Highland's Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Updates about Highland's Responses to COVID-19
Highland School is actively monitoring the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As always, our primary goal is to protect the health and safety of the Highland community including, but not limited to, our students, faculty and staff, and families. Throughout the course of this evolving and unpredictable situation, we will strive to update members of the Highland community directly via email.
On this page, you will find a library of messages sent to parents about our efforts and responses. We will also use this page as a place to share other relevant information, tips, and resources.
Questions or Concerns?
We welcome your feedback throughout this process. Please send any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 or Highland's plans and preparations via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Highland Community,
On March 13, 2020 when Governor Northam closed schools across the Commonwealth for a minimum of two weeks starting March 16, I was not overly concerned. Highland had already introduced distance learning in our classrooms; we would have three days of virtual learning before Spring Break and then we would assess from there. Then on March 23, while we were on Spring Break, I received an emotional call from my daughter that Governor Northam had closed all K-12 schools for the rest of the year and her senior classes, soccer team’s run for the their third state championship, Prom, time with her classmates, Senior Celebration Day and Graduation were gone. I responded like all parents, despite my counseling training, in utter non-comprehension, “Calm down. You will be fine; it will be fine. Are you sure the Governor meant private schools as well? Don’t worry, Highland will work this out.”
Looking back at this now I realize, since the vast majority of us have never experienced a global pandemic, it is impossible to understand the enormity of the impact of the shelter in place order and facing a hidden enemy. In my life and in history classes, I learned about enemies which included foreign powers, religious jihads, domestic terrorists, and even mean girls. For the first time, the enemy was invisible and was a shared enemy across the globe. If I could not see it, how was I supposed to protect those around me? I looked suspiciously through my window at my mailperson, at the passersby as I walked my dogs, and at my fellow shoppers at Safeway. Of course, it frustrated me.
The first phase for me was over-functioning. If I had kept a schedule, had my house clean, dishes washed, long-awaited projects completed, participated in ZOOM conferences on every topic possible, and had my lesson perfected, then somehow with that perfection, the COVID crisis would disappear and life would return to normal - that I had some sort of power over the global situation. With that magical thinking, I pretended that virtual life was just as good as real life. Eventually, I realized that even though we are experiencing a great deal of our lives virtually, this is still real life. Then came the frustration phase; I think the rest of my family was feeling that way too. I found myself grumbling at the news conferences, being snippy, no longer tackling new things in every free moment, and not caring if dinner had all the food groups represented. Next came the sadness or resignation phase, I was sad for all the connections that have been weakened or lost, that I have not physically interacted with my friends, sister, and older parents due to fears of the virus, that my daughter, Hallie, and her classmates will not have the fourth quarter senior year that they thought they would, that families and businesses are struggling, and that the future is still uncertain. Hallie and I watched tearjerker movies and I just sat and thought.
I have left that stage now, and have entered in the acceptance phase where I am okay with the unknown and am finding my new normal. I do not blame anyone or any group for causing the crisis. It is here and blame does not foster acceptance. For the most part, everyone, from our political leaders to our neighbors, is doing the best that they can at this moment. We are all in new territory. Every day I go outside, pet my dogs, talk with my family, do school work, reach out to at least one person about non-work things, eat, sleep and try to exercise consistently and that is enough.
I also know that it will be normal and understandable when I cycle back through the frustration and sadness phases. What we are experiencing is a version of Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s stages of grief. We may not be grieving the loss of a loved one but all the same we are grieving the loss of our known experience and that is okay.
Yesterday, Hallie and I spent some time watching the water flow in Cedar Run. That act of doing nothing - just being - was a great part of my day. So today, I wanted to share some resources, websites, articles, and apps that might make this time better in some way for you and your family.
As I write this letter, Hallie is waiting for me to alter her Prom dress so it fits her better in case they decide to do some form of Prom at some point and my oldest daughter will hear in the next two week whether University of Mary Washington will be virtual next year for all of first semester or just the first half. My husband is deciding what color to paint his workshop because he has extra time, as he does not have a lot of architecture clients, and I am wondering what I am going to make for dinner and what wise words of wisdom I will share with the seniors during our last Senior Seminar this week. This is our new normal.
Please contact me if I can help in any way.
Director of Guidance and College Counseling
Hello Highland Family,
Just checking in with you. I wanted to let you know that you are on my mind and that I think you ALL are doing an AMAZING job with the distance learning!
The definition of amazing doesn’t mention anything about being perfect. This temporary “New Norm” is an experience many teachers, parents, and students are going through. So, the phrase “we are in this together” really holds true!
We are all pretty good at staying connected…but sometimes we forget that it’s just as important to disconnect - for better physical and mental well-being!
So, while we all struggle to balance this “New Norm”, I have a few tidbits that I hope will help you find that little inner voice that used to be as loud as heck when you were in more control of your life.
Remember, no one is perfect, you are AMAZING, and you will MAKE IT THROUGH THIS!
I miss you all. Keep taking 1 day at a time.
You ALL are true assets to your family and to your profession!
Stay happy and healthy!
Nurse Sharon’s 10 Tid-Bits to Get You Through a Pandemic:
· Begin your day with a laugh-daily joke, comics or a funny story over breakfast
· Keeping a schedule or routine- this helps bring some sense of normalcy
· Don’t forget to breathe! Take physical and mental stretches throughout the day-it’s OK to ask for help if you need it!
