2021-22 School Year

As we embark on year two of operating during COVID, we will continue to leverage our strengths, including our time-tested safety measures, to provide an exceptional experience for all of our students.

We will prioritize the health and safety of our community and strongly encourage all  students to get fully vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.

Thank you for your partnership.

General FAQs

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  • Is there a risk of COVID at school?

    Contra Costa County Health Department has told us they expect cases to be in every school. Our Safety Plan includes procedures for handling and identifying positive cases, and decreasing risk of transmission at school. Choosing to participate in low-risk activities outside of school will reduce risk of transmission, but it is not a guarantee. The best way to protect yourself and your student is to get vaccinated.
  • What are the signs and symptoms of COVID?

  • What happens if my student has symptoms?

    Athenian will have a no-sniffles policy. Families will be asked to do daily  symptom screens before school using the SchoolPass app. Students with symptoms will need to stay home and consult their medical providers. Students who develop symptoms at school will be removed from the classroom, kept safely apart from others, and families will be asked for prompt pick-up. Before returning to school, a symptomatic student will need to complete our Return to School Certification form. See this visual flow chart provided by Alameda County Office of Education and applicable to all schools in California.
  • What happens if someone at school has COVID?

    Athenian will be working closely with the Contra Costa Department of Public Health to do contact tracing and will advise any impacted members of the Athenian community, while protecting individual privacy. All public health guidance will be followed. See our Case Response Overview for more information.
  • Will Athenian require regular COVID testing?

    All unvaccinated students will need frequent COVID testing to attend school. Athenian will follow the CDPH and CDC recommendations regarding frequency, guided by the Contra Costa case rates. In addition, any symptomatic student, regardless of vaccination status, will require COVID testing. Athenian will provide on campus testing.
  • Is Athenian mandating COVID vaccines?

    Athenian has not mandated vaccines. However, 98% of our faculty and staff are vaccinated and all classroom teachers are vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees are required to have at least weekly COVID tests and wear medically fitted N95 masks at all times. Unvaccinated students are also required to have at least weekly COVID tests.
  • What % of Athenian students are vaccinated?

    Athenian has a very high student vaccination rate even though most of our 6th grade students and some of our 7th grade students are not yet vaccine eligible. We look forward to our vaccine rates increasing over the course of the coming months as more students become eligible. For a real-time dashboard on our vaccination rates by class, click here. Page 1 shows Upper School, Page 2 shows Middle School.

The American Association of Pediatrics has emphasized vaccinations as an essential to keeping students safe and physically present in school.  The health and safety of our staff and students remains our primary concern, and Athenian will continue to align its protocols with the CDC School Guidance and California Department of Public Health Guidance.

 Please protect yourself and those around you by getting vaccinated as soon as you are eligible.


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  • Q: Will face masks be mandatory at school?

    All students must wear a three-layer paper mask or a KN 95/N 95 level mask while indoors (vaccinated and unvaccinated), including while riding the Athenian bus.

    While outdoors during the school day, grades 7 through 12 may chose to go unmasked though we strongly encourage  all unvaccinated students to also wear masks outside. All students in grade 6 will be required to wear masks  indoors and outdoors while participating in unstructured outdoor activities.

    There will no physical distancing mandates, but an outdoor area with six feet of distancing will be available for students/families uncomfortable with closer unmasked contact.

    Athletics team mask requirements may be different.
  • Q: Which type of mask is best?

    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. 
    Paper surgical masks approved for school use:
    Three 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 approved for school use: 
    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.

    Not acceptable for school use:
    While high-quality three-layer cloth masks are available, they vary widely in quality and degrade over time. For this reason, cloth masks are not acceptable for school use. We are asking all students to wear three-layer paper surgical mask or a KN 95/N 95 level mask as described below.

    Not acceptable at school and to be avoided outside of school: 
    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: 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: What precautions is school taking to ensure adequate spacing?

    Athenian will designate some outdoor areas to have marked 6 foot spacing for any student uncomfortable with closer interactions.  Vaccinated and unvaccinated students may choose to use these areas when removing masks outdoors and eating.  Athenian is not requiring that all unvaccinated students remove masks only while in these spaces, but families can set their own expectations with their students.
  • Q: How will Athenian be using outdoor spaces?

    We will continue to take advantage of our outdoor lunch and break areas, outdoor meeting spaces, and outdoor classrooms are. We want fresh air to keep us healthy.
  • Q: What about indoor spaces?

    Athenian will no longer have mandated spacing inside, as supported by guidelines based on the science that distance is less important in low-risk spaces with universal masking.  In addition, we will continue to benefit from last year's facility upgrades which include new windows for better airflow and HVAC with optimized filters and fresh air intake. HVAC will be used in combination with opened windows and doors to increase flow.
  • Q: How is Athenian cleaning its spaces?

    Our industrial design team provided guidance on our cleaning protocol and have reviewed all Athenian cleaning materials and protocol to design a sound virucidal cleaning process and frequency. 


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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.
  • Q: What is the best way to handle personal items?

    Student personal items should be kept with them or stored in their lockers. The primary mode by which people are infected with the virus that causes COVID is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, but the risk is generally considered to be low. Good hand hygiene, masking and respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes) should be practiced by all students, faculty and staff. The school will monitor and reinforce these behaviors and provide adequate supplies throughout campus to support these practices.


List of 3 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: How can I protect my family from COVID?

    Vaccines are very effective for protection against severe COVID.  Protect all eligible family members with vaccination. If you have special circumstances requiring additional precautions, such as six-foot distancing and mask use outdoors in public areas, please set these expectations with your student.  Review additional CDC COVID prevention tips.
  • Q: If one person in my home has COVID how does that affect my student?

    Fully vaccinated people may continue their normal activities after known exposure, as long as they continue their daily symptom checks and have no symptoms. CDC currently recommends that fully vaccinated also get a test 3-5 days after a known exposure, and wear masks if within 6 feet of others until either the test result is negative or 14 days after the exposure (if untested). People who have been exposed but are not fully vaccinated may be eligible for a modified quarantine. They may attend in-person school with twice weekly testing, but may not participate in extracurricular activities until the quarantine period is complete. If your student is not fully vaccinated and has a known exposure, please contact the school nurse immediately to make arrangements for eligibility to attend classes.

Additional Information

List of 4 items.

  • Athenian Safety Plan

    In preparation of the 20-21 school year, Athenian worked in partnership with expert consultants to develop a comprehensive and evolving Safety Plan. This Plan will continue to guide us and is currently being updated for the start of school. Once complete, a summary of the Plan will be linked here.
  • Team Sports

    Plans are underway to resume full interscholastic competition in 21-22, with additional safety measures in place. Athletic team requirements for masks and testing my be different for students who are not fully vaccinated. 
  • Campus Visitors

    Campus is open to all students. Campus visitors and volunteers, including parent volunteers, will be limited. All visitors must be masked while indoors and outdoors. Some on campus events may remain online in 2021-22.
  • Travel Considerations

    We recommend limiting higher-risk travel. For anyone traveling internationally before the start of school or during school vacations, please see our testing and quarantine requirements here.