2020-2021 School Year

On-Campus Learning in 2020-21

The health and safety of our community remain our priority, and our goal is to deliver the best possible Athenian education while mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Our expansive campus, temperate climate, and already small class size bring great advantages in the current environment and with the help of experts, we are thoughtfully leveraging these advantages. With the goal of preserving what is at the heart of the Athenian experience—highly interactive and hands-on learning—we are now welcoming grades 6-12 to campus on a nearly full-time schedule. 
We have also made significant modifications to campus to promote optimum physical distance and to support an adherence to the highest standard of safety protocols. We have done this in partnership with expert consultants and have developed an extensive Safety Plan. Click here to see a summary of this plan. We will continue to be vigilant about the safety of our community and we appreciate your understanding and collaboration in these efforts. 

Video Update: 4/14/21

General FAQs

List of 6 items.

  • Our Community Agreement

    As part of our return to campus, we have asked all of our students to remain vigilant about virus transmission. Our behavior on campus and at home are inseparable, and will either contribute to, or detract from, the safety of in-person school. Please read our full Community Agreement here.
  • Travel Considerations

    Students or staff who are not fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second Pfizer/Moderna vaccine or two weeks after a single Johnson and Johnson vaccine) need to take special precautions during travel to avoid COVID-19, either en route or during activities at destinations. Please review this Return to Campus Travel Checklist after travel and before returning to campus. If you answer "No" to any of the first set of questions, please self-quarantine and contact Debbie Derana with any questions
  • Athenian Safety Plan

    Athenian has worked in partnership with expert consultants to develop a comprehensive and evolving Safety Plan. This Plan will continue to be updated as the school receives new State, Federal and CDC guidance. Many of these processes guide the opening of school for in-person learning, which we call Phase Two. Please view our four-page summary document, read the full COVID-19 Safety Plan, or view our COVID-19 School Guidance Checklist. Learn about our process for handling COVID-19 cases here
  • On-Campus Essential Housing

    Athenian is welcoming a limited number of students needing essential housing on campus during distance learning. Their dormitory life follows strict COVID-19 protocols, including testing, quarantine, and single rooms for at least the first weeks of time on campus.
  • Campus Visitors and Events

    While shelter-in-place guidelines are in place, Athenian will have no non-essential visitors or events on campus. The campus will be open to students, faculty, and staff only. Typical events, including back to school nights, have been moved to an online format. 
  • Team/Sports Clinics

    Athenian has been fortunate to be able to offer team-specific, clinic-based programs all year, with a recent re-entry into interscholastic competition. We are following school-wide protocols aligned with the Athenian Safety Plan as well as the guidelines provided by the California Department of Public Health. 

Community health and safety is our shared responsibility. Familiarize yourself with this information and begin practicing now. Remember our mantra:

Face - Space - Hands - Home
Face: Wear a mask at school and in the community to protect yourself and others. 
Space: Standoffish is the new cool - staying six feet apart just means you care.
Hands: Learn to wash your hands well and often! 20 seconds is best.
Home: Low-risk, responsible habits at home protect your family and the community.


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  • Q: How can I prepare my student to come to campus?

    A: Look for the right mask and help your student get used to wearing it for longer periods of time. Try a few options with your student to find the most comfortable fit to cover your mouth and nose. When trying out a mask, they should wear it for at least an hour. Watch this video with your student for important recommendations on masks.
  • Q: Which type of mask is best?

    A: New mask information supports a recommendation of upgrading from cloth masks to paper surgical masks (3-layer) or KN95 masks (5-layer). A single mask can be worn all day, but it is important to bring a second for backup. Plan for two masks daily. 

    What you can do now: 
    Try a few options to find the most comfortable fit to cover your mouth and nose. Tip: if a mask has a metal nose strip, unfold mask and straighten the folded metal completely.  Create a soft curve in metal with your thumb, put on mask, and gently press against contour of nose and cheeks for better fit

    Cloth Masks:
    Not recommended for school use.  

    Paper Surgical Masks:
    3 layers of filtration, with electrostatic charge to capture smaller particles.  Single use disposable.  Kid-sized examples at Amazon. Adult-sized examples at Costco or Amazon.