· Eat three healthy meals and drink plenty of water
· Get outside- breathe, play I Spy on the back porch, ride a bike, have a picnic in the backyard with the kids---whatever--- home is only so big—outdoors is much bigger!
· Have a designated time for news updates and for social media -does anyone remember the days when the News was on the TV only in the morning, in the evening, and at bedtime?
· Have you laughed again since the morning? Maybe a fond reflection of some sort!
· Stay connected with friends, family, and clergy. Keep the current events discussions to a minimum. Focus on positive topics -talk about a favorite vacation, share the joke of the day or talk about how great Granny’s Spaghetti is.
· Unplug from the electronics at least 1 hour before sleeping- to help for a restful night
- Acknowledge that you have done your best today…and that you are pretty darn amazing!
Sharon Fasce RN, BS, CSN
Highland School Nurse
"You cannot educate a child who is not healthy and you cannot keep a child healthy who is not educated." - Jocelyn Elders, MD Former US Surgeon General
Dear Highland Families,
I hope you are healthy and managing the challenges. We are working to respond to the changes mandated by the Governor for the last quarter of the school year. We resume our distance learning schedules on April 6 and will complete the academic year on June 5. A revised academic calendar will be issued in the next few weeks as we review our options for exams, internships, and events.
We were greatly encouraged by the initial success of distance learning and will utilize feedback from teachers, students, and parents to make improvements. Among those improvements are ways to enhance the experience for our youngest learners, mitigate the effects of increased screen time with strategic breaks and activities, and utilize methods which reduce the burden on data use or poor connectivity. To increase communication with parents, the revised academic calendar will include video conference days on April 24 and May 22.
We are also sensitive to the loss of social connection and the disruption of tradition and ritual. Look for information next week on “Spirit Week return to Distance Learning” from the Athletic Department. Activities are planned with a theme for each day to reconnect our great community.
I was recently reminded of our past character themes and how valuable it is in challenging times to have examined these themes so closely - perseverance in 2010 and optimism in 2012. We must take advantage of a great opportunity to model character for our students.
Henry D. Berg
Head of School
Dear Highland Families,
I want to thank everyone for your patience and flexibility as we make our way in these demanding times. The faculty, student, and parent response to distance learning was terrific and demonstrated our collective resolve. I especially appreciate hearing from so many of you in support of the efforts of faculty and administrators.
Going forward, spring break will be extended through April 3, with distance learning resuming on April 6. These days will allow additional time for faculty and staff to plan and prepare. We will not be back on campus until it is safe to do so and that will take time. We will keep you updated with new information via email and the COVID page on the Highland homepage.
We are learning so much from this experience and continue to refine the methods and schedules. While we don't know exactly what will happen in the future, I am confident we can figure it out together.
Stay healthy and positive,
Head of School
Dear Highland Families,
As circumstances continue to change, we want to let you know what to expect next week and beyond. Monday, March 16, will be used by faculty and staff to continue to prepare for distance learning which will begin for students on Tuesday, March 17 and will continue through Thursday, March 19, after which Spring Break officially begins. At this time, we hope to resume normal school operations on April 1.
The campus will be closed from March 16-March 31. No student practices, events, or gatherings will be permitted. If you have a critical need to enter the buildings you must arrange through your division office. You will receive additional information from your division on Monday and we will provide any updates to this schedule as required.
As disruptive as any change to the schedule is, this experience can be a great opportunity to discover new ways to learn and adapt. The capacity and energy of our community are well established and I have every expectation we can find growth in these experiences. This, of course, depends on everyone remaining healthy and safe. Please remember that the actions we are all taking are to prevent overwhelming our medical and health resources. It is important for each of us to be responsible for community well being.
Please be safe,
Henry D. Berg
Head of School
Dear Highland Families,
I want to inform you of the actions Highland School has taken and the additional steps underway to keep our students and community safe and healthy and to provide instructional continuity. Since the outbreak of coronavirus, we have closely monitored the guidance from the CDC to update our existing Pandemic Flu Plan and our responses. We will continue to follow public health recommendations regarding local infection and any need for isolation or school closure.
Our international students will not return home for Spring Break and international trips and exchanges have been canceled or alternative arrangements are being made. Our daily cleaning protocols have been reviewed and expanded and during Spring Break the school will be completely cleaned and sanitized with the hospital-grade cleaning products we currently use. With the upgrades made to our network and the wide use of cloud and internet-based applications, our distance learning capabilities are robust. Our faculty has been working on distance learning methods and platforms and will practice these platforms with students next Tuesday and Wednesday. You will receive specific instructions from your Division Director on Monday.
In doing your part to keep this community safe and healthy, please follow CDC guidelines and recommendations regarding travel and self-quarantine. If you are contacted by the health department or health agency regarding potential exposure, please contact our nurse, Sharon Fasce.
As we go forward, we have created an educational response team and an operational response team to address the evolving nature of this health challenge. We have created a page located on the Highland website that contains important information and resources for our families. While we will communicate via email any changes in plans or actions, all communication will be archived there along with additional links to remain informed.
Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we navigate decisions on activities and events. It is in our preparation and sound decision making that we can reduce anxiety and remain healthy.
Henry D. Berg
Head of School
Highland School's Pandemic Flu Plan
Learn more about Highland's pandemic flu plan in this link:
Below is a selection of helpful resources related to COVID-19: