March 23, 2020
Dear USJ Families,
We have shared much in the way of preparation for what is now upon us as a nation and a school community, and the purpose of this communication will be to share specifics as we move toward a new phase in education and in school life, at least in the short term, at USJ. We want to walk you through our thought process as well as concrete details concerning next steps, so please read this in its entirety.
This pandemic brings with it many challenges. We must understand that some difficult decisions have been made, and most certainly, there will be more to come. The safety of our families must come first, so at least in the short term, we have cancelled all school activities, meetings, practices, and on-campus gatherings through Sunday April 5. As for the USJ prom which was scheduled for Saturday, April 4th, it has been postponed. We are hopeful the prom can be rescheduled at some point in the future. We will be carrying on the business of school and have a plan in place for virtual learning. Please see details later in this communication.
We did extend Spring break for two days, but we are now prepared to continue school via virtual learning, and we know this will require a shift in mindset and much in the way of effort, patience, and flexibility by all of us.
First, we must establish the correct mindset. Once we have taken care of student safety, let us remind ourselves of the urgency to continue the education of our children. We cannot afford to extend a break from learning any longer. Gaps will emerge quickly unless the school and parents partner to make this a priority. This is not about merely earning a grade or getting “credit” in a class, or just doing the work to advance to the next grade. We must be focused on the intellectual growth and positive habit-building that is necessary to educate our children. To do this in this manner will take a redoubled commitment from teachers, parents,and students alike. This initiative will bring with it challenges, some of which we have not even considered, and will require daily monitoring and communication.
Second, let’s talk action steps and specifics. Fortunately, we are a one-to-one school, and the overwhelming majority of our students have devices and access to the internet at home. They are familiar with on-line work, google classroom, teacher email and submission of work, checking grades via Netclass, as well as other platforms for on-line learning. This does not mean there won’t be problems, but we are in a much better place than most schools in America, be they public or private. Our teachers have been preparing for this day, and they have plans in place to deliver lessons/instruction as soon as we go “live.”
Instructional services, via google classroom, will begin for every class and teacher on Wednesday, March 25. Students need to login to their teachers’ google classroom pages by Wednesday morning for further instructions.
On Monday, March 30 we begin the USJ Online Academy. Students will participate in structured learning led by their teachers as they progress through their daily class schedule. We will use the following template for Middle and Upper School. Classes will begin at 8:30 am, students are expected to follow the class schedule below daily.