COVID-19

Heritage Hall is closely tracking news and information about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our region. This is a quickly evolving situation; please check this page regularly for updates.

Event Updates
All on- and off-campus school events/activities are canceled through the end of the school year.
Campus Closure
Heritage Hall's campus is closed. Learning will continue via distance learning until campus reopens or the school year concludes.

School Communications

List of 16 items.

  • June 30: Important message from the President of Heritage Hall regarding SY2020-21

    Dear Parents,
     
    When I wrote to you in late May, I indicated that “our ‘Plan A’ is to open the campus in August for on-site classes.” Toward that end, I appointed a risk mitigation task force to explore best practices that would facilitate the relatively safe operation of our educational programs in a post-coronavirus environment. “Plan A” continues to be our goal, despite a rising level of positive tests for the coronavirus in the metro area.
     
    Led by Jenny Campbell, R.N., and Director of Campus Operations and Security Jay Freeman, our task force has worked diligently for the past five weeks to develop a list of protocols and equipment that are calculated to protect students and teachers alike. As an additional source of information, Heritage Hall has joined a consortium of over 100 independent schools that hold twice-weekly virtual meetings with a school management consultant and a team of physicians to create a roadmap for optimizing the safe reopening of our schools. We are thus benefiting from the collective wisdom of some of the best minds in our profession.
     
    When our reopening plan has been approved by the task force’s medical advisory group and shared with the Board of Trustees, it will be released to all parents in a user-friendly format that will highlight a specific proposal for each division and for athletics. I anticipate that this electronic “brochure” will be sent on or before July 10 in order to provide parents sufficient time to evaluate our reopening plan prior to the July 15 deadline for withdrawing without penalty.
     
    To be clear, it’s my expectation that we will open school on August 12 with all enrolled students on campus, and I anticipate that we will continue to work on campus unless and until the Oklahoma State Department of Health mandates school closure. Meanwhile, our growing experience with distance learning will make virtual classes available to students who are unable to attend in person; and a few of our teachers with compromised immune systems or other underlying conditions may Zoom from home to students who are seated in a proctored classroom. On balance, however, we expect to proceed with our classes and programs on campus, employing recommended precautions and accommodations to keep the coronavirus in check while students are in school.
     
    Without getting too far into the weeds, please know that we will work throughout the year to promote a culture of health, safety, and shared accountability. We will ask families to keep their children at home if they’re sick. We will also ask students to wash their hands frequently throughout the day, replacing conventional drinking fountains with sinks and touchless faucets as well as with water-bottle filling stations. Our janitorial service and our teachers will use a virucide cleaner to disinfect frequently touched surfaces; electrostatic sprayers have been purchased to disinfect large spaces; and hand-sanitizer dispensers will be distributed throughout our buildings as well as bottles of hand-sanitizer in each classroom.
     
    As I said in my May 28 letter, “we will never be able to promise parents that there is zero risk of infection from the coronavirus, any more than we can currently guarantee that students will never break an arm on the playground or that they will never contract seasonal flu from a classmate.” Nevertheless, small sections (90% of sections throughout the school contain 16 or fewer students) will enhance efforts to physically distance students, and the use of cohorts (especially in grades PS-5) will facilitate contact-tracing in the event that a student or teacher tests positive for the coronavirus.
     
    We’re currently fewer than seven weeks from the first day of classes (August 12), and we’re increasingly eager to welcome our students back to campus. The folks who designed our Upper School schedule (Independent School Management) will be working with our Middle and Upper School teachers on effective teaching in longer time blocks; and we’re also sharpening our distance-learning skills for those students who can’t be on campus but want to continue their studies without missing a beat.
     
    Finally, to paraphrase Jerry McGuire, we’re asking patrons to help us help you. In the weeks ahead and throughout the school year, your willingness to be disciplined in your actions – to wear a face covering in public places, to maintain social distance, and to insist that your children do the same – will reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in the Heritage Hall community. We’ve all experienced virtual school, and neither parents, nor students, nor teachers are anxious to revisit that experience if it can be avoided. Last spring, the mysterious coronavirus was in charge; but we’ve learned a lot since then, and we can be the masters of our fate if we’re just willing to listen to the scientists and doctors. 
     
    With best wishes and Charger Pride,
     
    Guy A. Bramble
    President
  • May 28: An Update From Heritage Hall President Guy A. Bramble

    Dear Parents,

    In early November of 1942, the British Army defeated Rommel's Afrika Korps at El Alamein to record its first significant victory of WWII. Shortly afterward, Churchill offered a guardedly optimistic assessment of the British victory in Egypt: "Now this is not the end," he declared. "It is not even the beginning of the end; but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." Similarly, perhaps, our battle with the coronavirus is also at "the end of the beginning." Medicine cannot yet cure or prevent COVID-19, but we now have a better understanding of what we're up against and how to use the scant "tools" that are available to protect us.

    When President Trump recently tweeted that "schools need to open ASAP," with several significant qualifications, I found myself agreeing with him. We obviously can't "shelter in place" indefinitely and expect that the United States, as we know it, will still exist when we finally come up for air. Reopening schools is essential to allowing parents to get back to their jobs, whether they work on-site or remotely from home. But how do schools safely conduct their business in the age of COVID-19?

    One of the recurring themes of the past few weeks among respected members of the national medical community is that the coronavirus will be with us indefinitely, even if an effective vaccine becomes broadly available in the next three to five years -- which is by no means a certainty. In the May 27 issue of the Washington Post, Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, asserted: "This virus is here to stay. The question is, how do we live with it safely?" In effect, then, we at Heritage Hall need to acknowledge that we can't lie low and wait for a "magic bullet" to exterminate our foe; we must develop safe procedures that allow us to live and work in a coronavirus world.

    Heritage Hall has learned a lot about "virtual school" during the past 10 weeks, and we will become even more adept at distance instruction through professional development over the summer. Nevertheless, our "Plan A" is to open the campus in August for on-site classes. I've begun organizing a task force of educators, administrators, and healthcare professionals whose charge will be to establish operational guidelines for risk mitigation. These men and women will help us to understand what protocols and equipment will be necessary to allow students and teachers to meet in relative safety on a regular basis.

    Of course, we will never be able to promise parents that there is zero risk of infection from the coronavirus, any more than we can currently guarantee that students will never break an arm on the playground or that they will never contract seasonal flu from a classmate. In the "bubble" of city life, most of us forget how much risk we live with each day of our lives: tornados, automobile accidents, gun violence, heart disease ... and the list goes on. The coronavirus is simply one more risk with which we need to come to terms. Once the task force presents its recommendations to me (and I to the Board), I will share our risk mitigation plan with you.

    Recognizing that June 1 is almost upon us, I'm rolling back to July 15 the deadline for cancellation (without penalty) of your child's enrollment contract. This will allow the task force sufficient time to develop the risk mitigation plan; and armed with the details of that plan, you will be in a better position to make an informed decision about whether you wish to adhere to your child's enrollment contract for SY2020-21.  

    In addition, numerous epidemiologists predict that we may see a spike in coronavirus infections next fall at the same time that seasonal flu makes its way through our country; so, it seems prudent to get as many school days as possible under our belt early on. Consequently, please note that we're moving up the opening of school from Wednesday, August 19 to August 12. If you've made family vacation plans that will conflict with this earlier opening, our divisions will have plans in place to catch your children up as soon as they're able to join their classmates on campus.

