COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Up-to date information on Olney Friends School’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

While there is nothing more amazing than to physically see a student’s face when they finally understand that math problem or to hear about their day during lunch, the safety of our students, families, and faculty comes first. Therefore, until permitted by federal and state authorities, OFS will be providing remote-learning for our students. Our Olney community is strong and we will persevere through this difficult time together.

In the meantime, we want to ensure that you are able to stay as up-to-date as possible during this time. Please feel free to click the links below for more information on the communications that we have conducted with our Olney families:

July 7, 2020

Dear Olney Community,

Greetings from sunny Barnesville! We hope that your summer is going well. On July 2, 2020, Governor DeWine released guidelines for re-opening schools for the 2020/2021 school year in the state of Ohio. Now that we have reviewed Ohio’s guidelines, Olney Friends School can now make available our school’s re-opening procedures. As we begin the process of reopening Olney Friends School for the 2020/2021 school year, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and Olney community are of the highest priority. It is important that we find a balance between safety procedures, the ability to effectively educate our students, and to keep the spirit of Olney Friends School. We also recognize that the current health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is fluid. We must, in turn, continue to be flexible in how we react and successfully manage the situations that arise.

We are working diligently towards implementing policies to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19 and are adapting the guidelines and mandates provided by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Education, and the Ohio Association of Independent Schools to our unique community. Our faculty learned a great deal with the return of many of our international students during the fourth quarter of the 2019/2020 school year. That experience helped inform our reopening procedures.

While we do not have all of the answers at the moment, here are some policies and changes that we know we will implement:

  • Olney Friends School will be conducting in-person classes.
  • Olney Friends School will initiate move-in and classes in early September. Please view the Olney Friends School 2020/2021 School Calendar.
    • Student leaders will arrive on September 3, 2020, new students will arrive on September 4, 2020, and returning students will arrive on September 6, 2020.
    • Classes will begin on September 9, 2020.
  • There will be a two week quarantine period beginning September 7, 2020, for all boarding students. Students’ temperatures will be taken twice daily and students will not be permitted to leave campus for any non-medical reason during that time.
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols have been put in place. Students and faculty will receive proper training during orientation in order to adhere to the updated practices.
  • Outdoor educational opportunities and classrooms will be utilized whenever appropriate and weather permitting. Leonard Guindon and our summer school students are in the process of constructing additional outdoor learning spaces.
  • It is mandated by the Ohio Department of Education that all Olney employees and contractors must wear facemasks while in the presence of students.
  • Handwashing and sanitizing in the bathroom and before meals and snacks will be enforced.
  • Desks will be placed six feet apart in order to maintain social distancing requirements.
  • Temperatures will be taken daily of all students and faculty before entering The Main.
    • Baselines will be set upon arrival to campus.
    • Any temperature 3 degrees above baseline or over 100 will require a day of quarantine.
    • If the elevated temperature persists for more than three days, a visit to or consultation with a health professional will be required.
  • Students who show symptoms of COVID-19 will require a day of quarantine.
    • If symptoms persist for more than three days or become severe, a visit to or consultation with a health professional may be required.

We are sure that many of you will have questions and concerns and we will strive to do our best to answer them for you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at mainoffice@olneyfriends.org or to call us at 740-425-3655.  We will be in touch again at least a month before students return to campus with further details.

Sincerely,

Olney Friends School Administration

Monday, April 20, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, Caretakers, Students, Friends, and Supporters:

I hope that this email finds you safe and healthy as we all continue to navigate the global crisis we are in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As promised in previous communications to you, we have kept track of guidelines from various state and federal authorities about school operations. We have adapted to online and distance learning, and we are grateful to all of you for working with us to make the transition from our usual face-to-face classes to an online format. Let us please continue working together in that spirit, remaining resilient in the face of uncertainty.

As of this afternoon, the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, has announce that school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. As such, we have to continue using online platforms to complete our classes. I am glad that we have had a few weeks of practice with that system, so we will build on that experience. We may also use that experience to engage in some of our other cherished activities (e.g. Collection, Meeting for Worship, Community Meeting, and Poetry Slam). We appreciate Roger’s efforts to make this year’s Poetry Slam as lively and interactive as possible even though we are miles apart.

Another consequence of today’s announcement is that we now have to prepare for a livestream, online graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 on Saturday, May 23, 2020. Plans are also underway to have an Alumni Association meeting in the same way the day before graduation. We will be in touch at the beginning of May with details about how to connect to those events. The Alumni Affairs Office will also be in touch with you about class reunions. Please bear with us as we sort through viable alternatives in lieu of our usual practices. It will take a little time to plan, but we are working hard to allow for the “Olney Spirit” to enhance our online experiences.

To our students who still have belongings in the dormitories, please know that we have secured both dormitories. The international students, who are currently in quarantine, are sequestered in the Mary Davis Guest House and the Morlan House. They will remain in those two areas until we figure out an appropriate way for you to regain physical control of your belongings. Whatever way is ultimately decided upon, it will be within the state of Ohio’s guidelines. By April 30, 2020, we will be in touch with students and their families about this matter.

