Stay Well 2021
Here you will find up-to-date details for how we are providing in-person teaching, learning and residential life this spring.
- Virginia Episcopal School Community Pledge
- VES's Response in the Pandemic
- Expectations for On-Campus Behaviors
- Community Standards & Discipline
“As Virginians work together to limit the spread of the virus, we acknowledge our individual and collective responsibility to mitigate risk. All members of our school communities must lead by example, embrace accountability, implement best practices, and make personal sacrifices for the welfare of students, employees, and families. Both on and off campus, wearing face coverings, conscientious physical distancing, and limiting group interactions are necessary steps to increase the chances that we may continue to offer the meaningful, in-person educational experiences for which our VAIS schools are known. There has never been a more critical time for partnership and cooperation. I’m counting on you.” — Betsy Hunroe, VAIS President
Guided by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, government health agencies, our local physician partners, VES developed a thorough and responsible Opening Well strategy, which ensured that the school community stayed well through the fall. As we enter the spring semester, it will be equally important to follow our "Stay Well" strategy that, coupled with cooperation and adherence from all members of our community, will continue to support the health and wellness of our community and the overall viability of our school.
The following social contract is signed by students and parents. This agreement (below) outlines our expectations of ourselves and each other, and signifies our collective commitment to a new mode of community life. These expectations are built on this main assumption:
We are in a global pandemic and thus expected to—every day—do our individual best to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
I pledge to:
- Embrace a “don’t share my air” approach to living and learning on campus.
- Learn and live by the meanings of “risk, essential and non-essential activities” and operate responsibly within those definitions.
- Commit to the practices that reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 while on campus:
- Wear a face covering (which means we care for each other!).
- Maintain a 6’ distance between myself and others.
- Wash my hands frequently.
- Attend virtual school if I have had exposure to Covid or am symptomatic.
- Abide by all VES risk mitigation measures both on and off-campus.
- Stay home when I am sick or exhibiting any symptoms of Covid-19.
- Alert VES when and if I have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
- Remember to protect others from me and myself from others.
- Be courageous in reminding fellow members of the community to live by this pledge.
We, the VES Leadership Team, also sign this pledge:
- VES protocols align with the Commonwealth of Virginia, CDC and Virginia Department of Health mandates and guidelines.
- We continue to consult with a variety of physicians in public health and clinical settings and our regional health system, Centra Health. We are grateful to their knowledge and expertise that guides us as Covid issues and responses evolve. These partnerships have helped to ensure that we are up to date with best practices and have full access to appropriate medical services as needed throughout the year.
- Both the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia State Government influence VES policy and practice. In addition, The Association of Boarding Schools, National Association of Independent Schools, Virginia Association of Independent Schools and the Virginia Council for Private Education have all helped in our planning. VES also has submitted our plans to the Virginia Council for Private Education.
- The cooperation of students and parents, along with our faculty, staff and vendor partners, is crucial in helping to ensure that we are doing everything possible to safeguard the health of our VES community, while delivering an excellent student experience.
- VES is prepared to pivot our instruction as necessary as situations on the ground in Lynchburg and within our VES bubble change.
- It is essential that we maintain physical distance whenever possible. Everyone is encouraged to get outside as much as possible.
- All members of the community are expected to continue wearing masks.
- All students and faculty must wear masks at all times in non-structured activities and on any part of campus. This includes outdoor activities and during athletics.
- As in the fall, we may relax mask rules in structured environments and in the dorm during the spring semester depending on our ability to stay Covid-free / limit any outbreak on campus.
- Any visitor to campus must wear a mask at all times; this includes outside.
- All community members are expected to continue practicing excellent hygiene, including frequent hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer.
- Air out. Good ventilation is essential to reducing the risk of Covid-19 exposure. Classrooms and dorms will have open doors and windows, so we encourage students to have warm clothing for the colder winter days.
- Dine safely. Students will continue to pick up meals in the dining hall. They may choose to eat in the outdoor dining hall as weather permits, in Van Every (day students and boarders in separate areas), in dorm rooms or other specifically designated areas.
- Stay home / report to the nurses if you experience any symptoms related to Covid.
- Day students are asked to continue living a quiet life at home and to follow all mitigation best practices at home.
Parent Deliveries to Campus
All visits to campus for any reason must be arranged through the receptionist during the school day and by calling the duty phone (434.610.9473) in the evening.
