March 16, 2020


Dear Parents,

I would like to give you the lay of the land in this letter. We have studied matters in light of the Governor of Virginia’s mandate that all public schools remain closed for at least two weeks until March 27, and the Fairfax County School Superintendent’s decision to keep public schools closed until April 10. Although we are an independent school, we are very much members of our community and take our social responsibility seriously.

In looking at our school calendar, we wish to preserve our Easter vacation and we do not wish to extend the school year. In light of this, we have decided that the Oakcrest school family should function as if our first day back to ordinary school life will be Monday, April 20. I say “as if” merely because this is a situation over which we exercise little control.

Working with this timeframe will allow the faculty and students to establish the habits and patterns necessary to further the students’ learning, our primary responsibility. Our Dean of Faculty and Curriculum, Elizabeth Black, asked the teachers last Friday to plan their classes up until Easter vacation. The distance learning our students are about to engage in for the next three and half weeks is as important, albeit different in the mode in which it is delivered and received, as the learning they would do if they were here in class. It will be graded.

Ms. Black has written a letter to you and to the students which you will receive shortly in which she sets forth the guiding principles and spirit of the time period ahead. Please read these letters carefully.

Mrs. Hadley is instructing the mentors to reach out to their mentees via email or phone call occasionally. They might also send articles to their mentees that they think are interesting or thoughtful. Mentees can reach their Mentors at their Oakcrest email address. If you were unable to attend parent/mentor conferences last Friday but have something you would like to talk about with your daughter’s mentor, please email her and set up a time to talk. 

As far as the rest of school life goes, I want to share some basic points with you:

  • You can expect further communication from the school about the non-academic side of life (Mentoring, Parent Enrichment, College Counseling, etc.) including calendar updates to come to you through This Week at Oakcrest, which we will resume on Monday, March 23. You will receive more frequent emails directly from the teachers and Ms. Black, and I will not hesitate to reach out to you for any matter of importance.

  • We have put all communication from us on our website on a page called COVID-19 Updates.

  • Beginning Wednesday, March 18 at 1:00 pm, the building and grounds will be officially closed. The building will be open tomorrow and Wednesday from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm for students who wish to retrieve books, instruments or other items from their lockers.  All visitors to the building must follow the posted good hygiene procedures. If you or a family member are currently sick with any flu-like symptoms, please do not enter the building. If you have a serious reason to enter the building after this Wednesday, please reach out to Matt Buonocore (mbuonocore@oakcrest.org).

  • We are all available and want to be of help. This chart gives you a list of who to contact for various topics. If you are not sure where to go with something, or have a concern that does not neatly fit into a chart, I would be very happy if you reached out to me directly for guidance on next steps: mortiz@oakcrest.org.

I have kept our Board informed on our decisions, and Shaun Pacious, our Board President, has wanted me to tell you that we have their full support in the decisions we are making. I shared with him that we wish more than anything to offer a good example for our students on how to live cheerfully in a new and challenging situation. It is in the “off moments” that one reveals one’s deepest values, and so Oakcrest as a school family will go forward counting on prayer, mutual support, and trust in God. In some ways, a school is best poised to function in times of disruption because true, deep education of the person relies greatly on faith, hope and love--and beginning again and again as often as needed.

Before closing, I want to share a simple, cherished tradition that I learned when I encountered people in Opus Dei. We say a Memorare every day for the member of the Opus Dei family who needs it the most. It originated during wartime in Spain when everyone was separated from each other. I think it could be great if we adopted it for the Oakcrest family during these times, and perhaps always. This in itself would be a great gift from this time!
Warm regards,
Mary T. Ortiz, Ph.D.
Head of School