COVID-19 RESPONSE

all school updates

July 30, 2020

Dear Hill Country Families,

I am pleased to announce several revisions to our Return to School Plan, originally published on Friday, July 24. These changes make our plan consistent with the most recent CDC guidance, clarify a few items, and modify our original plan regarding cohorts in high school. You’ll find an updated version of the plan here and on our website for your reference. This CDC article entitled, “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall” is encouraging. I hope you will take the time to read it.

Changes and clarifications to the plan include:

CLOSE CONTACT DEFINED
The CDC has clarified the definition of close contact as:
  • Being directly exposed to infections secretions (e.g., being coughed on); or
  • Being within six feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes; if either occurred at any time in the last 14 days at the same time the infected individual was infectious. Please note that this does not say being within six feet without a mask.
 
TEST REQUIREMENTS

The CDC has changed the testing requirement for a student who wants to return to school before completing the stay-at-home period, from two negative tests to one: “…or receive one confirmation that they are free of COVID-19 via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing location found at https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/.”

UPPER SCHOOL
  • Cohorts: High school cohorts are now divided by grade-level after making adjustments to seating arrangements within mixed-grade classes.
  • Chromebook Pick-up: All Upper School students (grades 6-12) who do not have a school-issued laptop will be given one the first day of school. Synchronous learners will receive a laptop (if needed) at curriculum pick up on Wednesday, August 12, 5:00-6:00 p.m., at the family entrance.
 
LOWER SCHOOL
  • Learning Options: We have further defined Asynchronous Learning (PK-1) to include optional opportunities for students to attend select lessons via live-stream in Kindergarten and 1st grade: “Asynchronous learning allows younger students to follow along with their class learning and assignments, but at times during the day that best fit their family’s schedules. All instruction will be available through Google Classroom. Within this asynchronous option, there will also be optional opportunities for students to attend select lessons via live-stream in Kindergarten and 1st grade.”
  • Weekly Curriculum Clarification: The first drive-through Lower School curriculum pick-up (for synchronous or asynchronous learners) is on Wednesday, August 12, 11:00 a.m.-noon, and 5:00-6:00 p.m, at the school lobby entrance. Each Monday, families will be required to drop off all completed assignments, and pick up the next week’s assignments. Your teacher will communicate further details. 
 
ATHLETICS UPDATES
  • Synchronous Learners: According to TAPPS and CAPPS, if your high school or middle school student is a synchronous learner, they are allowed to participate in athletics. Read the latest from TAPPS here and CAPPS here.
  • Fall Sports: Practice and game schedules have been moved up by one week. Fans can attend games within a maximum 50% capacity limitation, provided that appropriate spacing between spectators is maintained. More information to come. 
 

Updated Schedule:

TAPPS Football
Sept. 7 – practice begins; equipment allowed
Sept. 11 – full pads allowed
Sept. 17 – one scrimmage allowed

Sept. 21 – first week of games

TAPPS Volleyball
Sept. 7 – practice begins

Sept. 10 – scrimmages or games allowed

QUESTIONS
  • If you have health-related questions or concerns about COVID-19 and how it impacts your student, we invite you to contact the school nurse, Janet Holder, R.N.
  • If you have questions concerning the return to school policies and procedures, please contact the campus safety coordinator Philip Hudgens, or your principal.
 
DEADLINE
A reminder that the deadline for the first quarter opt-out of on-campus learning is Sunday, August 2, 11:59 p.m. 
 
We covet your prayers! Please pray for the safety of our community, for the pandemic to abate, and that the school would glorify God, whether we find ourselves in calm or stormy seas.
 

Lastly, please join us for the virtual all-school PTF meeting tomorrow morning, Friday, July 31, 9:30 a.m. Thank you for your commitment to Christian education at Hill Country Christian School!

In Christ,
 
Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

Click here to read the latest update from our Head of School. 

