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- May 15th Update
- May 8th Update for Families
- May 1st Update
- April 24 Update for Families
- April 17th Update for Families
- March 27 Update for Families
- March 20 Update
- FAQ Anticipating Financial Questions
- COVID - 19 Closure - Details for the Week of March 16 -20
- March 16 - School by Schoology eLearning Information for Parents
- March 15 - School Closure
- March 12 - Evening Message
- March 12 - Morning Messsage
- March 8 Update
- Summer International Travel Update
Dear Marshall Community,
I hope many of you were able to join us for the Upper School Awards Ceremony last night. It sure felt good to honor student achievement. The event itself was the first of many year-end celebrations. You will be hearing about details for Commencement, Eighth Grade Moving-Up Day, and two new events—Ivy Laureate and our graduation pick up parade—over the course of the next several days. The senior class learned of these events just this afternoon, and we are now ready to send invitations and launch our new Graduation 2020 webpage. Stay tuned!
We are beginning to realize that virtual events are particularly labor intensive on the front end and are also highly collaborative projects. For that reason, I have not spent as much time crafting this weekly letter, and the Principal's letter to parents, which typically arrives in your inbox on Thursday, will be sent tomorrow. As was the case a few weeks ago, I will take this opportunity to provide updates on several topics and use subheads so you can skip ahead to the topics that are most relevant to you.
About 50 families replied to last week's survey regarding our transition to eLearning. Of the respondents, 88% felt their student(s) remain engaged and 75% checked "highly" or "fully" engaged. These are impressive numbers for sure and credit is due all around. As I have said before, we were able to transition effectively because we leveraged strong relationships. For the most part, parents do not feel overly involved in the learning process. There are a few exceptions, however, as 18% report they are highly involved. These parents should feel free to connect with us for help if that level of involvement is not desired. Our learning specialists do have office hours during the school day. Lastly, 85% of respondents report no change or minimal change to the workload. This feedback, along with the open ended responses, will be helpful should we have to return to eLearning at some point in the future. With a summer to plan, our eLearning program will only improve, so thank you for completing the survey. If you still wish to do so, here is the link once again.
Next week's Town Hall presentation on will be devoted almost entirely to previewing the '20-'21 school year. We will present four scenarios and discuss the conditions that would predicate shifting from one method of instruction to another. Because so many of us have seen the Governor's presentations, we will use his "turning the dial" metaphor, and discuss what school might look like depending on where we are "on the dial." The Town Hall will be at 6:30 Thursday evening via Zoom, and we will record the session and make the PowerPoint available for those who cannot attend.
For the Q&A portion of the Town Hall, we will ask that you submit your questions via Zoom. Tony Lockhart will moderate this portion of the broadcast and direct your question to the appropriate panelist. We know you will have many questions, and we will plan a follow up session if necessary. Although the landscape remains uncertain, data and science will continue to drive our decision making. With each passing week, we feel increasingly confident that we can and will deliver high quality education regardless of the challenges. We hope you are able to join the call.
Although the Governor is relaxing some restrictions effective Monday, campus will remain closed next week. There are several reasons for this but, suffice it to say, we are simply not ready to reopen the building. Next Friday's email will look ahead to the following week; we know people are anxious to gather belongings and we have a schedule for that forthcoming. But, it will not be next week.
A Final Thought
This was a busy week, as will be the case for the rest of the school year. We will be sending you lots of information this weekend and next week. There are some nice surprises in store for the senior class, and they deserve to be celebrated. Thank you for your patience and for sharing your ideas. With the weather turning nice, we are looking forward to a great finish to this crazy school year.
Have a nice weekend,
May 8, 2020
Dear Parents, Friends & Guardians,
Three weeks ago today, I wrote to you using a marathon metaphor and briefly touched on a topic that has sparked follow up conversation. Towards the end of that letter, I asked rhetorically how a parent might accurately assess a child's relative progress in this new learning format. While it is true Marshall students still interact with their teachers on a daily basis, parents are clearly more involved right now—we are classroom managers and motivational speakers. To be sure, this dual role has its challenges, but it also provides a unique window into our children as learners. We are seeing our children's learning habits up close, and yet we lack a comparison group to use as a yardstick.
Since I did not answer the question then, I will attempt to do so now. To assess your child's progress at this unusual time, I would encourage you to ignore two methodologies frequently employed by concerned parents--grade scrutiny and peer comparison. Instead, assess your child's progress by reflecting on your ultimate wishes for him or her. In other words, when you think of education, what is it that you want most for your children? And, are they currently making progress towards that end?
