Heathwood to resume regular start time Tues., Oct. 13

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dear Heathwood Families,

After assessing how everything went with this morning’s commute to school, we have decided to resume our regular 8:20 a.m. start time as of tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 13. Bus pick-ups and carpool drop-offs will run at their usual times.

That being said, life in Columbia and surrounding areas has by no means returned to normal, and we recognize that our families have been impacted by last week’s events to varying degrees. If road closures in your area make it difficult for you to get your children to school by 8:20, please bring them when you can and know that their tardiness will be excused. If you feel that it’s best for your children not to return to school yet, please know that their absence will be excused. While many of our students welcome the opportunity to return to a regular routine, others may not, and we certainly recognize that parents are the best judges of their children’s needs.

 As we’re doing today, we will only hold varsity sports practices after school tomorrow, Oct. 13. We will assess the feasibility of resuming JV and b-team practices on Wednesday if the boil water advisory has not been lifted by then. Under the current circumstances, holding practice for all teams would strain our supplies of ice and water. If those of you whose children participate in varsity athletics could send them to school with a good supply of drinking water, that would be greatly appreciated.

Afternoon Express will operate on a normal schedule starting today.

The PSAT testing for Upper School students that was scheduled for this Wednesday, Oct. 14, has been postponed until October 28, when we feel that students will be fully reengaged with academic life and more prepared to do their best on the test.

Some of you have asked about whether last week’s events would impact the fall break that was scheduled for this coming weekend. We will hold fall break as originally scheduled, with this Friday, Oct. 16, as a half day and Monday, Oct. 19, as a holiday for students and faculty. So many of our families have been impacted by the flooding, or have been working so hard to help those who were impacted, that we encourage all of you to use the break as a time to rest and recuperate. As our guidance counselors, Stacy Gross and Jenny Holder, reminded the faculty this morning, none of us can be good caretakers of others if we do not first take reasonably good care of ourselves.

Finally, while our supplies of bottled water and hand sanitizer are holding up well, we would welcome additional donations of both.

Thank you again for your patience as we’ve worked through all the issues the last week has brought. I cannot tell you what a joy and a blessing it is to have your children back on campus again.


Chris Hinchey
Head of School


Dear Heathwood Families:

I write with wonderful news!  School will resume tomorrow, Monday, October 12, 2015, on a two-hour delay.  The South Carolina DOT has opened Heathwood Road after completing the necessary repairs this morning.

Carpool drop-off will begin at 10:00 a.m. and classes will start at 10:20 a.m.  All students will eat lunch at their regularly scheduled times, and the class day will conclude at 3:05 p.m. The two-hour delay is in recognition of the numerous road and bridge closures that remain in effect.  All bus routes will operate on a two-hour delay.  As of Sunday at 2:00 p.m., please be aware that South Beltline is closed between Shop Road and Plowden Road.

If your family was impacted by the flood and your child does not have a school uniform, please send them to school in any clothes in which they feel comfortable.

Faculty and staff should report to campus by 8:30 a.m.  There is an informational meeting for all Heathwood Hall employees from 8:45 -9:30 a.m.

All Upper School students (including Seniors/Class of ’16) should report to the Belser Auditorium for a 10:20 a.m. School Meeting.  Middle School students should report to their advisory at 10:20 a.m.

Additionally, there will be a meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, 10/12 in the Belser Auditorium (Smith-Shirley Center) for those parents interested in volunteering with Heathwood Hall’s Helping Hands relief efforts.  Helping Hands coordinators will be joined by Sharon Savoca, STEP President, and me to enlist support, describe current efforts, and answer questions.  We have also set up a Heathwood Helping Hands web page that will be regularly updated with volunteer and donation opportunities:http://www.heathwood.org/news/2015/10/heathwood-helping-hands-how-you-can-help

Starting tomorrow afternoon, Heathwood Helping Hands will be accepting donations of household items of all kinds, ranging from furniture to linens to toiletries and cleaning supplies, for Heathwood families impacted by the flood and for our neighbors in the hard-hit South Beltline community. Volunteers will be collecting donations at the Dining Commons tomorrow from 2:30-6:00. For the rest of this week, you can drop off donations any time between the start of school and 6:00 p.m. For a detailed list of what’s needed, go tohttp://www.heathwood.org/news/2015/10/heathwood-helping-hands-how-you-can-help.

Columbia remains under a boil water advisory. Therefore, there will be no running drinking water on campus.  All drinking fountains and faucets will be shut off, and we ask that each child bring a water bottle with clean drinking water for the day.  We will have bottled water available at in the Dining Commons for lunch, and teachers will have additional supplies of bottled water in the classrooms.  On Sunday afternoon, a group of Heathwood dads delivered 192 gallons of water and 316 bottles of water to campus.  Our toilets are all working and flushable, and hand sanitizer will be located in all bathrooms on campus.