Dear Hill Country Families,
 
I remain optimistic about starting physical classes on time next month. We released preliminary plans for the fall of 2020 on July 1, and expect to release full details next week. The state of Texas recently issued revised requirements for the start of public schools, and although we are not bound to them, it is reassuring to see that our plans track TEA guidelines very closely. Below are new details and additions to our preliminary plans:
 
NEW SYNCHRONOUS LEARNING SCENARIO
In addition to the 100% on campus and 100% remote learning scenarios, we now plan to offer a third scenario in our return to school plan. Synchronous learning will be offered as an “opt-out” for families uncomfortable with physical classes and for students under quarantine or ill in grades 2-12. The “opt-out” will be quarterly, for an entire quarter. Synchronous learning will allow students to participate along with physical classes remotely (and reduce the number of students on campus). We are in the process of polling our Kindergarten and 1st grade parents to ascertain demand for remote synchronous learning in those grades.

MASK USAGE CLARIFICATION
Governor Abbott’s existing executive order requires everyone over age ten to (generally) wear a mask. Exceptions to this policy will be considered upon request only if required in writing by a medical doctor and approved on a case-by-case basis.
  • PreK-2nd grade (all in Kindercove): Masks are optional.
  • Lower School students age ten and under (on 3rd floor): Masks are required for arrival and departure, and optional during the day.
  • All students age ten and over: Masks are required when students are in-transit and when physical distancing is jeopardized. Masks can be taken off when seated in the classroom and physical distancing can be maintained. 

 

SAFE ENTRY APP DETAILS
The school will use the Ascend App, a secure, HIPAA-compliant platform to verify health status daily, track recoveries, and trace contacts.

 
A HELPFUL RESOURCE
Lastly, for those interested in more information, this summary article on K-12 schools from Massachusetts General Hospital is one of the best I’ve seen.

Hill Country Christian School faculty and staff are working diligently to implement new health and safety protocols and provide new delivery systems to give our families the best possible educational experience. Our families hold many different opinions about physical classes due to varied family situations and perceived risk to COVID-19. Although there is no full remedy to replace physical classes to deliver our mission, we endeavor to offer choices that fit your family’s needs.
 
Thank you for your commitment to Christian education at Hill Country, and for your patience as we launch many new initiatives over the coming weeks. Please join me in prayer for the protection of our community, and for this pandemic to soon pass. Let us all walk in faith rather than fear. Isaiah 41:10, says: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

In Christ, 
Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

Dear Hill Country Families,

Greetings from the Hill Country campus! I hope you are enjoying a terrific summer. God’s Word is always true, but doesn’t it seem more true now than ever before? If you are like me, you find yourself taking life one day at a time, one step at a time, which is a great place to be because it makes us completely dependent on the Lord. As we look forward to reuniting with you this fall, our desire is to acknowledge God in all our ways and watch Him direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6). We are preparing diligently for an incredible start to the new school year, which promises to look very different than a typical school year.

The MAC (our new $7M multipurpose athletic center) is nearing completion and will be finished by August 1. If local and state guidelines permit, we plan to celebrate the grand opening of the MAC along with the long-awaited reunion of our community at our Knights Unite back to school event on Tuesday, August 11. The STEM facility upgrades provided by your generous Annual Fund donations are already underway. The library is being renovated to include a Lower School STEM exploration space, and portable two is being transformed into an Upper School STEM lab. And, to top it all off, Hill Country Christian School turns 25 years old this year! At our Knight Under the Stars event in September, we will look back over God’s faithful provision for our school with thankfulness and praise!

The state of Texas, through the Texas Education Agency (TEA), recently published guidelines for the start of schools, which suggests schools will be permitted to open. The American Academy of Pediatrics published their recommendations agreeing that schools should open, using reasonable safety precautions. This information, along with current data from the Texas Department of State Health Services regarding the risk of COVID-19 to children, and many other sources, are informing our decisions.

