Roadmap to Reopening:
When public health guidelines deem it safe to do so, Ojai Valley School intends to open with in-person classes, five days a week. We believe being together is in the best interest of our students and, as a small school, can be accomplished by reducing class sizes, tightening health protocols, moving to outdoor classrooms, and other safety measures.
For details on our safety measures and plans, read our Roadmap to Reopening.
Message from Friday, July 31, 2020
We want to give you a quick update on our progress. We are five weeks out from the opening of school and continuing to work through the steps needed to open for in-person classes. We will open the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes with in-person instruction as a child care center and we are pursuing a waiver from our public health agency to open at least the elementary division. At the same time, we are enhancing our online learning in anticipation that we must open remotely, at least initially.
At the Lower Campus, staff members have been working on enhanced schedules that include core class instructional time and our full offering of co-curricular classes, including drama, outdoor education, PE, art, Spanish and computers. Our stables on both campuses will open as riding centers to allow for in-person equestrian classes.
At the Upper Campus, academic schedules will remain similar to last year. Fall sports have been delayed, but preparation for competitive team sports, including cross county, soccer, baseball, volleyball and others, will continue. Co-curricular activities, including outdoor education, will be offered and a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion will be incorporated into the program.
At the same time, we took your feedback from last year to heart. On both campuses this summer we have updated our tools, increased our training and planned an experience that will allow the students increased independence and success at distance learning.
Overall, we know that our ability to resume in-person learning rests on two key factors: reducing the coronavirus infection rate in Ventura County and keeping those numbers low to prevent future closures.
Both of these factors hinge on changes in our routines and habits, and we all need to work together to succeed in this goal. Our Roadmap to Reopening begins with a statement about shared values and responsibility. In a nutshell, it comes down to the idea that for us to ensure everyone’s health and safety we must all agree to follow the rules: Wear masks. Wash hands. Limit interactions with people outside your family or cohort group.
It will take all of us working together, supporting each other, and taking the actions necessary to keep ourselves and our whole community safe to reopen and get our students back on campus to learn together as soon as possible.
We know first hand the challenges of keeping the virus contained. Last week two individuals tested positive for COVID-19 during summer camp, however we can confirm it was not contracted at camp. We made the initial decision to suspend camp activities and today we made the hard, but right, decision to close camp for the final week. Our teachers and campers did an excellent job following rules for health and safety, and the health department confirmed that our protocols greatly reduced the potential for exposure.
Camp taught us three lessons: We must take the virus seriously. We must follow health protocols. We must give children experiences like summer camp. We enjoyed four weeks of seeing campers learn, explore, swim, ride horses, build robots, and play in the outdoors. We believe that schools, like ours, can reopen for in-person instruction in a manner that is safe for staff and students, and we remain committed to that goal.
Message from FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2020:
We have come to the end of a truly unprecedented school year, not just in our OVS history but our world history. Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced more than one billion students out of school. We have been fortunate. Thanks to a resilient and dedicated faculty, we were able to keep teaching and our students were able to keep learning, albeit online and without the personal connections that make the OVS experience so great.
But first we have the important task of recognizing our students during our traditional events and ceremonies. We are committed to continuing all the important year-end rituals, from the hike to White Rocks to our 12th grade commencement, even if we have to take these events online to maintain the social distancing and health protocols of our current times. We’ve enclosed a quick look at the calendar below:
Important upcoming dates:
- Lower Campus Pre-Kindergarten through 7th grade promotion ceremony:
Wednesday, May 27 (The link to this recorded event will be available at 5 p.m.)
- 8th grade live stream graduation ceremony:
Thursday, May 28 Click here to watch this live-streamed event at 5 p.m.
- Upper Campus live stream awards ceremony:
Thursday, May 28 (link to this recorded event will be available at 7 p.m.)
- Upper Campus live stream high school graduation:
Friday, May 29 Click here to watch this live-streamed event at 7 p.m.
As we close the school year, we would like to thank the Classes of 2020. Our 8th graders and 12th graders will hear much more from us next week, but we truly cannot say enough about their strength of character during this crisis. These students embraced the school philosophy of balance and symmetry in a way we never could have imagined, and we know their positive legacy will always be remembered.