    KN 95 Masks or equivalent: 
    Five layers of filtration and may be discarded after a single use.  If needed, they can be saved and reused after a week if stored in paper bags. Mark the paper bag with the student's name and the day of the week to avoid reusing too soon. Discard if torn, dirty, or damaged, or after three uses.

    Kid-sized examples on Amazon.
    Adult-sized examples at Costco or Amazon.

    Avoid the following: 
    1. Bandanas or gaiters
    2. Any mask with a “valve.” Valves release unfiltered virus from the wearer to the world. These are not legal in Contra Costa County.
    3. Face shields alone—these can be used in addition to a face mask, but not as a substitute.
  • Q: Will face masks be mandatory at school?

    Face masks are mandatory at school, with the exception of breaks with appropriate spacing outdoors and while eating. A single mask can be worn all day, but it is better to bring a fresh, clean mask and change after lunch. Please plan for two masks daily.
  • Q: What is the best way to cover a sneeze or cough?

    Sneeze straight into your mask and also bring up your elbow to cover your mask. Bring a second mask to school and replace with proper hand cleaning if your mask becomes dirty. 


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  • Q: Why is six feet of space important?

    Scientists have determined that most infections are passed when people are closer than six feet. That is why the public health department considers being within six feet of a known COVID patient for more than 15 minutes to be a concerning exposure. Contacts must quarantine at home for 14 days after their known exposure. By maintaining at least six feet of space, you are more likely to stay healthy, prevent transmission, and go to school.
  • Q: What precautions is school taking to ensure adequate spacing?

    A: Athenian has hired an industrial design team to look at and optimize all school spaces. Students will be seated six feet away from each other, hallways will be marked to optimize traffic flow, outdoor spaces will be marked for 10-foot distancing to allow additional space for eating and mask breaks.
  • Q: How will Athenian be using outdoor spaces?

    A: Outdoor lunch and break areas, outdoor meeting spaces, and outdoor classrooms are transforming campus. We want fresh air to keep us healthy.
  • Q: What about indoor spaces?

    A: Additional spaces have been rented and existing spaces repurposed, classes will be small and spread out. Stationary windows have been replaced so classrooms will have open windows and doors. HVAC systems have been evaluated, optimizing filters and fresh instead of recycled air. HVAC will be used in combination with opened windows and doors to increase flow.
  • Q: How is Athenian cleaning its spaces?

    A: Our industrial design team also works with hospitals, and is reviewing all Athenian cleaning materials and protocol to design a sound virucidal cleaning process and frequency. Electrostatic sprayers will be one component of this plan.


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  • Q: How can I practice good hand hygiene?

    A: Wash your hands well and often and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid physical contact with others. Learn with your student; hold a family meeting to make sure everyone knows proper hand washing technique. Read more here.
  • Q: How is the school supporting clean hands?

    A: Hand sanitizer will be distributed extensively around campus and students will be taught new habits and frequent hand washing.
  • Q: What is the best way to handle personal items?

    A: Students' personal items must be kept with them. Lockers will be closed and shared school supplies will be minimized and sanitized. We want each student to be the only person to touch their personal items (e.g. phone, pens, binders, tablets, laptops). At home, clean and disinfect these items frequently.


List of 4 items.

  • Q: How will I be asked to check for symptoms at home?

    A: Each day that students come to the Athenian campus, they are required to complete and pass a symptom check on SchoolPass. The symptom check must be completed before they arrive at school.
  • Q: What does good physical distancing look like?

    A: Use caution in your family's daily life. Limit excursions to basic needs, work, and outdoor exercise. Practice six-foot distancing and use masks in public areas. Public health guidelines recommend very small social bubbles, limiting guests inside the home (including close friends), and no large gatherings. 
  • Q: Should we apply similar precautions at home?

    A: Yes! Healthy habits begin at home. Students are encouraged to apply COVID-19 precautions similar to these at-school practices to their personal activities off campus. Such diligence on and off campus will serve to protect classmates, staff, families, and communities during this pandemic. 
  • Q: If one person in my home has COVID-19, how does that affect my student?

    A: Even without symptoms, the student not be able to go to school until their quarantine is complete and the return to school checklist has been completed. Precautions by all family members to protect themselves will allow your student to come to school.

Our success in mitigating risk and preserving the health of our community at this time depends on a home-school partnership. We are relying on all of our community members to be mindful of safety in their own homes and activities.

Additional Health Information

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