As you may know, the COVID-19 situation in Travis and Williamson counties is dynamic. We are building multiple scenarios in the event authorities require reduced school attendance or closures. Our purpose is to educate college-bound students, and we are most effective in physical classes. As of July 1, 2020, Hill Country Christian School plans to start the fall of 2020 on time, in physical classes, five days per week. Toward this goal, we will introduce several new systems and protocols to provide the highest level of care for our students, faculty, and staff. An outline of those plans is presented below.

All-School Changes For 2020-2021:
• Enhanced policies and protocols for symptomatic parents, students, faculty, and staff
• Intensified cleaning, disinfecting, and ventilation
• New drop-off and pick-up procedures to allow for social distancing
• Temperature checks for everyone, prior to entering the building
• The use of a confidential health status screening app before entry
• The use of masks during class changes, in public gathering spaces, and possibly in classrooms
• Limited access to campus for visitors and parents
• Social distancing maintained through strategic classroom seating, reformatted chapels, strategic scheduling of class exchanges, and repurposing of common areas such as gyms, auditoriums, and the outdoors
• Staggered lunch schedules and the possibility of lunch in the classrooms or outdoors if needed

High School Retreat
We have decided to postpone the high school retreat and focus all of our current efforts on safely and effectively returning to school. We do hope to reschedule it for later in the school year.

New Lower School Desks
As an exciting change to help with our social distancing efforts in Lower School, we will provide individual desks for each K-5th grade student.

WHAT WILL OUR YEAR LOOK LIKE?
First and foremost, we are an academic institution and will prioritize teaching and learning in the midst of COVID-19. As always, our dedicated Christian teachers will invest deeply and sacrificially in their students, making spiritual formation and holistic growth a priority. We all face challenges resulting from COVID-19, but we do so together, prudently, and without fear, because we are people of faith. Preparation for multiple scenarios will help us adapt amid a dynamic situation. We will communicate the complete details of our return to school plans later this summer.

Scenarios under consideration:

SCENARIO ONE: ON-CAMPUS LEARNING

100% of our students on campus 100% of the time.

SCENARIO TWO: HYBRID LEARNING
Hybrid learning, which is a combination of on-campus and remote learning may be offered. In many ways, this scenario is the most difficult to implement and most inconvenient for our community, but it could reduce the total number of students on campus at any given time. 

SCENARIO THREE: REMOTE LEARNING
100% remote learning may be implemented if required by authorities or temporarily in the event of a local outbreak.

Please join me in prayer for the COVID-19 pandemic to abate, and for Hill Country Christian School to return to 100% physical classes this fall! No matter what happens, I pray for faith over fear, in the knowledge that God is sovereign and that our individual destinies are determined by grace through faith in Jesus.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

In Christ,

Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

Friday, May 15, 2020
 
Dear Hill Country Community,

It’s hard to believe we are entering our final week of the school year! As we consider the challenging circumstances of the past few months, let us remain thankful to the Lord for His provision during this uniquely memorable school year. I am so proud of our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic this spring. Our faculty, parents, and students pivoted marvelously to remote learning. As a result, our students are on track in their studies entering 2020-2021, which is something to celebrate!

As we wrap up the year, we want to remind you of the details concerning materials pick-up and drop-off, graduation, and our end-of-year PTF meeting.

Graduation
I look forward to honoring the Class of 2020 next week! Seniors will receive their diplomas at an outdoor Baccalaureate Commencement Service on Friday, May 22, at 7:00 p.m., on our campus. Attendance will be limited to our seniors, their families, and our faculty and staff. We hope to live-stream this service so our entire school community can attend virtually and celebrate the Class of 2020 with us.

Materials Pick-up and Drop-off
We will hold separate drive-thru pick-up and drop-offs of school materials for both Lower and Upper School. We will collect class books, library books, and laptops. We will also return all of your child’s classroom belongings. The nurses will have a station where you may pick up your child’s medication.
  • Lower School: Thursday, May 21, 9:00-11:00 a.m.
  • Upper School: Tuesday, May 26, TBD
PTF End-of-Year Meeting
As discussed in the year-end PTF meeting this morning, I anticipate starting school in physical classes, on time, in August. During the summer, the COVID Response Team will work toward health and safety improvements as recommended by the CDC (and in consultation with local authorities and medical professionals) to protect our community next fall. If you were unable to attend this morning’s PTF meeting, click here to watch the recording. Check your email for the password. 

