Keeping St. Stephen's Safe

St. Stephen’s is committed to providing all our students with an outstanding educational experience —one that embodies the school’s enduring mission, vision and values. In planning for the 2021-22 school year, our top priorities remain the health, safety and well-being of our students and employees.

Our Decision-Making Process and Criteria

St. Stephen’s leadership, our school physician and members of the Medical Advisory Committee have closely monitored the COVID-19 situation in Austin, nationwide and around the world. Based on a whole host of internal and external factors, we have created COVID-19 protocols for the start of the school year along with guidelines for quarantine and isolation. Our top priority is to preserve the health and well-being of our entire school community. These protocols and guidelines take into consideration the vaccination rate, number of positive cases and transmission levels within our school community, as well as Travis County transmission levels and the latest research findings and official directives from local, state and federal agencies. 

Medical Advisory Committee

Established last year, the Medical Advisory Committee will continue to guide our decision making with respect to a healthy opening in August and ongoing operations throughout the 2021-22 school year. Head of School Chris Gunnin serves on this committee along with Gretchen Inman, director of health services; Cindy Stadulis, chief financial officer; Dr. Kerry Rhodes, school physician; and several other physicians with expertise in areas such as infectious disease, global public health, clinical pathology and pediatrics. St. Stephen’s is grateful to all the members of this committee for their assistance in accessing the latest medical information, understanding health policy guidelines and connecting the school to valuable health resources.

COVID-19 FAQs

List of 10 items.

  • What is the plan to resume school in August 2021?

    Aug. 9, 2021
    The new school year will feature a return to many of the daily interactions and normal rhythms we are accustomed to enjoying on The Hill. These will include our customary five day-a-week academic schedule, a full slate of athletic/fitness and fine arts activities, daily chapel services and dining hall service, along with outdoor education and adventures and service learning.

    Based on a whole host of internal and external factors, we have created our general COVID-19 Protocols for the start of the school year. These are designed to preserve the safety and well-being of all community members as we return to campus.

    These are not exhaustive protocols covering every possible school scenario; however, they offer general guidance across the most common school activities. We have already provided or will provide additional protocols that are specific to different types of activity (e.g., residential life, athletics, dining hall, chapel, fine arts, overnight travel for school activities) to students participating in those activities. In addition, you can access our COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines for 2021-22.
  • What is the academic schedule going to look like in 2021-22?

    July 30, 2021
    The school is moving forward with plans to open our campus this August so that students can participate safely in classes and other activities in person. This will include our customary academic schedule in which students attend classes in person five full days a week.
  • What steps has the school taken to make campus life safe for students?

    Aug. 9, 2021
    As we did last year, the school will continue to implement campus-wide cleaning measures, such as hand-sanitizing stations at building entrances, enhanced ventilation of indoor spaces, and regular cleaning of frequently used equipment and surfaces. These will complement our general protocols.

    We also will continue to perform contact tracing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition, we will employ several communication tools, including emails to families confirming positive community cases, a COVID-19 dashboard and a new webpage called Keeping St. Stephen’s Safe in 2021-22, which will serve as a one-stop shop for our COVID-19-related communications.
  • What kind of conditions would require the school to move to a hybrid or fully remote learning model?

    Aug. 9, 2021
    At this time, we do not have plans to deploy a hybrid learning model or fully remote learning model for the 2021-22 school year. 

    St. Stephen’s leadership, our school physician and members of the Medical Advisory Committee have closely monitored the COVID-19 situation in Austin, nationwide and around the world. Based on a whole host of internal and external factors, we have created our general COVID-19 Protocols for the start of the school year.

    We developed a two-stage framework for these protocols: Blue represents a less-elevated pandemic situation, while Orange represents a more-elevated pandemic situation. These colors do not correspond precisely to the Blue and Orange stages of Travis County’s five-stage COVID-19 chart. Rather, they take into consideration the vaccination rate, number of positive cases and transmission levels within our school community, as well as Travis County transmission levels and the latest research findings and official directives from local, state and federal agencies. 

    We will begin the school year in the Orange stage and will notify our community if/when we transition to the Blue stage.

    These are not exhaustive protocols covering every possible school scenario; however, they offer general guidance across the most common school activities. We have already provided or will provide additional protocols that are specific to different types of activity (e.g., residential life, athletics, dining hall, chapel, fine arts, overnight travel for school activities) to students participating in those activities. In addition, you can access our COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines for 2021-22.
  • What is the school’s position on vaccines?

    July 30, 2021

    A Note About Vaccinations 
    St. Stephen’s strongly recommends that all our families consider getting their children vaccinated to help preserve the health and well-being of our school and residential community. This includes CDC-approved vaccines (Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer), as well as Sinopharm, a vaccine approved by the World Health Organization that is more accessible to some of our international students. 
     
    We understand that not all of our students have access to one of the CDC-approved vaccines or Sinopharm at this time because of their age or lack of access in their home countries. We also recognize that some families may choose not to have their children vaccinated.  
     
    If you plan to vaccinate your child, now is the time to do so, with only five weeks until the start of school. 
     
