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Dear Earth Native Youth Program Families, 

As long as our school has been in operation we have had one overarching goal, that every student who participates in our program returns home to their families safe and sound at the end of every program day. Our organizational focus on safety, risk management skills, good training and solid program debriefs have helped us to maintain a stellar safety record over the last decade. While the introduction of COVID-19 into the world certainly threw us all for a loop we want to assure you that we are taking this threat to our students and staff very seriously. We continue to take strong steps to greatly reduce the chances that any case of COVID-19 will be able to spread person to person at our programs. Thus far our policies have been very effective. Earth Native has continued to run outdoor programs safely throughout the pandemic, interacting with thousands of students over tens of thousands of hours. As of August of 2021 we have had ZERO cases of COVID transmission at our programs.

As COVID cases have fluctuated, we have adjusted our health and safety policies several times (both tightening and loosening) based on current COVID spread in our area, the recommendations of our advising physician, the latest established scientific research about the risk of COVID spread in outdoor settings, as well as city, county, and state guidelines. We reserve the absolute right to adjust our policies in the future as necessary based on what is happening with COVID cases in our area and in order to keep our students and staff safe and to continue to comply with all local, state, and county laws.

Trust me when I say that as a school we dislike COVID mitigation policies as much as anyone and are looking forward to a time (hopefully in the near future) when these measures will no longer be necessary. We ask that parents please communicate with us peacefully and in good faith when expressing opinions about our policies. We hear daily from impassioned people with very different ideas about the steps we should be taking (or not taking) in regards to COVID-19. While we greatly value parent feedback, we will not adjust our policies based on individual parent opinions but will instead continue to look to the advice of trained healthcare professionals and the latest established science when deciding what policies to put into place.

There is a lot of ideological diversity in the families that make up our community and we recognize that we are living in polarizing times. As a school we embrace the diversity of our community and hope you will too. One of the most amazing things about nature is that it is universal and is something that brings us together even as the rest of the world works to tear us apart. I have no doubt that we will get through this crisis but we need each other and a strong community to do it.

While the below document can certainly be read top to bottom, it is intended to be used for reference throughout the school year to both inform parents about our policies, and health guidelines, and lay out procedures should someone in our programs (student or staff) get sick, come in contact with someone who has COVID-19, or test positive for COVID-19 themselves. 

We hope this document answers all of your questions about our COVID-19 policies and procedures but should you have any questions or concerns please reach out to us and we would be happy to assist you.

 

Sincerely, 

Dave Scott

Executive Director

Earth Native Wilderness School

dave@earthnativeschool.com

512-299-8870

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Youth Programs COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

Updated August 4, 2021

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at class or within the Earth Native Community the 2021-22 school year will follow the following procedures. 

 

Note: These procedures will remain in effect until further notice and are subject to change as new science emerges and/or as new state laws and local ordinances emerge or are relaxed.

 

Symptoms associated with COVID-19 - Symptoms will be updated as necessary in an attempt to display the latest science. 

  • Fever or chills

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headache

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

 

 

Key Definitions 

Close Contact: For the purposes of someone being at risk for contracting COVID-19, close contact is defined as, “within 6 feet of another person who has COVID-19 and is infectious for more than 15 minutes over a period of 24 hours without a mask”.

Masks: Face covering should have two or more breathable layers of washable, breathable fabric, should cover the nose and mouth, and fit snugly against the sides of the face and not have gaps. Masks should not contain exhalation valves or vents.

We have found that neck gators often slip from students’ faces and are hard for some students to manage. Therefore, if a child is using a neck gator as a face covering they must also bring a regular backup mask that they can switch to in case they are having trouble with their gator. Bandanas are not authorized for use as a face covering by students. 

Sick or have been in close contact with someone who is? Stay Home

Please help keep our community safe and healthy by keeping your children at home if they are experiencing ANY symptoms of illness. We ask that you complete your own daily family health screenings that include all of the members of your household. If ANY member of your household is experiencing symptoms that are consistent with an infection due to COVID-19, we ask that you err on the side of caution and NOT send your child to class until that household member's symptoms have resolved or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. 