I look forward to the day when we can gather together again! Go, Knights!
 
In Christ, 
Dr. Jeff Marx

May 1, 2020

Greetings, Hill Country Family!

I look forward to celebrating our seniors this month! If you missed my video message from Monday, April 27, you can watch it here. I covered several different topics, one of which was to confirm plans for graduation.

We will have an outdoor Class of 2020 Baccalaureate Commencement Service for seniors and their families on Friday evening, May 22, at 7:00 p.m., on our campus. Seniors will walk the stage to receive their diplomas! Full details will be communicated to our senior class by the end of next week.

We hope to live stream this service so our entire school community can attend virtually and celebrate the Class of 2020 with us.

If the weather on Friday causes postponement, we will hold graduation on Saturday morning, May 23, at 10:00 a.m. These plans are subject to change, as required by local authorities. Please pray for great weather and other circumstances conducive to a celebration for our seniors and their families!

In Christ,

Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

April 27, 2020
 

Dear Hill Country Families,

I hope you will watch this update regarding graduation and the 2020-2021 school year.
April 17, 2020 

Dear Hill Country Family,

Thank you for your ongoing support as we finish the third week of remote learning. Hopefully, you and your family have been able to enjoy the cooler weather with time outdoors this week. I miss greeting you regularly in our morning carpool and desperately miss our students. Empty hallways in April at Hill Country are terrible!

Governor Abbott’s Announcement and Hill Country Plans
Today, Governor Abbott announced that all public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, deeming it unsafe to gather in large numbers until June. Fortunately, our remote learning is going well, and we will finish strong. Our recent survey results on remote learning were extremely positive (90% satisfied or very satisfied). We know, however, that some students are struggling. Please, if you are in the 10% that reported as dissatisfied, contact your teacher and, if necessary, your principal to remedy the situation. Everyone is feeling stress, and children manifest that stress differently. You are important to us and we are here to serve you!

As I discussed this morning in our Zoom PTF meeting, reconvening physical classes this school year was unlikely, and Governor Abbott’s announcement unsurprising. We will miss celebrating year-long achievements for all grades, in person; however, alternate plans have been made for each division to celebrate virtually. Our sense of loss is real, especially for our seniors and their families. 

UPPER SCHOOL
 
Spring Exams  
Mr. Donnowitz and the Upper School leadership team prayerfully and thoughtfully considered spring grading and exams bearing in mind this unique situation. They determined that final exams will remain comprehensive and cumulative, though not given the traditional weight of a final exam. Instead, final exams will be counted as a regular test grade for the fourth quarter.
 
Advanced Placement (AP) Courses 
AP courses do require a national exam administered by the College Board. Exams begin on Monday, May 11, and more information can be found here
 
Dual Credit Courses
Students in courses given dual-credit status by Colorado Christian University will still receive dual-credits during this time of remote learning. Recently, we received word that our Anatomy and Physiology course, taught by Dr. Art Cheng, received eight dual-credits. Students now have the opportunity to receive over 20 college credits, in addition to credits received through AP Exams. 
 
Logic and Rhetoric Award Ceremonies
The Upper School leadership team met this week to discuss awards and how to best honor and celebrate student’s academic and character awards.  Friday, May 8, has been tentatively scheduled to announce these awards. Additional details are forthcoming.
 
Graduation
We are working on unique ways to honor the seniors.  We are tentatively planning a “drive-in” graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 23, possibly followed by a full commencement ceremony in late summer. All of this depends on Williamson County and HCBC giving us permission.
 
