March 17, 2020

Dear Middle School students, 

First, I hope you are enjoying your extended Spring Break, that you and your families are staying healthy, and that we will all be back on campus together soon! Until we can get back to campus, we will officially begin continuous teaching and learning on Monday, March 23. The purpose of this email is to let you know a little more about how continuous learning online will work in the Middle School.

Continuous learning online
The Middle School faculty and I know that teaching and learning from home will look and feel very different for all of us. For most of you, it will be the first time you have experienced classes taught entirely online. Your teachers have been working diligently in the last few weeks to create interesting and engaging learning materials for you. They will be in touch via email or your Google Classroom starting tomorrow (Wednesday, March 18) to help you be ready for Monday, March 23.

Same but different
The expectation is that you will continue with a “new normal” school daily routine. The eight-day rotation as laid out in the school calendar will continue as usual.There will not be additional homework to complete on top of the normal school day; however, you can expect to be completing school work during school hours. All your classes, including fine arts, wellness, and P.E., will continue online.

A day in the life of a student
By 8 a.m. each morning, you should virtually sign in using this MS Attendance Form. If you are sick and cannot “attend” classes on a given day, your parent should email Mrs. Ashworth at By 8 a.m. each morning, each teacher with whom you would normally have a class on that day will post to Google Classroom a lesson plan that will detail all the learning and resources you will need for the class. Monday, March 23 is Day 5, so by 8 a.m. on Monday morning, you will have work assigned from classes you take in blocks E, C, D, F, G, and B in Google Classroom. Then, Tuesday, March 24, will be Day 6, and so on. Some of the time, the work set each day will be synchronous; this means that you will need to report in and be online during the time the class would normally meet in the schedule (for example, your teacher may give a “live” class through Google Meet during your class period). At other times, the work will be asynchronous; this means the teacher will provide work to be completed at your own pace during the day and then submitted by a deadline set by your teacher. Either way, students will need to be “at their desks” by 8 a.m. each day to “sign in” and check their Google Classroom lesson plans for that day, paying careful attention to be on time for classes that teachers will be instructing “live.”

The Middle School teachers and I are discussing the specifics about how advisories will meet virtually during our time away from school. Once our plan has been finalized, I look forward to sharing it with you.

Office hours
Your teachers will also be available to you during the day for virtual office hours, especially during your regularly-scheduled study hall. You can seek help via email or set up a time in Google Meet. In each Google Classroom, your teachers will post weekly schedules detailing when they will be available for virtual office hours for the upcoming days, in addition to their lesson plans. When you need to connect with your teachers, please reach out to them.

Students who receive tutoring through Steward’s CAL will receive an email from Ms. Petrie in the next couple of days explaining how tutoring will continue online.

Teachers will continue to set assignments and grade your work. Each teacher will communicate with you through Google Classroom and/or email specifics about what the process will look like in each class. To take some of the pressure off during this continuous learning experience, we will be merging Marking Period 3 and Marking Period 4. This means your second semester grade will be an average of all your grades from the start of Marking Period 3 (mid-January) until the end of Marking Period 4; we will not provide separate Marking Period 3 and Marking Period 4 averages. We will, however, use averages as of Friday, March 27 to determine the Headmaster’s List and Honor Roll for Marking Period 3. We also will be in contact with you and your parents if concerns arise about your academic work. At this point, we do not yet know what impact the upcoming weeks will have on second semester exams/tests.

How to be successful: lots of communication!
The next few weeks will be challenging for you, your teachers, and your parents. To help, here are some tips on how to be successful.

  • Develop a daily routine that includes academic time, physical activity, creative time, and time to help with chores around your house. Use your school planner or this MS daily planner. Talk with adults in your life about how they can help you establish this new routine.
  • During the academic portion of your day, cell phones should be turned off and put away as would be expected during a normal school day.
  • Communicate any concerns to your teachers, Ms.Petrie, or me via email. We want to help and support you!
  • Check your Steward email regularly (at least twice a day) and reply to emails within 24 hours.
  • When using Google Meet, use your earbuds or choose a suitable location in your house that does not have background noise. Also, remember to use appropriate classroom manners during video conferences.
  • It is very important for you to keep up your social connections virtually, but please make sure that they are positive interactions.
  • Remote learning will work most effectively if you take responsibility for your learning, continue to develop self-advocacy skills, and communicate openly with your teachers.
  • If you have any questions, please email the appropriate teacher, Ms. Petrie, or me. As your feedback is very important to me, I also plan to send a quick survey to you and your parents on Friday, March 27 to get some reactions to our first week of continuous learning.

Collecting your belongings
If you left belongings in a school locker and you need them at home, please email me at by Thursday, March 19 at 9 a.m. We will collect your belongings, bag them up, and have them ready for you to pick up on Thursday, March 19 between 12-2 p.m.

I hope to see you back on campus soon! In the meantime, I look forward to seeing the exciting work that will be accomplished online beginning on Monday, March 23.


Mrs. Atkinson 
Director of Middle School
The Steward School | 11600 Gayton Road | Richmond, VA 23238 | 804-740-3394
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