COVID-19 Safety Update Letter

Parent Letter-September 1, 2020

Our Mission

The mission of Tobias Elementary School, a dedicated partnership of students, teachers, and parents, who find inspiration in our differences, is to ensure that every individual is an empowered problem-solver and passionate learner, by creating collaborative experiences that prepare students to be successful in a changing world.

Back to School Updates

Parents, the purpose of this newsletter is to update you on the many safety and health guidelines that we have initiated in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year as well as updates to the arrival/dismissal process and procedures. Please be sure to review all the information carefully and discuss information as needed with your child to prepare them for a successful start to the school year. Thank you!

Principal's Message

Hello Parents,

I am very excited to welcome your child to a wonderful new school year! We are TOBIAS…Teaching Our Best to Inspire Achieving Students. We have a supportive team of dedicated teachers and professionals who will strive to give your child the best educational experience possible. Our theme for 2020-2021 is “We Are All Pieces of the World and We Fit Together.” We chose this theme with the mindset of being kind and welcoming to everyone who is a part of our school. This is going to be a school year filled with unique circumstances, but also rewarding experiences. We believe that all students are capable of achieving great things with a growth mindset and positive attitude. A positive mindset and remembering to practice self-care will be very important for all of us this year. Remember, we are #StrongerTogether!

Our Parent/Student Handbook for 2020-2021 will be posted on our campus website under the Parents tab very soon. Please review this for important information.

Tobias Elementary School has a Facebook page so LIKE us for informative updates or follow us on Twitter @TobiasExplorers. I am looking forward to an amazing new school year and partnering with you to support your child this year. During these unprecedented times, we are all #StrongerTogether as a school community.

Respectfully yours,

Alisa DiPalma, Principal

Helpful Links and District Videos

These safety measures in response to COVID-19 are based on the most current information available from local health officials and regulatory authorities. Changes and adjustments to these protocols may be necessary to continue to comply with federal, state, county, and city guidelines. These standards and protocols will be updated as we learn new information and improved ways to combat the COVID global pandemic.

Link to TES Schedule for Virtual Learning

Master Schedule with Transition times

Each grade level will send home the virtual schedule to parents.

GREEN=Synchronous/Face to Face Instruction with a Teacher

YELLOW=Asynchronous-Independent work by the student (work on assignments, complete projects assigned)

PINK=Both Synchronous and Asynchronous-Teachers may meet with a student face to face in a small group or individually for direct instruction.

BLUE=Specials-Recorded lessons and videos for students to complete on their own.

Recess/Outside play time

Time to work on assignments that need to be completed

Each teacher will have a 30 minute "Office Hours" time that is built into their schedule and will be shared with parents. This is a time that teachers can respond to emails or phone calls from parents, or answer questions from students that are submitted.

At Home Health Screening

Parents/Guardians will receive information on the Student Requirements for Access to District Property

● Parents/guardians are expected to screen their students daily for COVID-19 symptoms each day prior to sending their student to school (including temp check).

● Parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms (as listed in this document) or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and instead should opt to receive remote instruction until the below conditions for re-entry are met.

Students should not enter campuses or buildings if any of the following apply:

The individual has any of the following symptoms:

■ Temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when taken by mouth;

■ Sore throat;

■ New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (or, for students with a chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline);

■ Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain; or

■ New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever. o Has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or has been in close contact with their physician.

  • Has a household member who is awaiting COVID-19 test results, or who is awaiting their own test results.

● Teachers will monitor students and refer to the nurse if symptoms are present.

PPE and Face Coverings

  • In order to protect our students and staff, face coverings will be required for all students and staff at school.

  • Masks include non-medical grade disposable face masks, face coverings (over the nose and mouth). The CDC does not recommend for face shields to be used interchangeably with masks and therefore the district requires all students and staff to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth.

