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2020.03.20 -- Revised Plans for Post Spring Break

March 20, 2020
By Jef Fowler, Head of School

 

2020.03.20 ─ Revised Plans for Post Spring Break


Veritas Community,

Yesterday, FACTS/RenWeb made available a tool that integrates Google Hangouts & Classroom with the FACTS/RenWeb Family Portal (the school information system that Veritas has long used to manage all of our academic data, including lesson plans, homework assignments, grades, etc.)

So, rather than continue to piecemeal together various technologies to deliver our Veritas-at-Home functions (now being renamed “Virtual Veritas”), we are educating ourselves on how to fully utilize the integrated tools within our FACTS/RenWeb Family Portal. Our Registrar, Jennifer Stewart, and her husband were working until midnight last night on the initial set up, and our school heads, academic deans, and others have been working on this all day today.

Given that this will require more time to finish and then to prepare training tools and sessions for our teachers next week, we are pushing back the launch of Virtual Veritas (previously labeled Veritas-at-Home) until next Fri, Mar 27. Since all indications are that we will be delivering online classes well beyond the Apr 3 expiration of Gov. Abbott’s executive order, we want to invest the additional time and effort on the front end in order to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of this model. Hopefully, this will also allow a more gentle on-ramp─or learning curve─for our families in adapting to this new routine.

Here are the specific changes, in reverse chronological order so that you first see what we are working towards (or start with the bottom bullet and work your way up for a chronological presentation, if you prefer):

  • Mon, Mar 30 ─ Regular classes, conducted virtually, officially resume for all grade levels.

    • Classes will be held in a variety of ways, with the most common being the following:

      • Google Hangouts ─ If a teacher plans a hangout, it will be during the regularly scheduled class time.

      • Videos ─ Teachers will create videos and share them; most likely these will be linked in Google Classroom. GS teachers will use these as the lesson/content allows, and they will be optional for co-teachers to utilize at home, as they (the co-teachers) always have the option to teach the assigned lessons themselves. 

      • Assignments ─ Teachers will assign work to be completed.

    • Though we encourage students to maintain their normal class schedule, families will have flexibility with when to view videos and do assignments. 

    • We will assume inefficiencies generated by technology and therefore assign a maximum of only 60-75% of each class period for discussion, videos, and/or work.

  • Fri, Mar 27 ─ A “soft” launch of the Virtual Veritas online program begins for the SLR only. It is considered “soft” because it will be a nonacademic day of introducing and familiarizing our students with this program in a series of mini classes that follow a delayed-start schedule published below. The goal of this day is for students to reconnect with their teachers and each other as they test Google Hangouts and other tools in order to identify remaining bugs to be fixed before the following Mon. (Links to the Hangout for each class will be distributed prior to next Fri.) GS will not conduct any classes this day; instead, they will use the Grade Level Launches on Thur evening for their “soft” launch.

  • Thur, Mar 26 ─ Grade Level Launches occur with the distribution of Launch Videos on Thur morning, followed by Live Launch Sessions (for the GS only, by grade level) conducted that evening. In a change from yesterday, the SLR will no longer participate in the Live Launch Sessions since they will “launch” via their mini classes on Fri.

 

  • Launch Videos ─ Separate videos will be prepared for the GS and the SLR. GS co-teachers and SLR students (& parents) should view the appropriate video on Thur.

  • Live Launch Sessions ─ Only GS co-teachers will participate in the live launches, according to the following schedule:

    • 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

  • Mon-Thu, Mar 23-26 ─ “Snow Days” for students so that training tools can be prepared and then delivered to faculty. The 70-/80-degree weather with mostly sunny skies next week should help make up for the relatively overcast, gloomy, and rainy days we’ve experienced this week. Let’s use that time to make our yards some of the nicest in our neighborhoods...which we’ll likely get to enjoy on a daily basis over the next month or so!

Next week, we’ll move on to start examining other/longer-term concerns with admissions, re-enrollment, tuition, continued employment at Veritas, campus usage, etc. Prayers for wisdom, discernment, and novel ideas are greatly coveted. In fact, I know that such prayers are already being offered up by many, because in spite of the foreboding circumstances of the past week and the difficult decisions that lay ahead, I’ve been finding myself strangely calm, upbeat, and thinking a lot about opportunities that will─and already are─emerging from all of this. And I’m hearing that others are, too. So, thank you for those petitions to heaven! Please keep them up.

Onward and upward, my friends.

-Jef

 


 

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