    Despite the retirement or relocation of several superb teachers, we have experienced the strongest hiring season in my 32 years at Heritage Hall. We can't accurately predict what the months ahead will bring, so we're working on "back-ups" for Plan A; but whether we conduct classes on campus, or remotely, or adopt a hybrid model, I assure you that the quality of education that our teachers provide will be exceptional. If anything, the pandemic and the attendant economic downturn have whetted our competitive spirit and driven us to sharpen our axes for the challenges that lie ahead. Those of you who are able and willing to stand by Heritage Hall this year will not regret it. Even in the midst of adversity, I can say with pride: there has never been a better time to be a Charger!

    With best wishes,

    Guy A. Bramble

    P.S.: The OSSAA ruled last week that member schools could resume athletic practices on June 1 with no COVID-19-related restrictions. Heritage Hall (along with numerous schools in urban areas throughout the state) has concluded that a "phased" approach to resuming summer athletic practices is a safer option for our student-athletes and coaches. Chris Gfeller will share our plan early next week.
  • May 4: Important Update from the Head of School

    Dear Heritage Hall Families,
     
    Good Evening. It is with a sincere concern beyond formal, polite greeting that I offer wishes for your family's health and wellness. I also share thanks to all for our many sacrifices during this time of COVID-19. We will persevere and we will emerge. Already we are seeing some hope for virus intensity and duration reduction and some encouraging work on a vaccine. We can continue to listen to our doctors who will apprise us of the right thing to do so we can reunite safely.

    "It is slothful not to compress your thoughts," offered Winston Churchill in 1940 even as this communication seems long for the many topics. I will here share essentials about our grading and assessment protocol along with our reasoning for the spring term, some important schoolwide resolutions that are in final stages of organization or evaluation, some dates for your better planning, and some action items that allow you to see what we are understanding with increasing clarity that only comes from experience and perspective. Many other significant Charger events, dates, and concerns will be fully addressed in divisional or event specific communications. 

    August Horizon
    As of this writing, Heritage Hall plans to reconvene life on campus in August. The school will prepare for both on campus and distance learning education and even in-between options. Until any full -- or even phased or partial re-opening is officially announced -- our campus will remain closed for safety.  

    Spring-term Grading and Assessment by Division
    Lower School
    ECC-4 will share narrative assessments for the spring term. Each family will receive a report on your child's progress. For age and stage of lower school students, this protocol will guide, protect, and motivate your child's learning better and more fairly. Lower School Division Head Betsy Horn and her team will address this in appropriate detail in a forthcoming Lower School parent communication. 

    Middle / Upper School 
    Heritage Hall will adopt the "do no harm approach" employed by Greenhill, Holland Hall, and Casady. This approach acknowledges each of the two learning windows this semester: the on-campus brick and mortar classroom experience of the first half of the semester until spring break, and then the distance learning experience that has defined the post-spring break half of the semester with its unique elements of home learning challenges, self-management, long-term projects, and reduced interaction time with teachers and classmates.  

    "Do no harm" accords benefit of doubt to all students -- even as our students will likely remain who they always have been with respect to their grades in either term. The approach acknowledges that both teachers and students are still refining the give and take of distance delivery and best practices. It is also consistent with Heritage Hall's cultural norms of grading, of relationship management, and of personal care. (There is a caveat that assumes "good faith" effort, completion of assignments, and class attendance. For a very few, the School will work with students and families to rectify missing schoolwork and/or ensure the "good faith" semester long commitment.)

    Final Middle School / Upper School Grading Policy
    Heritage Hall middle and upper divisions will recognize student effort and performance by reviewing each half of the spring term and awarding the student the higher earned grade of the two halves of the term. For example, if Lane earned a 90 in the first half of the term prior to spring break and then an 80 following spring break when the school commenced distance learning, then Lane will earn a 90 for this semester's grade -- the higher of the two. On the other hand, if Lane earned an 80 in the first half of the semester and a 90 in the second half term, then Lane's grade will be a 90 -- also the higher of the two. Hence this is a "do no harm" approach that duly recognizes Lane's preferred learning experience over the term's duration and also equally recognizes all of the term's new challenges.

    Action Items
    During June and July, the school will engage faculty -- who will then have some time -- for more focused growth and development in distance learning best practices.
    • The school will sponsor required faculty webinars, offer small group faculty training on the many and often underused features of Zoom and the other platforms that resonate with student engagement.
    • The school will share emerging brain research and conduct a review of most essential learning priorities during times of the pandemic that feature faculty sharing of the most effective assignment types, how to generate peer inclusion and feedback as part of a learning structure, the redesign of valid subject-area growth measurements, clarification of essential hard and soft skill needs, fusion of subject mastery rubric and language with grading practices, and the efficiency of learning times vis a vis both synchronous and asynchronous experiences, and maybe not even finally, expansion of community involvement opportunities.
    • We will share and compare distance learning experiences with our peer schools. 
    And Beyond: Summer Reading/Summer School/Laptops/Supplies
    The MS and US Summer Reading Guide will be shared electronically by early June. The optional LS Summer Reading Challenge will also be shared in June. The School will solicit new student artwork in our guides facilitated by our art teachers and as submitted by your children and families to Ami Steelman at
    asteelman@heritagehall.com.

    Virtual Summer at the Hall
    Our Summer at The Hall Co-Directors, Courtney Pryor and Chris Gfeller, are planning and coordinating limited yet engaging and enriching virtual summer programming. Heritage Hall will offer courses and also stored learning events at little or even no cost to the community appropriate for our different age needs -- including one or two credit options for upper school offered historically that are fully convertible to distance learning. 

    Summer offerings will include some or all of the following categories: a resource board for the community to access anytime from home, master classes delivered by adults, master classes delivered by students or alumni, some Upper School credit courses (offered historically in debate/speech and technology), and an exciting athletic app for student-athletes and for those simply interested in guided fitness.
     
    Offerings will ultimately depend on availability of instruction and community interest, but we have been meeting and moving forward. We have not forgotten this time of year for our families. Additional details will be shared once our virtual Summer at The Hall programming has been finalized.

    Laptops
    Students who have been issued laptops for distance learning and who are returning to Heritage Hall next year may retain their laptops over the summer. Seniors and non-returning students may schedule a time to return their laptops (and charging cables) from May 8-21 (9:00 am-4:00 pm) at Heritage Hall laptop return. The IT Department will observe a physical distancing protocol with instructions to each person within an appointment confirmation message. For conflicts, contact helpdesk@heritagehall.com.
     
    Item Pickup/Locker Supplies
    • The Lower School will bag items left in the building and will stagger times by grade for pick up on May 18 and 19 or by appointment. Stay tuned.
    • The Middle School will bag items left in the building and will stagger times by grade for pick up May 20-22 or by appointment. Stay tuned. 
    • The Upper School will be staffed for on-site student locker pick-ups via appointment windows on a still to be determined day(s). Upper School Division Head Keith Cassell and the US administration will share details in the coming days. Stay tuned.
    Final Thoughts
    Fate and faith, accidents and luck, are all components in our lives, and we are never certain which are operative. Perhaps they are all true, all the time, somewhere. Pandemics and challenging days and now months, have happened before but not to very many among us and not here. We are vulnerable and yet also hopeful as humans -- and that defines us. It is Brené Brown who reminds me that I have agency during these times and that this "vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never a weakness." We know we must dare to "show up" and teach our students to make the most of facing our challenges however and wherever we can, to know to forgive but not give up, to act, and mostly to respect and like ourselves. We can look ahead to a future we always have a chance to make. It will come.
    In the meantime, as Chargers we will continue to dare to become our best selves.
     
    Charger Forward,
     
    Nick Carter
     
    Our distance learning survey is still open! If you have yet to complete the patron survey on the School's response to COVID-19 and our distance learning measures, please take a moment to provide feedback on your family's experience. Click here to complete survey.
  • April 26: An Update From Heritage Hall President Guy A. Bramble

    Dear Patrons,

    Let me tell you at the outset that I want your children back on campus. Now, please! As an English teacher, I confess that virtual school at its very best leaves me feeling deprived of what I love most about my profession: being in the physical presence of students when they light up my classroom with insights, with laughter, with teenage banter, and, occasionally, with poignance.