LOWER SCHOOL
 
End-of-Year Events
  • Kindergarten Graduation will be held virtually and will include short videos and photos of your students and messages from your teachers to honor our grads. 
  • 5th Grade Commencement will fold into our 5th grade Knights of Celebration to make it an extra special celebration. We are excited to celebrate the achievements of our 5th grade graduates. 
  • Knights of Celebration will be held virtually by each classroom to honor our students for their character, scripture memory, and academic achievements this year.  
Knights Ahead Summer Learning
Lower School teachers will provide an extra six weeks of review lessons that are essential to begin the 2020-2021 school year. Mrs. Tracy will send a parent letter outlining more details.

YOUR FAMILY AND HILL COUNTRY FOR THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR 
The board of directors and I recognize that some families are facing unforeseen economic hardship due to COVID-19. Please know that we care. If you are experiencing loss of employment and/or severe loss of income that may prevent your student(s) from attending next year, please let us know. We are eager to work with you to find a solution. Please call or email me or our director of business services, Susan Dehnel. We are happy to talk through possible options.
 
In closing, we remain committed to providing each student with an excellent, Christ-centered education to ensure academic success and preparation for the future. Teachers, students, and parents have risen to the occasion. With God’s help and guidance, we will finish this year strong! Romans 12:12 says, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” You have been a faithful, resilient, courageous, and persevering community!  We miss you and hope to see you very soon. 

In Christ,

Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School
April 9, 2020

Dear Hill Country Family,
 
I hope and pray that the second week of remote learning went well for you and that you are excited to celebrate Easter this weekend and take a well-deserved break! Below is a brief update:
 
Remote Learning Parent Survey

Please consider responding to the brief remote learning survey. It only takes about five minutes and will help the school understand and address any remaining issues.

PTF Meeting

I invite you to join us next Friday, April 17, for our spring PTF meeting (via Zoom), at which Principal Tracy, Principal Donnowitz and I will speak, followed by a time of question and answer. Look for a link provided in Knightly News next Tuesday, April 14. In that meeting, I hope to announce plans for 2020 graduation and the balance of our May academic calendar.

CTP-5 Testing

We recently announced that CTP-5 testing (originally scheduled this spring) would be postponed until the Fall of 2020. We considered offering the testing online at home but decided to postpone because of the extra stress it would create on families, additional cost and training required by proctors, and added uncertainty associated with test results under these circumstances.

I miss seeing you very much! If you are struggling, please let us know so we can pray for you. Our moms-in-prayer group remains active, and my executive team prays together every Monday and Thursday.

Thank you for your continued support of the LORD’s ministry at Hill Country Christian School. Enjoy celebrating Easter with your family this weekend, and I look forward to speaking with you next Friday at the PTF meeting.

The LORD bless you and keep you; 
the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Num. 6:24-26, NIV)

In Christ,
Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School
April 6, 2020

Dear Hill Country Community,
 
I am sending you a quick video greeting to launch week two of remote learning, and as a message of encouragement, I hope you will listen to Pastor Tim Hawks’ Palm Sunday sermon – it was excellent!

The principals made adjustments to remote learning from feedback given by students and parents last week. I will send an email on Thursday, which will include a brief remote learning survey. We value your feedback and continue to adapt in real-time.

We look forward to a great week in every (virtual) classroom!

In Christ,

Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School
April 1, 2020

Dear Hill Country Parents,

Thank you for your gracious support as the school launched remote learning this week. As stated in my video message yesterday, we are working through a few glitches and making adjustments as we go. I am grateful for our teachers and their willingness to go above and beyond to facilitate remote learning. I am proud of our students and the way they have embraced remote learning, and I’m praying for our parents as they juggle working from home with remote learning.

Online Learning Continues Through Monday, May 4
In light of Governor Abbott’s executive order yesterday requiring all public schools in Texas to remain closed until Monday, May 4, we are extending our remote learning education accordingly. Please refer to the Remote Learning Webpage for the latest updates, and coming soon, a Resources page. Later in April, as the May 4 deadline approaches, I will communicate plans for the remainder of May. 

