Communication

Summer Update

Dear CA Parents,

I hope this message finds you all well. While summer is just getting started, we are well into our planning for next fall here at Cary Academy. After a week break, our faculty reconvened today to begin refreshing their curriculum and planning for a variety of learning scenarios in August. 

As you may recall, on May 15 we updated our main COVID-19 webpage to preview our planning for the coming school year. We provided more insight on our approach to reopening at a parent Town Hall on June 3, including expected community health protocols and details on how we will “de-densify” campus. Since that time, a number of organizations have released their own preliminary guidelines for reopening, including the North Carolina Public Schools. While there may be a few differentiations (face covering requirements, for example), I have been pleased to see that our health responses generally are aligned.  

Today, I invite you to review a new page on our website that outlines in more detail what we discussed on June 3. 

I would also like to specifically call out three items worthy of note here: 

Returning to On-Campus Learning

As North Carolina and the country reopen economic and social activity this summer, the spread of the virus remains fluid. As we await more guidance from state officials, we continue planning for healthy on-campus learning in the fall. In the end, however, individual families have the final say in whether they feel it safe for their child(ren) to return to campus.

Changes to the academic program for 2020-2021 are being put in place to afford greater flexibility in delivery. These changes will allow students to keep pace with their classes even if they need to learn from home for an extended period of time, due to illness or family circumstance. Families who anticipate a longer-term need to keep their child(ren) at home are asked to contact their division head to make sure we can put in place the best possible schedule for remote learning.

Daily Schedule Adjustments

While the school calendar (vacation schedules) has not been altered, both the Middle School and Upper School are adjusting their daily schedules for the 2020-2021 school year — to allow for less physical contact (protect health) and to reduce overall stress for students (improve wellness). 

Both divisions will run schedules that have students meeting in classes for longer periods of time but less frequently. This “block” scheduling of three or four classes a day will allow for less overall contact with different individuals when on campus (protect health) and also reduce the frequency that students need to shift between classes, thus reducing cognitive stress and nightly homework loads (improving wellness). 

The school also will stagger start times in the morning to provide less crush at the doors all at once (protect health) and allowing for slightly more sleep for students (improving wellness). These changes are in alignment with studies on adolescent sleep and should have no impact on after-school athletics or activities. 

Each division will outline more details about those changes in the coming month.

Dining Fee Billing 

As we work to get ready for next year, we continue to work on redesigning the Dining Program to meet new health and scheduling needs.  Without yet knowing how the Program will need to be structured and knowing that it may need to change more than once over the course of the school year, we have made a decision to not bill the Dining Fee as one annual fee on your upcoming tuition and fees invoice.  

Rather, for the 2020-21 school year, we will be billing the Dining Fee monthly, allowing us to set the fee at the end of each month to an amount that reflects what on campus scheduling and program costs were for that month.  Rest assured that the total monthly fees for the 2020-21 school year will not exceed the current annual fee of $1,050. 

Since the Dining Fee will now be a monthly charge, it will be billed through the FACTS monthly incidental billing stream, not as part of your FACTS tuition payment plan. Please remember that you have the option of setting up automatic payments for your monthly incidental billing stream just as you have for your tuition billing, but this set-up is separate and apart from your tuition billing plan. For assistance in setting up automatic payments, please call FACTS at: 866-441-4637.

Best wishes for an enjoyable and healthy summer,

Mike

End-of-Year Update

Hello CA Parents,

I do hope that you and your families are doing well. I joked in a video to the students yesterday that it has felt like 17 years since we moved to virtual instruction. While that was clearly an exaggeration, when looking back at some of the pictures from the beginning of the school year, it certainly feels like a LONG time ago that we were all together. 

I’m writing today with two purposes in mind:

  • To provide a one-stop shop to find some good information about the year just completed. 
  • To share timelines for sharing planning for next year. 

Let me start with the latter.

We continue to make good progress on planning for next school year, even though so much remains uncertain. Next week, I will hold a Town Hall during our regularly scheduled Wednesday, June 3 Leadership Lunch at 12pm. There will be no limit on numbers, and therefore no registration. In addition, we will record the session for folks who are unable to join live. The link to attend will come from Ali Page early next week. During that session, I will unpack some more detail regarding next school year – with a little thought exercise that might prove illuminating.  

On Thursday, June 4, I will write the weekly CA Curious blog that will cover some of the details from the webinar. You can find that in the CA Weekly email. Our next community update is planned for Friday, June 19, after faculty have had a chance to do the first wave of organizational planning. That will go out via a direct email from me. 

For details of our current planning, please see this website. This site can also be accessed through the “hamburger menu” of our caryacademy.org website (far right, yellow box, three lines). And, yes, the hamburger can be meatless if you’d like. 

Where to find some other really good stuff about Cary Academy

I don’t know about you, but the switch to all virtual work as put a huge strain on my email inbox. Information is flowing so fast and furious that it can be hard to keep up. To help you out, I thought I’d share a few key links that might let you catch up on things you missed this spring. 

Our new public-facing website launched this spring, and we’ve relocated our CA Curious blogs. They first appear in the CA Weekly and give insight into the innerworkings of CA. To see how we’ve been using Dialogue to foster community, even at a distance, check out this entry from Danielle Johnson-Webb. If you want to understand how our planning next year is informed by our mission and vision, check out this entry from Heather Clarkson. 