    So, like many of you, I have listened daily to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, checked the CDC website, and consulted periodically with physicians in the Heritage Hall family, anxiously seeking evidence from the scientific or medical community that we can once again open our campus and congregate. Regrettably, I have yet to glimpse a signal that we can safely return to "normal."

    Most of you know that within our school community we have both students and teachers who present with compromised immune systems and other underlying conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. We also know that the coronavirus can be transmitted by those who appear asymptomatic -- transmitted even by the young and the strong. Meanwhile, we have yet to see a consistent decline in the number of positive tests and virus-related deaths; and the White House recently reported that Oklahoma is one of four states with the lowest testing capacity, making it impossible to know how many carriers are in our midst, undiagnosed.  Consequently, this past Wednesday evening I informed the Board of Trustees of my decision to remain in virtual school for the balance of SY2019-20.

    This news is undoubtedly as disappointing to most of you as it is expected. We're doing all that we can to earn your tuition dollars as well as your trust; but we deserve neither if we play fast and loose with the health and wellness of your families. I recognize that virtual school has been an enormous undertaking for students, teachers, and parents alike -- especially for the parents of younger children because they require so much more structure and adult supervision than our older students.  The lockdown, in fact, has been hard on all of us, although not uniformly so.

    It's natural to lament all that we've lost during the shelter-in-place phase of the pandemic, but it's also worth acknowledging what we've gained. Many parents and students have discovered reservoirs of patience that they didn't realize they possessed. Parents and students have looked over one another's shoulders and learned more about the kind of work each does. Despite the challenges of close quarters 24/7, many parents have discovered enjoyable family activities that they hope to continue. And students have become more resourceful in coping with isolation and boredom.

    In general, the pandemic has created myriad problems for us to solve, and most families have risen to the occasion, becoming more effective and more confident problem-solvers. Even as we wish for a speedy return to "normal," our collective grit-quotient is increasing. Inconvenience is quietly building character, as is often the case in the wake of prolonged adversity. In A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway observed, "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places." I hope this will be so for each of us when we emerge from the crisis of the coronavirus.

    Oklahomans are the children of the Dust Bowl; our parents and grandparents raised us to carry on despite hardship and suffering. We're descendants of Tom Joad, Woody Guthrie, Will Rogers, Wilma Mankiller, Carl Albert, and Ralph Ellison. Whether we're natives of the state or immigrants, many of us have lived in Oklahoma long enough to remember the bombing of the Murrah Building and how we answered:

    Despite this unspeakable tragedy, among the most lasting memories are the tenderness of the response. The people of Oklahoma banded together in a community-wide display of spontaneous altruism. Trucks became ambulances. Strangers became neighbors. People donated the shoes off their feet. That spirit of generosity -- of giving until there's no more to give -- has been part of the DNA of the state ever since it was founded. Visiting first responders and journalists called it the "Oklahoma Standard."

    Whether it takes another week or another month or another year to get through the pandemic, we will manage because carrying on is what Oklahomans have always done. 

    Just a few more thoughts before I close. The division heads have been meeting with Nick Carter and other administrators to determine plans for the traditional year-end rites of passage. I anticipate that you will hear details from your division head or his/her delegate by the end of the week. Senior sponsors and key administrators will meet on Monday morning to discuss graduation and will report to seniors and their parents Monday evening.

    Finally, please know that we're planning to open the campus for the first day of classes next August. This should be a relatively simple task because we've done it 51 times before. At the same time, we're also realists who recognize that we're living through a period of change and uncertainty; so, we're also working on a back-up plan to continue with virtual school if necessary. Part of our contingency plan will entail honing our remote teaching skills this summer. I will ask the Headmaster to share his thoughts about the contingency plan as the details begin to coalesce during the weeks ahead; meanwhile, our principal objective is to finish the semester well. 

    In my message of April 13, I wrote to you about the ways in which grace manifests itself: "Poise, civility, decency, respect, diplomacy, charity, and empathy ... these are some of the behaviors that define grace." When life delivers a shot to the solar plexus and we're brought to our knees, that's when the will to carry on is challenged. And that's when we need to comport ourselves with grace. We must recognize that every challenge comes with opportunities to shine. So, I say again, we can do this!

    With warm regards and Charger Pride,

    Guy A. Bramble
    President
  • April 13: An Update From Head of School Nick Carter

    Dear parents and students,
     
    I write to you with our wishes for your continued safety and wellness during this COVID-19 pandemic -- and with an anticipated and promised update. In this communication, I share important, recent school decisions and also indicate where we have chosen to keep a fluid timeline. As we reflect on the third week of distance learning across the age and stage of our respective divisions, I know that our Charger students and families are working together to follow the life-saving advice of our medical professionals and state officials. The challenges are severe now so that by our profound, current sacrifices we may reduce the duration of this challenge and with far less chance of a COVID-19 return. After all, we are each of us either parents or children or siblings or grandchildren -- and very often we are families with medical professionals or families enduring financial hardship that we do not want to continue.
     
    I want to thank you for actively supporting your children, and to thank our children for supporting you parents, and all for partnering with our teachers on the schooling component, a significant commitment made each day. It often feels as swimming in the dark can but with only one arm for swimming and one holding onto your family. 
     
    While we all continue to adapt, know we are working in partnership with area and NAIS schools while honoring the recommendations of state officials and government. Our school administration at all levels meets multiple times each week and our divisions and subject areas are conducting regular zoom meetings that keep us learning forward. We know more than ever that all schools share the same world and risks, and we understand more than ever that learning without the present human element is hard, extra time-consuming, and imperfect. 
     
    Now to the updated information, almost. I have said before that we mourn the loss of those things that remain still undone at the times we have always done them; we share this pain for our seniors and for the unique community of friends and families that do inevitably ebb and flow with moving on or moving up. What we also share is that we are right now alive, feeling well we hope, and ever more grateful for families and our health. The school decisions below were informed with respect for all such sentiments and more.
     
    Student Learning -- Week Three Progress
    Now we are fully engaged in this experiment that addresses a novel situation even as it looks to the future of what learning may become in distinctive ways; we have acquired with each week a better understanding of the interactive modes and assignments that yield better learning, higher engagement, and built-in structure.
     
    Synchronous engagement is our preferred modality, yet it is not that simple as students' home lives differ drastically -- and especially during this pandemic. When learning on campus, we have some degree of control over the environment that makes evaluations (that ultimately arrive in the form of grades) seem reasonable and fair. Now, many parents are working from home, some family members are temporarily unemployed, younger siblings always require care, and households maybe include extended family -- and more. Some parents and relatives also work in the medical field that increases family stress.
     
    Our educators will continue to refine best practices and meet as often as we can with your children in synchronous, daily modalities, yet beyond that goal must lie recognition of what works best or realistically for the class dynamic, the longer goal, and daily feasibility. Our US advisors who may not always teach their advisees or see them daily will work conscientiously to maintain active, caring communication.
     
    Heritage Hall Final Exams, Term Grades, Important Dates
    We will not administer final term-exams this spring in our MS and US. We will allocate previously scheduled reading and exam days back to class days to extend our learning calendar. Formative and summative assessments will simply continue for the duration with five days added. 
     
    Last day of school dates:
    • Seniors -- May 8
    • Eighth Graders -- May 14
    • ECC and Lower School -- May 15
    • Grades 5-7 and 9-11 -- May 19
    We are determining the best approach for semester grading, currently reviewing options adopted by peer schools and colleges but reviewed in the light of our own culture. We will make our own final decision soon in the spirit of "doing no harm." 
     
