All students are expected to engage in remote learning. Students will continue the courses in which they are currently enrolled, where teachers will focus on the task of maintaining continuity with the important learning objectives they set forth at the start of the year, or semester. Faculty are at work designing courses that uphold the high standards that we have set for the academic life of the school.
The School is committed to fostering student growth in the usual, comprehensive way by using the following approach:
- Yearlong and semester courses will engage in remote learning from March 30 to May 18. Communications from the Head of School have updated and will continue to update the community on school operations beyond that point.
- Each week, each teacher will post to Canvas an overview of the upcoming week of learning in the course by Sunday at 7:00 p.m. This overview will explain the times for synchronous connection through Zoom, as well as expectations for work that is done asynchronously.
- We will run a modified version of our weekly color schedule. Time is available to each course for synchronous touchpoints within the assigned course block.
- Teachers will make two synchronous touchpoints available in each course twice per week, at least once in the format of a course meeting in Zoom, as well as through open office hours, and opportunities for students to connect in collaborative work. It is possible that classes will not hold two touchpoints as we scale up our plans and troubleshoot issues of connectivity in the first week—March 30-April 3.
- For courses where students are connecting from beyond the Eastern Standard or Central Standard Time Zones, teachers will identify times within their existing course block that allow the greatest number of students to connect synchronously. These meetings will be captured digitally for students who cannot join. Students should not be assigned required, synchronous obligations before 8:00 a.m. or after 11:45 p.m. in their home time zone.
- In order to maintain as normal as possible a classroom experience while engaging in virtual learning, it is important that only students and faculty participate in our classes. Further, students may not share recordings of classes beyond other members of the class. St. Mark’s may, on occasion, use images and audio of courses and community meetings as outlined in the family information form.
- The remainder of course work will be completed asynchronously, using Canvas and other appropriate digital tools and offline assignments that teachers identify.
- Students should expect between three and four hours of work in total—synchronous and asynchronous—per week in each course.
- Spring St. Mark’s Saturdays courses will not meet. There are no formal school obligations on the weekends, though it is expected that students may need to complete schoolwork on the weekends as they normally would when the campus is open.
Grading and Assessment in Remote Learning
The shift to remote learning poses design challenges for faculty, adaptive challenges for students, and numerous logistical challenges for the entire community. Global uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic will mean that community attention will be focused at least as much on matters outside of our academic context, as on the courses taking place within it.
We have heard from a number of colleges that they see these challenges and will support the approach we define to assessing our students to the close of the year. We have been in touch with our peer schools locally and nationally; our approach is very much in keeping with the high school and college dialogue on grading and assessment as we seek to maintain academic continuity.
In acknowledgment of the weight of this shift, we will use the following model for cumulative assessment in the Window Four Remote Learning period.
- All yearlong courses and second-semester courses will be Pass/Fail for Window Four, with the passing mark set at 60% or D- and above. This feedback will be visible to families through NetClassroom on the Parent Portal and on report cards. Faculty will compose Advisor Letters as per usual as a summation of student progress for the year.
- For students who pass window four, the year-end grade that appears on the transcript will reflect either a restatement of the student’s C3 “cumulative” grade, or an upward revision of this cumulative grade based on what a student is able to do in Window Four. Year-end grades for students who fail Window Four will be determined in consultation with the teacher, Department Head, and the Academics Office.
- We will add language to our transcripts and profile for members to the classes of 2020-2023 to indicate the assessment approach for our remote learning. Members of the College Counseling Office will be conducting their usual outreach to members of the V and VI form, and can answer any further questions that these students might have. In adopting this approach, we would like to re-emphasize our commitment to designing courses that meet our school’s high standards, and in supporting our students as they work towards the important learning objectives we set forth at the start of the year.
As a reminder, grades and comments from Window Three will be posted to NetClassroom on Monday, April 6.
Remote learning will preserve the fundamental elements of the St. Mark’s approach to educating mind, body and spirit. We recognize the importance of providing opportunities to stay connected to the community, and offering strategies to promote wellness. Maintaining the steadiness of the community and familiar community routines is an important component of supporting our students while they are at a physical distance from friends, faculty, and other familiar support systems.
- Advisors will remain the key link between students, families and the school. We have created several advisory blocks in the schedule. Advisors will connect with their advisees twice per week to check up on their progress, and offer focused support based on their needs.
- Chapel will meet twice per week (Tuesday and Friday at 8:00 a.m. EST) via Zoom on an optional basis. Sixth Form Chapel talks will continue, along with the usual readings and prayers, and live or recorded music. As we are able, and if individual speakers give consent, these sessions will be recorded and archived for students, faculty and staff who cannot join live.
- School Meeting will take place once each week (Wednesday at 10:40 a.m. EST) on an optional basis. Monitors and members of the community will make announcements and conduct other community-building activities. As we are able, these sessions will be recorded and archived for students, faculty and staff who cannot join live.
- Members of the Athletics and Wellness departments will offer recorded workouts and other strategies to promote physical and emotional wellness.
- Academic Support, Counseling and Health Services, Wellness Department, and the Chaplain's Office are preparing to support students at a distance, and maintain the strategies identified in existing individual support and care plans. Be on the lookout for resources and please be in touch with the appropriate offices if you have any questions.
- In the spirit of maintaining connections, affinity groups and clubs will continue to function through the Community and Equity and Dean of Students Offices.