With these continued mitigation strategies, we hope to offer more opportunities for students to enjoy campus activities, weekend fun and visits in the spring. However, with these new privileges come more responsibility to live into the mitigation strategies.
What are examples of consequences for failure to meet community standards?
A violation of the safety standards put in place to mitigate the risk to the Community of Covid-19 will be viewed as a major infraction. Repeated violation of the standards may result in a student being asked to leave campus for the entire semester. In the case of a flagrant violation that puts others at risk, a student may face disciplinary consequences, which may include suspension or dismissal.
How will the Commendation List work for students studying virtually?
For students completing school virtually, their qualification for the Commendation List will be based on their weekly attendance and academic performance.
- Spring 2021 School Calendar & Class Schedules
- Overview of In-Person School: February - May
- Remote Learning During In-Person School: February - May
- Returning to Campus: Quarantines & Covid Testing
- Parent Visits on Campus
- Athletics and Afternoon Activities
- College Counseling & In-School Testing
Our goal this spring is to open campus free of Covid, and to limit any potential outbreak on campus. Our ability to do this will allow the school to return as quickly as possible to the level of student freedom and privileges that existed at the end of the first semester. That said, the new variant of Covid, which spreads more aggressively, has now surfaced in the U.S., and we must remain diligent in ensuring everyone’s good health. We continue to consult with local and regional health experts so that we can stay alert to the local rates of infection, mitigation best practices and required protocols. As always, our plans are subject to change based on the status of the pandemic in Lynchburg and Virginia, as well as on campus.
In the fall we delivered a hybrid model of school where in-person instruction supplemented the virtual classroom. We gained experience and new perspectives, evaluated successes and challenges at VES and across peer schools, and we actively listened to your feedback. Our learnings from the fall have informed our approach to the on-campus VES experience we expect to deliver this spring.
5 Key Points to Know about the Spring Semester
1. Focusing on in-person instruction
- All students who can logistically make it to VES are expected to return to campus for in-person classes.
- The delivery of our academic program will be geared toward on-campus learning while supporting students who, due to obstacles outside their control, are unable to return to campus.
2. Delivering more class time
- Students will attend four classes each day, with five classes on Tuesdays. With this schedule, each class meets three times a week, up from two in the fall.
- We will continue the popular megablock period that allows time for collaboration.
- See the Spring Daily Schedule here.
3. Meeting students’ needs for food and fun
- Outside food deliveries will be allowed through the Duty Team on weekends and we will continue offering additional weeknight food options as we did throughout the fall.
- We will continue to create fun student activities and hold special events like the highly popular Casino Night, as the Covid situation allows.
4. Listening to feedback
- We valued the feedback and new ideas that students teed up during the fall semester. The Stay Open Well Team will continue to host “listening sessions” to hear and respond to student input as the spring semester progresses.
5. Prepared to pivot
- Should Covid conditions require a change in the plans laid out here, we are fully prepared to pivot to hybrid or virtual learning as needed.
Our hybrid learning model was developed for the fall semester to maximize flexibility in terms of our students’ access to their coursework whether in person or studying remotely. Based on the feedback from students, parents and faculty, we have opted to place a greater emphasis on in-person learning when students return to campus in February, and we have reduced the expectations required of faculty in developing online learning experiences.
For students facing circumstances beyond their control (such as visa issues, travel bans, etc.), we are providing academic support beyond regularly scheduled class times to help them complete their coursework well and stay connected with the VES community.
Students who may need to study remotely due to health concerns or other approved reasons will still have access to their assignments, will receive feedback on their work, and will be encouraged to reach out to their teachers as needed, but it is important to note that the resources their teachers provide for them via OnCampus pages will be reduced. Remote learners will be able to earn credit for the semester, but studying remotely will not be equivalent to the academic experience students will receive on campus.
Important Information to Assist Remote Learners
Review this document: Remote Learning Support in the Spring Semester
If a remote learner wishes to attend classes synchronously, we encourage them to reach out to a student in their class to help connect them via video call whenever doing so would be helpful. For new students without as many established friendships on campus, teachers can help with synchronous connection matchmaking.
Who Can Opt into Remote Learning
Students who meet one of the categories below will be allowed to participate in remote learning, subject to communication with and approval from the Stay Open Well Team.