    Updating Medical Records Is Critical to Planning Process
    Understanding the vaccination status of our school community is one of the most important factors in planning for the 2021-22 school year. A number of our families have already updated their children’s COVID-19 vaccine records, and we sincerely appreciate those updates.
     
    If your child has been vaccinated but you have not updated those medical records, please be sure to let the Health Center know. You can do this by emailing a copy of the vaccination card to healthcenter@sstx.org or by updating your child’s medical records in Magnus Health. You can update records by logging into the Resource Board on MySSES and then clicking on the orange Magnus Health tile. Once in Magnus Health, select your child’s profile, scroll down to “Immunization form” and then click “edit.” It will ask you, “Would you like to add an additional page or form?” Select “Yes, continue.” Lastly, select “Yes, submit” to upload. 
     
    If you have decided that your child will not be vaccinated, please email the Health Center to let us know this. As we continue to prepare for our entire community to return to campus in August, it will be extremely helpful for us to know how many of our students have been vaccinated and how many have not.
  • Under what conditions would a student have to quarantine?

  • What is the plan for surveillance testing this year?

    Aug. 9, 2021
    Please refer to our general COVID-19 Protocols for more details on our plans to conduct surveillance testing this year.
  • What is the plan for students to eat safely in the dining hall?

    Aug. 9, 2021
    Please refer to our general COVID-19 Protocols for more details about dining hall protocols this year.
  • What is the plan for residential students to arrive on campus for the 2021-22 school year?

    July 30, 2021
    Our primary objective is for all residential students to attend in-person classes and activities beginning on Tuesday, August 24, the first day of school.

    Note About Vaccinations
    St. Stephen’s strongly recommends that all our residential families consider getting their children vaccinated to help preserve the health and well-being of our school and residential community. At this time, CDC-approved vaccines include those offered by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer. In addition, St. Stephen’s will also accept the World Health Organization’s (WHO) approved Sinopharm vaccine for international students. Our Health Center closely monitors the CDC’s evaluation of COVID-19 vaccines offered in other countries. We will continue to evaluate the WHO’s criteria and other health organizations’ criteria for approved vaccines. 

    We understand that not all of our students have access to one of the CDC-approved vaccines or Sinopharm at this time because of their age or lack of access in their home countries. We also recognize that some families may choose not to have their children vaccinated. Residential students who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask while on campus and will have a mandatory quarantine period (according to CDC guidance) when they arrive on campus. Remote access to classroom activities may not be available during quarantine periods.

    At this time, we are considering requiring all residential students to be vaccinated. We will let you know if we decide to make this a requirement.

    Arriving on Campus in August - Vaccinated
    Boarding students who have received the complete series of a CDC-approved vaccine or Sinopharm (14 days or more before they arrive) and who are symptom-free should plan to arrive on campus and move into their dorms on Sunday, August  22, beginning at 9 a.m. Parents should let the Health Center know when their children have been vaccinated by emailing a copy of the vaccination card to healthcenter@sstx.org, or parents should update their children’s medical records by uploading the card into Magnus Health. You can update records by logging into the Resource Board on MySSES and then clicking on the orange Magnus Health tile. Once in Magnus Health, select your child’s profile, scroll down to “Immunization form” and then click “edit.” It will ask you, “Would you like to add an additional page or form?” Select “Yes, continue.” Lastly, select “Yes, submit” to upload. As we continue to prepare for our entire community to return to campus in August, it will be extremely helpful for us to know which students have been vaccinated.

    Please note that fully vaccinated domestic residential students will not need to present a negative result of a molecular test (PCR or NAAT) upon arrival. In addition, they will not have a quarantine. This approach also applies to fully vaccinated international residential students who have been living in the U.S. this summer.

    Fully vaccinated international students arriving in the United States by air travel must present a negative result for a molecular test (PCR or NAAT) upon arrival; the test should be administered within approximately 72 hours of their arrival. The school will retest these students approximately between days 5-7. These students will not have a quarantine.

    Arriving on Campus in August - Not Vaccinated
    Domestic and international boarding students who have not been fully vaccinated with a CDC-approved vaccine or Sinopharm should plan to arrive on campus on Monday, August 16, beginning at 12 p.m.  Upon arrival, these students must present a negative result for a molecular test (PCR or NAAT) that was administered within approximately 72 hours of their arrival. The school will retest these students approximately between days 5-7. In addition, these students will be required to wear a mask while on campus and will have a 7-day quarantine upon arrival. As a reminder, remote access to classroom activities may not be available during quarantine or isolation periods.

    You must receive Gene Phillips' prior approval for your child to arrive on August 16, so please notify him at gphillips@sstx.or  as soon as possible if this is your plan. 

    Adapting Our Plan to Evolving Conditions
    The COVID-19 pandemic is a dynamic and evolving situation. We have developed this current plan for the fall with the understanding that conditions could change between now and then requiring us to make further adjustments. We will communicate with families if evolving conditions require us to modify our plan.
  • Will there be any restrictions on parents coming to campus to attend events, etc.?

    Aug. 9, 2021
    Please refer to our general COVID-19 Protocols for more details about parents coming to campus.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213