Campus Guidelines

About this page

The information on this page was first updated for the 2021-2022 school year on July 28, 2021 and subsequently on January 7, 2022. When any pull-down section on the page is updated, we will add a date at the bottom of the page to indicate when that data was last edited. If there is no date, then this data was first published on 7/29/2020.

For health support please contact the school nurse at or 919-228-4562.


Your Responsibilities

Cary Academy expects employees, families, and students to abide by all expectations put forth by in its efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, including not only the current expectations set forth below and on this web site but also additional expectations that may be established by Cary Academy as circumstances change.

You agree not to come or to bring your child to campus if they are feeling ill, have been in contact with anybody who is ill with COVID-19 or under self-quarantine, or are exhibiting any of the symptoms below:

Fever (temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)
Sore throat
Cough (for people with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change in their cough from baseline)
Difficulty breathing (for people with asthma, a change from their baseline breathing)

New loss of taste or smell
Diarrhea or vomiting
New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever


Consider self-identifying to Cary Academy if your child has a health condition that could put your child at higher risk from COVID-19, including by way of example the conditions listed below, so that we can discuss how best to keep your child as safe as possible:

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma,
  • Heart disease with complications,
  • Compromised immune system,
  • Severe obesity (BMI of over 30),
  • Other underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or liver disease.

Follow heightened personal hygiene expectations, including:

  • Washing or sanitizing hands frequently throughout the day,
  • Avoiding touching face, eyes or mouth.

Follow social distancing and community expectations, including:

  • Maintaining appropriate social distance, wherever necessary or possible.
  • Wearing a face covering inside.
  • Avoid sharing personal belongings, water bottles, or food and drink.

Inform the school nurse should you or anyone in your household receive a positive test for COVID-19, so that the school can follow guidance from local health authorities.

Follow NCDHSS protocols (outlined in sections below) for quarantining should you be exposed to COVID-19 or have a confirmed or suspected case.

The above community responsibilities are based upon the most current available guidance, including but not limited to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’s Public Health Toolkit (K-12), and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) for operating schools in the current environment.  As circumstances and/or guidance may change in the future, you understand and agree that these responsibilities will also need to change accordingly in the future.  Thus, another important responsibility will be to abide by all future expectations established by Cary Academy.



Operational Modes

Level Overview




Current School Level: Yellow Mode

We begin the 2021-2022 school year in Yellow Mode, with all students on campus every day. Among other things, we will enforce mask wearing indoors and limit the size of indoor gatherings.  


Healthy Campus Framework

Holistic Wellness

COVID-19 is thought to spread from close contact, person-to-person. The CDC recommends several steps to help prevent the spread of the virus, which have informed Cary Academy’s responses outlined on the these pages.

However, at the core of Cary Academy’s approach to the pandemic is supporting a deeper understanding of health, wellness, and self-care for all members of our community.

These are life skills and mindsets that will serve students well beyond the time of the pandemic and are in alignment with major goals of the school’s current strategic plan.

Our Health and Wellness response team includes Upper School Counselor Twanna Monds (Chair), Middle School Counselor Kelly Wiebe, Nurse Emily McClintock, and Athletic Trainer Eldridge Baltazar. Any of these individuals are available to answer questions and support individuals or families.

Click here to see a supporting document, jointly prepared by counselors at Cary Academy, Durham Academy, and Ravenscroft for 2020-2021 on how you can help your child navigate these stressful times.




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, and a booster if they are eligible.


To help facilitate this process, the school will host vaccine clinics at various times when new treatments or boosters are made available. 


Expected On-Campus Behaviors

Personal Hygiene

Students, employees and visitors should wash/sanitize hands when leaving home in the morning or right upon entering campus. They should continue to wash or sanitize hands regularly throughout the day, with the most common routine being between classes and before/after lunch. Proper hand washing is essential. 

Healthy hygiene includes sneezing or coughing into your elbow and avoiding touching your face, eyes, or mouth. 

Social Hygiene 

Everybody on campus inside will be expected to wear a face covering over your mouth and nose at all times, unless drinking or eating. It is expected that individuals change and/or clean their face covering daily. Proper wear and care for your mask is important. Masks with “exhalation valves” are not allowed (often used for exercise in polluted climates), as they do not protect others from you. With the introduction of the more transmissible Omicron strain, we strongly recommend KN95 or KF94 masks. All coverings must comply with the school’s dress code: neat, clean, modest. The school will provide face coverings for students who do not have their own.

Due to the holiday Omicron surge, from January 10 through January 28, the school is reintroducing a mandatory outdoor mask mandate. 

Everybody should practice appropriate physical distancing, being aware of the proximity and spreading of germs. 

Don’t share personal belongings.


Campus Environment


Touchless bathroom fixtures have been installed in most areas around campus.

Sanitizing stations will be placed in visible locations throughout the campus.


The campus is cleaned thoroughly each night by our partner The Budd Group. High-touch areas, such as doorknobs and bathrooms, are cleaned regularly throughout the day.

Air Quality

Working with our vendor Brady, we have installed upgrades to the HVAC system to use air filters with MERV 13 or 14 ratings. The Admin building (library and cafe) has an additional needlepoint bipolar ionization system for added filtration. The CMS building has an added UV-light filter that covers air handlers in the science wing and makerspace. In addition, Brady has increased outside air intake in our systems to provide more fresh air circulation in the buildings.