All phones and servers are working, and the faculty’s Heathwood.org accounts and Haiku pages should all be functioning. 

Jim McMahon and our dining staff will prepare a sanitary and limited lunch offering with the use of paper and plastic products for serving. 

If you feel the need to have your children with you during this difficult time, we understand.  Please know that their absence will be considered an excused absence.

The following afterschool activities will be held on Monday, 10/12.

  • Varsity athletic practices
  • Play practice
  • Afternoon Express activities

All other afterschool activities will resume on Tuesday.

Heathwood will send an email mid-day on Monday (10/12) to confirm Tuesday’s schedule.  This is the first time that many of us have dealt with an event of this magnitude, and we respectfully ask for your patience as we contemplate decisions that are mindful of the health and safety of your children, sensitive to the state of Columbia, and considerate of our Heathwood families.

While Tuesday’s schedule is tentative, we need to have a regular starts on Wed. 10/14 (PSATs), Thurs., 10/15 (Admissions Open House), and Fri., 10/16 (Grandparents Day).

If you have questions about the schedule or anything else, please contact your child’s division head or me.  I may be reached at hincheyc@heathwood.org or 860-884-9745.  Please keep all of our families in your thoughts and prayers, and I look forward to welcoming your children back to campus in the morning.


Chris Hinchey
Head of School


Dear Heathwood Families,

The Heathwood administrative team met this morning, and we are canceling classes for the remainder of the week: Wednesday, October 7th, Thursday, October 8th, and Friday, October 9th. The safety of our students, faculty/staff, and parents is our primary concern, and we cannot return to campus until we are certain that it is safe for all to be there. This is a lengthy message, but it’s important that you read it in its entirety.

The campus remains inaccessible by vehicle, and we are waiting for the Congaree River to recede. The levees have held thus far, and we are attempting another campus assessment trip this afternoon. Many of you have watched a news video with a brief aerial shot of the campus. All reports indicate that while there is a significant amount of flooding around and near campus, the campus is dry and in good condition. We must evaluate our power and water issues, and the boil water advisory remains in effect. This prevents us from providing the students with safe drinking and sanitary water, and we need time to coordinate alternative washing/drinking supplies if this advisory remains in effect into next week. Our Dining Commons’ food supply was lost, and we will bring in more food once electricity has been restored.

Aside from the issues at Heathwood, there are greater concerns in the wider Columbia community. Many of our families are working to clean up from the flooding, roads are impassable, and water/power issues remain.

The group organizing “Heathwood Helping Hands” met yesterday, and they reached out to all Heathwood families who may have been affected by flooding based on location or reports. That list has been narrowed to approximately 15 families with the greatest need, and we are coordinating visits today to assess how we can help in the coming days. “Heathwood Helping Hands” received over 100 emails with offers to help, and they are working to reply to each of those emails. Please look for a second email later today with a list of our families’ greatest needs and locations for drop-off. This information will also be posted on the website, Facebook, and Instagram.

If your family has been affected by the flooding and you need help, please emailheathwoodhelpinghands@gmail.com. There has been an outpouring from Heathwood families asking how they can help others, so please do not hesitate to let us know how we can assist you. If you are able to aid Heathwood families impacted by the flooding, please email heathwoodhelpinghands@gmail.com.

The Heathwood server is currently down and most faculty and staff cannot send/receive emails from their heathwood.org accounts. However, they can access emails at their heathwood.me accounts. Additionally, we are working to determine whether we can effectively share information about classes via Haiku. Our first priority remains helping our impacted families and campus safety. We are evaluating the benefits of extending the length of the first quarter. All families should expect an email from Division Heads later this week regarding assignments and class work. That being said, if your family has been impacted by the flooding, please do not worry about getting academic work done this week.

We have talked with our school counselors, and they will be reaching out to parents about the services they can provide when school is in session. They will include information and advice about how to help anxious and concerned children.

Please note the following activities:

Postponed TBD

7th Grade Trip

Fall Festival (10/9)

Friday Football game (senior night)

Heathwood/Cardinal Newman Golf Challenge (10/12)

Scheduled as planned

Middle School PEAK Admission Event – Sun., 10/11 (3:00 – 6:00 p.m.)

PSATs - Wed., 10/14

Admissions Open House – Thurs., 10/15

Grandparents Day – Fri., 10/16

My cell phone number is 860-884-9745 if you would like to talk or send me a text.

Please continue your prayers for our impacted families and the Columbia community.

Best regards,

Chris Hinchey
Head of School