Health and Wellbeing

Welcome to Cary Academy’s COVID planning pages

Here you will find a variety of information regarding campus plans for the 2021-2022 school year. Please understand that in this fluid situation, and information can change rapidly. The Campus Guidelines page contains details about campus operations and specific expectations for the CA community in 2021-2022. You can also find information about COVID testing results in 2019-2020 on the testing page.

Designing for Safety (and Excellence)

Driven by Mission and Strategic Vision

As always, our school mission and current strategic vision remain front and center,  a driving force in shaping Cary Academy’s response to the pandemic. While this period is undoubtedly challenging, it also presents unique opportunities to respond with different learning modalities and approaches that support and advance our larger vision.

A learning community committed to discovery, innovation, collaboration, and excellence

Strategic Vision
Cary Academy will create personalized learning opportunities that are flexible and relevant in an environment that supports student wellbeing.  We will cultivate self-directed and bold life-long learners who make meaningful contributions to the world.

Key Understandings

In planning for the next school year, we are operating under the following assumptions:

  • we are going through a monumentally stressful and disruptive time in history, and we should not expect to flip a switch back to “normal;”
  • there will be heightened attention to matters of wellness and public health which will impact our students, their families and the format which learning  needs to occur;
  • various formal and informal forms of social distancing will continue; and
  • coronavirus waves are predicted to cause future short-term, place-specific stay-at-home orders for the foreseeable future.

Planning for 2021-2022

Health Framework


  • Education about the virus and how to stay healthy
  • Program adjustments to maximize inividual and community wellness
  • Physical and social adjustments to minimize risk of exposure


  • Monitoring regional and local outbreaks to understand community risk
  • Ensuring individuals coming to campus are of low risk of spreading illness
  • Tracking individual cases and trending illnesses within our community


  • Communicating with local health authorities and internal community
  • Adjusting operational modes
  • Implementing cleaning and disinfecting protocols
Four Operating Modes

We will open in YELLOW mode in August 2021.

Mode-Switch Matrix

Cary Academy will follow orders and specific operating instructions given by the governor or other local authorities with appropriate jurisdiction over the School.

In the absence of a governmental order, we will consider the following in confirming it prudent to move between modes:

  • Announcements made by Governor Cooper regarding the state’s general status and progress on reopening plans.
  • Data regarding our ability to provide safe on-campus environment for students and faculty – informed by our own on-campus experiences, those from other area schools that have reopened, or a significant new study about virus transmission.
Welcome email from Dr. Ehrhardt (7/28/21)

July 28, 2021

Dear Parents and Students,

Today marks two weeks before we welcome students back on campus for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Yes … you read that right. BACK ON CAMPUS. Five days a week! 

We had hoped by the time we got to this point, I would be able to share hard-and-fast COVID protocols. The Delta variant has upended those plans, but even as the situation remains a bit fluid, we can share what we know – which is still quite a bit. Hopefully, this helps with the last bit of planning for everybody before August 11 – 8:45 am start for the MS and 9:15 am start for the US.

Opening Health Protocols

We were fortunate to have finished last year with students on campus four days a week in what we called Yellow Mode. This gave us a good run-through on movement and spacing with all our Chargers on campus, and the confidence that we can open school safely for full-time, on-campus instruction. Our protocols below are informed by CDC guidelines and the NC Public Health Toolkit, both of which are still shifting and not always aligned. We expect an update from the Governor regarding North Carolina protocols tomorrow and probably at least one more update to the Public Health Toolkit before school starts – but we feel pretty confident that the protocols below will be our operating norms as we start the year. 

By far, the most powerful tool in combating COVID-19 and getting back to “normal” is vaccination. We strongly encourage all members of our community who are eligible to get vaccinated. We held two successful vaccine clinics in the spring. When vaccines are approved for our under-12 Chargers, we will host another. We are capturing vaccine status through our Magnus health system, which will give us some good data for when we prepare to relax some protocols in the future.

After vaccines, we have a number of other tools that we can deploy to help mitigate risk. These include:

  • When not eating or drinking, masks will be required indoors and on school transportation for everybody, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will be optional outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. 
  • Our cleaning protocols and air-handling enhancements continue from last year. 
  • We will use similar classroom layouts as last spring when we brought everybody back on campus. Distancing in classrooms will be most important for our unvaccinated students in Middle School. 
  • Lunch will continue to be outside.  
  • Employees, students, and visitors are expected to self-monitor health and not come to school when sick; we will not be requiring daily health checks or forms. We still expect that any COVID positive cases will be reported to our school nurse, but quarantining rules will change from last year. We expect this information to be updated by the state in the coming days, and we will update our information on the Campus Guidelines section of the CA United website accordingly.
  • Visitors will be welcome on campus, but meetings should be coordinated through divisions. If a meeting with guests from outside can be done virtually, this is still preferred. 

We make reference to the pandemic and your agreement to follow our operating protocols in our MS and US Student and Parent Handbooks. However, because of the changing nature of the disease and our responses, we will communicate those protocols via email and through updates to our CA United Website.

COVID Testing Opportunities

Continuing our partnership with Andor Labs, we will run two COVID PCR testing clinics on campus next week – Wednesday (8/4) and Friday (8/6) from 2pm to 4pm in the Dining Hall. These are great opportunities for student athletes and our incoming 6th graders to test if they wish. Individuals who have not tested with Andor previously should bring insurance cards.

Further Communication

You can expect further communication regarding other start-of-school details from division heads in the coming week. MS families should look specifically for information regarding parking and drop-off and pick-up procedures, as we continue to refine this process with our new staggered start and end times. 

As has become a pandemic-norm … thank you for your patience and goodwill as we navigate this crisis. Please feel free to write to me directly with questions; I will endeavor to answer or get you in touch with the right person. 

Despite the circumstances, we are optimistic that this will be a truly outstanding year. 

Dr. Ehrhardt

Financial Considerations and Support

Dining for 2021-2022

We anticipate returning to a full dining program for 2021-2022, although we will still adjust eating routines to maximize distancing. This could include staggered lunch times and eating outside. 

School Finances

Thankfully, we entered this crisis from a strong financial position. Cary Academy carries no debt and remains fully enrolled with wait lists for each grade. As part of our strategic planning process in 2015, we developed several long-range financial planning models that give us the necessary flexibility to respond to and weather our current situation.

However, like most businesses, the school has experienced a number of unanticipated financial impacts resulting from Covid-19, especially as it relates to a sharp drop in ancillary (non-tuition) income that directly supports the academic program and general operational expenses.