Research conducted by our national organization (NAIS) suggests that independent school parents can be divided into four categories based on what they hope an education will solve or accomplish. There are those parents who: (1) fear their children are falling behind and seek to get them back on track; (2) recognize intellectual giftedness or undiscovered potential in their children and wish to keep them challenged; (3) seek whole child education including socio-emotional growth and desire to graduate good citizens; and, (4) want their children to attend top colleges and/or strive for excellence in the workplace.
Obviously, if this delineation is true, many Marshall parents have different expectations for our school and for our eLearning environment. The parent who fears a child may fall behind, for instance, will want to measure how Marshall is faring in content delivery; whereas, parents of students who display giftedness will want to see their children are retaining curiosity as they learn remotely. Given that this pandemic offers us a rare opportunity to step back and look at things anew, I encourage all of you to watch your kids through this lens and determine whether they are progressing towards your aspiration. If it is socio-emotional growth you desire, for instance, measure how much resilience and empathy they display during the school day. If placement in a top college is your objective, assess whether we are maintaining the integrity of our honors and Advanced Placement courses.
Let's face it. During this Stay-at-Home mandate, we are serving a dual role; one that is not fully embraced by our children. By understanding our own wishes for our children, we should be able to think more deeply about the purpose of education and the development of our children as individuals. Doing so just may alleviate some of the pressure that infects education: the notion that our children need to measure up to external standards.
We really do want your feedback right now. We know that, despite the challenges in front of us, we have an opportunity to emerge as an even stronger school. We are fortunate to have a program that can meet the expectations of all four parent types, but we require your feedback to know how we are performing. Please think ahead to the fall and let us know how we might meet your expectations regardless of future circumstances. If we are fully in session, what might we do better? And, if we are online or delivering in a hybrid fashion, how might we partner with you to help your child achieve and grow?
We aim to serve all four parent types well and believe we will even be better able to do so in the future as a result of this disruption.
Have a great weekend, and please consider answering this brief survey to help us learn and improve.
Family Feedback on eLearning Survey
Dear Parents, Guardians, & Friends,
Plans are useless but planning is indispensable. -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
I have heard this Eisenhower quote referenced several times in the past few weeks, and I understand it better each time I hear it. When you cannot predict the future, how do you create detailed plans? That said, we understand the urgent need to know pertinent information related to both reenrollment and year-end events, and we are ready to answer some of your questions. This Friday letter is intended to be more informational than the previous communications. We appreciate your patience, and we are pleased to share some thoughts and plans. I will group these by category, so you can identify the topics that interest you most.
Here is the latest information regarding the date, time, and format of several year-end events
Eighth Grade Moving On Day will be a virtual event scheduled for June 2. The Middle School Leadership Team is still working on the final format and will provide more details soon.
Upper School Awards Assembly will be a virtual event scheduled for May 14 at 7:00 PM. Parents and students will be invited to attend.
Ivy Laureate. Ivy Chapel and Baccalaureate will be combined into a single, special event scheduled for the first week of June, the exact date and time will be set next week. Chaplain Lon Weaver and the Fine Arts Faculty will contact students soon regarding readings and performances. We are really excited about this new format. That same day, the seniors and parents will be invited to campus for a Graduation Pickup Event, this will be a drive-thru event and seniors will collect all of their awards, graduation attire, and some special gifts to celebrate this important milestone.
Graduation. We ask that you save two possible dates for a Commencement Ceremony, June 7 and June 20. Why two dates? As we monitor the spread of the virus locally, we will soon know definitively whether an in-person gathering on June 7 will be at all possible. If the June 7 date looks highly unlikely but the June 20 offers more possibility, we will move Commencement to June 20. If it appears we will be under the same restrictions on both dates, we will keep Commencement on the 7th. We will make a final decision very soon. That decision will be guided by data and science. It is unrealistic to think that our ultimate plan will be the favorite of every family, but we have taken many factors into consideration and we truly believe we will have a special event planned to honor the Class of 2020 in an unforgettable format.
The '20-'21 School Year
We are now able to offer some preliminary thoughts about next year's calendar and return to campus. First, let me start by stating emphatically that we will begin classes in August and deliver high quality education. That much is certain. As I mentioned above, we are looking at multiple scenarios so we are ready when we have a better understanding of what we will be facing come August. While the planning is complicated, there is little need to worry about the final plan right now. Here's why: Essentially, we are looking at three possibilities: opening school fully in session with necessary precautions; opening school fully online; or opening in a way that utilizes both in-person and online instruction. We already know how to deliver the highest quality education in person, and we are better each week delivering online content. That won't change. So, in essence, the third scenario is simply a combination of two things we do exceptionally well. The work in front of our team, therefore, is not to reinvent school but to hammer out the logistics. We are doing that work right now, and keeping certain priorities in mind. Once we have a clearer outlook regarding the virus and its mitigation, we will present a plan for the fall that accomplishes each of the following goals:
- Eases Disruption
- Promotes Student and Teacher Sustainability
- Works for Many
- Allows for Flexibility
- Keeps us all Healthy
Here are two thoughts we can preview at the moment. First, the school year itself will likely look the same, but it probably will not be divided into two semesters. Instead, it may be rearranged into smaller terms in order to accomplish the first three objectives listed above. Secondly, the first day of school may move a few days earlier if doing so enables us to begin the year with a longer, uninterrupted stretch.
