Our Covid-19 Policies at Forest School
Parents, 2020 has been quite a year for us here at Aishling Forest School. Back in March, as we geared up for our fourth season, we looked around to see the world we have become so familiar with (our lovely forest family community) retreating back into their houses and behind shuttered doors. Slowly at first and then with one final slam, it was over… we were all home for what seemed like an indefinite amount of time with little knowledge of what the next few weeks and months would look like.
When Forest School is in session, our first guiding principle is to “Take Care of Yourself” and that is just what we saw people doing. We saw children navigating online classes, parents making do with video calls and emails from employers, and people everywhere getting comfortable (and uncomfortable) with a new normal routine. People made so much bread.
Once we got ourselves squared away, many of us began to look outward towards our communities. Forest School principal number two… “Take Care of Each Other”. Was everyone on my block able to get to the food store? Who of us were essential workers and how can we best support them and their families? Who was sick? How can we help? Text messages and rainbows, chalk drawings, and extended family dinners over zoom. We reached out and we were all in this together.
As Governor Cuomo begins moving New York Forward through the reopening phases, our Forest School will be one of the last businesses cleared to open – and that is ok with us. We are willing to do our part to make sure reopening is a safe experience for everyone in our community. We know that opening up your doors again and letting your children take those first steps out on their own are going to be hard. We are reviewing policies, ordering more gear, and loading up on hand soap so when you are ready to let those kiddos loose, we are ready to catch them with freshly scrubbed arms.
We have a lot on our side at Forest School to welcome you home safely. We have enviable porous surfaces and sunlight abound. There is no recirculated air and no walls to social distance within. We have the psychological and immune benefits of the outdoors with not a screen in sight. Our third forest school principle is to “Take Care of Mama Earth” but it looks like she is the one taking care of us right now. We are slowly opening up Aishling and we are here for you when you are ready however that looks for your family. We want this to be safe and easy and fun (yes – we are allowed to have FUN again!) for your family and, as always, we will meet you where you are.
Welcome home. We have missed you
Aishling Forest School Reopening Safely Plan for COVID-19 (last updated: 12/21/20)
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl
Aishling Forest School will reopen with the Phase Four of the New York State – Moving New York Forward Reopening Plan
Staff to maintaining social distancing with parents at drop off/pick up:
Option 1 – Caregivers will stay in or near their car when their learner is dropped off.
What this looks like: Caregivers will drive up one at a time to a designated space and unbuckle their learner. The caregiver will stop their cars and help their little(s) gear up by their cars prior to sending them to our community welcoming space.
Option 2 – Caregivers will exit the car and gear up their leaner while maintaining social distance with staff.
What this looks like: There will be a designated area for drop off and pick up. Caregivers should not linger once the learner has acclimated to the group or mingle with other families at this time. Caregivers should be prepared with a mask if maintaining social distancing is not an option.
We have learned that contactless thermometers don’t provide accurate readings and ask that all caregivers take their little(s) temperatures prior to each class. We will provide you paperwork prior to each class to fill out and will include a space to self-report your little(s) temperature. If your little has a temperature of 100+, your little will not be permitted at Forest School that day and must be fever free for at least 48 hours (without the use of medication) prior to returning back to Forest School.
Hand washing stations:
Learners will wash their hands upon arrival/departure, after using the restroom, after blowing their noses/sneezing, and after specific activities where shared supplies were used. If soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitizer will be used.
Hand washing stations will be set up at drop off/pick up locations and in the forest classroom. Staff will assist with hand washing including pumping soap and turning the spout on and off as to prevent cross contamination. Learners will be instructed to wash their hands for 30 seconds.
Snacks will not be provided for the Spring 2021 season. The caregivers are encouraged to feed their learner a substantial meal before arriving at Forest School and ensure the water bottles include enough water for the whole day’s session to eliminate the need to refill. We also suggest having a snack in your car upon picking up your little, as they will be hungry.
A small healthy snack from home can be packed in the learner’s backpack. There will be a designated snack time so staff can ensure everyone has properly washed their hands before eating. The learners will not be permitted to share snacks with other learners.
The learner should use the bathroom at home just prior to the start of Forest School to help cut down on bathroom breaks. The potty in the woods will be used for any necessary toileting and will be properly disinfected after each use. The learner will wash their hands with a staff member’s assistance immediately following any bathroom breaks.
Learners will not be expected to wear masks at Forest School but the staff will adhere to parent’s preference if they would like the learner to do so.
Staff will wear bandana masks when interacting with caregivers or other adult members of the public during Forest School.
Disinfecting Shared Materials:
The use of commonly touched items will be reduced or removed. All non porous surfaces of Forest School gear will be wiped/sprayed down with disinfectant after each class.
Caregiver should keep the learner at home if:
- The child has a fever. Fever reducing medication may not be used when determining a child’s health. Learners must be fever-free for 72 hours (3 days) before returning to forest school, per the recommendations of the CDC.
- The child is experiencing ANY of the recognizable symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, dry cough, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, or difficulty breathing.
- The child has been exposed to someone who has had COVID-19 (by testing or medical diagnosis) within the past 14 days.
- The child has had sustained contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) with a person showing symptoms of COVID-19 within the previous 14 days.
- The child is under a 14-day self-quarantine/self-monitoring guidance for any reason.
If a learner develops ANY recognizable symptoms of COVID-19 (including a fever, dry cough, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, or difficulty breathing) while at Forest School:
- Staff will remove the learner from the group and relocate them to an isolated area with a member of staff. Both will be wearing face masks unless the learner is having difficulty breathing. Staff will call the caregiver to pick the learner up immediately.
- If a Learner or Mentor is absent from school or leaves school early due to COVID-19 symptoms, they may only return to school:
1. with a doctor’s written explanation of diagnosis emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
2. with a negative COVID test if testing was advised emailed to email@example.com; or
3. after having no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicines), no additional symptoms and having felt well for 48 hours.
- If a Learner or Educator is diagnosed with COVID-19, they must report the diagnosis to the school immediately and quarantine at home until:
1. It has been 10 days since they first had symptoms; and
2. It has been 48 hours since they had a fever (without use of fever-reducing medicine) and other symptoms have improved
- Forest School will contact NYS DOH and begin contact tracing. Those considered close contacts will be notified as soon as possible.
If a Learner or Mentor is considered a close contact to a positive case of COVID-19:
1. If a learner from a class is COVID-19 positive, then that class cohort will quarantine at home for the next 7 days
2. A family can provide the school with a negative test result if they choose not to quarantine but must remain at home until the test results can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Mentors of the cohort will be tested
4. If the learner has sibling(s) at school, they too must quarantine at home until the learner returns
If You’ve Traveled Policy:
For travelers who were out-of-state for more than 24 hours:
1. Travelers must obtain a test within three days of departure, prior to arrival in New York.
2. The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
3. On day 4 of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain another COVID test.
If both tests come back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test. BOTH negative results must be provided to Jordan at email@example.com in order to return.
Our Forest Family community can choose to opt out of the travel guidelines and quarantine for a 10- day period. Please consult with your health care provider for decisions involving the type of COVID diagnostic test.
If Forest School classes need to be canceled for more than 3 consecutive weeks, we will look to provide makeup classes the following season. If that’s not possible, we will provide up to 50% refunds for missed classes.
Disclaimer: These guidelines will be updated based on the guidelines of the CDC and NYS DOH.
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