Dear Priory Families,
I hope that everyone has had a Blessed Easter weekend in the midst of what has been and will continue to be a time of great challenge, heartache, and loss for so many in our world. As Christians, we believe and hope in God’s love and mercy for all of his children, and trust that he will grant us the grace we need to persevere.
As Father Cuthbert announced last week, we are preparing to return to our Distance Learning Program (DLP) for the remainder of the trimester. I want to thank our students and parents who completed the surveys we sent a little over a week ago. The Academic Council met just before the Easter break to review your feedback, and we’ve made some small adjustments to our schedule that will be in effect beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14. We hope that everyone will take a few moments to read through the schedule changes and additional information which seeks to clarify the expectations for students and faculty throughout our school closure.
The Parent and Student Survey responses were used to facilitate our discussion on the effectiveness of the DLP, in light of the constraints and particular situations of all members of our community. We were grateful to see that nearly 90% of parent respondents and 85% of student respondents indicated that the overall program meets or exceeds their expectations. We recognize that no program is perfect and will address the individual concerns of every student, parent, and faculty member, and we appreciate the patience and flexibility that so many have demonstrated over the last few weeks in an effort to support our young men during this unprecedented time.
Three major areas of focus emerged as we reviewed your feedback: overall schedule/workload, grading and student support, and use of educational technology. We carefully considered how adjustments or clarification on each of these points will hopefully improve the experience for more of our families as we move forward with the program in the coming weeks.
SCHEDULE AND WORKLOAD
- The school day will now run from 8:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
- Synchronous class meeting time blocks will be reduced to 75 minutes (from 90 minutes). Please see the attached schedule for the new class meeting times.
- Faculty will spend a portion of each scheduled synchronous time meeting, between 15-45 minutes on average, with students on Zoom. This time can be used to introduce new content, answer questions or provide feedback to work completed asynchronously, and/or to check-in with students as a group. Only in very rare cases will faculty spend the entire 75 minutes meeting synchronously with their students. Of course, if there is a problem with the infrastructure needed to support a Zoom meeting or a faculty member is sick and unable to attend, then work will be posted for the students to complete asynchronously.
- Faculty can expect students to spend no more than 1- 1 ½ hours beyond the scheduled synchronous time blocks for their classes over the course of a week. (A class that is scheduled to meet for 2 ½ hours each week can expect to have up to 4 hours of work each week, which would include the scheduled class time).
- The High School Advisory time block will now be on Thursdays, from 1:30-2:00 p.m.
GRADING AND ACADEMIC SUPPORT
- Priory will continue to issue letter grades this term.
- We have eliminated final exams for all classes, and faculty have made adjustments to their gradebooks to account for any necessary modifications to assessments.
- Faculty will update their gradebooks in MyPriory regularly. Students and parents are encouraged to reach out to teachers regarding any particular challenges that may be impacting a student’s ability to complete or submit work on time.
- Faculty will remain available for 15 minutes following the conclusion of their synchronous lesson for resource support for students needing accommodations or additional support (For example, if a synchronous meeting ends at 9 a.m., the teacher will remain available until at least 9:15 a.m. If a class ends at 9:45 a.m., then the teacher will remain available until 10 a.m., the time the 30-minute break commences. For teachers with multiple sections of a class meeting at different times during a single, synchronous meeting, the resource support will likely occur during the final 15 minutes of the scheduled period).
- Students, parents, and faculty should contact the Division Director with concerns about ongoing student performance or attendance issues. Our school counselors remain available to work with students and families on accommodations and other academic and social-emotional support services. Please be sure to reach out to Mrs. Materniak and Mr. Mitchom as needed.
LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY
- Faculty will use MyPriory to post weekly schedules and major announcements for the class (these announcements are available on the Bulletin Board/Announcements portion of the landing page for each class).
- As Google Classroom is also supported by the School, some faculty will continue to use this platform for delivering content, posting and collecting assignments, and linking to other source material. Their overall weekly schedule and major announcements will still be available on MyPriory.
- Faculty are encouraged to use the Share Screen feature of Zoom to walk students through the organization of their course, including how they should access content, submit assignments, etc.
We will continue to monitor the use of Zoom for our synchronous video conferences. Most of our families have indicated the importance of having ‘live’ class meetings with teachers and other students, and we want to continue to offer this platform as a means of staying connected. We must, however, be prepared to respond to any ongoing or increased risk of safety and security issues.
- As we continue to learn from our individual and shared experiences while engaged in distance learning, we plan to offer additional opportunities for collective feedback later in the term. We encourage students and parents to reach out to faculty with specific questions about their courses and to communicate with advisors, counselors, and support staff with any questions or issues that arise over the next few weeks.
Please know that we miss you and remain grateful for the opportunity to stay connected and a part of your ongoing education and formation, although in an imperfect way, through our DLP.
The new class schedule is shown below, or you can click here to see a PDF.
Dr. Jared M. Rashford