- Students unable to return to campus because of travel restrictions or visa issues outside of their control.
- Students with extenuating circumstances, such as a health-related issue that has been diagnosed by a medical or mental health professional or approved family obligations, may ask to be remote learners. The Stay Open Well team will consider these requests on a case-by-case basis.
- The school reserves the right to determine that remote learning may be in the best interest of a student.
Communicating Your Status to VES
Parents of students who meet the description above must email Associate Head of School Christopher Button at email@example.com with:
- The student’s name
- Reason for requesting online school
- An attached medical note, where relevant
- The parent’s preferred phone number.
A member of the Stay Open Well Team will respond to your email and discuss next steps.
Quarantine & Pre-Arrival Covid Documentation and Testing Requirements
Thank you in advance for your compliance with these important measures. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Teresa Poe, Director of Health Services at VES, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A “quiet life at home” (low-risk activities) begins during the second week of Spring Break—April 4 - 11.
- We expect you to live a quiet life at home. Home can be where a family decides, but eating indoors at restaurants, staying in hotels, participating in indoor gatherings with people outside of the immediate family, and using public transportation are not permitted. While hotel stays are not allowed during the quarantine period, Airbnb and VRBO stays are acceptable.
- If for some reason a family cannot meet the quarantine requirements—low-risk activities, no eating indoors at restaurants, no gyms, no hotel stays, no public transportation in week two or to return to campus—please communicate right away with the Stay Open Well Team so we can help you work through a solution or a delayed arrival.
- Boarding students returning to campus by public transportation should return by April 4, so they are able to quarantine and test for our April 11 return to campus. If a student cannot meet this expectation, s/he will be quarantined on campus for the appropriate seven-day period. We have to know if this is needed based on your plans by Friday, March 12.
Documenting a Positive Case of Covid-19
If your student has been sick with Covid-19 in the past 90 days, our VES Health Center needs to hear from you. Providing documentation of your student’s illness / positive Covid result is important because it changes how the school will test your student moving forward—students with documentation will not be Covid-tested for 90 days because of the possibility of a false positive, which would result in an unnecessary quarantine. Having had Covid does not, however, change the mitigation behaviors we expect from all members of our community.
- We need documentation of your student’s illness or positive test result.
- If your student has received a positive test result, we need a copy of the test results or a letter from your student’s pediatrician that documents and dates the diagnosis.
- Please email documentation to Teresa Poe, RN, at email@example.com.
Covid Testing After Returning to Campus
- Beginning April 11, we will follow our strictest Covid-19 mitigation strategies for the first seven days back on campus.
- Continued Testing: We will test through this period so that we may return to our March 25 campus mitigations conditions as quickly and safely as possible. We will test all students again on April 15. Once all of those tests are negative, we will begin playing athletics and return to lighter mitigation conditions on campus.
Spots Open for Parent Visits to Campus
Many families have enjoyed visiting with their students on campus over the past two weeks, and we have loved seeing families on campus! Spots are still available on Saturday, March 13 for our out-of-town parents and Monday through Thursday next week (March 15 - 18) for local-area families whose students are boarding.
If you would like to visit, use the links below to sign up.
Off-campus Activities / Sports
Our hope is that Covid conditions will improve enough that we may allow students to participate in off-campus activities / athletics. We will continue to evaluate the situation in our own VES bubble and the local community—looking for a downward trend in cases to ensure the safety of our community.
VES Athletic Competitions
We will initiate competition for our athletic times with other boarding schools with similar mitigation strategies and testing protocols. In addition, we may ask opponents to complete testing the day of the contest using a pool PCR rapid testing system or Rapid Antigen testing. As in the fall, we will not allow spectators at any of our competitions.
We are offering opportunities for in-school testing, just as we did in the fall.
We already hosted in-school ACT and Pre-ACT testing on March 2. Coming up is in-school SAT testing on March 24. PSAT 10 testing for sophomores is still TBD.
As we get closer to test day, you will receive an email from Ms. Blaum with all of your test day information including testing time and location.
Questions or concerns about the Staying Open Well plan?
Contact Chris Button, Associate Head of School
Questions about academics?
Contact Mimi Csatlos, Academic Dean & Director of College Counseling
Questions about Student Life and Residential Life?
Contact Amy Kolman, Dean of Student Life
Questions about health and wellbeing?
Contact Teresa Poe, RN, Head Nurse