March 12, 2020

Dear Steward families,

We hope you are having a fantastic spring break, and that you are getting the rest and rejuvenation you need. The world around us seems to be moving faster than ever, so please use this opportunity to take refuge in family and community connections in order to better engage with the rest of your worldly matters.

In this update on The Steward School’s response to COVID-19 (coronavirus), we will address the following topics:

  • School opening for all students postponed to Monday, March 23; faculty and staff will report back to work as planned for Tuesday, March 17.

  • Updated self-quarantine standard

  • Community life and social distancing

  • Plans for this evolving landscape

School opening for all students postponed to Monday, March 23; faculty and staff will report back to work as planned on Tuesday, March 17.

Prior to the start of break, we trained all faculty and staff on the basics of the hardware and software platforms they will need for program and business continuity in the case of a temporary school closure. Next week, we will provide further training and opportunities for collaboration so faculty can be better prepared for this eventuality. If we move in that direction, it will be a big change for everyone, and we’d like it to be as smooth as possible, knowing there will still be quite a lot to learn.

We look forward to seeing the students on Monday, March 23, at which time we will resume classes in person or remotely online. Middle and Upper School students should begin checking their school email on Wednesday, March 18, as some teachers may send assignments to be completed prior to resuming instruction (in person or online). Students may come to campus to pick up books and class materials on Wednesday, March 18 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. if they did not bring them home before spring break. Please look for further updates on resuming teaching and learning next week.

Updated self-quarantine standard

Before the break, we posted signage on all entrances requesting that people who had recently traveled to CDC Level 3 countries not enter the buildings and instead follow self-quarantine guidelines. We are now updating that standard, based on guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to include CDC Level 2 (for coronavirus) countries as well as for those who recently traveled to California, the state of Washington, and New Rochelle, New York. Please visit the CDC’s coronavirus travel information page or the U.S. Department of State’s COVID-19 travel advisories page for more information on traveling safely.

Community life and social distancing

Our task force is actively monitoring the latest coronavirus updates coming from the World Health Organization (WHO), state and federal agencies, the CDC, VDH, and our colleagues in the region and across the independent school world. These sources are invaluable as we make decisions in response to this fluid landscape.

There are currently no suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus that we know of in our school community, including among those students who traveled during the Minimester week preceding break. All families should be reminded of the need to share information about illness with School Nurse Rebecca Heck at Throughout the school year, she has been tracking information about the flu; she shares this anonymously with VDH, just as she will share any information that comes to us regarding cases of coronavirus or PUIs (cases suspected but not confirmed).

The conversation nationally is turning toward the concept of social distancing. This is an area for which we are still planning, but for now, the UNOS art reception on Tuesday, March 17 is cancelled, and the event for the Network of Enterprising Women on Thursday, March 19 is being rescheduled. Bingo Night will also be rescheduled. As for other cancellations and changes, we will share this news as soon as we have it. We understand that it will be difficult to be out of school and manage the need for social distancing. However, we encourage our families to follow the guidelines provided by U.S. health experts to help slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.

Director of Athletics Bruce Secrest met with the other athletic directors from the TCIS conference this week. Plans are in place to continue competition, though each school understands the necessity of compliance with current and future quarantine and distancing guidelines. All athletic events and practices are cancelled until students return to campus. We will send a separate communication should this decision change.

Plans for this evolving landscape

None of us has been through a situation exactly like this. As mentioned, we are monitoring all available information on a daily basis, and we will update you as we make changes.

We continue to consider facets such as improved engagement for distance learning, community morale and wellness, standards for school closure and “close and clean,” and social distancing for all areas of school life while we are in session. These are among the issues about which we will communicate in the coming days and weeks.

Though it is spring break, the majority of us are able to monitor communications at least partially. We understand there may be family-by-family exigencies, and we also understand this is a potential hardship for child care and family conversations. If you have questions or concerns on these or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me, Lisa Dwelle, Nurse Heck, and the division directors, Ingrid Moore, Susan Atkinson, and Adam Seldis.

Kind regards,

Dan Frank signature

Dan Frank 
Head of School
The Steward School | 11600 Gayton Road | Richmond, VA 23238 | 804-740-3394
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