If your child or someone in your household does test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of attending an ENWS class, please let us know by phone at 512-299-8870 or by emailing info@earthnativeschool.com, as soon as possible so that we can alert others to potential risk of exposure. We will make all efforts to maintain confidentiality and will not reveal the name of the individual who tested positive. Should a COVID-19 case arise within our community, Earth Native School will conduct internal contact tracing to make sure that any potentially exposed students/community members are notified.

We’re all in this together and we greatly appreciate your support helping to keep the kids, teachers and families in this program safe.

Health Screenings

Until Further Notice: All students and staff must undergo a health screening prior to joining their group (Weekly, Monthly, or Weekend classes)

Until Further Notice: All Wild Life Forest Preschool students and accompanying family members must undergo a quick health screening prior to entering the preschool grounds.

Screening procedures currently include:

  • Symptoms- At sign-in parents will be asked to certify that:

    • Neither their child, nor anyone in the student’s household, is exhibiting any of the above symptoms associated with an infection due to COVID-19. 

    • Neither their child, nor anyone in the student’s household, has been exposed to anyone with a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 test in the 14 days prior to class. 

Masks

For students - All youth students must bring a cloth facemask to class as part of their gear (with the exception of Wild Life Forest Preschool).

 

With cases rising in our area and public health officials projecting continued increases through the Fall 2021, we are implementing masking policies for all students and staff who are unable (or prefer not to) to distance during idle activities.

  • Masks will not be required for students who would prefer to socially distance during idle times (chatting, hanging out etc.). Masks will remain an acceptable option for children who would prefer to sit or hang out close together while idle (instead of distancing). 

  • Masks during sign-in and out will not be required at this time due to the fact that we believe that these very brief interactions with others outdoors are extremely low risk for COVID transmission. We ask that parents maintain 6 feet of distance from other families while they are waiting to sign-in and out.

  • For parents that would prefer that their child wear a mask more strictly than our policy requires, we will support your decision and will do our best to help remind your child to keep their mask on based on your direction. 

Note: There is not a way for students to opt out of mask wearing entirely, even if a student usually chooses social distancing over mask use, as masks will still be required for EVERYONE in the event that a group needs to shelter close together to escape inclement weather.

We reserve the right to adjust our policies again in the future (loosening and/or tightening) based on what is happening with COVID cases in our area and in order to continue to comply with local, state, and county laws and regulations.

Physical Distancing

Instructors will make a concerted effort to maintain physical distancing during programming and/or enforce at least double arms length distance for students during periods of idle times and certain activities (unless a mask is worn). "Double arms length distance" is when two students hold out their arms and can't touch one another. We are using "double arm's length distance" because we feel that foot distance measurements are too difficult for many of the students to grasp.

PROTOCOLS AND PROCEDURES FOR ILLNESS 

If a student is experiencing symptoms consistent with an infection due to COVID-19 prior to or after class:

  • Please DO NOT bring your child to class

  • Inform the school of the illness, the symptoms, and the date when the symptoms began by email at info@earthnativeschool.com.

  • A student may attend class when any one of the following conditions have been met:

    • The student has been seen by a doctor and has been cleared to return to class (a doctor’s note is required).

OR

  • The student has received a negative lab-confirmed COVID-19 test

OR

  • If a test is not taken or while awaiting test results, ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS have been met:

    • It has been at least 10 days since the date the symptoms first appeared

    • The student has been fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications

    • The symptoms are improving/improved

 

If a student becomes ill or begins exhibiting symptoms associated with an infection due to COVID-19 while at any Earth Native School class, program, or event, a designated Earth Native staff member will:

  • Separate the individual from the group and isolate them away from other students and staff members.The student will be asked to wear a face mask until they are picked up. 

  • The parent/guardian of that student will be contacted immediately and directed to come pick up the student. If unable to reach the main point of contact, we will subsequently contact the secondary emergency contact person from the registration form to come pick up the student. We ask that all parents be available via phone during class hours.

  • Earth Native will notify the parents of all students in that affected program group that a student or instructor from their child’s group was sent home ill with symptoms that could potentially be due to an infection with COVID-19.