We’ve had to create some new methods to celebrate our seniors this year. You don’t have to be a member of the Class of 2020 to join in the fun. Check out the comprehensive site here, even watch a bit of the live (now recorded) ceremony. The N&O ad, linked on the site, features pictures of all the seniors and all the wonderful colleges they will be attending in the fall. 

In case you missed it or need a reminder that we actually were on campus together this year, here is a link to the virtual ? The Magazine of Cary Academy that was released in April. That issue covered most of the second trimester.

Finally, I’ve been trying to lift the spirits of our students with a few videos attached to my daily emails, some of which you may have seen on our social media. Fair warning, one student deemed my humor “odd:” April Fool’s Day | Insiders’ Tour of CA | Charger Report Vol 1Vol 2Vol 3.

Finally, really this time, a HUGE thanks to those who stepped up in our spring CA Fund drive to support families in financial need and the campus adjustments needed to prepare for next fall. Here is a special thanks, featuring David Snively. 

Best,

A star in the dark

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Planning for 2020-2021

Hello Parents,

I hope you are all doing well on a beautiful Friday afternoon.

As you are aware, the public-health response to Covid-19 continues to evolve rapidly. I’m writing to provide a short video update and a web resource to help you follow our planning for a safe and successful start to next school year.

There is much we do not know at the moment, so our current planning is defined by flexibility and doubling down on what we know we can control – learning from this spring to create the most flexible and responsive teaching and learning framework possible for next year and beyond. Toward that end, our faculty will be shortening their summers by three weeks to collaborate on creating a robust digital core that can anchor anything that comes our way – and yet remains true to our mission and strategic vision. 

As our planning evolves, I will continue to update our families on new developments. We will update this website regularly throughout the summer and continue to hold virtual coffees and lunches to answer questions and keep families informed. 

In partnership,

Mike

May 1 Update

Dear Parents,

As some of you may know, May 1 is traditionally the day where seniors commit to their college of choice. At Cary Academy, it is also a day where we hold a senior picnic to celebrate. With that event being canceled due to the coronavirus, a spectacular subcommittee of the PTAA sprang into action to surprise seniors this morning with a yard sign and a goodie bag slung over the doorknob.

A huge thanks to the following parents: Malissa Larsen (PTAA President), DeAnnah Baker (Grade Level Coordinator), Amy Marshall (Grade Level Coordinator), Bonnie Reed (Grade Level Coordinator), Elaine Courts, Robin Dorfman, Kimberly Eheman, Jenn George, Lisa Kerns, Kimberly Logel, Elisabeth McMahon, Melissa Matton, and Donna Walker.

You can look to some of our social media sites for pictures, but I have included a few below with Ms. Holland and Mrs. Jones – who were invited to help out with delivery this morning.

Sustaining Community

It has been a joy to work alongside such a dedicated group of PTAA parents this year, as we’ve worked to sustain our sense of community while physically distancing. Thank you to all who have joined our virtual coffees, dialogues, and leadership lunches. Attendance has been astounding. Keep an eye out in the CA Weekly for more opportunities to connect. Of course, more out-of-sight for parents has been the community building happening between students and faculty. Advisories, clubs, and affinity groups have been important sources of support and fellowship. In addition, student-run spirit weeks and the Earth Day celebration brought learning and levity into our virtual community. While some events have had to be canceled, it was a joy to see the US talent show launch on YouTube last night.

End-of-Year Celebrations

We are looking to narrow down end-of-year celebrations. This has taken longer than we might have liked, but we have wanted to hold out as long as possible for any opportunities to meet up face-to-face. We are now looking much more closely at the May calendar and will get details out in the next week. Thank you for your flexibility as we seek to balance many different competing wishes and needs.  

Planning for 2020-2021

This morning, in a virtual Town Hall with employees, I shared some information about our planning for next school year. With all that still remains unknown regarding the virus and governmental or health guidance, we are beginning with what we can control. We have started working groups on academics, policy, health and safety, and facilities and campus operations. We believe there a lot of positive takeaways from this term, and that we will be prepared to start the school year strong and ready to meet ongoing challenges. 

To aid our planning, we will be seeking some formal feedback from students and parents in the coming weeks.

School Finances

We entered this crisis from a position of strength, which will allow us to meet financial headwinds. Our just completed admissions season was among the strongest on record and we have not seen any unusual patterns since. 

However, we do recognize that the stay-at-home orders have hurt some of our families — and that impacts are still emerging.  In my last email, I mentioned that we have launched an Emergency Tuition Assistance Program, with consideration deadlines of May 15 and June 15. Parents seeking more information should contact Heather Clarkson, director of admission and financial aid.  

I wish you all a great weekend, I and hope to see some of you (at a safe distance) on the trails tomorrow for our 5K!

Best wishes, 

Dr. Ehrhardt

Useful Resources

CDC Corona Updates

Center for Disease Control & Prevention

Corona Virus Map

Global Cases and Data Map

NCDHHS

NC Division of Public Health

US State Department

Travel Advisories

WCPSS

Wake County Public Schools

WHO

World Health Organization