Oak Hill Blog

Announcing our 2021-2022 COVID procedures

Hello from the President’s Office at Oak Hill Academy. We are so excited for students to be returning to campus to experience The Hill in person. We are a boarding school, after all. We live here!

Over the course of the summer, we’ve waited patiently before outlining in specific detail the school’s policy for masks and other practices of mitigation. If last year taught us anything, we learned the value of being nimble, as the nationwide situation with COVID is as apt to change as mandates from the government.  We’ve already shared in a separate memo the school’s position in regards to the COVID vaccine.  

With school beginning in a couple of weeks, we’ve outlined below our detailed approach, introduced by the school’s overarching philosophy. The state of Virginia indicated throughout the summer that private schools would be afforded the ability to frame their decisions independently; though this position has been amended slightly, I believe Oak Hill Academy is uniquely positioned (in location, program, and size) to provide a safe, in-person, and “normal” boarding school environment.  

The Oak Hill Academy Philosophy in Regards to COVID-19 for the Academic Year 2021-2022

  1. The safety of our students, faculty, staff (and the entirety of the OHA community) is always our top priority.
  1. The school seeks to provide a boarding school environment that is “as normal as possible” given the current issues associated with COVID in the U.S. and to remain in compliance with all government directives.

Approach

The school will implement standards of mitigation that includes testing of any member of our community who is exhibiting symptoms associated with COVID and testing upon arrival unvaccinated students. All members of the OHA community will wear masks indoors the first several days on campus, with a “more normal” environment to follow. In accord with recent directives, we will require masks in the indoor classroom setting until advised otherwise.

Note

The school is not seeking to recreate its successful, albeit very restrictive “bubble” as it did in 2020-21. However, in order to decrease the possible spread of COVID within our small community, OHA is inclined to practice more heightened mitigation earlier in the semester. Again, lessons learned! 

Note

The school is not replicating the step-by-step “Four Phase” approach from 2020, which required all students to be quarantined and isolated extensively at the start of the year. We all know more about the Coronavirus now, how it is (and is not) transmitted, and given our high percentage of vaccinated students and faculty and staff, we believe such a program is not warranted.

During check-in:

  • Masks required for all persons (staff, families, students) while indoors or within 6 feet of other individuals)
  • Other mitigations (social distancing, handwashing, etc.) should be followed 

Unvaccinated students will be tested Sunday evening

First few days of school (until test results return):

  • All meals will be served outside
  • Masks required indoors unless students are in their rooms and outdoors if closer than 6 feet from others
  • No dorm visitation, no room visitation
  • No physical contact
  • Gym closed except for organized practices or P.E. classes
  • Any athletic practices should be “shoot around” with no contact, students masked except while on the court
  • Other mitigations (social distancing, hand washing, etc.) should be followed 

Once test results are returned and negative (until after class on Saturday, Sept. 4th):

  • Cafeteria open with limited table capacity
  • Masks required indoors unless students are in their rooms and outdoors if closer than 6 feet from others
  • Gym open and athletic practices permitted
  • No dorm visitation, no room visitation
  • Symptomatic students will be tested for COVID 

After Saturday, Sept. 4th:

  • Room visitation allowed
  • Symptomatic students will be tested for COVID 
  • Masks may be required for students in select locations (classrooms, off campus trips, certain public events)
  • Faculty/Staff will wear masks indoors on campus until announced otherwise