Obviously, we will continue to update you on the fall schedule. Should the State of Minnesota begin reopening on May 18, we will immediately start the next phase of detailed planning.
Reenrollment and Emergency Financial Assistance
We have updated our website with a page for current families, you can access it here. The page outlines the three types of assistance available to Marshall families. Only one type of funding is new and you can read about it under "COVID-19 Emergency Funding through the Community Fund." This new type of assistance is specifically for returning families who have incurred job loss, loss of business income, or health concerns related to the COVID-19 Crisis. The new web page includes a link to an application for this funding, as well as a brief FAQ. We are actively seeking donations to the Fund so that we can meet the needs of as many current families as possible, please visit the website here to contribute.
My Administrative Team is working tirelessly at the moment to manage eLearning, facilitate a boarding program, redesign year-end events, balance budgets, ease worries about the transition to college, enroll new families, and plan for an unknown future. I know you have many questions, and I encourage you to keep asking. They need to know what is on your mind, and they are eager to work with you. But, I would be remiss if I did not end with these thoughts: I have never worked alongside a more dedicated group. Everything they planned this week required multiple iterations and contingencies. The work amidst this crisis is the most complex we have ever undertaken, and it all has urgency. Thank you for your continued patience, and a special thanks to the Administrative Team who are working in an unsung capacity to keep us running smoothly.
Have a great weekend,
Dear Parents, Friends, & Guardians,
Raise your hand if you are especially tired by the time Friday afternoon rolls around.
Wow, that's a lot of hands! But I get it. It is challenging indeed to manage today and plan for tomorrow not knowing what the future will bring. I spoke to the senior class today and, while they were disappointed to learn the Governor had cancelled onsite learning through the end of the school year, they are also a bit relieved. Any form of certainty these days alleviates some degree of worry.
Yesterday, I took a phone call from a reporter asking me to speak about the senior class. Although I did not anticipate the call nor have prepared remarks, it was easy to brag about this group. Despite the challenge of learning in a new way, the disappointment of missing classmates, and the weight of the unknown, these young adults are showing incredible resilience. Their effort and attitude in the face of this disruption is a source of inspiration to me, even at the end of these long weeks.
We based our decision to follow the Governor's guidance on the firm belief that such a course is the safest alternative for our community and the most conducive method of completing the current semester effectively. As was the case for the seniors, we felt some disappointment in making the decision and some relief in establishing more certainty. With that question answered, we are more able to turn our attention to planning our future. The purpose of today's talk with the seniors, for instance, was to work with them to envision a meaningful commencement ceremony, and they have great ideas.
In due time, we will present some possible reopening scenarios. Increasingly, we believe we will begin next school year on campus. That said, some changes to the school calendar now seem inevitable, and the possibility of a staggered restart deserves our attention. Just this week, better models have been made available to independent schools and, undoubtedly, these models will help us plan an academic year and reentry strategy that offers us the best chance at mitigating disruption. When it is time to restart, we will be fully prepared.
Yesterday, you may have received an email reminding you that the reenrollment process is still open, and that reenrollment data is essential to future planning. The email elicited a few questions regarding emergency assistance and flexible payment schedules. Our ultimate reenrollment plan will incorporate both, but we are still working through the details. As I have said before, communities that work together during times of crisis emerge even stronger, and that is our ambition. Trust that we will work with you. Know that is our clear intention.
One tool we will leverage in order to bridge families through these tough economic times is the Community Fund. The Community Fund was established last fall by a current Marshall family, and since then several other donors have stepped forward to contribute. The Fund itself is a real blessing and will enable families to stay with us next fall. If good fortune has other current families in a position to do so, supporting this fund now is the absolute best way to ensure we emerge from this crisis even stronger.
I am interested in knowing your thoughts and concerns about eLearning now that we have completed five weeks. Please feel free to reach out by email and look for an invitation to join a virtual town hall in early May. We know you are anxious to hear our plans for next year, and we will provide them very soon. In the meantime, we wish to remain responsive and keep the channels of communication open.
