PROGRAM DETAILS FOR SUNDAY MONTHLY (Now at McKinney Falls)
Greetings and Welcome!
Thank you for registering your child for our 2020-21 Sunday Monthly Program at Earth Native. This page provides important information about preparing your child for this program; we know it’s long, but please read it thoroughly!
2020-21 Sunday Monthly Dates: November 8, December 13, January 10, February 14, March 21, April 18, May 16
Please mark these dates on your calendar or you can always refer to the program webpage
Class Location (CHANGE):
McKinney Falls State Park at 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin 78744 (Not to be confused with McKinney Roughs Nature Park!)
Drop-off and Pick-up Instructions - PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.
When you arrive at the gate to the state park on the first day of class, you will be greeted by an Earth Native staff member and issued a paper pass that will allow you to enter and exit the park for class pick-up and drop-off for the school year. Please do not discard this pass as you will need it for entry and exit all school year. If different vehicles/individuals will be doing the pick-up and drop-off please let the staff member know at the gate so they can issue you a second pass at that time. Please be patient when entering the park.
Once you have your pass you can just show it to the Ranger at entry. If there is no Ranger at the gate but instead a sign on the sliding glass door asking you to park and come inside, all you need to do is STOP at the stop sign and then proceed. You do not need to park and go inside if you already have a pass. PLEASE respect the stop sign at the main gate each time you enter the gate as well as all posted park speed limits and traffic signs.
After entering the park, make your first right. You will almost immediately see parking spots on your left and bathrooms. Please park here. This is where sign-in and sign-out will be. If all spots are full, there are additional parking spots a little further down the road, as well. Do not park on the grass!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Earth Native’s contract with the State Park includes park entry for Pick-Up and Drop-Off ONLY. If your family visits the park outside of an official program day, or if a parent/sibling decide to stay in the park before or after pick-up, you will need to pay regular park entry fees and get a regular park pass for your vehicle's windshield. Adult fees are $6/per person and children under 13 years old are FREE. Your Earth Native pick-up and drop-off pass is valid ONLY for that purpose and does not allow you to park and leave your vehicle to hike or camp or any other activity. If you park and leave your vehicle without a regular park pass you will likely get ticketed by the park police and risk the possibility that your vehicle may be towed.
Please call our main number at 512-299-8870 if you have any questions about the sign-in location or have trouble finding it. You can also refer to this Google maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/MIDv5
Julia Cosgrove, , 915-204-0831
Kalli Gardenhire, , 830-426-0064
Rachel Figgs, , 832-627-9598
Our Group Email: email@example.com
Please add this group email address to your email contacts to avoid the emails going to your spam folder in the future. This email group will be used to contact parents about the program logistics, story of the day, or schedule changes, etc. Although we try to communicate by email at least a week in advance, sometimes emails will go out with shorter notice.
What to Bring:
There are a few essentials for each student to bring each day of class in order for them and everyone else to remain happy and healthy during our adventures:
Bring to Each Class *Please label all clothing and gear
Backpack (Size appropriate to child that can fit all of their personal items including their lunch and water)
Full Water Bottle
If you ordered an Earth Native water bottle during registration it will be given to you at sign-in on the first day of class.
Lunch & healthy snacks
Appropriate clothing and shoes (more info below)
Journal/sketchbook and writing utensil
Bug Spray & Sunscreen (highly recommended in warmer months)
Water shoes – in addition to their regular footwear (highly recommended if they are not wearing shoes that can comfortably get wet)
Change of clothing (Your child will very likely be wet/dirty after class)
Face Mask - All youth students who are 5 years old and older should bring a cloth facemask to class as part of their gear. They will not be required to wear masks the majority of the time at class, however there will be occasions when masks will be required. Please refer to a detailed description of Earth Native’s mask policy in the Earth Native 2020-2021 COVID-19 Policies and Procedures document.
