March 17, 2020

Dear Upper School students, 

This is a long communication, but an important one, so please bear with me. Many of you will have seen Mr. Frank’s recent emails informing the community that spring break will be extended to include this week; additionally, beginning Monday, March 23, continuous teaching and learning will start online. The purpose of this email is to let you know a little more about how continuous learning online at Steward will work.

Continuous learning online
We know that learning from home will look and feel very different. For most, it will be the first time you have experienced classes taught entirely online. Your teachers have been working hard the last few weeks to create interesting and engaging learning materials for you. They will be in touch via email from tomorrow onwards to help you be ready for Monday. In the first instance, your teacher will be setting up a Google Classroom for each class, if they haven’t already. Google Classroom will be the primary location for all teaching and learning resources.

Same but different
For students, the expectation is that you will continue with a normal school daily routine, albeit from home. The eight-day rotation as laid out in the school calendar will continue as usual. Except for AP subjects, 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 arts and seminars, will continue online.

A day in the life of a student
By 8 a.m. each morning you will need to digitally check in using a Google form that will be emailed to you. Also by 8 a.m. each teacher with whom you would normally have a class on that day will post to Google Classroom a lesson planner 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, in Google Classroom you will have work assigned from classes you take in blocks E, C, D, B, G, and F. Then, Tuesday will be Day 6, and so on. Much 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). Other times, the work will be asynchronous; this means the teacher will provide work to be completed at your own pace during the day. In this instance, you would likely not have to report in with the teacher at the normal class time. However if, for example, you have an asynchronous class at 8 a.m. to which you aren’t required to report in, you will be expected to report back at 9:05 a.m. for second period, at 10:35 a.m. for third period, and so forth. Either way, you will need to be “at your desk” by 8 a.m. each day to both digitally check in as well as establish what that academic day will entail.

Office hours
Your teachers will also be available to you during the day for virtual office hours. You can seek help via email or set up a time to Google Meet. In each Google Classroom, in addition to the lesson planner, your teacher will post a weekly schedule detailing when they will be available for virtual office hours for the upcoming days. If 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. McCoy in the coming days explaining how tutoring will continue online.

Teachers will continue to set assignments and grade your work. Each teacher will communicate with you what that process will look like in his or her class; however, you can expect more participation and engagement grades, given the nature of online learning. To take some of the pressure off, for the purposes of grading, we will be merging MP3 and MP4. This means your second semester grade will be an average of all your grades from the start of MP3 (mid-January) until the end of MP4; we will not provide separate averages for MP3 and MP4. Outstanding assignments from before Minimester will still need to be completed, and your teachers will be in contact with you about these. Classes that are due to start or stop in MP4 will do so as normal. We do not yet know what impact the pandemic will have on second semester exams. Students are expected to adhere to the Steward Honor Code with all their academic work. Mrs. Jeter will be reaching out to all students and families about the impact of the move to continuous online learning on the college process.

Attendance and participation
Just as during normal school time, attendance at synchronous learning sessions is required, as is the completion of class tasks and assignments in the timeframe the teacher provides. Students will be expected to digitally check in each day by 8 a.m. through a Google form that will be emailed to them. Teachers will be prompt at reaching out to parents about attendance and completion issues. If you are unable to make a session or complete a task or assignment, you need to reach out to your teacher via email. Grades will be given for participation and engagement. If you are sick, your parents will need to email Mrs. Healey, as per normal.

How to be successful: communication, communication, communication
The next few weeks will be a challenge for everyone. To help, here is an infographic (below) with some tips on how to be successful. It is so important for you to keep up your virtual social connections, permissible outdoor activities, and time away from screens. It is also important that you don’t suffer in silence; if you need academic support, please proactively reach out to your teachers. We are all here to help and support you. The only way continuous learning online will work is if you take greater responsibility for your learning, develop your self-advocacy skills, and communicate openly with your teachers. You should communicate through normal Steward channels: email or Google Classroom. It is an expectation that you will check your Steward email regularly (at least twice a day) and reply to emails within 24 hours.

Good to go
Hopefully, this information will help you to be ready to go on Monday, March 23. But, just in case you still have questions, I thought I’d share a video of me explaining the above in a different way. I also recommend that you use a daily planner each day (such as this one) to help organize yourself and these online learning guidelines. As ever, if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to your teacher or the appropriate administrator.

Collecting belongings
For those who left belongings in their lockers at school (books, folders, etc), you can collect them between 12-2 p.m. on Thursday, March 19. Please drive up to the main doors of the Upper School building, and someone will retrieve the contents of your locker for you. We are asking that students or families do not leave their cars.

We will miss seeing you in person, but we can’t wait to see you all online starting Monday, March 23.


Dr. Seldis 
Director of Upper School
The Steward School | 11600 Gayton Road | Richmond, VA 23238 | 804-740-3394
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