Have a great weekend,
Dear Parents, Friends & Guardians,
We have made it to the end of our fourth week of distance learning. When the week began, our Leadership Team thought we would have more information regarding Minnesota's plans to reopen. Without those plans, we do not have much to offer by way of a substantive update. We are looking at multiple scenarios, including a spring return and a fall return, but we do not intend to finalize those plans until we know which scenario is more likely. So, absent logistical updates, I will use this edition of my Friday letter to offer some perspective on the challenge our students are encountering.
When you run a marathon, passing certain mile markers can have a profound effect on the psyche, sometimes making the ultimate goal feel more attainable and other times sowing the seeds of doubt. Nonetheless, the markers are predictable and serve as reminders of our progress. Unfortunately, our kids have no such guideposts at the moment; they are engaged in an endurance event without mile markers, working towards a finish line which may not even be visible when they arrive. I can only imagine the moments of frustration and self-doubt they are experiencing!
If I may extend this metaphor, and if you have run a road race, think for a second of that one supportive stranger along the marathon route who provides just the right message at just the right time. "Keep going; nice pace; you're looking strong." Here, at the end of week four, we are at that point in the race where we need to be that cheerleader, as our children will undoubtedly begin to lose stamina soon.
Here's the tricky part: having not seen a race like this before, nor had this sort of extended opportunity to watch our own children learn, how would we know if our children "are looking strong"? How can we accurately judge their pace? Well, that's the whole point of this long analogy. We don't have to do that. Our kids don't need us to judge right now; they simply need our reassurance.
I shared this analogy with Dylan Chernov, our learning specialist, and asked if he could provide a few tips on how to support our children effectively. He shared this great thought: In bigger marathons, runners can follow "pacers," accomplished runners who sustain a pace associated with a desired finish time. Pacers don't say much and they certainly don't over coach. They just run along holding a sign with a finish time such as 3:30, which is the shared goal or the ultimate objective. So, let's remind our students of the ultimate goal, which is to complete a semester of eLearning--under difficult circumstances--to the best of their ability. Framing this endeavor in these terms may just spark a second wind.
That said, don't worry too frequently about your child's actual "mile pace." When I ran my first marathon in Rhode Island, one strange peculiarity threatened to derail me entirely. On the loneliest stretch of the course, I encountered a runner who was alternatively walking then sprinting in half mile intervals. The first time I passed him, I gained confidence; the tenth time he passed me, I was simply befuddled. As our students transition to eLearning, some will maintain a steady pace and others will work in fits-and-starts. I don't recall whether that runner beat me to the tape, but I know we both finished the race. Our students will cross the finish line as well and, hopefully we will be there to applaud them.
As I said in an earlier letter, we are learning valuable lessons from schools in areas that shuttered earlier than we did. The further we go into this surreal adventure, the more educators are encouraging teachers and parents to practice flexibility and understanding. We should listen to this advice and we should also take a minute to recognize our students for their sheer resilience. I know our teachers are quite proud of the effort and determination our students have displayed. I am, too. This is an extraordinary challenge and these Hilltoppers are proving they are up to the task.
Have a great weekend. I hope you are able to close those screens, turn off those devices, and get some fresh air.
Dear Marshall Families,
I received a lovely email at the end of the school day on Thursday. It was a thank you directed to the administrative team for playing a part in transitioning our students to eLearning. The email included a quote from an eighth grader who said, "Mom, I honestly don't know what I would do without school. It feels good to see people and have a schedule...it helps things feel....well...normal."
Earlier in the day I had read an article by David Brooks about morality in a time of pandemic. Brooks quoted the psychiatrist and Austrian Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl. The quote was provocative and so I spent some time reading about Frankl, before coming across another quote of his: Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
In that instant, I realized something profound. Any gratitude expressed towards me in the last few weeks should rightfully be directed back to the sender. In the case of yesterday's email, for instance, the thanks is due to this grateful eighth grader who has chosen an attitude which enables him to see the positive. Indeed, choosing a positive attitude--as hard as that might be right now--may be the most important gift we can give to one another during this crisis.
The other day on a Zoom call, a Head of School from New York offered a few lessons based on his experience holding a community together after 9/11. The ability to adapt, he said, is more important than the plan itself. Marshall did have a good plan to transition to distance learning; that is true. But, more importantly, we have teachers, students, and parents who are willing to adapt. The administrative team is appreciative of the thanks we have received, but we also acknowledge that the work is now as much yours as it is ours. And, so, we thank you for your confidence in our plan and your willingness to transition with us.