    College Admissions / Transcript
    Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions & financial aid at Yale University, recently wrote in a counselor newsletter, "Just as secondary schools take a diverse set of approaches to curricula and assessment during normal times, schools are taking a diverse set of approaches when responding to the outbreak. We expect that many transcripts will look different for at least the spring 2020 semester. Regardless of your school's decisions, we will work to understand your school's unique context and will not penalize students whose transcripts lack letter (or fully accurate or fully meaningful) grades."
     
    Until we make our own determination consistent with our "do no harm" policy approach, I also reiterate that the desire to learn is an inherently human characteristic as you wonder about the impact of grades and learning progress in a compromised situation -- as Frost might call "a diminished thing." While we understand intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation in all areas of Heritage Hall life and learning, we are also aware that the college process and grades are major extrinsic motivators for our students and so our hope is to exhort, motivate, hold accountable, and yet remain compassionate and realistic. 
     
    We believe in the value of new forms of learning and the many introduced passions emerging during this time, but we remain mindful that the bulk of a student's performance history will endure and also performance norms will return for juniors especially -- and that colleges are mindful of it all. We will navigate our seas knowingly and our College Admissions office will duly highlight the student behind the transcript. All will understand. For current updates on the NCAA's response and changes to their recruitment and evaluation policies, click here.
     
    Graduations / Farewells / Events
    We are currently looking at all possibilities for future major events even as COVID-19 and both local and national policy will guide us. Stay tuned, please. 
     
    Summer School / Athletics
    Summer at The Hall is reviewing options and will continue to monitor COVID-19 guidelines. Stay tuned, please.
     
    Final Thoughts 
    I told you in my last letter that I would not answer all of your questions because I cannot think of all of them from where you sit. Please continue to apprise us of questions and concerns and please also share your commendations, insights, and feelings to me or any of your division heads or administrators. You may contact me at ncarter@heritagehall.com.
     
    Many of us are now living and working in a crisis that is a moment in history. It will not stand. We have replaced a diffused anger and fear with a spirit of cooperation, resolve, and common purpose; we have temporarily lost some forms of learning and acquired others. Here and now, I thank you for your forbearance and understanding of a challenge that for teachers and for students and families is much harder than we could have known and is a situation that nobody wanted or deserved. That said, all are addressing it with courage and compassion and planning.
     
    The best school is the school that is best for the child, and it should be the school that prioritizes the values that our families share most deeply. I believe in the following corollary, too, for it is mirrored in so much of what we/you have always believed at our core: if there are places where we are not yet the best, we will always strive to be the bravest. 
     
    We, and specifically students reading this, are now young people so very privileged to have our unique, caring community and resources - and certainly each other. Our continued mission is to guide you to become adults where student learning privilege becomes adult significance.
     
    Be kind, be brave, stay alone -- together,
     
    Nick Carter
  • April 13: An Update From Heritage Hall President Guy A. Bramble

    Dear Patrons,

    In a letter to the faculty last week, I told my colleagues that I seemed to be sliding into the "fireside chat" business -- despite lacking the eloquent and stirring rhetoric which made Roosevelt and Churchill iconic figures. These, of course, were leaders who bore the weight of their nations. My load, by contrast, is not so onerous as theirs, nor my shoulders so broad. Still, in these increasingly precarious times, it seems important that I keep you apprised of our current thinking about a range of issues that affect you and your children.

    By the time you receive this communication, the coronavirus will have infected nearly 600,000 Americans and killed close to 25,000 of us. Modeling by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has projected that the coronavirus won't peak in Oklahoma until April 26-28 and that new infections will begin to disappear by early June -- assuming "full social distancing through May 2020."

    Although I find this analysis disappointing on any number of levels, I'm unwilling to disregard the assessment of the medical community when the safety of my family and yours is at stake. The scientists are telling us that full social distancing through May is a prerequisite to the resumption of "normal" social activities. Thus, it's hard to imagine that we will be cleared by the Oklahoma State Health Department to reassemble on campus before the end of May. We may hope for a better outcome, but we must be guided by our scientists and doctors. I suspect that virtual school will be in place "for the duration."

    When Churchill spoke to the British people during the Battle of Britain, even as he sought to lift morale, he rarely sugar-coated the power and peril of the Nazi threat. He reckoned that the Brits were a sturdy people who could handle the truth -- however bleak -- and that they would bring courage to bear once they understood their circumstances. I believe that we Americans can be just as sturdy and courageous about managing truth.

    As I reflect upon the end of our third week of virtual school, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that we've experienced uneven results. Every student, every teacher, and every parent has labored under disparate circumstances, and they have only this in common: no one wants to do school this way. At this moment, we're all like the gifted athlete who has suffered a nagging injury and is frustrated by the condition that impedes her performance. Most of us feel like rookie teachers in the virtual classroom, and I find this a painful truth.

    Many Lower School parents (my daughter and son-in-law among them) are attempting to carry on their day jobs from home while cooking, cleaning, entertaining the children, and overseeing lesson plans designed by their child's teacher. Needless to say, Lower School parent responses to virtual school have run the gamut from complimentary to discouraged to frustrated, depending upon a wide range of factors that vary from family to family.

    The Middle School made a massive schedule change at the outset of virtual school in order to accommodate distance learning, but some parents have expressed the concern that their student needs a more robust daily schedule. Consequently, we're trying to determine whether and what kind of adjustments may be in order.

    Enrolling the most self-reliant students with the most experience in technology, the Upper School has perhaps made the least "bumpy" transition to virtual school; indeed, the new schedule seemed to anticipate and facilitate distance learning, and technology has been integrated into high school classes more extensively than in other divisions. Yet even in the Upper School, teachers have found challenges in quizzing and testing, as well as gathering, grading, and returning student work.

    At the dawn of our republic, Thomas Paine wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." Today we're at war with an invisible enemy that tests our patience and our resolve, waiting for us to do something foolish -- to make a mistake that creates deadly opportunity. When our students make a mistake on a test, they lose points; if they make a mistake in volleyball or football, they may lose a game; but a mistake with the coronavirus can lead to the loss of life.

    When we implemented the Charger Code a few years ago, we envisioned it as a tool for developing character among our students; today, in this school and in this nation, character matters more than at any time in my memory. With very few exceptions, we adults are worried about our livelihood as well as our health. If we don't get back to work soon enough, we may lose our job and all that depends on it; but if we return to the workplace too soon, we risk prolonging the pandemic and increasing the death toll. The mind lacks sufficient information to make an intelligent decision, and the heart is too impulsive to be trusted. We have only raw courage to lean on when we're feeling stuck. 

    Hemingway famously defined courage as "grace under pressure." Well, we each feel the pressure mounting with every passing day; so, if we're to find courage, the need for grace has never been more urgent. Poise, civility, decency, respect, diplomacy, charity, and empathy ... these are some of the behaviors that define grace. As pressure builds and we're fearful to the bone, courage will manifest itself as kindness and civility. In the face of provocation and loss, courage will present as decency and empathy. The current crisis -- this crucible of character -- will define each of us for as long as we live; it will reveal our very souls to our children, to our friends and loved ones, and to ourselves.

    In war, the stakes are high. In his first inaugural address, President Lincoln noted, "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion." We, too, live in a moment that is piled high with difficulty. And so I say to you, as I have said to my faculty colleagues, let us rise to the occasion.

    With warm regards and Charger Pride,

    Guy A. Bramble
  • April 4: An Update From Heritage Hall President Guy A. Bramble

    Dear Patrons:

    We're living through an extraordinarily difficult and frightening time. This isn't a penetrating insight, but it's the truth. And in times of danger and crisis, truth matters more than ever. The following paragraphs offer my understanding of what is true as well as the implications of the facts which are the foundation of that truth.

