Campus Guidelines

About this page

The information on this page was published for the 2020-2021 school year on July 29, 2020 and last updated on April 1, 2021 to reflect the school’s pending change to Yellow Mode. 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 published on 7/29/2020.

The CA: United Compact


Responsibilities for public health are shared by all. Our Compact means that we care enough about each other to comply with new behavioral expectations. They are direct extensions of our core values of respect, integrity, and compassion.  

The goal of the Compact is to create an environment to maximize safety and comfort while working and learning in-person during a pandemic. Personal responsibility and care for all is crucial to establishing the trust necessary to come together. 

These expectations have been designed, and will be regularly reviewed and updated, using the best available guidance from medical, public health, and educational experts.   

Students and parents/guardians will agree to these expectations by August 10, 2020 — and before students are allowed on campus. The Compact is available to review and sign in the Blackbaud portal. 


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.

Complete a daily health check and 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 over 100.4,
  • chills,
  • sore throat not related to another medical condition (e., allergies),
  • new or worsening cough not related to another medical condition,
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing not related to another medical condition,
  • new onset of vomiting or diarrhea not related to another medical condition,
  • recent loss of taste or smell,
  • congestion or runny nose not related to another medical condition,
  • fatigue, muscle or body aches,
  • a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes.

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 of 6-feet, wherever possible,
  • Wearing a face covering on school grounds, unless exercising, eating/drinking distanced, or in a private office space alone. 
  • Not sharing personal belongings, water bottles, or food and drink.

Follow campus access expectations, including:

  • Abiding by all communicated and posted movement and gathering limits,
  • Entering and exiting buildings only through designated points,
  • Limiting your on-campus presence to what is absolutely necessary for educational and business purposes,
  • Following rules established for transporting students to and from school.

Agree that your child will be subject to random temperature checks during the school day and to being sent home should your child test above 100.4, triggering COVID-health protocols outlined in #8 below.

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, communicate as necessary while also respecting your privacy, and so that the school can implement additional cleaning protocols.

Follow NCDHSS protocols for quarantining should you be exposed to COVID-19 or have a confirmed or suspected case (specific symptoms listed below):

  • If exposed but no symptoms, stay home 14 days since exposure. Exposure means being within six feet of someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more.
  • If confirmed positive but no symptoms, stay home 10 days since test.
  • If confirmed or diagnosed positive with symptoms or have one of the following symptoms with no test (fever, chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new cough, new loss of smell), stay home for 10 days since first symptoms and at least 24 hours with symptom improvement (such as cough and shortness of breath) and no fever (without medication).
  • If, after showing symptoms, you subsequently test negative for COVID-19, you can return to school after you feel well and have been fever-free for 24 hours.
  • If, after showing symptoms, you subsequently receive a doctor’s diagnosis of another ailment (stomach virus, ear infection), you can return to school after you feel well and have been fever-free for 24 hours (without medication). You may be expected to share that diagnosis with the school.

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.



Learning Flexibility

While the school is following NCDHHS and CDC guidelines in developing operational plans, 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 have been put in place to afford greater flexibility in delivery to 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. However, the school cannot guarantee that these experiences will be identical to those learning on-campus. 



Operational Modes

Level Overview



Our operating levels have been adjusted from the framework published in May 2020 to align better with frameworks shared in the media for statewide public schools (A, B, C).

Recognizing the need for more flexibility, we have added a Mixed Mode between Orange and Red that would allow for some campus activity and student interaction, short of a full campus shutdown that we went through in the spring. 

A key advantage of the Mixed Mode will be access to campus for smaller, targeted activities on flex days as well as opportunities for students to individually work with faculty or do limited on-campus projects (ie labs). 

Current School Level: Yellow Mode

The school year began in Mixed Mode. We transitioned to Orange Mode on September 29. The transition to Yellow Mode will take place starting April 5 with 6th and 9th-grade students; the rest of the student body will transition to Yellow Mode starting April 12.

The biggest change in the school’s spring 2021 transition to Yellow Mode will be the end of Blue and Gold cohorts. This will return students to campus four days a week. Flex Days (most often Wednesdays) will remain in place. Larger group gatherings will also remain restricted. Mask wearing and other preventative measures will remain.

In Yellow Mode, faculty will provide virtual learning opportunities for students who have declared as fully virtual. Students who may need to miss school for other reasons will be afforded traditional make-up opportunities for their work but not necessarily the option to participate in class virtually.

Plans for end-of-year celebrations will evolve through the spring as new information becomes available.


Moving Between Levels

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.
  • Wake County COVID-19 metrics, aggregated by ActNow.

Two other useful sources for data include: Harvard Global Health Institute and NCDHHS.

In Yellow Mode, we will be most closely monitoring cases within our community, as self-reported or determined through our weekly spring on-campus COVID testing. Should we have a spike in local cases, we may need to adjust back to Orange Mode.


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 Hawhee, 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 on how you can help your child navigate these stressful times.


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 will be expected to wear a face covering at all times, unless exercising 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. 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.

Everybody should practice appropriate physical distancing, which is understood to be six-feet apart from another person. This will not always be possible during times of movement. In those cases, individuals should be mindful of their surroundings and seek to move as efficiently as possible from point A to B, always wearing a face mask.

Don’t share personal belongings.

Environmental Wellness

In order to minimize crowding, some hallways or staircases may be designated one-way. It is expected that students respect all signage regarding movement around campus.

It is expected that students support keeping the campus clean, and this could involve wiping down classroom surfaces or equipment before or after class. 

Campus Environment


Touchless bathroom fixtures have been or are in the process of being installed throughout the campus.

Hand washing stations have been installed in the entryway of the MS and US buildings.