We have not set a definite reopen date, but we suspect we will follow the Governor's guidance and learn from home for all of April. In the next several days, we will reach out to you by phone and/or survey to gather your feedback, learn from it, and adapt to the longer shutdown together. When we get through this ordeal, we may just find that we are more resilient and more gracious as a result.
For now, here's to staying positive. Enjoy the weekend; choose your own way.
Hello Parents and Guardians,
Thank you for your patience and words of encouragement as our school adjusted this week to unprecedented changes brought on by COVID-19. As the situation continues to change, we will continue to adjust and modify our plans to make sure we are putting student safety first. For the week of March 23, we will continue with School by Schoology eLearning for all students. Students, teachers, and parents are in daily contact with principals and IT staff to fine tune any issues related to content and delivery.
Next week, we are restricting access to the building. Only dorm residents and essential staff will be able to access the building for at least two weeks. The building will be closed to all others. These procedures are extra cautious, but they are a necessary caution to maintain the healthiest environment for our dormitory residents.
Here are some other important notes:
- The best way to contact school administrators or teachers is through email. Contact information is available here. The school switchboard will not be staffed during the building closure.
- The 9th Grade Registration Night scheduled for March 30th is cancelled. More information about student registration will be mailed home soon.
- We have fully launched eLearning, and we would appreciate your feedback about what is going well and what issues need to be addressed. Feel free to contact your division principal with your thoughts.
- We have many resources available for student support throughout eLearning.
- Learning Specialists: Dylan Chernov or Karen Stiles .
- School Counselors: Colleen Bender - MS or Jessica Saxton - US.
- Technology: Tony Lockhart or Amanda Houle.
- Division Leaders: Assistant Principal Matt Whittaker; MS Principal Karen Snyder; US Principal Heather Fishel.
- We will continue to share updates. Look for those on the Marshall School COVID-19 page.
Teachers and educators from across the country have shared a number of thoughtful and helpful letters this week. Dr. Bill Hudson, the Head at Mounds Park Academy, wrote about "change" in a letter to his community yesterday:
"Many years ago, I learned an important lesson about change, be it societal, organizational, or educational: first different, then better. Most people want things to be better, but not different. In these extraordinary times we find ourselves in, everything is most certainly different. The education your students will experience is no exception … our can-do spirit will endure and we will continue to offer meaningful, engaging, and substantive learning activities as we move to a virtual school model."
He added this thought about good teaching:
"Great teachers employ a variety of methods and pedagogical techniques, intermingling a number of different activities in one class period. I've said it many times over the last few weeks that great teachers make great online teachers."
Marshall has always had great teachers, so it is no surprise that we have great online teachers, too. I am pleased to hear good reports regarding our transition. As an independent school, our very independence gives us an advantage. We are, by design, a bit more nimble and a bit more able to adapt. Even remotely, we will continue to adapt to support our students.
Education is indeed important, but our crisis team is thinking about even more important matters heading into this weekend, namely your health and well being. Please take care and follow the advice of experts.
Dear Marshall Families,
We are making plans to have a member of our team place a phone call to each Marshall family over the course of the next week to hear how the transition to eLearning has worked for you and to see if you have specific concerns related to this unprecedented disruption. We are certain you have questions on a variety of topics including: the reopening process, co-curricular activities, testing, and graduation. We are doing our very best to anticipate these questions and provide answers as quickly as we can. For example, below is a quick FAQ anticipating some of your questions related to current and future financial obligations.
It may sound cliché, but we are indeed "in this together." Please know that we seek to be flexible and understanding as we navigate uncertain financial times together. We will work with each family to address particular concerns related to job loss and other changes in circumstance. At the same time, we seek to weather this storm and emerge with enough financial stability to maintain our rich program. We thank you for your patience as we continue to plan, research, and adapt to the ever-changing current events.
Q: I paid for lunches that my child(ren) will not use. Will I be reimbursed?
A: For students in grades 4-11, the unused portion of your lunch account will be rolled forward and credited to next year. Students in grade 12 will receive a refund for the unused portion of their lunch account. Families experiencing job loss and significant financial hardship may contact the business office to request a refund rather than a credit.
Q: Our deposit is due for next year, will I lose my spot if I cannot make that payment?
A: We will work with all families who are concerned about meeting the enrollment deadline, especially those who experience significant hardship. To that end, please contact the admissions office if you would like us to hold a place for your child yet you feel you are not able to make the deposit or first payment. If and when a grade level nears full capacity, we will contact you to examine your options. If you are able to make your deposit now and keep up your payment plan, our hope is that you will consider doing so. The school is also managing its resources carefully and will continue to require income to meet its operational costs.
Q: Will the school consider alternate fee structures given my family's unique circumstances?