Activities and Events
Many important school events occur annually in April. Some events, like Prom, we have canceled. Others, including plans for our 2020 commencement ceremony, we hope to postpone or reformat. My executive leadership team is reviewing all remaining campus events to decide what can be rescheduled and what needs to be canceled. We will communicate those decisions as they become available. 

Athletics
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) provided a brief video update yesterday.

Seniors and Their Families
One of my favorite verses of scripture, Proverbs 19:21, says, “Many are the plans in a person’s life, but the LORD’s purpose prevails.” My heart goes out to everyone in our community as plans are upended. I’ve been praying especially for our seniors, who are experiencing a very different and unusual senior year, absent much of our normal end-of-year events, celebrations, and community. Personally, I find solace in the realization that the LORD’s purpose prevails over my own. Nevertheless, change can be stressful, particularly when faced with missing the capstone final quarter of your senior year in high school! Please join me in prayer for our Senior Class of 2020 and their families.

I encourage you to remain faithful, pray without ceasing, and actively share the gospel as you have the opportunity. We have an eternal hope to share!  

In Christ,

Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

While everyone is away on spring break, the school continues to monitor the latest national, state, and local data on the spread of COVID-19. We are committed to offering excellent academics and Christian spiritual formation in the safest possible environment for our families. We believe current events warrant an added emphasis on safety.

In light of recent data, Hill Country Christian School will extend spring break one week for all students and begin remote learning on Monday, March 30. There will be no classes next week, March 23-27.

Everyone will receive communication(s) from the school by Wednesday, March 25, with instructions and information regarding access to remote lessons for students. Per school policy, our COVID-19 response team will meet regularly to consider the latest data and its impact on re-opening regular (physical) classes. For now, the school is committing to two weeks of remote lessons, from Monday, March 30 through Friday, April 10. Early in the week of April 6, we will announce plans to reconvene either with physical classes or extend remote learning for two more weeks, April 13-24. School plans after April 24 will be communicated at a later date.

Please review our policy, emailed last week, for details of our planned response to this situation.

In summary:

  • Spring break is extended through the end of next week (Friday, March 27).
  • Remote learning will begin on Monday, March 30, and continue (at least) through Friday, April 10.
  • Information regarding remote learning will be communicated to all families and students by their respective principal and by individual teachers by Wednesday, March 25.
  • Early in the week of April 6, we will announce plans to either reconvene physical classes or to extend remote learning for two more weeks, April 13-24.
  • Plans after Friday, April 24 will be announced as the situation develops.
  • All school events for the next month are under review. Announcements regarding postponement, cancellation, and/or reformatting of these events will begin early next week.

Every challenge is an opportunity. In the midst of a pandemic, what is God offering you? A chance to reach people with the gospel? Or perhaps precious time at home with your family? As we respond to protect those in our community at-risk from COVID-19, I pray we see God at work and opportunities to honor Him amid our circumstances.

In Christ,

Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

We continue to monitor the rapidly evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. As of this morning, with two confirmed cases of the virus in Austin, we are now at alert level three. Please review our policy, emailed yesterday, for details of our planned response to this situation.

  • Any absences for today, March 13, are excused.
  • The MAC signing this afternoon will be held as planned.
  • As of today, we expect to have school on Monday, March 23. If this changes, we will communicate with you over spring break.

In Christ,

Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

We are closely monitoring the rapidly evolving COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation, primarily using The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention ( cdc.gov ) situation data, guidelines for schools, flu prevention information, and travel restrictions.

The school developed a Communicable Illness Outbreak Response Policy in collaboration with Hill Country Bible Church Austin (HCBC), with recommendations and information gleaned from a consult with an epidemiology professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, our attorneys, accreditors, and memberships. This policy is effective beginning Monday, March 23, 2020. We will use this policy to make decisions regarding COVID-19 based on data, in consultation with HCBC and local public health officials. The policy document includes definitions and links to specific sites from the CDC, WHO, and other sources of information.

