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2020.03.19 -- Post Spring Break Plans for Veritas-at-Home

March 19, 2020
By Jef Fowler, Head of School

 

Good day, Veritasians!

That's not a name I'm particularly fond of---especially now, given its similar sound to "contagions"---but one that an early graduating class coined, and it has somehow stuck. Moving on.

 

THE LATEST

After participating on countless conference calls and webinars over the past few days, we have a pretty good plan pulled together for school following Spring Break. It includes:

  • "Snow Days" next Mon/Tue, Mar 23-24, for faculty and staff to prepare for the commencement of remote learning ("Veritas-at-Home") which will begin on Wed, Mar 25, and run through at least Fri, Apr 3. This complies with all parts of Governor Abbot’s Executive Order, announced at noon today, which will be in effect through Apr 3.

    • Until further notice, there will be no on-campus classes, practices, or other gatherings of students and/or parents. Instead, classes will be conducted online (via streaming, recorded lectures, and lesson plans/homework posted in FACTS/RenWeb Family Portal), with more details on this Veritas-at-Home model to follow early next week.

    • Given the current trajectory of our local, state, and federal governments’ response, I would suggest that you make plans for our Veritas-at-Home model to be extended through all of April. As a school, we're not yet making that call, but just prepare yourselves for it.

  • "Grade Level Launches" for this new Veritas-at-Home model will occur between Mon, Mar 23, and Wed, Mar 25. The purpose of these launches is to provide students and parents with an overview of how this process will work and to give them a chance to practice and work out any kinks, especially for any technology related trouble, beginning with logging into the tech platforms. We ask that each student (in the SLR only) and at least one parent per family participate in the Launches, which will consist of two parts:

    • Launch Video for SLR students/parents will be finished and distributed on Mon, Mar 23. Hanna will likewise prepare and distribute a much shorter launch video for GS co-teachers that same day. You will need to view the video prior to participating in a Live Launch Session on Tue or Wed.

    • A Live Launch Session, which will occur via Google Hangouts at the following times (please plan to participate in at least one). These Hangout Sessions are intended to put into practice things covered in the Launch Video and to answer questions. However, for the GS sessions, the purpose is to provide co-teachers with an overview of priorities in this new Veritas-at-Home model and to answer specific questions about grade level content and curriculum. It will also provide GS co-teachers with an opportunity to try logging into Google Hangouts which will be utilized on a small scale to keep classes connected; classroom teachers will explain how their GS classes will use Hangouts for brief connection points each Mon/Wed. Here are the scheduled Launch Sessions:

      • Tue, Mar 24

        • 4:00 pm - 5th & 6th Grades

        • 4:30 pm - 7th & 8th Grades

        • 5:00 pm - SR

        • 6:00 pm - PreS & PreK

        • 6:30 pm - Kindergarten

        • 7:00 pm - 1st Grade

        • 7:30 pm - 2nd Grade

        • 8:00 pm - 3rd Grade

        • 8:30 pm - 4th Grade

      • Wed, Mar 25

        • 8:00 am - 5th & 6th Grades (same as Tue session)

        • 8:30 am - SR and 7th & 8th Grades (same as Tue session)

  • A "Delayed Start" schedule (for the SLR only) will be in effect on Wed, Mar 25, with shorter class periods starting at 9:40 (SL) and 9:50 (SR), in order to allow us time to complete the Grade Level Launches before the online classes commence that morning.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

All meetings and events for the next two weeks (through Sat, Apr 4) are canceled, or at least postponed unless and until we can come up with workable alternatives. Those events include such things as:

  • Wildflower Week (trying to creatively reschedule and restructure)

  • Defender Pretender (TBD. I so wish I would have recorded Mr. Hanenburg leading the boys through the choreography of their opening dance number last week--would have been the funniest, faux-manly thing you've seen all year)

  • ERB Testing (to be rescheduled, hopefully for late April)

  • Welcome Wednesday (this admissions event, still scheduled for Apr 1, will be conducted virtually; please invite your friends)

  • The 7/8 Amazing Race (TBD)

Even bigger events---such as Senior Thesis, Graduation, Fundraising events, Athletics banquets, class trips, etc.---are on the horizon. Initial discussions have already begun on their modifications or alternatives; but we are in the very early stages of that planning, so we'll need more time.

 

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

A parent recently reminded me of how well suited our school community is for this challenge with so many of our parents already accustomed to providing instructional help and accountability at home. He's right. Not only will we get through this, but by comparison to their peers in other schools, our children/students should thrive in these circumstances and further separate themselves from the pack, both metaphorically and literally.

So let's keep them---and ourselves---positive while looking for every opportunity to wring good and growth from this unique experience. Don't settle for just getting through it, grow through it. After all, we are Veritas: Defenders of Truth, a gritty and tenacious people, full of faith and growing daily in our love for God, others, life, learning, and truth. Like we’ve said before, we’re a different kind of school producing a different kind of graduate. All the more advantageous in a different kind of world when adaptability, a natural byproduct of classical education---all the more so of a classical education delivered in university-model format---is paramount.

 

HOMEWORK FROM HOS

For the first week of Veritas-at-Home, I have a homework assignment for both parents and students:

  • Parents: In an age-appropriate way, invite your children into a discussion of how this global crisis is impacting your family. Believe me, we do not conceal from our kids our stress, anxieties, and fears as well as we think we do. They sense it, internalize it, and begin to parrot it. So, rather than just allow that to take root, let's address it. To quote a line that political operatives are fond of: "Don't waste a crisis." There are valuable lessons to be learned by our kids if we will just take the time to open up and show them how we are processing, planning, and reacting to threatening events. And, as in every relationship, exposing our vulnerabilities will only strengthen the bond of respect, trust, and love. Don't waste this opportunity.

  • Students:

    • SR: In the next week, you are to learn and begin doing your family's laundry.

    • SL: In the next week, you are to prepare at least two meals for your family. (No PBJs, hot dogs, or dependence on the microwave; mom should pre-approve your menu.)

    • GS: In the next week, you are to bake a batch of cookies or prepare at least one treat that your family loves. 

 

That is all.

-Jef


 

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