A: We are working with TADS, our third-party payment service, to explore other payment options. We are in discussions about suspending late fees as well. We will communicate again when we have better answers. We suspect we will be able to suspend late fees for families who have experienced job loss. Again, if you are experiencing financial hardship and want to discuss this year's tuition obligation, please contact the business office. If you anticipate financial hardship and wish to discuss next year's enrollment, please contact the Admissions Office.
Q: Will next year's tuition be refunded if school does not reopen in August?
A: We anticipate we will be open next year. We are eager to welcome families back to the Hilltop and resume our full program. If anything were to change, we would provide families with advanced notice and have a plan in place.
Hello Parents, Guardians, Students, & Friends,
Thank you for your patience and words of encouragement as our Crisis Team navigates this complex and ever-changing health crisis. Your support means a great deal to each of us. Further, your level of trust and understanding inspires confidence that these cautious measures will, indeed, make a difference for all of us as we band together in a best effort to mitigate the spread of this virus.
Below, we offer some clarifications about our staged transition to eLearning.
- Monday, March 16 will be a professional day allowing teachers to prep for eLearning. No classes or practices are scheduled. Students needing to collect belongings will need to check in at the office. If necessary, small groups can meet with approval of an administrator, but will need to take recommended precautions.
- On Tuesday, March 17, the school will close to non-essential personnel. This will be a good day for students to catch up on homework or organize a personal learning space. We will provide some recommendations regarding a personal workspace in a subsequent communication.
- On Wednesday, March 18 we will begin eLearning at 10:00 and "classes" will run until 3:00. The principals will write to you tomorrow with more detail and will be available to answer questions about logistical concerns. Families lacking internet access should contact the principals ASAP.
Here are some answers to questions we anticipate you might have:
- The nurses will be available during building hours Monday to return any emergency medication families may need. Controlled medications should be picked up by a parent and cannot be returned to a student. Please contact the nurses at healthcenter@ marshallschool.org
- Athletic practices and contests are cancelled until March 30 per the MSHSL.
- Drama, speech, robotics, and Destination Imagination are also cancelled.
- The Fitness Center will close on Monday.
- A weekly eLearning schedule will be sent to you tomorrow.
- This week's concert has been postponed.
- As of today, we do plan to host a virtual auction on Saturday.
- Next week's parent-teacher conferences will be rescheduled, and eLearning will continue on Thursday and Friday the 26th and 27th.
A few final thoughts for today:
- The effort on the part of our classroom teachers has been truly remarkable. We are able to move fairly seamlessly to eLearning because our teachers take pride in their craft and truly care about your children. Marshall is fortunate to have such good people on staff.
- We will be providing more resources related to the care of your children, especially those who are feeling vulnerable. Look for those resources on the Marshall School COVID-19 page.
- Having closed earlier than most other schools, Seattle educators have set a remarkable precedent for sharing advice with the rest of us. Teachers conducting online instruction in hard-hit states remind us of the importance of flexibility, simplicity, and patience. Not everything will go smoothly, but we will get there. The student-teacher relationship at Marshall is especially strong; as we transition to eLearning, maintaining that relationship is a top priority, as it will inevitably guide us through the challenges and successes.
Please be well and take care of your children. We remain your partners in this journey. If you have further questions or concerns, simply reply to this email, and we will connect you with the right person.
School by Schoology eLearning. Thanks to the support of our Technology Department and in partnership with division directors and faculty leaders, we are ready to launch eLearning. This communication includes schedules, procedures, updates, and resources for both the middle and upper school. First and foremost, flexibility will be important as we transition to eLearning. While eLearning won’t replicate a school day, we absolutely expect that teaching and learning will continue despite the changes. More than ever, it will require a partnership between teachers, students, and families.
Students should be ready for each class daily. Teachers will communicate learning activities and assignment expectations with students through our learning management platform, Schoology. Activities and assignments will be available on Schoology by 9:30 a.m. There will be approximately 30-40 minutes of instruction, assignments, and activities for each class.
Coursework will include a combination of scheduled and independent activities. There will be some days when a student’s work for a course is entirely independent. Each week students can plan on having individual and group touchpoints with their teachers. These might include synchronous class meetings, participation in group or video chats, discussions, and interactions on Google Documents. Furthermore, advisors will check in weekly with their advisees, and our counselors, Colleen Bender and Jessica Saxton will be available electronically from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm to support student’s well-being and mental health during eLearning.
Schedule. Classes will follow a rotating schedule of Even and Odd class days. Teachers will be available virtually during their scheduled class time. Tables 1 and 2 provide more information about class sequencing and schedule.