    Since my letter to you last Saturday, the number of positive tests for the coronavirus in the United States has swelled from 100,000 to nearly 300,000; and deaths from COVID-19 have more than quadrupled to over 7,000. Medical experts continue to assert that the worst of the epidemic is still in front of us.
     
    I like to believe that Oklahoma City, being less densely populated than other American metro areas, will find that the physical distancing that more naturally occurs here may render the damage from the coronavirus less severe. Yet I have no illusions; and so, even as I hope for the best, I prepare myself for a more painful reality.

    In addition to the human toll that the coronavirus has taken, the loss of friends and loved ones is only the first among other painful losses. We have temporarily lost the freedom to move about in the community, the freedom to embrace those whom we love without fear, and the freedom to work and play with others without anxiety. Emotionally and psychologically, it's important to acknowledge these and other losses, even as we focus on wellness and healing, as individuals and as a nation.

    As you may know, the State Board of Education has closed all public schools for the balance of the school year; and Governor Stitt's executive order to close non-essential businesses was recently expanded to all 77 counties and extended until April 30
     
    Last week I told you that the Heritage Hall campus would be closed until at least April 20; as a realist, however, I suspect that our "virtual school" and distance learning will continue beyond that date. How much longer now lies in the hands of government officials; for the moment, however, I'm grateful that our entire community -- students, parents, and teachers -- has embraced our distance learning program as we all strive to make educational lemonade from the lemons that have been delivered to our institutional doorstep.  

    Two weeks ago, I wrote a letter to my Heritage Hall colleagues, urging them to stay focused on delivering their best professional effort in spite of the challenges of the moment. "I don't wish to be viewed as an alarmist," I said, "but neither will I sugar-coat what may lie ahead: it's possible that we will be playing a game for stakes greater than we can afford to lose." Your written responses to their performance affirm that our teachers have collectively raised the bar for energetic and creative instruction. And yet, like most of the adult community, teachers are afraid -- of getting sick, of losing family and friends to the pandemic, of losing their jobs and all that comes with that loss. These are real and legitimate fears which some of you may share.

    At the risk of trivializing our current fears, a story comes to mind. When I was 8 years old, I stood in a long line of boys at a YMCA pool in Lakewood, CA. We were learning to dive from the one-meter springboard, and I was terrified. I didn't swim well, and a series of painful "belly flops" had discouraged me from ever again entering a pool headfirst. The line inched forward as boy after boy dove from the board, and finally I stood next in line, petrified and feeling trapped. I was overcome by fear: I couldn't face the physical pain of another failed dive, nor could I bear the stigma of publicly refusing to do what every other boy had done. I stood at the end of the board, ready to step up ... and then bolted from the pool in tears of embarrassment and shame.

    Over the years, I've recalled this incident periodically, always as a spur to face whatever I fear at the moment and to push through it. I confess that these difficult days, coupled with an unknown future, inspire fear; and yet I refuse to yield to that fear. I've been there before, and I know now that a thousand belly flops are preferable to the shame of knuckling under to fear. I don't advocate foolhardy bravado because I have a healthy respect for the forces that inspire fear; it's just that I'm most afraid of being afraid, and so I try to heed Eleanor Roosevelt's assertion: "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do." 

    I have been working closely with leaders of the Board and with friends of Heritage Hall in the broader community to ensure that we take prudent steps to lay groundwork for the 2020-21 school year. We will be here for your children, and I trust that you parents will do all that you reasonably can to be here for us. We're setting the table for all who are able and willing to join us in our 52nd year of operation. Meanwhile, all of us adults -- we who model courage for our children -- must resolve to "look fear in the face ... (and) do the thing you think you cannot do." Our children are watching and depending on us.

    With warm regards and Charger Pride,

    Guy A. Bramble
  • April 3: A Message From Head of School Nick Carter

    Dear Families:
     
    Parents feel the most because they love the most. It comes with the job. This letter is for you. I will begin it with Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech of 1950 that understood humankind was not made to fear an end so much as unite in hope when he reflected, “I believe that man will not merely endure; he will prevail.” So we will. COVID-19, we are told by doctors, will spread for some weeks ahead, but it will recede and we will rebuild our lives. We have done it before.
     
    Amid today’s uncertainty, I will offer clarity or status on important decisions that may offer comfort if they help us plan and give reassurance.
     
    Student Learning
    Our distance learning initiative was planted in theory when we became a laptop school and is now being fully tested by current reality. We have deployed a full complement of online resources that with time, we are learning to maximize and harmonize with our mission-centered goals devised for each age and stage: human connectivity, deep engagement, shared compassion, acquired subject mastery, and the sustaining of community. We will get only a very little wrong before we get it almost all right. Your children now are learning, and learning faster, than we could have imagined for the world ahead of them. It is also hard on them.
     
    Grades and Assessments
    “Do no harm” is our guiding principle. Colleges are navigating these times as are we, as are our peer private schools and public schools. All of us together are experiencing a dark moment in history, but history is so many moments and also some opportunities. Know we will ultimately recognize and record this time for what it is. Please continue to trust Heritage Hall to treat your child’s new challenges with understanding, assigned work expectations with patience, and end of semester evaluations with fairness. We are listening to our colleagues, to our students, to our families. We will monitor, collaborate, refine and have it right long before documenting this exceptional time.
     
    Events/ Graduations/Farewells
    April 10 in-service day will remain a true day off for the entire community -- no classes. Unity Day scheduled for April 22 will remain a school day but will revert back to a class day. Academic and Awards celebrations will proceed with earned student recognitions and tributes; some may transition toward virtual or re-imagined experiences, if feasible, and given time and social distancing considerations. Please stay tuned.
     
    Sports/Performances
    We will miss the joy of spring sports, plays, and concerts. We will explore ways to share or replay some of who we were to remind us of what we will be again. We will waive any credit requirements attached to spring sports or for any canceled spring activity or canceled spring course requirements.
     
    Exams
    We are proceeding with our current schedule as if exams will happen. We are also reviewing options that may become prudent as we monitor COVID-19 spread for a possible revised end of year exam week, revised assessment formats, and a revised end of year calendar. Families and students will be apprised once we determine the best interest of our students and educational mission.
     
    Summer School
    We are reimagining what we can and cannot deliver realistically should social distancing persist into the summer. Some virtual offerings may become feasible. We value sustaining our community and course or enrichment offerings wherever and whenever we can. We will prioritize safety for our students and families as we reflect and even as we hope to design and offer some programming online.
     
    Finally, Heritage Hall is a community first and foremost; your children count most for all of us. We feel for our families and we hurt especially for our seniors and eighth graders and fourth graders who may not celebrate as planned and who had hoped to commence new beginnings and finish old leavings. What we can do is help our children rediscover our human priorities, practice gratitude, and learn about family.
     
    Last Tips
    • Do small activities as a family: cards, games, preparing dinner together, movie reviews
    • Address schoolwork in the same ergonomic space on a regular routine. It is one vital place where your children do have control in their lives
    • Exercise
    • Perform good deeds for those in need, just one per day works
    • Reach out to the elderly, to all those who gave us life, give it back. Telephone, Facetime. It matters
    • Please help your children (and yourselves) by ensuring time to talk about their lives and hopes. What we cannot know always is what we do not ask
    • Watch “Frozen I” twice daily, and “Frozen II” twice daily (before and after class time of course)
     
    I have missed much in this letter, I am quite sure. I will miss more in life ahead, too, I am certain, for we are all human. Mostly, I and our entire community miss your children.
     