We know that the sense of community we foster at Olney is one of the unique aspects of our school. That sense has always thrived on in-person interactions, but we also know that we have stayed connected to no matter where we have been. We implore you to “tap” into that sense of connectedness until we are able to meet again in person. We will emerge from this time unbowed.

In case of any questions, please contact our Director of Communications, Jasmin Ilovar, via email (jasmin@olneyfriends.org) or telephone (740-425-3655).

Sincerely,

Christian N. Acemah
Head of School

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

Thank you for your patience and understanding over the past few weeks.  We know that it is not easy to withstand this uncertain time. We hope, however, that having your children at home with you is a source of comfort. It would be wonderful to have them on campus as we had originally planned, and we hope that we formulate a plan to make that possible. As always, we will seek guidance from State and Federal authorities before moving forward with any plan. We understand that we need to remain flexible in our approach to account for the fluidity of the situation that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for the world.

We are extremely grateful for the families that have hosted our international students. Their kindness and openness cannot be overstated. We are also aware that some host families also have students enrolled at Olney Friends School, but we have yet to devise a final plan for the return of domestic students. That plan is currently under consideration and will be informed by any decisions the State of Ohio makes about school closures. Since domestic students are already at home, we request that they stay at home and continue to engage in online learning until further notice. Additionally, it is anticipated that the initial school closure will be extended for a period that has yet to be determined, so domestic students should continue to stay with their families for the foreseeable future. 

International students, who are under somewhat different guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security, may return to campus on April 6, 2020, under strict conditions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A separate letter will be sent to international students and their parents with details about how we plan to execute their phased return to campus. No matter what happens in the coming weeks and months, we all have to adapt to evidence-informed social distancing practices, thorough personal hygiene routines, and robust cleanliness and sanitation measures.

We are pleased that most of our students have adapted to the online learning we have instituted since spring break ended. It is a steep learning curve for all involved, and my hope is that we will all emerge from this situation unbowed and with some positive lessons learned. I thank you for continuing to encourage your children to be resilient and adaptable when faced with an unexpected difficulty. I also thank you for keeping in touch with us. Thank you.

We would like to highlight a few other things for your review and consideration:

  1. Communication: Parents should contact us in case they have or require any information. Jasmin Ilovar will continue to be the school’s primary point of contact regarding COVID-19 matters. She can be reached via email (jasmin@olneyfriends.org).
  1. Equity and Inclusion: Olney Friends School will always value equity and inclusion. Due to the fear, panic, and anxiety that many people are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been reports around the world of bias against foreign nationals and non-Caucasian American nationals perceived to be from countries affected by COVID-19. We want to ensure you that Olney is an inclusive and supportive community. Discrimination, bullying, and harassment due to one’s race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, recent travel history, or health history will not be tolerated. If any students feel like they have experienced discrimination, please contact Micah Brownstein (micah@olneyfriends.org).
  1. Beyond The Summer: While we are not yet aware of how long COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place, we are aware that some of you have already made plans for your students to return to Olney for the next academic year. It is our intention to be open for regular school in August of this year. We have designated personnel who are managing and coordinating efforts to respond to the needs of our students and their families during this fluid time. Those faculty members are gathering the latest information and working hard to anticipate any changes on the horizon. We will keep you informed about any plans beyond this academic year, but we must emphasize our intention to be open and continue to provide the kind of educational experience you have come to expect.
  1. Graduation: Even though we have an all-international graduating class this year, we know that some of you have developed bonds with members of the Class of 2020. As such, we understand why you would like to be part of any graduation activities for them. We are not yet sure whether we will be able to hold our traditional in-person graduation ceremony, but we will inform you about plans for graduation by April 15, 2020, and how you can participate in any graduation activities. In the event that we cannot hold an in-person ceremony, we will make other arrangements to ensure that the seniors graduate on time in an appropriate manner.
  1. Meeting: We would like to invite you to join us for a meeting via ZOOM on Thursday, April 2, 2020, at 1:00 PM EDT. That meeting will be a chance for you to ask us any questions and for us to share any updates we may have. The meeting number is 651-165-7339 and the password is 25641.

While this letter may not address every question you may have, I hope it gives you a more clear sense of where we are heading within the limits of what can be known about an ever-changing situation. Again, we thank you for your cooperation and understanding during this time. If you have any other questions, please let us know.

Sincerely,

Christian N. Acemah

HEAD OF SCHOOL

17 March 2020

Dear students,

We want to take a moment and let you all know that Olney Friends School will continue to operate academically during the state-wide campus shut down. Our plan is to implement remote learning through email and phone conversations, video tools, internet-based platforms, and other resources such as books and packets. We do not plan on making up any lost class time; therefore, teachers have been asked to modify their syllabi accordingly.