While cleaning and air flow are important, the most critical element in mitigation strategies are masks and regularly washing or disinfecting hands. 



Off-Campus Behaviors

Due to the nature of the pandemic, we trust that all employees and students will continue with healthy and safe behaviors when they are off campus. Such behaviors will help keep us all safe. 




Daily Heath Check -- STAY HOME when ill

To help keep members of our community healthy, we expect that individuals will monitor their health daily.

Due to the higher transmission rates of the Omicron variant and its ability to present like a lesser illness, it is essential that individuals stay home if they don’t feel well. This includes cold-like symptoms such as sore throat, cough, headache, tummy ache, or excess fatigue. 


Testing and Weekly COVID Updates

The school hosts a weekly testing clinic on campus, Tuesdays when classes are in session, from 2:30pm to 4:30pm in the Dining Hall. At other times of virus surges, we may expand testing opportunities. 

Individuals who exhibit signs of Covid-19 through their self-check or at any time should contact their primary care provider. Testing agencies will report results directly to the NCDHHS.

All students and employees are expected to report a positive COVID-19 test to the school nurse.



Individuals (symptoms, exposed, diagnosed)

The school will work in partnership with local public health authorities in responding to cases or exposure to COVID-19 within the community.

Individual expectations for individuals with confirmed or suspected cases have continued to evolve, and these guidelines reflect data from NCDHSS as of December 30, 2021. It is critical to contact our school nurse to report confirmed cases and to work with her on next steps.

If an individual has a confirmed case of COVID-19, they will be required to isolate. Here is a shorthand of key expectations for individuals.

A person with a positive PCR test who has been symptom free can return to school 5 days after their test collection date.

A person with a positive PCR test who has had symptoms can return after 5 days from their first symptoms once they have been fever free for 24 hours and other COVID-symptoms are improving. 

Rules have changed regarding exposure. From the Safe Schools Toolkit:

 “NCDHHS does not recommend quarantine of students following exposures in school settings if masks were being worn appropriately and consistently by both the person with COVID-19 and the potential exposed person.”

This new guideline applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

  • For exposures outside where people might not be wearing a mask (think lunch and athletics): 
    • Unvaccinated students in close contact must quarantine for 5 days and should test on day 5 if possible. 
    • Fully vaccinated students (including booster, if eligible) don’t need to quarantine unless they are showing symptoms. 

Please consult with nurse for details that are more specific to your individual circumstance. 

Contact tracing and notification

Cary Academy will work with local health professionals on contact tracing, as necessary.

While testing agencies will report positive tests directly to the NCDHHS, individuals with general questions can call the COVID information line at 919-856-7044. 


Secondary exposure/risk within families

If family members have been exposed to somebody with COVID-19 in the home, they should follow quarantine measures outlined by NCDHHS. This will be different than school, as family members are not wearing masks at home. 

  • COVID positive people (ie the student or family member) should isolate for 5 days from a positive test or onset of symptoms regardless of vaccination status.


  • Unvaccinated students must quarantine for 5 days and be tested if they have been exposed by a positive family member living in their home.


  • Fully vaccinated individuals (students or employees) don’t need to quarantine after home exposure, unless they are showing symptoms. However, fully vaccinated individuals who are showing no symptoms but have a known exposure should get a PCR test 3-5 days after exposure. 

The expectations can get confusing, so please consult with the school nurse for more details about your individual circumstances.  


Community response protocols

The school will work with local health authorities on specific responses to local cases. These could vary, depending on the individual(s) and circumstances of the case(s).


Other Expectations

Calendar and Schedules

Families can access the 2021-2022 school calendar here

Division Schedules 

Last school year, the divisions adjusted daily schedules to minimize the number of transitions in the day and to reduce the stress of having to switch between a large number of subjects daily. As such, students have between three or four academic class periods per day, with rotations of advisory and activity periods. This follows and A/B Day pattern. To fill out a five day week, we have a combination of modes to allow for different types of academic schedules and more robust club and activities scheduling. These are categorized as X Days or C Days.

Start and Dismissal Times 

The school also staggers 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 national studies on adolescent sleep and should have no impact on after-school athletics or activities. 

  • The Middle School day runs from 8:45am to 3:15pm. 
  • The Upper School day runs from 9:15am to 3:30pm.
  • Students will, with limited exceptions such as inclement weather, eat outside. There are sanitizing stations located throughout campus.
  • The Dining Hall has opened up several serving lines to speed access and allow students more time to eat.
  • Signage will direct flow to keep social distancing.  There will be no two-way traffic through the Dining Hall; students will enter from one door and leave through another door.
  • The dining menu can be found here or can be accessed through the SAGE app. Instructions on how to download the app are in Blackbaud. The menu contains access to allergen and ingredient information.


Athletic Spaces and Fitness Room

The Fitness Room and other athletic spaces may be open, with limited availability. Timelines will be observed, and if necessary a sign-up schedule will be implemented. Social distancing and cleaning protocols must be observed by all individuals using the space. 


Parents and Volunteers

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. 

All visitors will be expected to follow the school’s face covering expectations.


Vendors are expected to follow the school’s face covering expectations. 

Guiding Resources

Key Health Guidance

These may update frequently.