Additionally, we have postponed parent-teacher conferences, originally scheduled for Thursday (3/26) and Friday 3(27), to allow students and teachers to get into the rhythm of eLearning before pausing for spring break. The April spring break dates will remain the same, and students will not be expected to attend eLearning classes nor complete coursework during the break.
Study Space. In addition to creating routine and consistency by participating and being present for scheduled classes, students can also mindfully engage in eLearning by creating a designated space for completing coursework. This space should be one that is conducive to you doing your best learning. Attached is a resource about how to set up a great study space in your room or in any other room in your home that you and your family have chosen for your study space.
Social Distancing. We are grateful that all of Marshall School is well-equipped to handle the task of slowing down the spread of COVID-19. Please remind your child that the necessity of eLearning arises from this need. We highly discourage students gathering in groups outside of school. We recommend students have at least one student in each class they can call or text with questions.
Attendance. Participation in eLearning is required and students are expected to check in with each of their scheduled classes daily. If a student is sick or unable to participate, parents should send an email to their division principal:
Access. We do not presume that every student has access to the internet to be able to participate in eLearning. If your family does not have access to the internet, please contact one of the division principals, and the school will connect families with potential community internet resources and/or troubleshoot potential solutions.
We are here to support you. Please let your principals know as issues arise regarding eLearning. We have many resources at our disposal to help support learning. Finally, look for weekly communication from us. We know from schools already immersed in eLearning that this learning environment is one that requires evolving expectations and guidelines as circumstances potentially change.
Following the announcement by Governor Walz closing all schools effective Wednesday, March 18, Marshall School is announcing the following plan:
- Regular classes will be cancelled Monday and Tuesday as teachers finish preparations to shift to distance learning. Faculty will report to school tomorrow for a professional day.
- The building will remain open Monday. Information regarding student access to the building will be forthcoming.
- Distance learning, or School by Schoology, will begin no later than Wednesday morning at 10:00.
- Specific plans for Tuesday, March 17 are still being finalized. We will provide far more detail in an evening communication.
Please visit the new COVID-19 page at marshallschool.org for the latest information. You will find helpful resources and links on this page as well.
Thank you for your patience and trust as we navigate the impact of the COVID-19 virus on our school and community.
Head of School
Greetings Marshall Family,
We want to share some plans for tomorrow, Friday. Unless things change overnight, we will have a regular school day tomorrow, but the focus of the day will be to practice eLearning together. We will end the day ensuring that students leave for the weekend with the technology and books they will need should we move to eLearning next week.
We will write to you no later than Sunday evening at 6:00 P.M. to signal whether we plan to hold regular classes on Monday. As of now, that is the plan. Other less likely options include a professional development day to prepare for eLearning or a deep cleaning day for the school building. In both scenarios, students would not be in school. Again, at this moment, the most likely option is a normal school day; however, the news is changing quickly, so we wanted you to be aware of other possibilities as I am sure you need to plan for contingencies as well.
Principals will write later this evening with information about tomorrow's preparations for eLearning. I am sure you have seen the CDC guidance; please keep your student home tomorrow if he or she is not feeling well.
Dear Marshall Families,
Yesterday, several schools and universities took precautions including extending spring vacations. As of now, our plan is to remain in session today and Friday, monitoring the news frequently. We will then meet over the weekend to look at the week ahead. Please know, we are paying close attention to the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) recommendations for schools, and our school meets the "minimal risk" designation. If we move from "minimal" to "moderate," you can expect we will consider these steps:
- Allowing high-risk students and teachers to stay home.
- Cancelling assemblies.
- Short term closure for cleaning.
- Restricted travel.
- Online instruction.
Our teachers are preparing to move instruction online, speaking with students about how this will work, and testing tools to ease this transition should it become necessary. To be clear, we are not aware of any change in guidance locally, and we still meet the definition of a minimal risk community. Like so many institutions, we are writing to you out of an abundance of caution and an awareness of the rapidly changing landscape. The health of our students, teachers, and staff is our highest priority.
We will plan on sending out an additional update on Friday evening.
Head of School
The Marshall School Crisis Team is meeting on a daily basis to assess the news and guidance related to the coronavirus. We seek to find a balance between keeping the parent community informed versus overwhelming the parent community with constant updates. Thus far, we have written to all of the students about hygiene and precaution, and we presented the Upper School students with this same information at an assembly. The Middle School faculty will talk to their students next week. We also wrote to the families signed up for outbound international trips and outlined some of the "what ifs" related to travel.