Clothing – weather appropriate
We definitely have a focus on immersing our students and ourselves in the natural world. In light of this, earth tones or camouflage are great choices. We have found that the students who don’t need to worry about “getting dirty” because of their clothes, tend to allow themselves to have deep experiences with the natural world that they otherwise might not. So we recommend that you do not send your kids to class in clothing that they or you feel uncomfortable with them getting dirty and stained.
In cold or cold-wet weather, clothes should be of wool and/or synthetic layers that will stay warm when wet. Cotton or cotton blends won’t do when the weather turns cold. A warm hat is a must, as are a raincoat and rain pants, even if they only get used here and there. Synthetic or wool long underwear are used by nearly all of our students and staff. PLEASE NO COTTON UNDERLAYERS ON COLD WINTER DAYS!
In warm dry weather, cotton is OK (in fact it’s the best!). Please send along sunscreen, sunhat, etc., as appropriate for the day and your child’s needs. Shoes that can accommodate wading are recommended. Please have your child’s sunscreen applied before they arrive. Bug spray is highly recommended during warm months.
We require that all students have closed-toe shoes (not sandals/flip-flops/tevas/etc.) for class. If weather and terrain permit, we do at times allow students (with instructor permission) to go barefoot. Boots or hiking shoes are the choice of many students. Boots should have good traction ideally. Closed-toe sandals like Keens are also a good choice as the kids can go in and out of the water without worrying about their shoes getting soaked. If you send your child in shoes that are not suited to get fully immersed in water it is recommended that they have water shoes in their backpacks that they can change into when wading in the creeks. Unfortunately, creeks are major avenues for trash to flow and collect and it is not uncommon for us to encounter hazards like broken glass or shards of rusted metal in the creek beds we frequent. Therefore, generally we require students to have some type of footwear on when walking or playing in the creeks.
~Our basic maxim is “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!”
Please encourage your child to come well prepared to be outside ALL day.~
Lost and Found:
We request that you write names on backpacks, clothing, lunch boxes, etc., as we have noticed that sometimes students don’t recognize that these personal belongings have disappeared. We cannot be ultimately responsible for re-connecting unlabeled items to their owners. If a name is visible on the item, instructors will notify the owner. If you have lost an item please notify the program instructors who will make an effort to find your item. We will keep unclaimed Lost and Found items for no more than one month at our office. If you request us to hold something, we can hold it for up to one month. Unclaimed items will go to charity or be given to other ENWS community members.
Health / Illness Guidelines:
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases at class or within the Earth Native Community, the 2020-21 school year will follow procedures including health screenings prior to classes, smaller class sizes, increased hygiene and sanitation, and physical distancing.
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
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
We ask that parents help keep the Earth Native Community safe and healthy by keeping your child home if they are experiencing ANY symptoms of illness. Additionally, since children are believed to often be asymptomatic when infected with COVID-19, 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 COVID-19, we ask that you NOT send your child to class until that household member's symptoms have resolved or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. For a detailed description, please refer to the Earth Native 2020-2021 COVID-19 Policies and Procedures document.
Temperature Check - Each child will be screened for a fever using a no touch infra-red thermometer. Body temperature readings must be below 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Symptoms - At the beginning of each class, parents will be asked to certify that neither their child, nor anyone in the child's household, is exhibiting any of the above symptoms associated with COVID-19
Masks - All adults and any accompanying siblings 10 years old or older, are REQUIRED to wear a facemask at sign-in and out (even while outdoors).
Physical Distancing - Please maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between any person (student or staff member) who is not a member of your household.
Students experiencing the above symptoms will not be permitted to attend that week’s session and will only be permitted to return when:
The student has been seen by a doctor and has been cleared to return to class (a doctor’s note is required)
The student has received a negative lab-confirmed COVID-19 test
If a test is not taken or while awaiting test results, ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS have been met:
At least 10 days has passed 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 student’s symptoms are improving/improved
The Youth Programs Director should be notified when anyone in your family has a communicable disease so others can be aware and alert to symptoms.
If a student becomes ill (in accordance with the above health policy) while at Earth Native School, an Earth Native staff member will separate the student from the group and attempt to contact the student’s parent or guardian to come pick up the student. If unable to reach the family, we will subsequently contact the emergency contact person to come pick up the student.
