning experience. We have taken every possible precaution to protect our community, and families should expect no less.
COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS FOR 2021-22
At this time, we have the following precautions in place:
- Weekly virus testing of all students and staff, at no cost to parents, beginning the week before school starts; community-wide testing will be provided following all extended school holiday breaks
- Parents wearing masks, regardless of vaccination status, will be allowed on campus at drop-off and pickup times; parents will not be permitted to enter classrooms. Other non-essential campus visitors will be strictly limited
- Masks are required indoors at ACDS regardless of vaccination status, per health department order; we also require staff and students to wear masks outdoors as we track the threat of the Delta variant and other mutations to come, since face coverings are a powerful defense against illness; we’ve already demonstrated our community’s commitment to wear masks and help keep ACDS open for business
- Students and staff are required to wash hands frequently and use sanitizer, with washing and sanitizer stations located across the campus
- Touchless faucets have been installed on campus, including in our new 15,000-square-foot Fisher Event Center
- Classroom seating will be configured to provide three (3) feet of physical distancing in grades K-8; Pre-Kindergarten classes will meet in cohorts
- Coronavirus-rated MERV-13 air filtration is installed in all 43 heating/ventilation systems campus-wide
- ActivePure HVAC system air and surface disinfectant units are installed in every occupied space on campus, including bathrooms, to continually kill up to 99.99% of all airborne and surface bacteria, viruses, mold, fungus, and volatile organic compounds, constantly disinfecting air and surfaces throughout the day -- in addition to scheduled manual cleaning and disinfection by our staff using the Bioesque fogger backpack
- High-output HEPA portable air scrubbers are installed in all classrooms, a third ventilation system to improve indoor air quality particularly during wildfire season
- Outdoor instruction will take place whenever possible in our newly-created outdoor learning spaces
- ACDS will follow all CDPH and Santa Clara County protocols for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases, including contact tracing and quarantine when necessary
- We will continually update our families and staff as CDPH, Santa Clara Public Health, the CDC, and other regulatory agencies revise their guidance and requirements.
Our aggressive steps to optimize COVID preparedness underscore the school’s commitment to the safety and wellness of our students and staff. And beyond COVID-19, we see these enhancements as safety investments for the future too. All of the major projects we've undertaken since March 2020 will support generations of students and staff well after the pandemic is behind us. For example, the HVAC air and surface disinfection will improve classroom comfort and health for children with asthma and allergies, and substantially reduce the indoor transmission of cold and flu viruses.
The ACDS community united last year to overcome the pandemic’s obstacles with courage and passion. As a school, our goal remains the same: we will challenge, stimulate, and care for every child with our school’s unique balance of rigor, joy, and character development — and together, we’ll meet whatever challenges emerge throughout the 2021-22 school year.