Health Mitigation Plan

UPDATED Oct. 22, 2020


The purpose of this plan is to outline the health mitigation strategies Bishop O’Connell High School is adopting to ensure a safe reopening of the school campus for the 2020 - 2021 school year under Phase 3. During Phase 3, the school plans for in-person and virtual instruction and events that can be accommodated in line with policies outlined in this plan and informed by Phase 3 guidance from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Limited athletic opportunities will be offered to the extent possible under the stipulations of this plan.

 Guiding Principles

  • Bishop O’Connell staff have developed detailed plans for opening the school in August under the following three guiding principles:
  • Plans have been designed that advance the school’s Mission:“To provide students with an education rooted in the life of Christ and to foster the pursuit of excellence in the whole person.”
  • The health and well-being of our entire community has been of paramount importance as decisions are made.
  • Clear and consistent communication is central to planning at all levels to ensure stakeholders are well-informed and to maintain a strong community built on trust and respect.

Current Circumstances

Bishop O’Connell has been closed to non-essential personnel for the past four months. The school is in the process of reopening following Phase 3 guidelines from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The school building is currently closed to students and building access for non-essential personnel is limited and typically by appointment. The school intends to begin opening the campus and building for broad faculty and staff access on August 10, 2020. The school year is scheduled to begin for students on August 31, 2020.

Bishop O’Connell has established a COVID-19 Reopening Task Force. The team is led by Mr. Carl Patton (Principal), who will be the point person to communicate with VCPE.  The Task Force includes five planning domains:

  • Logistics and Planning - Administrative oversight by Frank Roque, Dean of Student Affairs
  • Creating and Maintaining Community - Administrative oversight by Mr. Bill Crittenberger, Head of School and Mr. Carl Patton, Principal
  • Curriculum and Instruction - Administrative oversight by Sister Catherine Hill, IHM, Dean of Academics and Mrs. Meghan Lonergan, Dean of Mission
  • Promoting Catholic Identity - Administrative oversight by Rev. Gregory Thompson, Chaplain
  • Technology Administrative oversight by Mrs. Jeanmarie McFadden, IT Director

Bishop O’Connell High School will be in continual contact with the Arlington County Health Department (ACHD) and will report instances of identified disease as required. Bishop O’Connell High School will work with ACHD and other jurisdictional health department authorities on responses to identified illness or exposure.  ACHD Communicable Disease Program can be reached at (703) 228- 5200.

Social Distancing and Healthy Behaviors

  • Following federal, state, local and diocesan guidelines, 6 feet of social distancing will be maintained whenever possible.
  • Students and staff will be required to wear face masks throughout the day. Gaiters and vented face coverings are not permitted in keeping with updated CDC recommendations of August 27, 2020. Face shields may be worn in addition to face masks but may not replace face masks.
  • Hand sanitizer will be located in each classroom and throughout the building. Frequent hand washing will be encouraged.
  • Classroom capacity may be reduced with specific seating arrangements to maintain six foot separation wherever possible.
  • Restrooms will be consistently cleaned and stocked. Occupancy will be limited to no more than three students at a time.
  • Use of outside space will be optimized to ensure the opportunity for fresh air.
  • Some common area use will be limited or restricted to ensure health and safety. Restrictions to common area usage will be clearly posted.
  • The school chapel will be open with capacity limited to ensure social distancing.
  • Seats on buses will be limited to maintain social distancing. Bus seats will be disinfected after each ride. Students will register for bus transportation in advance to ensure capacity for social distancing. 
  • Plexiglass screens will be in place in all common areas where interaction between individuals may occur (IT Help Center, Reception, Counseling, Business and Center Office). Six feet of physical distancing will be maintained in these areas to the greatest extent possible.
  • Desks will be arranged in traditional forward facing positions. Seats will be assigned.
  • Alternate eating spaces, including the auxiliary gym, will be used to accommodate social distancing requirements during lunch. Desks will be used for seating with forward facing alignment to facilitate six feet physical distancing.
  • The cafeteria will have seating arranged to ensure 6 ft. physical distancing when possible. Six feet of separation will be maintained via signage at any times there may be lines. Lunch periods will be staggered by cohort and tables and chairs will be arranged to accommodate social distancing. An existing outdoor patio space will be utilized at all possible times.
  • Staff will ensure compliance by students in any common area. Common areas will be closed to students and visitors during Phase 3. Faculty and staff may use the common areas with social distancing requirements maintained.
  • The school elevator will be limited to no more than two passengers at a time. Elevator use is reserved for injured students and staff.
  • Mini-buses and vans, typically used for athletic events, will not be utilized in Phase 3.