    Until we all meet again, stay tuned, stay safe, and stay apart in distance while together in spirit.
     
    Charger forward, 
     
    Nick Carter
    Head of School
  • March 28: An Update From Heritage Hall President Guy A. Bramble

    Dear Parents:

    When I wrote to you on March 16th to announce the temporary closing of our campus, slightly more than 4,600 Americans had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. By this afternoon, that number has swelled to 105,000 of whom 1,700 have died; and the medical community indicates that the epidemic will not peak, at the earliest, for two or three more weeks -- perhaps longer. Sadly, all the data suggest that it will be unsafe to open the campus as soon as we had initially hoped.
     
    Consequently, I am moving our closed-campus status back to at least April 19; and, like you parents, we will anxiously await the "all-clear" signal from the Oklahoma State Health Department, the CDC, or the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Please know that I will give you as much advance notice as possible regarding the timetable for reopening our campus. 

    Meanwhile, as we conclude our first week of "virtual school," you and your children have been overwhelmingly supportive of our efforts to move forward with our educational program. Each day, we receive generous and touching emails from parents who appreciate our teachers for their creativity and devotion to their students. We realize that the virtual school experience differs from teacher to teacher and from household to household; but we believe that with each passing day teachers, students, and parents alike are becoming increasingly confident in their individual and collective abilities to make distance learning a more effective educational tool.

    Although it may be counter-intuitive, virtual school is actually more challenging and time-consuming than conventional classroom learning for families and teachers alike.  Distance learning requires our technology team, teachers, administrative staff, and support staff to invest countless hours to ensure that students have an optimal remote learning experience under ever-changing circumstances that are anything but optimal. Nevertheless, our virtual school has made it possible to continue teaching and learning at Heritage Hall. Remotely or not, our teachers are distinguished by their commitment to delivering their best effort to each student each day. Recognizing that not all schools benefit from the breadth of resources available to Heritage Hall students, we are thankful to be in a position to provide the continuity in learning that will allow our students to complete the school year. 

    Shifting topics, some of you have expressed concerns of a financial nature, so allow me to respond anecdotally. When I was in the ninth grade, my father's business failed. As a result, one evening in the spring of 1961, he told my mother that I would have to return to public school the following September. Mom decided that withdrawing me from Cranbrook was a last resort, and so she made an appointment with a school official to explore whether anything might be done. She learned that she could apply for financial aid, and my life-changing educational experience at Cranbrook continued without so much as a pause.

    I mention this episode from my own life to reassure Heritage Hall families who may be experiencing financial hardship associated with either the current state of the energy sector or the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I get it! At Heritage Hall, we talk about being a community -- a family -- and it's at times like this when families have to look out for each other. 
     
    Those of you whose finances have been severely affected by the events of the past few months should contact Genifer Ring for information about restructuring your current payment plan or about financial aid for SY2020-21. We will work with you to build an educational bridge to the future for your child, just as my mother worked with Cranbrook to build a bridge for me. 

    Similarly, we rely on those patrons who have the ability to make their spring tuition payments to continue doing so. Why? Because most of our teachers are part of an economically vulnerable population; they don't have a financial cushion if they miss one or two paychecks. We need your financial support to take care of them. I reiterate: families look out for each other.

    We're in the early stages of one of the great challenges that the United States has faced in my lifetime. The hardships will make us better, both by revealing character and by building it; but there is rarely gain without pain, and so we're going to have to grit our teeth and remember again what it means to be a good neighbor. I promise to do all in my power to take care of your children. I ask that you reciprocate by helping me take care of the very people who are taking care of your children.

    These trying and fearful times will be in our rearview mirror one day; and when we get to the other side of the present hardships, the question we will all have to answer is this: did I measure up? Did I rise to the occasion? Did I do all that I could to take care of my friends and neighbors when they were in need? All the great religions of the world urge us to be some version of our best selves: Good Samaritans and mensches -- doers of good deeds. Now we have the opportunity to walk the walk. Arm in arm, together, we can do this.

    With warm regards and Charger Pride,

    Guy A. Bramble
  • March 24: Day One of Virtual School

    Dear Parents:

    This has been an unprecedented day for Heritage Hall, as students and teachers came together for the first day of virtual school. I've proudly watched our faculty and staff demonstrate a can-do spirit while taking part in training sessions, testing various platforms, and preparing their virtual classrooms to teach your child(ren) remotely. When faced with the unknown, they have accepted the challenge with confidence and enthusiasm.

    While the first day of virtual school unfolded with mixed emotions and a few technical gaffs, we ended up celebrating many small victories; most importantly, our teachers made it possible for learning to continue and for students and teachers to remain connected.

    As we continue to navigate these uncharted waters, be assured that we are continuously working to refine our remote learning techniques and resources. Our teachers are prepared to use a wide spectrum of technology tools and platforms to engage and connect students at every level as they continue to learn and build upon their skills. 

    I encourage you to check in with your child(ren) at the end of each day to ensure that their experience with virtual school is going as smoothly as possible during the transition period. In the days and weeks to come, we will continue to post updates and resources on the COVID-19 Response Plan resource board on the Portal

    I recognize that the pandemic which began as a mild inconvenience to Americans several weeks ago has begun to lay a heavier hand upon our nation and our community. Few, if any, of us in the Heritage Hall family have been infected by the Coronavirus yet, but many are beginning to feel overwhelmed by new responsibilities and new constraints. Mr. Lincoln once remarked, "The best way to predict your future is to create it." During the weeks ahead, that will be our task at Heritage Hall, and I hope that it will be yours, too.

    Appreciatively,

    Guy A. Bramble
    President
  • March 20: Information Regarding "Virtual School"

    Dear Parents:
     
    As Spring Break concludes, we look forward to next week and the beginning of "virtual school." As promised in my March 16th communication, this letter provides families with the information necessary to prepare parents as well as children. We will also post this information on the School's COVID-19 Response Plan web page.
     
    General details -- all divisions:
    • All Heritage Hall buildings and outdoor facilities are closed, including the grounds and fields. No students or parents should be on campus as long as virtual school is in session
    • On Monday, March 23, teachers will communicate to parents and/or students further details about how week one of virtual school (March 24-27) will proceed. Other communications and updates will follow regularly. Please check your email daily.
    • Heritage Hall administrators, teachers, and staff are accessible; their contact information is located in the printed directory and in the Portal directory under faculty and staff.
    • During our campus closure, the School's janitorial service will proceed with the deep clean of the campus necessary to resume safe school operations when the campus reopens. 
    Division-specific details -- more information from your child(ren)'s division:
    • Log in to the Portal and go to Resources/COVID-19 Response Plan for messages from each division head. 
    I want to emphasize that during this closure, all of us - teachers, staff, administrators, students, and parents - share a responsibility to others. Public Health Officials emphasize school closures cannot be effective unless accompanied by essential social distancing strategies. We ask that you resist the urge to meet in person, even in small groups. If our student body is out and about, spending time with friend groups, the COVID-19 virus is significantly more likely to continue its spread. We have requested our faculty to heed this advice as well.
     
