Virtual School at the Upper School

What admittedly has been a historically trite introduction, I can sincerely write that I most earnestly hope this communication finds all of you in good health and spirits. We know now that we will end this academic year virtually. And, so, our thinking has had to evolve from how to sustain learning to how we button-up a virtual semester. With change comes bereavement. We want to lean into these responses. On the other hand, we remain grateful for the chance to continue learning and cultivating growth in mind, body, and spirit. And we are hopeful for our reunion and the joy that will accompany it.
 
I am grateful for all of our stakeholders who are engaging this important work. Our faculty and staff have inspired me with their hard work, innovative minds, and can-do attitudes. Our families have partnered with us to keep learning alive and thriving. Our students have engaged this new paradigm with an assiduous energy. And the administration has supported and encouraged the upper school each step of the way. My hat is off to all of you. Thank you.

On Monday, April 20 we will take the next step of our virtual school journey together and begin Phase 3. I’d like to highlight a few Upper School-specific items for you here today. I’ll do so in two categories - Items that will remain the same and items that will change.

Items that will remain the same from Phase 2 to Phase 3:
    • The Daily Academic Schedule
      • Two classes in the morning
      • Wellness Time mid-day
      • Two classes in the afternoon
    • Assignments will be posted to myMA and Google Classroom
    • curioSity day (S Day)
    • Taking attendance - we will continue to take attendance once per day during morning advisory
    • Faculty hours 8:00 am - 4:30 pm; No emails sent after 4:30 pm
Items that will change in Phase III
    • 1 Required AM Advisory Session - 8:45 am        
    • Grading
      • Despite being in a virtual setting, students need accurate feedback and assessment of their own understanding of concepts and skill development. 
      • Upper School will begin assigning grades to student work and these grades will have weight for calculating semester grades
      • We completed one semester in our usual format and our second semester will be in virtual school. Please know your grades from the first semester will count and will be calculated as a part of your year-end grade. 
      • We will have a separate grade for Virtual School, which will be indicated on the year-end report cards that will be available on myMA in June. 
      • For transcripts, to calculate the year-end grade, we will average the two semester grades. We plan to only average in the virtual school grade if it helps the student. If the virtual school grade lowers a student’s standing for the school year, it will not be included and semester 1 will be the year grade. 
      • For semester classes, we will use the Indicator 1 grade as the baseline. If the virtual school grade raises that indicator 1 grade, then it will be used to calculate a year grade. If the virtual grade lowers the indicator 1 grade, then the indicator 1 grade will be used for the year grade. 
    • Narrative Comments
      • Feedback is key for growth and development
      • Individual narrative comments from each teacher have been moved from indicator 2 to the end of the semester. These will illustrate progress and indicate if a student needs to do remediation before the following academic year.
      • In the meantime, you can expect to hear informally from teachers over email or the phone
The College Counseling perspective on all of this:
Colleges and universities have been reaching out regularly to reassure counselors and students that there will be flexibility with grading system changes during the second semester of the 2019-20 academic year.  Many have adopted a test-optional policy for the 2020-21 admissions cycle. See www.fairtest.org for an updated list. They also understand that students are not able to maintain involvement in traditional extracurricular activities.
 
While some high schools have a modified schedule or no school at all, Moravian Academy has maintained a robust and comprehensive virtual academic program where students are fully immersed in their learning.  
 
Because of this flexibility, sustained engagement is key.  This includes but is not limited to:
  • Presence and active participation in synchronous classes
  • Care in completion of assignments and assessments
  • S day pursuit of curiosity.  How are you continuing pursuit of your academic and personal passions/what are you doing both in and out of class to exhibit curiosity/engagement in an academic discipline or other area of interest? 
  • What would a teacher say in a recommendation he/she wrote to support your candidacy?  
  • How will you describe in an essay how you pursued your interests?
  • Pursuit of academic awards and honors necessitates sustained investment in learning.
Seniors, continue to be present and honor yourself and your teachers, engage with integrity, and leave a positive legacy. 

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