Craig Floyd, Head of School Upper Campus
Gary Gartrell, Head of School, Lower Campus
Click the links below to read more of our communications, from the time we suspended in-person classes to present:
Notes from OVS, 5.22.20
Notes from OVS, 5.15.20
Notes from OVS, 5.8.20
Notes from OVS, 5.1.20
Notes from OVS, 4.17.20
Notes from OVS, 4.3.20
Notes from OVS, 3.31.20
Notes from OVS, 3.27.20
Notes from OVS, 3.20.20
Notes from OVS, 3.16.20
Message from FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2020:
An Update on Our Future Plans
Dear Ojai Valley School Families,
Normally at this time of year, we would be gearing up for the various promotions and graduation ceremonies that bring us together to celebrate the academic achievements of our students. Unfortunately, we will not be able to gather in person this spring – but we have much to celebrate. I have never been prouder of our OVS family. Our faculty, staff, parents and students have gone above and beyond to adjust to distance learning and working remotely from home. We recognize that this transition has not been easy, and we appreciate your steadfast commitment to academic excellence even in the face of far-reaching disruption. Because of you, we will end this unprecedented year with strength, grace, and an even more resilient community.
Looking ahead, we are developing plans for the coming 2020-21 academic year. We acknowledge that the situation is dynamic and evolving. There is still much planning ahead and our highest priority remains the health and safety of our students and community while providing the best-possible educational experience consistent with our mission and values.
At the moment, here is a look at what we have planned:
Looking Ahead: Fall 2020 Semester
We intend to welcome day and resident students back to campus and conduct in-person classes starting in August unless public health requirements dictate otherwise. Classes will begin on August 31 at Upper Campus and on September 1 at Lower Campus. In doing so, we are committed to following the best practices and local, state, and federal guidelines for protecting the health and safety of our community.
We are fortunate. Ojai Valley School has consistently maintained small class sizes and provided a personalized learning experience. This will continue. We have open campuses with ample outdoor spaces, and we will utilize even more outdoor classrooms in the year ahead. We are developing other modifications to the learning environment that adhere to social distancing guidelines. This may include increasing the space between desks, and staggered arrival and/or dismissal times. We will also have a stepped-up plan to clean and sanitize all areas.
For the past several weeks, we have convened a working group comprised of our academic, food services and health administrators to develop strategies for providing an outstanding in-person learning experience in the fall. As part of its work, the group will continue to explore modifications to class sizes and schedules, enhancing the use of technology in instruction, and methods for protecting the more vulnerable members of our faculty and community by allowing them to work remotely. Our summer will revolve around creative ways to bring these new plans to fruition.
The group is also planning for scenarios in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence that could restrict in-person instruction. Some instruction for a portion of the 2020-21 academic year may be delivered via remote and/or online instruction as conditions dictate. We will be communicating regularly as the details of our plans emerge.
Fall Housing and Resident Life
We currently anticipate opening the dorms for occupancy in the fall, provided it is safe to do so. We are preparing for a modified program that includes social distancing and contingencies in the event of a virus resurgence. This will likely mean less dense housing configurations and modifications to our dining halls and food services.
We are also looking at ways to provide comfortable accommodations for international and domestic resident students coming from areas with ongoing transmission of the virus so they can self-isolate for 14 days prior to the start of school. We will also provide health screenings for all day and resident students returning to campus, and are evaluating protocols for visitors to minimize the potential of transmission.
Thank you for Your Support
It is impossible to predict what the coming months, let alone year, will be like. We are preparing for a number of scenarios. What you can be assured of is that whether we are able to hold classes on campus or have to provide classes virtually, our focus will be on providing high-quality education for all of our students. With the support of many alumni, current families and past families who are generously contributing to our OVS Annual Fund/COVID Relief effort we will ensure that each student’s experience is a positive one.
We appreciate your understanding, patience, and flexibility during these challenging times. We anticipate there will be bumps in the road. We will need to be nimble and adaptive, and support each other as best we can.
Michael J. Hall-Mounsey
Message from MONDAY, MAY 4, 2020:
Please enjoy this Virtual Hug from OVS.
2020 Virtual Hug from OVS
We know how to persevere — on the trail, on the stage, in the classroom, and now, online. Thank you students, parents, and teachers, for your hard work and perseverance. We can’t wait to be back together.
Also, click the links below to read our communications from the time we suspended in-person classes on March 13 to present:
Notes from OVS, 5.8.20
Notes from OVS, 5.1.20
Notes from OVS, 4.17.20
Notes from OVS, 4.3.20
Notes from OVS, 3.31.20
Notes from OVS, 3.27.20
Notes from OVS, 3.20.20
Notes from OVS, 3.16.20
Message from TUESDAY, April 21, 2020:
Dr. Everest Mueller, PhD. has partnered with OVS to provide a series of mindfulness videos to provide strategies for managing stress and anxiety. Everest is an accomplished educator who lives in Ojai and has led mindfulness workshops with our faculty. Check out the series of mindfulness videos on the Spud Support page.