  • Teachers will give students mask breaks during the day. A mask break is the removal of a mask for short periods of time (for example a few minutes) while at least 6 feet from others. Ideally this would occur outdoors.

Healthy Hygiene Practices

We want our Explorers to stay healthy all year! To help with this we will practice healthy hygiene habits.

  • Signage encouraging preventive measures such as hand washing, 6ft. social distancing, and indicators of illness will be placed throughout the campus. This signage will be in classrooms, cafeteria, library, common areas, office and outside doors.

  • Daily morning announcements will serve as reminders to regularly wash hands.

  • Teachers will schedule times during the day for handwashing: before and after recess, eating, and restroom breaks for students to wash hands.

Arrival Times and Procedures

The school hours for elementary schools in Hays CISD. Please note our bell times:

School Hours

7:00 am - Front doors open

7:05 am-Classroom doors open

10:20 am-Attendance bell rings
7:30 am - Instruction begins
3:15 pm - Dismissal **By grade levels

Parents are STRONGLY encouraged to use car rider drop off and pick up as the primary source of transportation. Buses will be limited for student capacity per bus and will pick and drop off students in waves from neighborhood bus stops. Morning bus arrival and afternoon bus arrival will be staggered with early pick-up times and possible late drop off times at bus stops. All students must follow the guidelines below for arrival to school.

  • Bus riders in the first wave will be dropped off in the bus lane at 6:55 am. When students get off of the bus they will be reminded to socially distance from one another. They will get hand sanitizer from a sanitizing station and walk to their classroom. Students will follow the social distancing stickers that are on the floor. Staff members will be stationed so that they can monitor students as they come in.

  • Car riders will be dropped off in the front car rider lane. Doors will open at 7:00 AM. NO EARLY DROP OFFS will be allowed for safety. Students will get hand sanitizer from a sanitizing station and walk to their classroom. Students will follow the social distancing stickers that are on the floor. Staff members will be stationed so that they can monitor students as they come in.

  • Walkers in grades 2nd-5th from Arbor Knot/Creekside will enter the building at the west end of the building. A staff member will be stationed on duty to monitor students as they enter the building. Each student will receive a squirt of hand sanitizer before entering the building.

  • Walkers in grades PK-1st from Arbor Knot/Creekside will enter the building through the main entrance and proceed to the right and directly to their classroom. A staff member will be stationed on duty to monitor students as they enter the building. Each student will receive a squirt of hand sanitizer before entering the building.

  • Walkers/Bike riders from Post Oak will enter the building at the main entrance and proceed directly to their classroom. A staff member will be stationed on duty to monitor students as they enter the building and remind them of social distancing. Students will stop at the hand sanitizer station before entering the building.

  • Parents cannot walk their children into the building. Please give goodbye hugs in the car or at the parent areas located at the east and west corners of the school. Staff members will monitor your child and help them get to their classrooms safely.

  • Children who can safely exit the vehicle on their own are encouraged to do so. Staff members will be on duty to monitor safety. They will practice social distancing and hygiene practices when they are needed to touch car doors.

Bus Transportation Procedures

  • The District is requiring all drivers and students to wear masks while on the school bus.

Bus Stop Expectations

  • Students should practice social distancing, whenever possible (if there is adequate space and it is safe to do so) while waiting for and approaching the school bus.

  • Students should arrive at the bus stop with a face covering.

  • Students should NOT share food, drinks or personal devices.

Unloading, Loading, and Transit Expectations

  • Students should practice social distancing as they approach and board the bus and as well as when unloading.

  • Hand-sanitizer will be provided in the seat behind the driver. Each student will utilize the sanitizer prior to sitting in their assigned seat.

  • Students are expected to arrive at the bus stop with a face covering. In the event that a student arrives without a mask, the student will be provided one to ride the bus. Parents will be notified of the failure to provide a mask. Repeated failure to bring or wear a face mask may result in disciplinary action.

  • Bus capacity will be limited due to COVID safety and health guidelines .