  • All parents will be advised to monitor their children for potential symptoms for 14 days following the day of notification.

  • Classes will continue as scheduled unless the individual sent home receives a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 result.

A student who leaves class due to illness may return to the program when the following conditions have been met: 

  • The student has been seen by a doctor and has been cleared to return to class (a doctor’s note is required)

OR

  • The student has received a negative lab-confirmed COVID-19 test result

OR

  • If a test is not taken or while awaiting test results, ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS have been met:

    • It has been at least 10 days since the date the symptoms first appeared

    • The student has been fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications

    • The symptoms are improving/improved

 

In the event that an individual participating in an ongoing program receives a positive lab-confirmed COVID-19 test result and is believed to have been contagious while at class:

  • The parents of all students who share a group with the person who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be informed that there was a positive COVID-19 case within their child’s program group and will be advised to monitor their child for symptoms or get tested

(For Weekly Nature School) As long as it is determined that our COVID mitigation protocols have been followed and no “Close Contact” has occurred between the COVID positive student or instructor and the other people in the affected group, all classes for the affected group will continue while the COVID positive student quarantines. 

(For Wild Life Forest Preschool) As long as it is determined that our COVID mitigation protocols have been followed and no “Close Contact” has occurred between the COVID positive student or instructor and the other people in the affected group, all classes for the affected group will continue while the COVID positive student quarantines.

(For Monthly Programs) All parents of that group will be informed of a positive test within their child’s group and advised to monitor their children for symptoms. The next class will continue as scheduled.

(For Bi-monthly Programs) All parents of that group will be informed of a positive test within their child’s group and advised to monitor their children for symptoms. The next class will continue as scheduled.

Parents must notify Earth Native School if anyone in their household tests positive for COVID-19 to help ENWS assist with contact tracing.

If a student or staff member is exposed to someone with symptoms that are consistent with an infection due to COVID-19:

Students will not be permitted to attend class if they have come into “close contact” with ANYONE who is experiencing symptoms that are consistent with an infection due to COVID-19. Students may return when the following conditions are met:

  • The individual whom the student came in contact with who was experiencing symptoms consistent with an infection due to COVID-19 has received a negative lab confirmed COVID-19 test result and the student remains asymptomatic.

OR 

  • 10 days have passed since exposure without testing and the student remain​s​ asymptomatic.

OR ​

  • 7 ​days have passed since exposure AND ​the student has received a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later) and the student remains asymptomatic

If a student or staff member has been in “close contact” with someone with a lab-confirmed positive case of COVID-19:

Close contact exposure is within the same household (parents, guardians, siblings, etc).

If the student remains asymptomatic, then the student may return to class when the isolation period (10 days have passed since the positive test) is over for the last person in the household to test positive, their symptoms are improving, and they have been fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication.

Close contact exposure is with someone outside of the same household (a “last contact” can be established):

If the student remains asymptomatic, then the student may return to class: 

  • 10 days have passed since exposure without testing and the the student remain​s​ asymptomatic 

OR

  • 7 ​days have passed since exposure AND ​the student has received a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later) and the student remains asymptomatic

Note: If the student develops symptoms during the quarantine period, follow steps for "If a student is experiencing symptoms consistent with an infection due to COVID-19 prior to or after class"; if they subsequently test positive - follow steps for "Procedure for returning to class following a student’s positive lab-confirmed COVID-19 test" for protocols.

ENWS will notify parents of all students in that group and advise them to monitor their children for symptoms. 

Class will continue as scheduled.

Procedure for returning to class following a student’s positive lab-confirmed COVID-19 test result:

  1. If student is not severely immunocompromised and was asymptomatic, they may return when

    1. at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 test

  2. If student is not severely immunocompromised and experienced mild to moderate illness, they may return when

    1. At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND

    2. At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND

    3. Symptoms have improved

  3. If student experienced severe to critical illness or is severely immunocompromised, they may return when

    1. At least 20 days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND

    2. At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND

    3. Symptoms have improved

© 2020 Earth Native Wilderness School