Protections for Vulnerable Individuals

Faculty and staff will have access to personal protective equipment to perform their jobs. The school will explore reasonable accommodations for faculty and staff who foresee challenges to their return to school or require other assistance to the extent possible.

Students will be able to opt-in to remote learning if they have personal or family vulnerabilities.

Family Responsibilities

Bishop O’Connell will implement daily health screening practices for students and staff. Students and staff will be required to complete daily self-checks at home (the Health Self-Assessment Form is available in the Appendix) to verify they are asymptomatic and fever free before reporting to the school. Student absenteeism will be monitored through the school’s attendance office. Current procedures for absence reporting by parents will remain in place with appropriate follow-up by attendance office staff or the school nurse. Faculty and staff absenteeism will follow the current procedure to notify the employee’s direct supervisor and the substitution coordinator as appropriate with follow-up by the school nurse.

Cleaning Procedures

Bishop O’Connell is working with the cleaning contractor to ensure regular, thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the school building. Additional staff have been hired, including personnel dedicated to the continual cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas throughout the school. Electrostatic disinfectant sprayers have been acquired to assist in the daily cleaning of the building. All cleansing agents are non-bleach based, hospital grade and EPA- registered disinfectants qualified for use against SAR-CoV-2. 


Classrooms will be set up to accommodate 6 feet of space between individuals in the classroom. Classrooms will be decluttered prior to the return to school to provide ample space for social distancing and to facilitate frequent cleanings. Classrooms will be cleaned and disinfected each evening by the maintenance team.

Students will be required to wipe down their work area (desk and chair) with a school provided disinfectant wipe at the conclusion of each class.

School Health Professionals

Bishop O’Connell has one full time registered nurse and one part time nurse for the 2020-2021 school year. Both nurses have extensive nursing experience and are familiar with Commonwealth of Virginia and the Diocese of Arlington medical requirements. This summer the clinic was expanded to create a quarantine space with a separate entrance and waiting area to care for students. Any students demonstrating symptoms of COVID-19 will be isolated and will be required to be picked up from school. Two full time athletic trainers are on staff who provide care for students with a focus on student athletes. The trainers will work in concert with the clinic nurses to assure best practices throughout the school.

This medical team will provide necessary education to the school community related to safe hygiene practices, physical distancing requirements, proper use of face coverings and face shields, and stay at home/return to school guidelines to staff and students through in-servicing at the beginning of the school year and throughout the school year as needed. Information to families will be provided through the weekly “Blitz” communication and through direct emails as needed. The Magnus Health database will be used to maintain health information ensuring security and confidentiality of records.

Bishop O’Connell High School will be in continual contact with the Arlington County Health Department (ACHD) and will report instances of identified disease as required. Bishop O’Connell High School will work with ACHD and other jurisdictional health department authorities on responses to identified illness or exposure.  ACHD Communicable Disease Program can be reached at (703) 228- 5200. 

Bishop O’Connell High School has made provision for our health services. Personal protective equipment (PPE) including KN95 medical grade face masks, medical grade face shields, non-latex gloves and protective gowns are in stock and/or ordered to ensure those requiring PPE will have it. For non-health staff and students, masks will be required.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is provided for school staff through grant funding under the CARES Act and operational funding. Emergency back-up PPE supplies will be maintained and provided to students who are without the necessary supplies. All students will receive a uniform-approved cloth face covering at the beginning of the school year, and families will be able to purchase additional uniform-approved options through the school store.

Provision for mental health services will continue via established school policies that include robust collaboration between the Clinic, the Bishop O’Connell Counseling Department and the Bishop O’Connell Student Life Department.