  • Students living in the same household will be seated together. All other students will have assigned seats.

  • Unloading will start from the front to the back when possible.

  • Students will ride the bus following district guidelines.

  • Upon arrival students will go immediately to their classroom location.

  • Upon dismissal students will go directly to their bus and sit in their assigned seat.

Car Line Arrival and Dismissal

Our designated area for dropping off and picking up students is the FRONT of the school. Please DO NOT drop off your children from your vehicle in other areas. This is not safe. Please cooperate with staff members when they remind you of the procedures.

The pick up cards for the 2020-2021 will be handed out to students on their first day of in-person learning. Please write your student's name and grade level on the card and have it displayed in your front window for pick-up each day.

The correct procedures are written on the back of the card and will be accessible on the campus website.

Remember the procedures are in place for the safety of everyone. Cell phone use is prohibited in a school zone! Please, please take extra caution around our school. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Our car rider line forms at the back gate (procedures are on the back of the pick-up form). Please do not cut the line and park in front of the school or park in any grassy areas in front of the school. This is not fair to the other cars that have been waiting at the correct entry point at the back gate. Staff members will ask you to move your car to a parking space or go to the end of the line if you have not followed proper procedures. Thank you for observing our procedures.

Our children's lives are precious. Slow down, pay attention to your driving, and be vigilant of others. Please follow the car in front of you keeping a safe distance between cars. Please do not cut in line or block the parents who have followed the procedures correctly. We ask that all parents model respectful behavior around our school as we have children watching. This includes appropriate language toward our staff.

Please also be courteous and safe to our staff who are supervising and monitoring dismissal. Thank you for your cooperation.

Dismissal Procedures

  • Students CANNOT be picked up within 1 hour of dismissal. We will not release any students past 2:15 pm. Please schedule medical and family appointments with this in mind. This policy is to minimize disruption to the learning environment and protect our staff from increased visitors in the reception area.

  • Car rider students will be dismissed from their classrooms.

  • We will Intercom students by grade to be called down to the front office in small groups of 5. Staff members will be stationed to escort students to their cars. Students will be spatially distanced when exiting the building. Staff members will ensure that students enter the vehicles safely.

  • ■ PK Dismissal 3:05

  • ■ K-2nd Dismissal: 3:10

  • ■ 3rd-5th Dismissal: 3:15

*As student names are called, students will be dismissed to the car rider spots and exit the front of the building.

* Parents in vehicles must have their ID or parent pickup card in order for children to be released to the parent.

*Bike riders and independent walkers will be dismissed at 3:15 pm. They will proceed directly to bike racks or walk the sidewalk straight home.

* IF an independent walker is meeting a sibling, they will meet at their designated parent pick up area.

*There will be NO parent pick-up door. Parents are encouraged to stay in their vehicles for pick-up. Limited space for parent walk-up and pick-up will be on the east side of the school facing Lox Lane for PK-1st. Limited space for parent walk-up and pick-up for 2nd-5th will be on the west side of the school facing Arbor Knot by the big rocks. Again, we HIGHLY discourage parents from leaving their vehicles to pick up students. Thank you.

*If there will be a change from the way your child normally goes home, we must have a note from you in order to make this change. Without a note, your child will go home their normal way regardless of what the student was told verbally. Parents may call to make changes in the case of an emergency. Please contact the office before 1:00pm with transportation changes. This is for everyone’s safety.

Breakfast and Lunch

Students will go directly to their classrooms in the morning. Breakfast will be offered to bus riders and car riders in the cafeteria for PK-2 and 3rd-5th will take their breakfast to the classroom. Breakfast begins at 7:00 am. Be sure to be here by 7:20 am if you are a car rider and need breakfast.

Lunch times will be staggered by class and grade level. Our cafeteria will have all food items located behind the counter for students to make their choices with assistance from the cafe staff. They will have TWO options for lunch choices. Students who bring a lunch from home will go directly to their assigned seat.

