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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Creative Action Coronavirus Updates

May 11
We hope you are well and staying safe during these difficult times. As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to develop, please know that Creative Action staff and Board of Directors are thinking of you. 
We appreciate your patience over the past few weeks as our team has worked to make a plan for the summer. Although neither the CDC, the State of Texas, or the City of Austin have stated official guidance on 2020 summer camps and programs, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel all in-person summer programming for 2020. This was not a decision we made lightly, but we must put the safety and health of our participants, our staff and the entire community first.
We are, however, optimistic that we can expand our virtual programming over the summer months and offer more ways for students and their families to engage in Creative Action activities, themes and opportunities. As we develop more virtual options, we welcome your input! Please fill out this short survey to tell us more on what engagement works for your family, and what you would be excited to do. 
All summer program registration fees, including deposits, will be refunded in full. We are actively working on removing families from auto-billing so you are not charged. We do ask that you allow us until the first week of June to issue these refunds. Once your refund has been issued, you will receive an email confirmation.
If you have any questions, please email At this time, please allow for up to 48 hours for a response. One of our staff will follow up on your question or request as soon as we are able.
It is hard to imagine a summer without Creative Action camp and seeing all of our students and families whom we care about so much. We are in this together and we will continue to support you. While our hearts are heavy with this news, we look forward to seeing you again soon. 
Stay healthy, happy and creative!
Sarah Rinner
Chief Program Officer

March 31
As the effects of the coronavirus hit us square on—bringing all programming to a halt and drying up relied upon revenue streams—we have made the difficult decision to furlough all of our part-time staff, including Teaching Artists, as well as furlough or greatly reduce the hours for two-thirds of our full-time employees. With the passage of the CARES Act last week, which includes greatly expanded State and Federal unemployment benefits available to our staff, we determined that this was the best course of action to ensure that all of our staff could financially weather the next few months and that Creative Action will still be standing when this is all over.
When we are given the green light to open our doors again, we will reinstate furloughed employees. It is, of course, our hope that we will be back in schools soon and that Summer Camp goes as planned, but we know that we need to put the health of our community first and will relaunch programs only when it is safe to do so. 
So many of you have graciously offered support through generous donations and we have used those funds to make payroll these last two weeks when we continued to pay all staff despite no programming. Moving forward, we will put those funds towards paying remaining staff, our portion of unemployment benefits for our furloughed employees, and our contributions to staff benefits, which will not be interrupted. To further ensure all furloughed employees receive unemployment benefits in a timely manner, Creative Action is working with the Texas Workforce Commission to process the claims for all eligible individuals through a Mass Claim.
As promised, we want to continue to serve as a resource for the families we serve and we are actively working on ways to provide engaging activities for our students who are now at home. 
While I am optimistic about our future, you know that we, along with our nation and our world, are facing an unprecedented challenge against an unpredictable virus and we are trying to cope with and predict its effects on our society and our organization on a daily basis. 
We will keep you updated, and we thank you for standing with us as we stand with you.
With all our support and gratitude, 
Karen Lashelle
Executive Director

March 25

After School Families:
As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to mount, we want you to know that the staff and Board of Directors of Creative Action are thinking about you and your safety. 

As you know, yesterday, March 24th, the City of Austin and Travis County issued a shelter-in-place ordinance and therefore, as of this morning, AISD schools are now closed through April 13th. Therefore, following the directive from AISD, Creative Action After School programs will also be canceled through April 13th. 
That said, we are actively working on removing families from auto-billing so you are not charged for programming until we definitively know if or when school will resume, at which point we would be in contact with you prior to any billing.
For more details, you can review the email that was sent out to all After School Families on March 25th. 

March 16

As of this morning, the City of Austin ordered the prohibition of all gatherings of more than 250 people through May 1 and in response, Austin ISD announced it will be closed through Friday, April 3. Therefore, following the directive from Austin ISD, as well as in consideration of maximizing ways to further prevent the risk of exposure, Creative Action After School programs will be canceled through Friday, April 3.

Many of us parents ourselves, we understand the magnitude of this situation and what these closures mean to the families we serve. We want to continue to serve as a resource for our after school families. In line with our creative and innovative application of the arts, our leadership, staff, and teachers are actively working on a plan that will allow us to deliver activities in a digital format. We hope to inform you of these useful tools in the next couple of days.

As a 501c3 nonprofit and as the largest employer of artists in Central Texas, we feel the financial burden during this time, however, we are committed to paying our 150+ hourly teaching staff during this closure. We want to support our employees to the best of our ability and ensure your children see the same familiar Creative Action faces when we all return to school healthy and safe.

The health of your children is our number one priority and we will continue our efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The health of your children is our number one priority and we will continue our efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

If you have questions about this closure, please email Christa Berry, Chief Marketing & Development Officer, at

We are all in this together and we stand by you.

Stay healthy and thank you,
Karen LaShelle
Executive Director

March 13

Austin ISD announced today that all campuses will be closed Friday, March 13 and during spring break to implement social distancing and support deep cleaning. Following the directive of AISD, Creative Action has cancelled After School for Friday, March 13 and our 2020 Spring Break Camp.

Parents, please check your email for additional details.

The health of your children is our number one priority and we are continuing our efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

As a 501c3 nonprofit and as the largest employer of artists in Central Texas, it pains us to think of the financial implications of cancellations—for the families we serve, our hourly teaching staff, and our organization. We will begin issuing refunds for spring break camp today, however, if you would like to make a donation to Creative Action in light of these challenges, you can do so here.

March 10

Creative Action is continuing to monitor reports of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), both outside and now in various regions of the country. With Spring Break around the corner, we understand a number of our families have planned travel. The CDC is recommending avoiding all non-essential travel to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea and has placed restrictions on re-entry to the U.S. for individuals traveling from those countries. Creative Action strongly encourages families to follow the CDC guidelines regarding travel and avoid visiting these countries over Spring Break.

Out of an abundance of caution, we are asking all families that travel to any of the countries mentioned above to contact Creative Action staff and plan to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning to the U.S., per the CDC’s guidelines. We are also asking the same of our staff.

We are also asking all parents who travel either locally or internationally to monitor this developing situation and continue to keep Creative Action informed of all upcoming or impending travel. This is a great resource that tracks outbreaks across the globe and in the U.S.

All Creative Action After School Programs at Becker, Blanton, Brentwood, Bryker Woods, Campbell, Cunningham, Gullett, Maplewood, Ridgetop, Sunset Valley, and Travis Heights Elementary Schools are licensed by the state and are required to follow specific guidelines known as Minimum Standards. These guidelines include following health and safety procedures, such as students and staff washing hands before eating, after being outdoors, after toileting, after administering first-aid, and after handling cleaning supplies. In addition to hand washing procedures, staff are required to clean and disinfect tables used by our students regularly.

Creative Action will follow the directive of AISD in the instance schools are impacted by closures due to the Coronavirus.

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