Oak Hill Blog

Oak Hill’s Spring Semester 2022 COVID Procedures

Updated March 22, 2022

Oak Hill Academy continues to follow COVID mitigation guidelines provided by the CDC. The COVID community level in our area (Grayson County, Virginia) has allowed us to ease some restrictions, and the wearing of masks is now optional throughout campus. Students and staff are encouraged to wear a mask if they wish, but masks are not required. OHA continues to follow CDC guidelines for quarantine and isolation, including the testing of those who are exposed to COVID or are symptomatic.

Updated January 5, 2022

The CDC has released new guidelines for periods of isolation/quarantine, particularly in regard to those under the age of 18.  You can view these guidelines here:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html

The new guidelines have no effect on any of OHA’s procedures to the opening of school (as outlined in the January 4 email).  However, the parameters for those who may be required to be quarantined in the event of exposure are now less restrictive.

And, in response to a question from a few parents:  Yes, when permissible and available, OHA will assist your student in receiving a booster.

Thank you,

Michael D. Groves

President

Updated January 4, 2022

Hello from a beautiful and snow-covered Oak Hill Academy.  As we begin to move past the holiday vacation and plan for the return of students to campus—and as the world swirls about trying to address the omicron variant of Covid—I want to share with you the school’s updated position.   

First, Oak Hill Academy is committed to being an open and in-person school—while keeping students and faculty and staff as safe as possible.  As planned, school will open for students to return on January 10, 2022.  We are not anticipating at this time making any modifications to our calendar for the remainder of this semester. (Neither are we seeking to recreate an insulated Covid-free bubble on The Hill.)

Second, we have successfully adapted our approach as necessary to changes in the Covid pandemic over the past two years, so we are well-conditioned to adjust our program without negatively impacting our students’ academic and social experience at OHA.

Third, a key feature of our success involves a more conservative approach to off-campus trips and visitations immediately after students return from a break.  So, I encourage everyone to remain patient as we seek to limit the possibility of exposure and settle into a healthy routine in our boarding school community.

Fourth, all students will be tested for Covid upon arrival to campus.  

Note:  The CDC has released new guidelines in response to the omicron variant.  The quarantine and isolation periods have been abbreviated to five days (minimum) for anyone testing positive for Covid, or for those who are unvaccinated and exposed to a person with Covid.  Those who are vaccinated are not required to isolate if exposed to a person with Covid.  However, please note:  The definition of “Vaccinated” has been amended.  “Vaccinated” now = A person who has received their second dose of the Covid vaccine less than six months ago, or has received a booster. 

Please send to the school confirmation of any updates to your student’s immunization/booster record, as this will affect the period of isolation in the event of exposure to a positive case.  (Updates may be sent to nurse@oak-hill.net). If a student is required to quarantine or isolate, if at all feasible—we will request this to occur off-campus.  Also, if your student is symptomatic or may have been exposed to Covid, please test before returning to campus.

OHA is implementing certain protocols when students return to campus (in accord with our guiding principle of a more conservative approach early in the semester).  

  • All students are to be tested upon arrival
  • No off-campus trips until at least 1/14
  • Mask wearing throughout campus (except when in dorm rooms)
  • No room or dorm visitation through at least 1/14
  • Daily student health assessment
  • Testing symptomatic students immediately

Also, we are requesting that students bring a supply of masks with them in their return to campus. Note: N-95 and K-95 masks are proven to be most effective.

Thank you for partnering with us through these most unusual circumstances.  We continue to believe that the Oak Hill Academy approach (and rural location) provides an optimal community for our students to learn and grow.

Thank you,  

Michael D. Groves

President

Updated for Second Semester – January 2022

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

Over the course of the past summer, we waited patiently before outlining in specific detail the school’s policy for masks and other practices of mitigation. If 2020 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.  

We’ve outlined below our detailed approach for the upcoming spring semester, introduced by the school’s overarching philosophy. The state of Virginia indicated last 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.
  2. 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.  In accord with recent directives, we will require masks in the indoor classroom setting and other select locations 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 minimize 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 85% plus 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 during the first week after arriving on campus. 

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

  • Cafeteria will be open with continued limited table capacity and masks required unless seated and eating
  • Masks will be required for students in select indoor locations (classrooms, off campus trips, certain public events)
  • No dorm visitation 
  • Limited physical contact
  • Other mitigations (social distancing, hand washing, etc.) should be followed 

Once test results are returned and negative:

  • Cafeteria will be open with continued limited table capacity and masks required unless seating and eating
  • Symptomatic students will be tested for COVID 
  • Dorm visitation allowed
  • Masks will be required for students in select indoor locations (classrooms, off campus trips, certain public events
  • Faculty/Staff will wear masks indoors throughout campus until announced otherwise

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