Sanitizing stations will be placed in visible locations throughout the campus, and students will all be given individual hand-sanitizer bottles that can be clipped to backpacks and be refilled.


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.

In addition to our regular cleaning routines, we have implemented two enhanced measures for added protection. Cleaning crews will use electrostatic sprayers to disinfect classrooms and common areas nightly. The school will also be spraying all classroom surfaces with Pro-Techs Antimicrobial Shield, which creates a protective barrier to that can last up to six months. This protection, coupled with nightly wipe downs and disinfecting, will reduce the need to clean room surfaces between each class. However, classroom cleaning materials will be available as desired or needed.

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, distancing, 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. 

Families who carpool should also be expected that they may need to quarantine should one of the carpool members or family members be diagnosed with COVID-19. They should be prepared to share carpool information should they be in touch with a contact tracer. 




Daily Health Self-Check


All students and employees will be expected to complete a daily health self-check before coming to campus. 

Beginning on April 12, due to changes in CDC guidelines and the volume of morning traffic, we will no longer verify these daily health checks before allowing students on campus. We do, however, still require all members of the community to complete these daily health checks before arriving to campus. MS parents will be asked to confirm they have done this via an app deployed by Magnus. US students will be expected to do their own self-check, but they will not be asked to confirm via Blackbaud. 

Individuals are expected to stay home if they are exhibiting any of the symptoms below or have been in contact with anybody who is ill with COVID-19 or under self-quarantine.

Health-check symptoms:

  • fever over 100.4,
  • chills,
  • sore throat not related to another medical condition (e., allergies),
  • new or worsening cough not related to another medical condition,
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing not related to another medical condition,
  • new onset of vomiting or diarrhea not related to another medical condition,
  • recent loss of taste or smell,
  • congestion or runny nose not related to another medical condition,
  • fatigue, muscle or body aches,
  • a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes.

The school may conduct random temperature screenings throughout the day and will send students with temperatures home.


Testing and Weekly COVID Updates

In January 2021, the school began offering voluntary testing opportunities on campus. As a result of these options, we will publish weekly updates to case counts on this page.

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 evolved since the start of the school year. Please consult the following chart for guidance, and contact the school nurse for further information.

Guidance is still evolving regarding how to handled exposure if an individual has been vaccinated. Please be in touch with the school nurse in these cases. 

Contact tracing and notification

Cary Academy will work with local health professionals on contact tracing. It is likely that contract tracers will recommend a 14-day quarantine for anybody “exposed” to the individual who has tested positive. Exposure is defined as spending 15 minutes within 6 feet of that person (masked or unmasked).

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

While guidelines for quarantining have been released for those with direct exposure, there are also risks associated when a member of a family has COVID-19 symptoms or has been exposed (but before a formal diagnosis has been made).

We expect that families or employees will follow any more stringent guidance given by your health care professionals regarding these cases, but after consulting directly with the NCDHHS, we expect: 

If any family member (living together) exhibits any of the main covid symptoms (fever, chills, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell) and is awaiting test results then the entire family should quarantine, even if they are asymptomatic, because there is a high enough risk of exposure. If a positive test is confirmed, then those family members would follow the “exposed” protocols.


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).

The school will continue to inform the community of cases involving individuals who have been on campus through this website.


Other Expectations

Calendar and Schedules

Cary Academy has not adjusted the general school calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. Holiday and vacation days remain the same. Families can access the 2021-2022 school calendar here

The schedule will remain unchanged as the school transitions to Yellow Mode in April 2021. 

Division Schedules 

Divisions have 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 will have between three or four academic class periods per day, with rotations of advisory and activity periods. A “flex day” has been added on Wednesdays, to allow for different types of academic schedules as well as more robust club and activities scheduling.

Start and Dismissal Times 

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

  • The Middle School day will run from 8:45am to 3:15pm. 
  • The Upper School day will run from 9:15am to 3:30pm.


Whenever possible, when not in class, students should seek to gather outside or in other high-volume areas not being used for learning. 

Individuals should follow all posted guidelines when using specific places on campus.

  • Students will, with limited exceptions such as inclement weather, eat outside. There are sanitizing stations located throughout campus.
  • With the transition to Yellow Mode, the Dining Hall has opened up two additional serving lines to speed access and allow students more time to eat. 
  • Signage will direct flow to keep social distancing. Students bringing their own lunch should not enter the Dining Hall. There will be no two-way traffic through the Dining Hall; students will enter from one door and leave through another door.
  • Students will have a choice of two different salads, sandwiches, and entrees each day. Due to the take-away nature of dining, there will be less variety than previous years.   
  • 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.
  • Because lunch will be pre-packaged in to-go containers, students will be limited to one lunch item (salad, sandwich with side, or entrée with side). All food, beverages (milk and water), and serveware will be pre-packaged for health reasons. Please understand that during this time of needing to package food for travel, environmental sustainability may need to take a back seat to health and safety.
  • Lunch will be billed on a daily basis at $6 per day.  Students will be billed for all days that they are expected to be at school, including days that they are absent, as food will be prepared by the kitchen based on these numbers.  Questions about lunch billing should be directed via email to Mina Harris in the Business Office at
  • Questions regarding food allergies or dietary concerns should be directed to Sam Monsour, our Dining Services Manager, at


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

Parents and volunteers are allowed on campus by appointment only. 

Any visitors will be expected to follow the school’s face covering, temperature check, and social distancing expectations.

A check-in and temp scanning kiosk is installed in the Admin building to screen visitors. 


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

Any visitors will be expected to follow the school’s face covering, temperature check, and social distancing expectations.

A check-in and temp scanning kiosk is installed in the Admin building to screen visitors.

Guiding Resources

Key Health Guidance

Campus Documents