COVID Reporting. Closing Procedures. Switch to Distance Learning

Procedures for COVID related illness on campus, including during the school day - Closure Procedures will be as follows:

If any students and/or staff show signs of illness, and in particular symptoms of COVID-19, the individual will be isolated and instructed to wear a medical grade mask (supplied by the health team). The individual will be examined by the school health staff, and if a student - his or her parent/guardian will be contacted. The person will be sent home or for emergency medical evaluation (as appropriate). He or she will require medical clearance before returning to campus and should contact the school clinic for instructions.  A separate space to allow isolation of sick individuals with its own entrance and bathroom has been dedicated for use during the pandemic. This space will be cleaned and disinfected after the individual has left the building.

Required notification of Bishop O’Connell High School if suspected or confirmed Positive for COVID-19:

Parents must notify the school immediately if their student is confirmed or suspected to be positive for COVID-19. If suspected or confirmed for COVID-19, the student should not come to school under any circumstances. Notification is to be given to the school nurse directly (703) 237 1443 or email

Staff members and contractors must notify the school immediately if they suspect or are confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 by contacting the Dean of Mission. Under no circumstances are they to report to or remain in the school building. 

Individuals will be asked to provide the names of those with whom they had close contact at the school. Student schedules will be reviewed for seating assignments within the 48 hours prior to symptoms/positive testing date. 

Close contact definition:
•    You were within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes with someone who is suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 (updated 10/22/2020).
•    You are living with or provided care at home to someone who is suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19.
•    You had exposure to respiratory secretions (by being coughed or sneezed on; shared a drinking glass or utensils; kissing) from a person who has COVID-19.

For positive cases of COVID-19:

If it is a confirmed COVID positive illness, Bishop O’Connell will follow guidance of Arlington County Health Department for identification and notification of exposed individuals. Notifications will keep individual names confidential. If confirmed as COVID-19, exposed individuals may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure or as required by the Virginia Department of Health.

Learning and working while suspected or confirmed positive for COVID 19

While students and staff members are unable to come to school if quarantining/isolating/unwell, the person may engage in remote learning/work if their health allows. A liberal medical absence policy will be in place to support all members of the school. The school nurses will work closely with the Studies Office and Administration to facilitate movement from on campus to remote learning and work as indicated.

In the event of identification of multiple cases, Bishop O’Connell will work with the local health authorities to determine if community transmission is taking place. Closing some or all of the campus until a thorough disinfection takes place may be considered in cooperation with local health authorities. Decisions about longer term closing will be considered in cooperation with local health authorities as indicated by the specific situation.

If the campus, or part of the campus be closed, all students, parents, staff and faculty will be informed via email and postings on the Bishop O’Connell High School website. The campus will not reopen until disinfection is complete and it is determined to be safe.


Orientation and training specific to new COVID-19 mitigation strategies have been developed in accordance with current state recommendations and will be presented electronically. Posted materials based on CDC recommendations regarding wearing face coverings, physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene are displayed throughout the school. A Diocesan COVID-19 related training has been completed by all faculty and staff and a COVID-19 handbook has been shared with all faculty and staff. Educational materials have been communicated to staff, parents, students, and other stakeholders prior to school opening via a combination of emails and virtual and in-person seminars. These materials and communications will be posted on the school website in the COVID specific banner and in the electronic handbook addendum to inform all stakeholders of current mitigation policies and procedures.

If the campus, or part of the campus be closed, all students, parents, staff and faculty will be informed via email and postings on the Bishop O’Connell High School website. The campus will not reopen until disinfection is complete and it is determined to be safe.

Cafeteria - School Nutrition

Lunches will be available for purchase during lunch time. The distribution and payment of lunches will follow social distancing guidelines. Our cafeteria vendor, Flik Hospitality Group, has provided options for payments and distributing lunch in a safe manner. The updated plan will be communicated to our community before the start of school.

The cafeteria space will be expanded and alternative space utilized to ensure social distancing during lunch time.

Vending machines will not be available during the school day.

Students will still to be allowed to bring their own lunches.

Visitor Policy

Visitors to campus will be limited and by appointment only. Their admittance to the facility will be recorded in the daily log. As a part of the sign-in process, visitors must submit a completed Health Self-Assessment Form, attesting that they are not experiencing symptoms of illness nor have they been exposed.