  • All students will sit 3 feet apart facing the same direction, whenever possible.

  • Lunches will be staggered to accommodate 3 feet spatial distancing in the cafeteria.

  • Outdoor spaces, extra classrooms and the gym will be utilized for additional seating.

  • Face coverings may be removed only when actively eating. Students should be encouraged to eat their meal and replace their masks prior to socializing.

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available at entrances and exits of the cafeteria. Students will wash/sanitize hands before entering the cafeteria and after lunch.

  • No visitors will be allowed during mealtimes.

  • No third-party food deliveries will be accepted at any campus.

  • Markings of social distancing in the cafeteria and service lines.

  • Teachers will create a seating chart to support assigned seating.

  • Posted signage and staff will reinforce social distancing and traffic patterns in the cafeteria.

  • Cafe service lines will be marked with Stay 6 Feet apart stickers for students to stand on.

  • If you need to drop off a lunch to your child, we will have a table in the front foyer with a post-it note and pen. Please leave the lunch bag there and an office staff member will deliver it to your student. Please call the front office in advance to let our office staff know that you are delivering a lunch before arriving at campus.

Campus Visitors and Volunteers

We appreciate parent support and volunteers. If you wish to visit or volunteer at our campus, please follow the guidelines below for the safety of our staff and students.

  • At this time, parents/guardians should contact the school via phone to communicate with school personnel.

  • Access to the campus by parents will be limited to the front office and will be subject to additional screening procedures.

  • Anyone entering a building will be required to wear a face covering which covers the nose and the mouth. Anyone exiting their vehicle and being on school property are required to wear a face covering.

  • No in-person assemblies or events will be held at this time. Meet the Teacher, Open House, parent conferences, etc. will be held virtually.

  • Campuses will utilize virtual meeting options when possible to limit campus visitors. Virtual tools will be used to conduct meetings such as PTA meetings, ARDs, LPAC, etc.

  • No visitors will be allowed into the campus beyond the reception area.

  • All visitors will be subject to screening by way of a symptom screening form before entering buildings. Visitors may be subject to temperature checks.

  • Essential volunteers can be used by the campus to support campus operations, on a case by case basis. No children will be allowed with volunteers. (Essential volunteers are classified as those adults who are district screened and approved AND are needed for specific campus tasks.

  • Essential volunteers should only be on campus for their designated task(s).

  • Essential volunteers MUST adhere to all campus safety protocols during their visit.

  • All volunteers will be subject to screening by way of a symptom screening form before entering buildings. Volunteers may be subject to temperature check.

  • All volunteers will need prior approval by either Principal DiPalma or Assistant Principal Russ.

  • Essential volunteers must notify the school 24 hours in advance of the desire to come to campus.

Playground and Recess

Staggered schedules will be used for outside recess and no more than two grade level classes may utilize a playground at a time. In the event of weather (rain/cold temperatures) teachers will have students participate in indoor recess with individual games/activities that promote spatial distancing.

● All students and staff will be required to wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before recess.

● Teachers will monitor students to ensure safety guidelines are followed. Teachers may allow small groups of students to play together and develop structured games that take into account social distance protocols.

● Per CDC guidelines, outdoor areas, like playgrounds in schools and parks generally require normal routine cleaning, but do not require disinfection.

● Teachers will clean high touch surfaces made of plastic or metal such as grab bars and handrails and shared equipment at the conclusion of class recess in preparation for the next group.

● Students will wear masks during outdoor activity unless maintaining six feet of spatial distancing. Students must maintain social distancing while lining up to return to class.

● Teachers should encourage mask breaks during recess. A mask break is the removal of a mask for short periods of time (for example a few minutes) while at least six feet from others.

● All students and staff will be required to wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when returning to their classroom.

● Each teacher will be assigned a specific time to go to recess. They will also be assigned an area to go to for the entire week.