This second communication is intended to cover just a few additional topics:
- Spring Break Travel. In terms of spring break travel, we defer to family judgement and the expert advice of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). These organizations strongly discourage students and families from traveling to regions most susceptible to infection. If a student or other community member decides to travel to a country or region that has been identified with a warning or alert by the CDC, they will need to follow protocols established by the MDH, the CDC, or the World Health Organization before returning to campus. This will likely mean that your child will be asked to stay home and away from fellow students for a period of time (likely 14 days as this is the standard quarantine period recommended as a public health safety precaution.) We will work in close partnership with any impacted family. If your family is planning on traveling to a country with a warning or alert, please let your principal know.
- Initial Steps in the Event of a Campus Closure. Schools in New York, Washington, California and other states have closed campuses as a precaution. While this step still seems unlikely, the decision to close can be sudden; therefore, we want you to know what will happen in the first 24 hours should we need to close school.
- We will notify families about the closure using the established lines of communication which are used for weather events and campus emergencies. You will be notified of the closing by email, text message, and updates posted to the website.
- The campus will be closed entirely to prepare for the potential need for deep cleaning. No one will be allowed to enter the building for any reason for the first 24 hours.
- There will be no expectation of school work for 48 hours.
- A second announcement will be made at 3:00 pm the subsequent day with pertinent logistical updates.
- If the school determines we need to keep the campus closed after 24 hours, teachers will begin to deliver school instruction electronically through Schoology. We will share more about this at a later date.
- A detailed plan will be in place for residents of Marshall House dependent on the particular circumstances leading to the decision to close.
These are the issues we felt we needed to address at this time. You can anticipate further updates. Each of the various organizations to which we belong encourage schools to direct families to the following important websites. We will be getting our guidance from these websites, so if you check them fairly regularly, you will have the most current guidance.
Head of School
Some of you have recently expressed concern about the status of Marshall's upcoming summer language trips given the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus COVID-19.
We have been in contact with the travel companies who are coordinating the trips. They have indicated to us, that as of now, they are planning on running the 2020 programs as scheduled, but continue to actively monitor the U.S. Department of State, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization for additional guidelines.
Together with the travel companies we will contact partners in our various destinations to mitigate situations that could affect the safety of our students. We understand that each of the companies has already shared or will soon share with you their policies and procedures related to the coronavirus.
Please know that if the US Department of State issues a level 4 Travel Advisory for any region on the itinerary the trip will be cancelled by the parent company. Marshall will also continue to actively monitor the situation and will cancel any trip that poses too great a perceived threat to our students and school. We will continue to review our trip plans and training for students and chaperones to make sure we have appropriate protocols in place. Remember, the trips are not required and participation is always up to each individual family.
You can find updated information about travel and the COVID-19 virus on the CDC and State Department websites. Please feel free to email or call with any questions.
Head of School
March 11, 2020
Dear International Families,
As mentioned in an email sent earlier this week, we continue to monitor the developing spread of coronavirus in the United States, and are following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) daily. We will continue to consider and take measures to best protect our Marshall students and community over the coming period of time.
Today, we have decided that it is in the best interest of our students and community to prohibit travel outside the Twin Ports area for the near future, including our upcoming spring break (April 3-12). This restriction is for residents of Marshall House. As Marshall House students live in close proximity to each other and regularly share common spaces, we must exercise extra caution in this environment.
We apologize for any loss incurred on previously purchased airline tickets and hotels, and encourage you to look into possible refunds, as many airlines are starting to offer options.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns, and know that we are committed as always to the safety, happiness and success of your children.
Director of International Programs, PDSO
March 9, 2020
Dear International Families,
We continue to monitor the developing spread of coronavirus in the United States, and are following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) daily. We will continue to consider and take measures to best protect our Marshall students and community over the coming period of time.
There are several steps we may take:
Restrict or prohibit travel over our upcoming spring break (April 6-10). This may include our entire Marshall population, or only residents of Marshall House. As Marshall House students live in close proximity to each other and regularly share common spaces, we must exercise extra caution in this environment.
We are advising students who plan to travel to delay purchasing airline tickets and hotels, or only make refundable purchases. If Marshall prohibits travel over April break, students who still decide to travel cannot expect to return to campus.
The school may also close the building short-term, or for a longer period of time, depending on what the CDC and local Minnesota State Health Department recommends. If Marshall’s building is closed for an extended period of time, we will conduct school online, and Marshall House students will report to school in the dorm during regular school hours.
We are delighted to have many parents making plans to visit the US for graduation ceremonies in June, 2020. International guests will be required to follow the CDC’s guidelines for visitors to the US, and these guidelines are evolving. We are committed to live-streaming the graduation ceremony on June 7th for families who cannot attend in-person, and will continue to monitor the situation and advise accordingly.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns, and know that we are committed as always to the safety, happiness and success of your children.
Director of International Programs, PDSO