In tracking our status with this new policy, the school is currently at alert level two. However, we are actively working on steps associated with level three to be prepared for changes in the situation that may occur over spring break.

To date, we have implemented the following:

  • Established a response plan (linked above), and a response team assigned to monitor the situation and make recommendations to the school.
  • Custodial team has increased diligence in cleaning common surfaces such as water fountains, restrooms, doorknobs, and handrails.
  • Teachers and students have been given Clorox wipes in the classrooms and are expected to sanitize their desks and workspaces.
  • Flu-prevention techniques have been taught in classrooms, and this information has been posted around campus, particularly in bathrooms.
  • We are actively monitoring absenteeism as a means of gauging our community health levels.

We are asking all faculty, staff, students, parents, volunteers, etc. who exhibit any symptoms of illness to stay home. School attendance and faculty/staff absence policies will be adjusted for the remainder of the spring semester to ensure that everyone with cold or flu symptoms stays home.

Recent studies out of China and from Johns Hopkins University agree that the onset of symptoms for COVID-19 occurs in about five days, on average, and that 98% of those infected show symptoms within 14 days. For young people and generally all people with normal, healthy immune systems, COVID-19 symptoms are relatively minor . Very few children were treated in China, suggesting that most experience only minor symptoms. But for the elderly and immune-compromised, especially elderly people with diabetes or respiratory issues, COVID-19 is serious indeed.

We will cancel or postpone all official school trips to areas under a CDC travel health notice, which currently (as of Wednesday, March 11, 2020) includes China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. If you or your family plan to travel to a region under a CDC travel health notice (level 1, 2, or 3), please notify us in advance, and plan to self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return, according to CDC guidelines.

Lastly, in 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJ), Paul says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind .” As we take steps to protect those in our community at risk, let us view this challenge as an opportunity to shine for Christ in an otherwise dark world. We have confidence in our sovereign God and know that earthly trials like COVID-19 are temporary for all believers.

Have a terrific spring break! Be safe and vigilant. Pray continuously.

In Christ,

Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

February 7, 2020
 

Dear Hill Country Families,

At Hill Country Christian School, the health and safety of your child is always our highest priority. With the recent news of a respiratory virus outbreak in China, I want to share the most current information from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) along with the steps we can take to protect ourselves and our school from respiratory viruses.
 
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The outbreak began in December 2019, and Chinese health officials have reported thousands of 2019-nCoV infections in China, including some that resulted in death. Many other countries have identified cases of 2019-nCoV infection including the United States. As of February 5, there are no confirmed cases in Texas residents. We ask you to pray for those around the world affected by this virus and pray for the medical professionals who are working tirelessly to contain the virus.

Our best defense against the spread of respiratory viruses, including the Coronavirus and flu, is prevention. Following these recommendations, we can reduce the spread of infections at Hill Country Christian School:
  • Keep sick children home. If your child has a fever ≥100.0, keep them home until they are fever-free for 24 hours. (They must be fever free without fever-reducing medication such as Tylenol or Advil). Keeping sick children home prevents the spread of the virus to others. Any child determined to be sick while at school will be sent home.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Additionally, desks and common surfaces at Hill Country will be wiped with disinfectant wipes regularly to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
 
We ask that if your child awakens feeling unwell in any way that you keep them home for observation to determine if further symptoms will develop. This is especially important in the lower grades. Symptoms of 2019-nCoV include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
 
Please join me in following the above recommendations with your children as we endeavor to stay healthy this school year. For more information, visit Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and we will continue to monitor this situation.

In Christ,
 
Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

Philippians 4:4-6

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but inevery situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

12124 RR 620 North, Austin, Texas 78750

Phone: (512) 331-7036 • Fax: (888) 237-7035

Technical Support​

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Hill Country Christian School of Austin admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarships, and athletic and other school-administered programs.