    How you can help:
    With the campus closed, we recognize that families become responsible for their children's daily activities. Listed below are some steps that parents can take to ensure that their children are prepared for the beginning of formal, required remote learning.
    • Check your home internet service plan to ensure that your home internet connection supports streaming service. Make sure that you know how to reset your Wi-Fi router, if needed. If your family relies on wireless phones for internet service, check with your cell phone provider, as many are offering unlimited data without overages for those who need to use their device as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
    • Talk with your children about how they will manage schoolwork. Ensure that your children have a dedicated space in your home to complete schoolwork and to engage online with teachers and classmates.
    • Help your children identify strategies to connect virtually and safely with friends whom they normally see at school, as well as ways to exercise, which is proven to improve children's mental and physical health. Next week, the Heritage Hall COVID-19 Response Plan web page will include links from PE teachers and coaches for age-appropriate workouts and activities for all students. Stay tuned!
    • Help your child limit distractions and interruptions while completing schoolwork at home. Remember to schedule breaks in their daily routine. Just as students have time at school for lunch, community time, and physical activity, regular daily schedules are important to practice at home.
    • Communicate with your children about what they are thinking and feeling. Visit the COVID-19 Response Plan resource board on the Portal for helpful resources from our guidance counselors.
    Portal. During this time, it's important that parents and students consult the Portal for updates, important information, and resources.
    As we embark upon remote learning next week, we will follow up with any additional information that may be helpful to parents and students. To ensure that you receive communications from the School and teachers, please review/update your contact information and emergency contacts. Please verify that your contact information in our database is correct. Log into the Portal, click your name in the top right corner, and select "Profile" to verify your information and submit any changes

    Trouble receiving emails? First, check your spam or junk folder. If the email is not there, contact mbraggs@heritagehall.com.
     
    Helpful Contacts:
    Support for a school-issued devicehelpdesk@heritagehall.com
    Issues with learning software
    (e.g. Google Classroom, Seesaw)
    Ami Steelman
    asteelman@heritagehall.com
    Trouble accessing the Portal or receiving emailsMary Beth Braggs
    mbraggs@heritagehall.com
    Guidance counselingUS: Samantha Kobs
    skobs@heritagehall.com
    MS: Nina McPherson
    nmcpherson@heritagehall.com
    LS: Allison Morris
    almorris@heritagehall.com
    College counselingDr. Vicki Schaeffer
    vschaeffer@heritagehall.com
    Julie Bramble
    jbramble@heritagehall.com
    US Academic counselingDylan Sullivan
    dsullivan@heritagehall.com
    Christina Boghetich
    cboghetich@heritagehall.com
    WellnessJenny Campbell
    nurse@heritagehall.com
    General LS questionsBetsy Horn
    bhorn@heritagehall.com
    General MS questionsRon Allie
    rallie@heritagehall.com
    General US questionsKeith Cassell
    kcassell@heritagehall.com
     
    Please know that Heritage Hall prioritizes your children's safety and well-being at all times, and especially during this challenging time. We are dedicated to delivering our best to our students by staying connected, maintaining a sense of community, and remaining committed to our students' learning and academic progress.

    Before I sign off, I'd like to share with you an excerpt from a message I sent to the faculty earlier today: 
     
    In the darkest hours of the battle for Guadalcanal, Adm. William F. Halsey asserted, "There are no great men; there are only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet." On any given day, we might all concede that we are rather ordinary . . . except, perhaps, to our grandchildren. But on this day, and "for the duration," our circumstances will require us to rise to the occasion and to meet great challenges. I will ask of you nothing that I will not ask of myself and my administrative colleagues: that you only and always find new ways to teach -- not only what you know, but also who you are. Do this each day, and the rest will take care of itself.
     
    Thank you for your understanding and kindness toward others as we prepare to meet the uncertainty of tomorrow with resolution and courage.  
     
    Appreciatively,
     
    Guy A. Bramble
    President
  • March 16: School Closure and Distance Learning Announcement

    Dear Parents and Colleagues:

    In light of the information I shared with you in my electronic letter of March 12, I thought it prudent to convey the conclusions that our school leaders have reached regarding how best to protect you, your children, and the broader community during this difficult time. We have decided that the wisest course of action is to close our campus to non-employees, effective immediately, until at least April 5.  

    While the campus is officially closed, all school activities -- whether on or off campus -- are officially postponed. We will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and regularly report to you regarding our timetable for reopening the campus and rescheduling events.

    I'm an optimist by nature. Even in the most frightful circumstances, I look for silver linings, and my cup is always half full; and yet closing my eyes to unpleasant realities will not minimize the seriousness of this crisis. 

    To slow the spread of the coronavirus, we're all going to have to change our normal behaviors -- and perhaps for an extended period of time. As I write this, 33 states have already decided to close their public schools in order to reduce opportunities for the transmission of COVID-19; and more states will surely follow, although Oklahoma is not yet one of them.  

    Within the next week, tens of thousands of Oklahomans will return from their vacation destinations, both near and far. They may return to Oklahoma cities and towns that already have their first confirmed cases of COVID-19; and some of the returnees may themselves be sick, or on the verge of sickness. "Flattening the curve" of the epidemic's growth will mitigate the sort of spike in sickness that could overwhelm our healthcare infrastructure; so, as responsible citizens and good neighbors, slowing the spread of the virus in Oklahoma City is now our primary job.

    We owe it to each other, and especially to those who are most vulnerable, to adopt a "lockdown" mentality. Remaining at home for the next few weeks can't be viewed as an extended vacation with playdates, sleepovers, or trips to the mall. Flattening the curve will require full measures of discipline and sacrifice:  so, please stay home as much as possible, using the time, perhaps, to begin spring-cleaning, to tend your garden, to help your children with their homework, or -- as a treat -- to binge-watch your favorite movies and TV series.

    Despite the closure of our campus, learning will continue apace. On Friday, March 20, we will provide families with more specific information about the details of the distance learning initiative that our teachers and administrators have developed during the past three weeks. 

    Beginning Friday, please make sure that you and/or your student(s) check email and the school portal on a daily basis for information updates. We will use Monday the 23rd as a faculty dress rehearsal day. Heritage Hall will begin remote learning on Tuesday, March 24. Until then, please take care to maintain appropriate social distance.

    Know that we intend to make lemonade out of the proverbial lemons that have landed in our laps, and we urge you to do the same. Although we cannot know the extent to which many of our families will be challenged in the weeks ahead, we recognize that some of you will face difficulties that will entail significant hardship and demand heightened levels of ingenuity.

    Meanwhile, this is a time to listen to the better angels of our nature. It's a time for grit -- a time to stubbornly deny this virus access to our bodies and to the bodies of those we love by making a commitment to changing our behavior: for the foreseeable future, we must delay the gratification of going where we wish and doing what we choose whenever we so desire. In this regard, let us all be wise and disciplined; and in so doing, let us hope for a joy-filled reunion on the far side of the outbreak. 

    Appreciatively,

    Guy A. Bramble
    President
  • March 13: 5th/6th Grade Laptop Distribution

    Dear Parents:

    By now you should have received Mr. Bramble's latest message regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the precautionary measures that Heritage Hall is currently taking or considering to help ensure the safety of our school community.

    In the event that the School chooses to continue our educational programming via online learning following spring break, students have been asked to take all instructional materials and tools home. As such, we are distributing school-issued laptops to each fifth and sixth grade student today (Friday, March 13).

    We don’t make this decision lightly, and we appreciate that you may have mixed feelings about your fifth or sixth grade student having access to a laptop at home. If you prefer, you may hold onto the laptop until it is needed for educational purposes. Teachers will communicate with parents if/when students need to access the internet to complete coursework.

    Click here to view the School’s Digital Learning policies.

    Please note that in the case of accidental damage, Heritage Hall has established a self-insured plan for repair of student laptops. Under the policy, parents are responsible for the first $100 of the repair claim in any one school year and $200 for a second claim.

    Should your student need technical assistance during this time, please contact the HelpDesk at helpdesk@heritagehall.com or 405.936.3159.

    Note: If your student is not in school today and a laptop is required, please contact the HelpDesk to make arrangements for pick up. Should classes resume on campus, students will be asked to return the laptops at that time.

