Should circumstances require online learning for an extended period of time, Sewickley Academy will shift to Virtual School to ensure the continuity of learning for students in all grades. We will notify the community that a transition to Virtual School will begin and will provide details regarding those grades that are affected. To make the transition to Virtual School, two days of administrative planning may be needed prior to classes beginning. Communication Via Email
The previously mentioned learning platforms will remain the primary vehicle for all communication, including announcements, assignments, and basic expectations for teaching and learning. Each morning, Middle and Senior School students and families will receive an email from the school with that information sent by the Division Offices. Divisions will also maintain the Friday newsletters that provide overviews of the week and a look ahead.Course Expectations
We understand that while students are not physically with us in the building, clear communication and access to resources will be necessary to keep you informed about your child’s progress. We will make use of SeeSaw, Google Classroom, and email in the Lower School and the Official Note system in MySewickley in the Middle and Senior Schools. Regardless of what learning management system a teacher uses to post resources for students, you can expect that the Lower School learning platforms or MySewickley (MS/SS) will list all assigned tasks each day and have a link to every synchronous meeting.
Given the unique nature of working from home, the line between personal and professional space has been erased. Barring extenuating circumstances, we ask our employees not to email students and families over the weekends. As such, parents emailing faculty, staff, or administrators over a weekend should not expect a response until Monday. If the situation is a true emergency, please email your Division Head, who will reply and find a way to communicate with you.
We believe this policy is necessary to create healthy boundaries that will allow Sewickley Academy employees to operate remotely while also addressing their own needs and those of their immediate families. Monday through Friday, faculty, staff, and administrators will aim for a response time within 24-hours to all emails. We ask for your flexibility and understanding during Virtual School.
When Virtual School is enacted, Sewickley Academy is aware that course expectations will need to change to meet the needs of students and families. We maintain our
commitment to our Mission and Core Values and simultaneously seek to adapt our means of
meeting them to changing circumstances. Our goal is to keep the learning going and provide regular feedback from teachers on student progress. We know, however, that we may need to adapt our assessment and grading practices to meet the needs of our students and our educational goals.
Class Schedule and Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning
In the Middle and Senior Schools, faculty and students will continue to follow the PANTHERS cycle, even though the timing and rhythm of the day will necessarily require flexibility among students, faculty, and families. Virtual School in the Lower School will follow a five-day (Monday-Friday) schedule.
Routine is important, and that routine must consider the developmental needs of our students and the needs of the family as they engage in Virtual School from their homes. Learning will happen synchronously and asynchronously.
Understanding Virtual Meeting Expectations
- Synchronous: Everyone in a class meets in real-time online at the same time using a video conferencing or other collaborative tools such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google docs, and Padlet.
- Asynchronous: Students use their learning platforms to access pre-recorded content and resources posted by the teacher to complete classwork independently. Students engage with class material and assignments at their own pace, typically within a given timeframe. There is no real-time interaction.
Setting Up for Success
Be sure to have completed the assigned tasks prior to the virtual meeting that will allow you to contribute fully.
Prior to the meeting, find a quiet place without distractions. Be prepared to take notes.
Use your student planner or a notepad to write down important information, assignments, and dates.
Dress in day clothes free of inappropriate graphics or text. No hats or hoods, please.
Be cognizant of what is behind you when you are in a video conference. A neutral background (a plain wall, books, etc.) will keep the focus on the dialogue and away from your home settings.
During Synchronous MeetingsScreen Time
All students are expected to participate in every scheduled meeting.
Turn on your video and be sure your face is visible on the screen.
Mute yourself when you are not speaking to allow others to hear.
Use the “raise hand” feature when you would like to ask a question.
Unmute yourself when the teacher calls on you.
When you share, be respectful and on topic.
Use the chat feature appropriately and keep the conversation on task.
Stay focused on the class and avoid using other devices that are not related to the work at hand.
Students and families will have advance notice of synchronous meeting times, and teachers are advised to send invitations to the meeting through the video conferencing platform they are using. Throughout Virtual School, teachers organize one-on-one, small group, and/or whole group classes and check-in sessions and will communicate those opportunities to you on a class by class basis. The format of these moments (e.g., Zoom, Google Hangouts) will depend on your child’s grade and classroom teacher and will be completed live (i.e., synchronous). Teachers may also provide pre-recorded videos/lessons that your child can watch according to their daily schedule (i.e., asynchronous). Please keep in mind that faculty members may be caring for their own children or family members during this period, so this approach may vary slightly from teacher to teacher and day to day.
At Sewickley Academy, we recognize the inequitable conditions an overly synchronous schedule can create for students, families, and colleagues. This is why our model of Virtual School seeks to strike a dynamic balance between asynchronous and synchronous learning and build on proven research that tells us that all students benefit from a variety of instructional approaches.
Throughout this period, we want to emphasize the importance of measuring and balancing screen time. When students are not in virtual class and not using devices to complete an assignment, they are strongly encouraged to take a break from screens and refrain from using electronic devices. Distance learning and the flexibility it allows related to scheduling provides a wonderful opportunity for students to engage in play, to read for pleasure, and, if possible, to exercise outside.
Remaining Flexible and Adaptable
Virtual School places each of us on an ever-evolving learning curve, and we know that you will have questions and challenges that are unique to you and your family. As we learn from you and your students what is working well and what needs our attention, we will make adjustments. We also recognize that not every student or adult will be able to be online together at all times. We have the ability to record lessons that students can view later if they are unable to attend a live class. We will keep track of students who we notice have missed lessons and reach out to you and your child if we see a pattern emerging so that we can problem-solve together. This may include teachers or advisors inviting individuals or small groups to campus for additional support. Community
While we are in a Virtual School model, every day is a Spirit Day. Wearing SA-branded gear as much as possible when video conferencing is a great way to bring a bit of our community into this new learning space.
Sewickley Academy is committed to providing students with strategies that foster their individual strengths and allow them to reach their full potential. During Virtual School, faculty monitor student progress and student behavior carefully and will refer a student to support services if a need becomes evident. Students and parents will be able to access support services by contacting the relevant specialist directly via email:
Dr. Christine Herring, Director of Support Services: email@example.com
Mrs. Beth Brown RN, BSN, School Nurse: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs. Suzi Peluso, Head Athletic Trainer: email@example.com
Ms. Lynn Sanborne MSW, School Counselor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs. Sally Weir, Lower School Reading Specialist: email@example.com
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
Sewickley Academy remains committed to creating an equitable and inclusive learning community where all students feel welcomed, valued, and appreciated. We understand that Virtual School is a different way of engaging with our students and families that may raise unique issues. For support, contact the Director of Equity & Inclusion and Service Learning LaVern Burton (firstname.lastname@example.org
) or one of the divisional DEI Coordinators.
Sewickley Academy is committed to equitable access for all students, including access to the technology required to facilitate Virtual School. Any family that may have a challenge participating in these plans because of internet or computer issues should contact our Technology Help Desk via email at email@example.com
or by leaving a voicemail at 412-741-2236. One of our Technology Department members will get back to you as soon as possible.