Please see answers to frequently asked questions below.
<< Return to Great Hearts Texas Safe Return
Parents should screen their students each day for symptoms of contagious illness, including COVID-19. See our Home Screening criteria. With any illness, students should not return until they are fever free (under 100 degrees) for 24 hours without the use of medication.
If you suspect that your child has COVID-19, please contact your health care professional. Students and staff members who test positive for Covid-19 must remain off campus until specific readmission criteria set by the Texas Department of State Health Services are met (please see readmission criteria here). For any illness, including COVID-19, see our Attendance Guidelines for illnesses.
Yes. Parents should contact the school nurse via email or phone call to report if their child tests positive. Additionally, all absences, including absences related to COVID-19, should be reported prior to each school day.
Masks are optional for students and employees on campus. On May 18, 2021 Governor Abbott issued an executive order (GA-36) which bars public schools from requiring them. His directive places the question of mask-wearing at school in the hands of each family and employee. In a separate executive order (GA-38) issued by the governor on July 29th, 2021 he states the following concerning masks:
“In areas where the COVID-19 transmission rate is high, individuals are encouraged to follow the safe practices they have already mastered, such as wearing face coverings over the nose and mouth wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.”
This statement from the governor makes clear that his previous order (GA-36) disallowing school districts to require masks of anyone remains in effect. Great Hearts will respect the decision each family makes and our school staff and leadership will work to ensure no person is treated differently as a result of their choice to wear or not wear a mask. If any individual requests a mask at school, staff will provide one.
Social distancing will not be required as it is not feasible in most instances with the campuses now at capacity.
Great Hearts’ COVID Response Teams, which played a key role in helping Great Hearts schools navigate the pandemic last year, will be in place again on every campus for the 2021-22 school year. These COVID Response Teams will closely monitor the data and trends at their specific campuses with the ability to implement a variety of measures if there is a significant rise in cases on a campus.
Great Hearts Texas schools will continue to conduct contact tracing and will notify parents if their student is identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual. While quarantining of campus close contacts will be optional, quarantining of household close contacts is required. A household close contact may return to campus at the same time as the infected individual, though we recommend testing of household close contacts prior to their return to campus. Read more details here about our close contact quarantining policy .
If anyone in your child’s home tests positive, the unvaccinated child(ren), must be quarantined for 10 days (or 7 days if a negative test result is obtained on day 5 or later). If unable to isolate from the COVID-19 individual, the quarantine begins 10 days after that individual’s symptom onset or positive test, if asymptomatic. The school nurse will help determine the day your student can return to school.
In the instance of a test-confirmed positive case, the grades and section (class) of the positive individual will be formally notified. Close contacts of positive persons will also be notified.
The decision to remove desk shields is based on several factors. Unlike the proven benefit of air circulation and filtration, there has not been evidence they are an effective mitigation strategy, nor are there formal recommendations to use them from external, health-related experts and organizations.
Great Hearts will continue to practice the daily, deep-cleaning protocols implemented at each campus last year. Current air filtration systems put in place at the beginning of 2020-21 school year will also continue, which have been shown to decrease respiratory-related illness infection rates. Efforts to ensure proper handwashing and respiratory hygiene will continue, providing both staff and students instruction at the beginning of the school year as well as providing hand washing opportunities and frequent use of hand sanitizer. The following additional mitigation measures are also being implemented on campuses:
At this time, the TEA has advised they will no longer be funding distance learning options for Texas public schools, as they did last school year.
Recognizing the potential demand for distance learning, Great Hearts has been among the most proactive organizations in Texas seeking to establish an ongoing online program which would provide families a tuition-free alternative for 2021-22. Unfortunately, the Great Hearts online program has not yet been authorized by either of the entities that has the authority to do so – the Texas State Legislature and/or the TEA. Great Hearts is continuing to pursue approval by one or both of those governing bodies.
As a possible solution for some families, Great Hearts is continuing to offer a virtual option through Great Hearts Online Private as a tuition required program. You can learn more about Great Hearts Online Private and apply here.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not required for Great Hearts students or staff. Great Hearts will not inquire regarding COVID-19 vaccination status.
The vaccine is widely available at most local pharmacies, doctor’s offices and health clinics. The Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to include all individuals age 12 and older. Currently, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is only available to individuals age 18 and older. You may go to https://www.vaccines.gov to find a location.
The current Safe Return policy is subject to change and Great Hearts staff is watching the status of each campus closely, paying close attention to COVID trends in every county where there are Great Hearts schools. Great Hearts will carefully monitor students and teachers in the interest of the entire Great Hearts community.