Student Code of Conduct & Dismissal Policy:
We must clearly state that there are certain behaviors that are unacceptable at Earth Native Youth Programs. Though we don’t expect that these behaviors will occur, we feel it’s necessary to be very clear about them.
Students will not display violent, harmful, or abusive behavior at school, whether it is directed at other students, staff, the public, or themselves.
Students will listen to the requests of instructors and follow them. If students are unable to do this, it puts themselves and others at risk.
At the beginning of each year, students and staff will create Community Agreements acknowledging the above and more specific guidelines. Once the agreements are made, all will be held accountable. Staff will mentor students in upholding the agreements. If students don’t follow the agreements, staff will determine what option best fits the circumstance. The following is a list of possible options that instructors will use. The first two options will always be incorporated – ranging from a gentle reminder like a hand on a shoulder, to a heart-to-heart conversation, or, if needed for safety, instructors may need to simply say, “Stop!” Instructors commonly strive to co-create solutions with students, but in some unusual cases (when physical and/or emotional safety is at risk) a decision may not be open to negotiation (though we are willing to hear the student’s perspective afterward). Respect, understanding, and communication will be priorities in all situations.
Instructor responses to student behavior when it is not consistent with agreements (listed from gentlest response to most severe)
1. Remind the child of the agreement
2. Support the child in shifting their behavior or creating a new agreement.
3. Contact the parent after class. (Parents often can help staff and students understand each other more fully)
If needed for safety or to maintain a healthy learning environment for all, Earth Native School reserves the right to:
4. Call the parent during class to pick up their child.
5. Ask a child to “take a class off”.
6. Dismiss the student from the program. – This would occur only if the previous steps are not effective or if a very serious infraction occurs.
Though it is rare for Earth Native School to have serious behavior or discipline problem with a student, it is necessary for us to let families know about our dismissal policy in the unlikely event that we do encounter difficulties.
It is completely understandable that your child may miss some days of class. It is not necessary to inform us if your child will not be at class. If you still wish to do so, please contact your child’s Instructor directly via text/call instead of emailing anyone in the office, as it is likely that the message will not be received in time to notify your instructor.
Class Cancellation Policy:
Although we rarely need to do so, we reserve the right to cancel a program or change a program's duration or location due to unforeseen events such as severe weather. Earth Native School is not responsible for costs associated in these cases. If class is canceled due to severe weather, we will not have a "make up" day, and refunds will not be given for these cancellations. We will do everything we can to run a class, including moving the location of class if possible. Cancellation of one program does NOT have to mean cancellation of others on the same day. A different start time/location/etc. could be a huge difference in determining cancellation or not.
Inclement Weather Procedure: (in case of severe storms, ice, flooding…)
We will post the closure or delay on our program webpage online.
The Director or an instructor will send out an email announcing the delay or closure as soon as the decision has been made.
Questions about potential class cancellation can be directed to Ilya Shmulenson at 512-571-9968.
Temporary in-person program suspension due to COVID-19:
If Earth Native is instructed to close by local, state, or federal order due to COVID-19, we will do our best to attempt to reschedule the missed class.
No Early Arrival/Late Pickup:
Although our staff is on-site both before and after sign-in and sign-out, they are NOT available to supervise children outside of the arrival and pick-up times indicated above. This time is used for program planning and debrief, and it is critical to us being able to provide each individual student and the group with the best class possible. We know that this is challenging for some parents, and appreciate your understanding.
Late Pick-up Fees:
Additional fees will be charged to parents who are more than 15 minutes late to pickup at a rate of $1 per minute. Parents who are less than 20 minutes late will be given one verbal warning before being charged.
Hopefully most of your questions about the Sunday Monthly Program have been answered here, though we invite you to please call us with anything further you need to get the year started on the right foot. We are proud of the commitment of so many families to our programs and thank all of you for your continued support.
If you have any questions, please contact us at (512) 299-8870 or via e-mail at
We look forward to seeing you this fall!