We ask you to be on the lookout for emails in your Olney Friends School email from your teachers with details about how each of them will be conducting distance learning for each of your classes. Your class may include assignments and homework, which will be communicated by your teachers. Please remember that this is new for many of us, teachers included. There may be a steep learning curve as we all transfer to learning remotely. Let us have patience and understanding with each other as we embark on this academic journey together. To view a collective document listing each class and how it will be taught, please click HERE. If you or your family is unable to accommodate a remote learning environment, please contact Phineas Gosselink, academic coordinator, at Phineas@olneyfriends.org (please also carbon copy Roger Reynolds at roger@olneyfriends.org).

Additionally, there are a couple of things we would like to mention:

  • Olney Friends School will always value equity and inclusion. Due to the fear of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there have been reports around the world of bias against people perceived to be from countries where there is COVID-19. We want to ensure you that Olney is an inclusive and supportive community. Discrimination, bullying, or harassment due to one’s race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, recent travel history, or health history, will not be tolerated. If you feel like you have experienced discrimination, please contact Micah Brownstein, dean of students, at micah@olneyfriends.org.
  • We have designated personnel who are managing and coordinating efforts in regards to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Those faculty members are gathering the latest information and working hard to mitigate any disruptions, anticipate any challenges, and ensure the health and wellbeing of our Olney community.

Again, we thank you for your cooperation and understanding during this time. If you have any other questions, please let us know. We are happy to help. Stay safe and we promise to keep in touch in the days ahead.

Sincerely,

Olney Friends School Administration

12 March 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caretakers,

I hope that this spring break is going well for you.  We have been keeping track of developments regarding the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), which the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic this week.   Federal and State authorities have also taken their actions, including the State of Ohio.  As of this afternoon, the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, has announced that all schools, including private schools, in Ohio will shut down for three (3) weeks effective Monday, March 16, 2020.  Right now, schools are scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 6, 2020.   As previously communicated, Olney Friends School plans on following state directives.

Until further notice, no student should return to campus. A separate letter with more information will soon go out to our international and host families. If your child traveled for spring break and did not return home, we suggest that you reroute your child home directly or pick them up at their return location.

 

We know that news like this understandably raises anxiety and uncertainty levels.  We urge you, however, to stay calm and safe.  We will continue to update you as we learn more about this situation.  We are convening a meeting of faculty members to discuss a way forward regarding academics.   We plan on exploring any potential online resources so that students can continue to learn even while away from campus.

In case of any questions, please contact our Director of Communications, Jasmin Ilovar, via email (jasmin@olneyfriends.org) or telephone (740-425-3655).

Sincerely,

Christian N. Acemah

Head of School  

4 March 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caretakers,

Greetings from Olney Friends School!  As we prepare for this year’s Gym-Ex, which is scheduled for 6 March 2020, I wanted to take a moment to inform you about the steps we have taken to ensure your students’ wellbeing and safety in the face of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

With the entire world focused on the COVID-19 outbreak, we at the school are staying alert to any health-related changes within our community.  We are also staying informed about COVID-19, with an emphasis on updates from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Ohio Department of Health.  Together with our student life team, our qualified and caring school nurse has been monitoring student health since her arrival at Olney in January this year.  She has paid attention to students who have had the flu, coughs, and related respiratory illnesses.  She has been in touch with the local Belmont County Health Department and the Director of Infection Control at Wheeling Hospital since the week of the COVID-19 outbreak.  They have requested that people traveling to COVID-19 affected areas have their temperature taken for fourteen (14) days after their return to Olney.  They have also requested us to report any cases of community members who develop respiratory symptoms or fevers of 101 °F (38.3 °C) or higher. We will be working with them regarding any concerns. We will also be keeping up with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) recommendations.

As expected, our flu season is occurring as it has in the past (i.e. towards the end of February into early March).  Although two students have tested positive for the flu, we have had no incidences of COVID-19, and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that we keep our community safe from any more flu infections and other respiratory illnesses.  We have increased awareness around personal and community hygiene, especially around handwashing and keeping all areas of our campus cleaned.  Community members with fevers and serious cold or flu-like symptoms are being isolated or requested to self-isolate until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.  Parents of sick students are also being updated regarding their condition.  Even though we have not needed to request a student to return home before our spring break begins, we may do so if the situation requires further isolation and medical treatment we are unable to provide.  For details about other precautionary measures we are taking, please contact us through our Director of Communications, Jasmin Ilovar (jasmin@olneyfriends.org), or through the Main Office.

Furthermore, should your student fall ill while away during spring break, we request that you inform us and also seek medical attention.  If a situation arises whereby a student cannot return to school when we reopen for the fourth quarter, please let us know.  We encourage those who are ill to stay at home until they recuperate.

I thank you for your attention to this letter and for directing any questions to us via the channel outlined above.  On behalf of the entire Olney community, I wish you a wonderful spring break and look forward to an enjoyable final quarter of the 2019/2020 academic year.

Sincerely,

Christian N. Acemah

Head of School