● Students will not be allowed to move to different play areas. Students are required to stay in their assigned areas.

Outdoor Areas for Learning and Mask Breaks

● The OLC (Outdoor Learning Center) will be used for outdoor learning and mask breaks.

Water Fountains

All indoor hallway water fountains have been converted to water refilling stations. Students should bring a reusable water bottle (labeled) to use during the day, especially during hot weather.

Daily Cleaning

Our campus custodians have a daily cleaning schedule they will follow to disinfect and sanitize high touch surfaces around campus. Classroom teachers will clean and sanitize classrooms and playground areas between groups of students a minimum of four times a day. The cafeteria will be cleaned between each group of students as well.

ISO (Isolation Rooms)


ISO Rooms will be used in the event that a student or staff member has a suspected case of COVID-19. The primary isolation area will be the private room in the nurse’s clinic. The secondary ISO will be the conference room next to the principal’s office. Parents will be contacted by phone by the campus nurse if their student is displaying any symptoms of possible COVID-19. Parents will have ONE hour to come to campus or send a designated emergency contact person to pick up the student from campus. Please call the school when you arrive and a staff member will let you into the building.

Office staff and administration will help monitor students that are put into the isolation room.

Classroom Spaces and Procedures

  • All classrooms will be outfitted with:

    • Visual reminders of distancing requirements will be in all classrooms marking off areas for common spaces and distancing best practices.

    • Refillable alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Classroom layouts based on spatial distancing guidelines. Schools must maintain at least 3 feet between students.

  • When teachers are arranging classrooms, students should face in the same direction. A combination of desks and tables may be utilized.

  • All instructional spaces must strictly adhere to assigned seating and maintain seating charts in a prominent location.

    • This is mandatory to identify close contacts in collaboration with the health department when needed.

    • Whenever possible, students and staff will maintain consistent groupings of people to minimize the spread of the virus.

  • Dismissals will be orderly, using one way movement whenever possible.

  • Outdoor space will be used for learning when possible.

  • Classroom libraries will be utilized. The books are placed into a Ziploc bag and labeled for that student. On Friday, they will be collected and placed into a holding area over the weekend before being reissued to a new student for the next week.

  • At this time, no classroom parties or events will be allowed with outside food.

Special Areas (Music, Library, Art, PE, Technology)


  • Music specials will be held in the music room with Mr. Pace.

Physical Education (PE)

  • Whenever possible, physical education classes will be held outside to allow for maximum physical distance between students. Coach Morgan and Coach Kim will have students spaced out in designated areas. PE equipment will be disinfected between groups of students.


  • Ms. DeBrock will travel to student classrooms and provide lessons in the classroom for any classroom that is over 18 students. Ms. DeBrock will have students use their own supplies for Art in the classroom.


  • Elementary school librarians will travel to student classrooms and provide curriculum based lessons/book checkout in the classroom. Mrs. Carter will provide books in different interest areas (fiction, nonfiction, etc.) for all our readers.

Computer Lab

  • Computer labs will be reconfigured to promote spatial distancing with a goal of 6 feet and a minimum of 3 feet between students at all times. Ms. K will use the technology lab for small groups of in-person students and the Library Lab for large groups of students. Computer keyboards will be sanitized between groups of students.

Emergency Contact Information

Please make sure we have at least TWO working phone numbers to contact parents in case of illness or emergency. Keep us informed if your address or phone numbers change throughout the year.

We are going to have an amazing year! We look forward to seeing you soon!

About Us

Motto: Work Hard, Be Kind, Explore!

Mascot: Explorers

Colors: Blue and Green (like the Earth)

Opened: 2003

Namesake: Rosalio Tobias (Read about him here:

Grades: PK - 5th grade

Inclusive: ECSE and Foundational Learning programs

Population: 644 students

School Rules (MAPS):

Make good choices

Always be safe

Practice self-control

Show respect