Message from FRIDAY, April 3, 2020
It’s SPRING BREAK!!
We have curated a list of healthy, engaging, and creative spring break activities for students and families. These activities are all optional, but we hope you enjoy them. Please share your experience with us through photos and videos of your family having fun participating. Click the categories below to browse the list of fun activities.
Message from FRIDAY, March 27, 2020
“This too shall pass.” It is a old adage that feels newly relevant as we conclude Week Two of remote learning, and, frankly, yearn for the return to normalcy. Like you, we are eager to hear laughter on campus again, to being away from our screens, and to engaging in the type of personal connections and collaborations that distinguish OVS from other schools. The reality is, for this unfortunate moment in time, we are making the best of a tough situation and doing it as well as we can thanks to the tremendous effort of our teachers, students and parents…
READ MORE in this week’s Notes From OVS.
Support Our Local Business!
Social distancing rules are hitting local businesses hard. But many have adapted by offering take-out and delivery options. We’ve compiled a list of restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, and markets as a helpful resource. Please join us in supporting our local businesses during the stay-home order for Ventura County!
Today, Ojai Valley School students began remote learning after in-person classes were suspended for three weeks to help prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Going forward, classes will meet each morning and students will be given assignments to complete during their afternoon study time. Teachers will be available during office hours and by email.
Here are this week’s academic schedules by division:
The academic schedules leave time in the afternoons for exercise and other activities. For working parents, or those now staying at home in response to calls for social distancing, we recognize that filling the afternoon hours, especially for younger children, may be challenging.
Here are a few suggestions for ways to keep your students engaged and entertained, as well as resources for how to manage stress and anxiety amid the coronavirus outbreak:
Build in Reading Time
There’s no such thing as too much reading. Being home, especially on a rainy day, is a great opportunity to dive into a good book or podcast. Book publishers Scholastic and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are providing free resources to parents. The Ventura County Library also has resources available.
Take a Virtual Field Trip
Modern technology has made it possible to visit some of the world’s most famous museums, from the Louvre in Paris to The Met in NYC, with the click of a computer mouse. We found a fun website that provides links to 12 museums that offer virtual tours.
Games Without Screens
Remember crossword puzzles? Sudoku? Scrabble? Banana grams? There are numerous math puzzles and word games that are both entertaining and educational. Jigsaw puzzles are also a great hands-on activity that students of all ages can enjoy.
Encourage Creativity and Hands-on Projects
Drawing, painting, building with Legos, creating videos, singing or playing music are all excellent ways to engage students. Find some rocks, or recycled materials,and let your kids paint them. Check out The Kennedy Center web page for lunch doodles with Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems. In the coming days, we will be sending out challenges for Lego-building and other fun projects that can be shared with the school community.
Outdoor time benefits everyone. Try to build in time each day to get outside with your students for a walk, bike ride, or short hike. Breathing fresh air and appreciating the natural environment around us is not just a good way to burn off steam after hours indoors, it can help reduce stress and anxiety. The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy provides educational resources, such as field guides of local wildflowers, as well as a trail finder map.
Manage Stress and Anxiety
The increasing spread of COVID-19 is causing understandable concern for adults. We want to minimize, to the extent possible, any anxiety or stress it may be creating for our students. There are many resources out there. Here are two we recommend from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of School Psychologists.
We will continue to update this list in the days ahead and provide additional links. Of course, even with the best-planned schedule and established routine, there may be days you won’t have the energy to rally your troops for a post-school activity. It’s OK to let them play video games or watch Frozen II on a loop. We won’t judge you. We are all in this together.
Message from MONDAY, March 16, 2020
Dear OVS families,
Tomorrow we will launch a new phase of learning at Ojai Valley School as we move to online classes amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Our teachers have been working hard, particularly today during in-service training on both campuses to prepare for this transition. We know it may not be seamless, and we ask for your patience and feedback as we initiate our remote learning plans.
These are unprecedented times and no one can predict what lies ahead. But we have the benefit of being a resilient and close-knit community, one with a proven track record of overcoming adversity. We are all learning to adapt to change and that is a good lesson for our students. Our philosophy is to develop the academic strength, the character, and the self-confidence to meet life’s challenges in an ever-changing world, and that could not be more true than it is today.
The responsibilities of running our school are ongoing. We will not stop planning for our future, even as we work from a distance. Our main offices remain open, and we will continue to share news and updates by email and through our website at www.ovs.org/covid-19-advisory.