    Thank you,
    Jeff Gibson
  • March 12: Pre-Spring Break Announcement

    Dear Heritage Hall Parents,

    As you are undoubtedly aware, COVID-19 has recently dominated the internet, the airwaves, and news outlets -- in Oklahoma City and around the world. While school leaders are mindful of the extensive reporting about the coronavirus and the pandemic associated with it, our decisions about the school calendar and related events are driven by a concern for the wellness of our entire educational community; and those decisions are informed by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as our local medical community rather than by TV commentators and opinion columnists.

    Let me state at the outset that -- as far as we know -- no one at or associated with Heritage Hall has tested positive for the coronavirus; nor are we aware of anyone in our school community who is quarantined at this time. Nevertheless, the total confirmed cases in the United States has doubled in the past three days, despite the fact that testing for the virus is still not widely available.
     
    We also know that many of our families will leave the metro area over spring break, passing through airports that will bring them into contact with people from all over the world. That some of us will contract the coronavirus is inevitable; it need not, however, be a source of panic. Nevertheless, coping with COVID-19 will require greater caution and vigilance than the ordinary flu.

    Here's why. We know that elderly people are especially susceptible to COVID-19, but the coronavirus poses serious risks to other groups as well. In our own community, students and staff members with diabetes or chronic health conditions that require immunosuppressant drugs are at greater risk than most of us. 
     
    Respected physicians are confident that the American medical community is capable of handling COVD-19 -- if Americans take steps to slow the spread of the virus. We are mindful of the fact that the NBA has suspended its schedule of games indefinitely and that the NCAA will play its tournament without spectators in attendance. We have also just been informed by the OSSAA that this weekend's state championship tournament games have been postponed.

    With all of the above in mind, the purpose of this letter is to inform you that we're considering how to proceed following spring break. Tomorrow my staff and I will meet to discuss our plans for addressing the COVID-19 risk to our school community.
     
    Meanwhile, we're asking students to take all instructional materials and tools home before spring break in the event that we determine that our educational program should be continued via online learning.

    We fully recognize that this is a stressful and disruptive situation, so we rely on your goodwill and understanding. The health of our students and teachers and the ability to sustain learning are our priorities. Thank you for your patience and kindness toward others as we make our way forward, together, during these challenging times.

    Sincerely,
      

    Guy A. Bramble
    President
  • March 4: Cancellation of Explore Week trips

    Dear Parents,
     
    In response to the risks and the rapidly changing nature of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and with the endorsement of the Executive Committee of the  Board of Trustees, Heritage Hall is canceling all school-sponsored domestic and international travel for students and staff. We are also canceling work-related, non-essential travel for Heritage Hall employees. At this time, travel within the state is not affected. 
    Please know that this decision is not made lightly. I recognize the complexity of circumstances that impact families in different ways. Before taking this action, the School's leadership team deliberated at great length, taking several factors into account:
    • More than 1,500 students, parents, employees, and guests pass through our doors each day. We have a responsibility to the entire community to minimize the spread of this virus.
    • We must consider the risk of exposure to students and staff. In traveling from Oklahoma, many flights connect through major hubs in cities that have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and, with each passing day, more cases are discovered. Further, many trips involve destinations where there are large gatherings of people from all over the world, including entertainment events, national parks, and tourist destinations. 
    • We must also consider the possibility of our staff and students being isolated or quarantined outside of Oklahoma. The risk of becoming stranded abroad without sufficient support is very real. Travel restrictions around the world are being put into effect with little or no advance notice. 
    • Given the global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the CDC recently recommended that institutes of higher education should consider postponing or canceling upcoming student travel abroad programs.
    The School has been communicating with Grand Classroom as we monitor the spread of the Coronavirus. While Grand Classrooms' intention is to move forward with this trip, our decision to cancel is the safest option for our community and, most importantly, for your child. Because the School is initiating the cancellation, the refund families receive will be limited to the cost of the Travel Protection Insurance for those who purchased it. Grand Classroom has indicated that families may be eligible to receive a travel voucher with American Airlines in their child's name. We won't know the status of that until an official cancellation is processed by the company.
     
    Please allow us to communicate with them directly regarding an official cancellation. This will ensure all participants are treated consistently and fairly. We will contact you again once we've communicated the official decision to Grand Classroom. If you have specific questions about the terms of the cancellation, please contact Genifer Ring.
     
    Trip chaperone Kristi Koures is working to create a local Explore experience for your students and will be in touch in the coming days with more information. It's our goal to provide an engaging learning experience for your child next week.
     
    With warm regards,
     
    Guy A. Bramble
    President
    Heritage Hall
  • March 4: COVID-19 Awareness

    Dear Parents,

    Like many schools around the globe, Heritage Hall has been monitoring the spread and impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). While the CDC maintains that the risk is currently low for the general American public, they recognize that this is a rapidly evolving situation, and schools should be prepared for a variety of scenarios.  

    Heritage Hall is relying on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)World Health Organization (WHO)State Department, and state and local authorities to guide our decision-making. In addition, I recently assembled a task force of school personnel who are committed to the safety and well-being of our community. Ongoing task force conversations have included reviewing internal crisis management plans, placing a heightened emphasis on disinfecting efforts, evaluating school-sponsored travel, guarding against bias in the community, and discussing options for remote education should an off-campus learning option for students become necessary. 

    Teachers are also reminding their students, in age-appropriate ways, of steps that they can take to stay healthy. For recommendations on talking with children and for links to the most up-to-date information regarding Coronavirus outbreaks, log in to My Portal and visit the "Stay Healthy This Season" resource board at the top of the page. 

    While the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to this virus, the CDC recommends everyone take the following preventive actions to help reduce the spread of respiratory diseases:
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
    • Stay home when you are sick;
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe;
    • Follow CDC recommendations for using a face mask;
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
    • Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.

    In addition to the above precautions, I ask that you partner with Heritage Hall's professional staff in working to ensure the safety of the entire Charger community. If your family plans to travel during spring break, I urge you to monitor the CDC's risk level assessment of your destination. Traveler restrictions around the world are being put into effect with little or no advance notice and may impact your return to the US and, potentially, to Heritage Hall.
     
    More than 1,500 students, parents, employees, and guests pass through our doors each day. We have a responsibility to the entire community to minimize the spread of this virus. Thus, if you choose to travel to any country that the CDC has designated as a level 2 or level 3 before or during your stay there, Heritage Hall will ask you to self-quarantine for 14 days upon your returnClick here to see if the CDC has assessed your travel destination as a level 2 or 3.

    Should your family need to self-quarantine, all three divisions are committed to providing coursework that your child can complete at home, and faculty will be accessible via phone and email. Students who are symptom-free after the 14-day period will be allowed to return to school. For all other travel, we ask you to exercise caution, follow the CDC bulleted suggestions, and seek medical care should anyone in your family show symptoms of illness.

    As a further measure of precaution and with the endorsement of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, Heritage Hall is canceling all school-sponsored domestic and international travel for students and staff. We are also canceling work-related, non-essential travel for Heritage Hall employees. At this time, travel within the state is not affected. 
     
    Please know that the School's decisions are always intended to ensure the welfare of our students and families. The safety of our students is our highest priority and guides our actions. If you have any questions, please contact Genifer Ring at 749.3009 or me at 749.3001. Thank you for trusting us with your children.
     
    With warm regards,
     
    Guy A. Bramble
    President
    Heritage Hall

Health Tips

Helpful Contacts

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1800 NW 122nd Street, 
Oklahoma City, OK 73120
PHONE 405.749.3001   FAX 405.751.7372
Heritage Hall is a co-educational college preparatory school in Oklahoma City. As one of the few secular private schools in the state, we offer a challenging academic curriculum for students from preschool through grade 12, as well as unique leadership opportunities, a wide spectrum of athletics, and a well developed fine arts program.