March 17, 2020

Dear Middle School parents, 

I hope that you and your family are doing well and that I will see you and your children back on Steward’s campus in the not-too-distant future. Right now, however, self-quarantining and social distancing are the smartest ways to help our families and our greater community as we face this unprecedented health crisis. During the time that we are physically away from school, we want to keep the Middle School students actively engaged and learning remotely, using many of the same tools they would use during a regular school day. The Middle School faculty and staff are working diligently to prepare for our “new normal” school days.

We are trying to make this transition as smooth as possible for the Middle School students, while also not having the students spend extended hours on their iPads each day. To help the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students keep to their familiar routine, the eight-day rotation will continue (so Monday, March 23 will be Day 5 as noted in the student planners). We will ask Middle School students to virtually sign in each morning by 8 a.m. by completing this MS Attendance Form.

If your child is sick and cannot “attend” classes on a given day, please email Karen Ashworth at Karen.Ashworth@stewardschool.org. Middle School faculty will post in Google Classroom by 8 a.m. each morning with specific details about the learning plan for that day and resources that are needed by the students. Sometimes, the teachers will meet virtually through Google Meet with the students at the same time that their class would normally occur; at other times, the faculty will provide work for the students to complete at their own pace during the day. Regardless, the teachers will be in regular contact with their students via email and Google Classroom. We are also working out the details regarding virtual meetings for advisory groups and will be in touch once they have been finalized.

Given the disruption to the normal learning process, we will be merging Marking Period 3 and Marking Period 4. This means that your child’s second semester grade will be an average of all 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.

Most Middle School students did a very thorough job of emptying their lockers of all necessary materials prior to spring break. If your child left belongings in a school locker that are now needed at home, please email me at Susan.Atkinson@stewardschool.org by Thursday, March 19 at 9 a.m. We will collect your child’s belongings, bag them up, and have them ready for you to pick up on Thursday, March 19 between 12-2 p.m.

We recognize that the current situation is challenging for everyone and that it will be difficult for families to maintain a sense of normalcy in the upcoming weeks. I hope that the bullet points below highlight some strategies for families to use during this continuous learning experience.

  • Help your child develop a daily routine that includes academic time, physical activity, creative time, and time to help with household chores.
  • During the academic portion of your child’s day, cell phones should be turned off and put away as would be expected during a normal school day.
  • Ask your child questions. Talk about the continuous learning activities, upcoming deadlines, and workload.
  • Remind your child to communicate any concerns to his or her teacher(s), Dean of Student Support Chris Petrie, or me via email.
  • Remind your child to use earbuds or choose a suitable location in your house that does not have background noise when using Google Meet. Also, remind your child to use appropriate classroom manners during video conferences.
  • Create opportunities for your child to interact with peers virtually to maintain connections with their school community. As children (and adults) will be relying even more heavily on their cell phones in the upcoming weeks, remind them that all interactions should be positive ones, and that you can periodically check each phone’s history.

As I reminded the Middle School students in my email to them, communication is critical to successfully learning remotely. Please reach out to your child’s teachers or me as questions arise for you or your child. I also plan to send a quick survey to Middle School parents and students on Friday, March 27 to get some feedback regarding our first week of continuous learning.

I hope to see everyone back on campus soon! Until then, please take care of yourselves and your families.

Best,

Susan Atkinson 
Director of Middle School

Resources:

www.stewardschool.org
The Steward School | 11600 Gayton Road | Richmond, VA 23238 | 804-740-3394
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