In the flurry of communications last week, you may have missed some outstanding campus news stories about how our college alumni are faring during the COVID-19 crisis, how our students and faculty rallied to support a 7th grader’s campaign to support medical research for pediatric cancer, and how our middle school students re-enacted an epic battle with cardboard and duct tape. We’ve included links to these stories below and will share more in the days and weeks ahead. For now, take care and let us know if there is anything we can do to support you.
Ojai Valley School
Message from FRIDAY, March 13:
Dear OVS Students, Families and Faculty,
Since our COVID-19 Announcement yesterday, the current threat of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) has increased and the Ventura County Department of Public Health has now declared a local state of emergency.
Given the fact that community spread of the COVID-19 is occurring in our neighboring communities, we are making the decision to suspend in-person classes, effective at the end of the academic day, and move to online learning for the next three weeks. Our plan is to resume in-person classes after Spring Break.
On Monday, there will be no classes while our teachers participate in in-service training. We will initiate our remote learning plan on Tuesday, March 17. The Heads of School will send additional information later today about specific school schedules and distance learning plans.
I want to emphasize that we do not currently have a known COVID-19 case at Ojai Valley School, or in the Ojai Valley. However, given the increasing spread regionally, and the heightened concern globally, we are making this decision to prioritize the health and well-being of our students, employees, and families. We have the opportunity now to prevent the spread of this virus, and that is why we are taking this action.
We know that a small number of resident students will need to remain on campus as they are unable to return home immediately due to a variety of travel restrictions already in place. We are staffed and ready to support the needs of those students in our dormitories for as long as necessary. However, if you are able, please try to make arrangements for your resident student to come home as soon as possible. If you live locally and are able to home-stay a student, please contact us.
Moving forward, we are restricting all non-essential visitor access to our two campuses and we are requesting that students, employees, and families avoid large public gatherings and practice social distancing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has been clear: The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
We will complete a deep cleaning of our two campuses during this time, and will be in frequent communication in the coming days and weeks. We will continue to post updates to this page.
This is a necessary change in plans for all of us, and we appreciate your flexibility and support during this challenging time.
Ojai Valley School
The following specific steps are being taken to reduce the chances of exposure to the COVID-19 virus:
EVENTS, ATHLETICS & OUTDOOR EDUCATION
Ojai Valley School has postponed Family Weekend at Lower Campus, including the middle school play and Grandparent Day. Prom and High Tea will also be rescheduled. Field trips, outdoor trips, and sports contests on the March calendar will be postponed, and we hope to resume after Spring Break.
Starting on Tuesday, March 17, Ojai Valley School will move to alternative learning methods, including online classes. Faculty have been preparing for this and exploring creative options. Teachers will meet on Monday, March 16, for in-service training and there will be no in-person or online classes that day. We will provide more detailed information on the remote learning plan by academic division as instructional tools will differ for high school, middle school, elementary and primary students. For now, we encourage day parents to prepare for this transition. Consider whether your student(s) have adequate and reliable access to the internet, computers, and other resources to continue their studies effectively in an online environment.
Ojai Valley School is restricting all non-essential visitors to our two campuses. We ask parents and employees to not bring guests to campus at this time. Please contact the Admission Office at (805) 646-1423 for information about future visits, virtual tours, and online interviews.
We will not be offering day bus service while distance learning takes place. We expect Day Bus service to resume on Monday, April 16.
The Lower Campus Spring Break trip to Italy has been canceled. Any students or employees traveling to countries for which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued specific travel warnings will not be permitted to return after Spring Break until they have been isolated off-campus for a minimum of two weeks following their arrival in the United States. Students and families must engage in this period of self-quarantine away from our two campuses. Families are encouraged to regularly check the CDC website for up-to-date travel advisories: cdc.gov/travel/notices. Students or employees traveling domestically to areas within the U.S. known to have confirmed COVID-19 cases may need to self-quarantine for a minimum of two weeks for the protection of the school community.
Campus dormitories remain open for resident students in grades 5-12 who cannot go home due to travel restrictions. We ask that resident students with family members in the region try to make accommodations now to care for students during the upcoming break. Please contact our offices by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (805) 646-1423 for more information.
The OVS Health Center remains open and is a resource for students and families. Our nurses are collaborating with Ventura County Public Health, as well as neighboring schools and local healthcare providers to monitor and to prevent the spread of illness. More COVID-19 information is available on Ventura County’s website: ventura.org/covid19/
OVS employees will implement social distancing protocols. While some employees will work from home, offices will remain open and fully functioning. On both campuses, maintenance and housekeeping staff are increasing cleaning of classrooms, dorms, and offices to to minimize exposure and transmission of germs.
Updated on March 17 at 5:20 p.m. Please check back to this web page for more updates.