Dear Upper School Families,
We hope this finds you all safe and healthy. I want to take a moment to acknowledge what for many of us is a stressful and unprecedented time. Surrounded by such uncertainty, I find comfort in the prospect of our LJCDS community preparing to gather again virtually. Faculty have been preparing an e-learning experience that will be rich, engaging, relevant, and effective. They are eager to see their students on Monday, and look forward to learning with them. Although they will meet remotely, the opportunity to gather again brings joy and sense of purpose to their lives. Situations like these test us all and I am confident we will see the best in all the members of the LJCDS community.
This communication will provide important information about the structure and philosophy of our e-learning environment moving forward. Please take some time to read it thoroughly; consider reading it as a family, and allow it to provide order and structure in a time when we need it most.
I plan to be available to students and parents via email and phone from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Outside of those hours I will still be accessible but my responses may not be as prompt. The number at which I can most easily be reached is (619) 535-7767.
Dr. Clouser and Mr. Jenkins will also be available via email from 8:00 to 3:30 and will respond as quickly as possible.
Faculty will be accessible to students from 8:30 to 3:30 Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays similar to how they would normally be available on a school day. Students may request appointments to meet (virtually) with faculty during office hour blocks (explained below) or during faculty free-blocks with which students should be familiar. On Wednesdays faculty will still be reachable but responses may take as long as 24 hours.
We acknowledge that, in terms of pace and content coverage, things will move more slowly in our virtual world. Our faculty is working very hard to adapt curriculum to maximize efficacy and efficiency while maintaining a rich, engaging, and exciting learning experience. We will continuously reflect, gather feedback, and adapt as we move forward together.
La Jolla Institute for Immunology is hosting a webinar on COVID-19 on Monday, April 6 at 12 p.m. (PST). Infectious disease expert Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire will share updates on her research efforts and observations from the field. The webinar is free and open to the public. Click here to sign up.
Below you will see a copy of the e-learning schedule we will implement as of Monday, April 6.
Thank you for the feedback from our 3/17 e-learning practice day which included students, faculty, and parents in all three divisions. Subsequently the division heads collaborated as we developed our division versions and US department chairs and I went through this together.
We will use the terms synchronous and asynchronous learning quite a bit as we move forward so I’d like to be certain we are on the same page. Synchronous learning/time is an opportunity for students and teachers to virtually interact with each other in real time. This can be done via Zoom, a discussion board, a shared Google Doc, etc. Asynchronous time is an opportunity for students to work independently or with peers. Expectations for those times will be clearly communicated by teachers.
Here are some intentional features of the schedule:
- The Middle School and Upper School schedules align in terms of academic blocks.
- The rotation was simplified to promote routine and clarity.
- Wednesdays are asynchronous days. Students can spend time away from screens while still working on assignments/projects, etc. pertaining to their classes. Faculty will have time to prepare, collaborate, and reflect in order to maintain the highest quality learning experience possible. We set the bar high during the first week and we want to be sure to give faculty the time to maintain and/or raise it. We will also use this time for various remote gatherings like division and department meetings.
- Middle School and Upper School asynchronous days align but Lower School will be asynchronous on Fridays (as per their constituent feedback).
- The length of breaks between blocks was intentional in order to provide time for support as well as time away from screens between classes
- The class length of 60 minutes was decided upon both due to feedback and in order to encourage balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences.
- The *-OH blocks (OH is for Office Hours) were designed to ensure that all students and their instructors would be free at a specific time for interaction. They also align with MS milk breaks and some lower school breaks to allow families an opportunity to interact between classes. These might also be used, under special circumstances, to increase class time to take advantage of opportunities that might present themselves (speakers, virtual labs, etc.).
- The class start time of 9:00 a.m. provides some time for families to get organized and potentially more sleep time for all.
- Time for advisory and flex activities has been embedded in the schedule.
- Lunch is one hour and intended to provide time for families to prepare and enjoy the meal together. It also provides a reasonable and reserved screen break for students and faculty between morning and afternoon classes.
Here is a link to a breakdown of the different features of the schedule with some more detailed explanations.
When assigned, we will start by targeting an average of up to 1 additional hour (in addition to the 60 minute class period) of asynchronous work per class. This would mean students who have four classes on Monday, would have up to four hours of asynchronous work before Thursday (keeping in mind the Wednesday asynchronous day). We will be soliciting regular feedback and can certainly adjust as we move forward. So things will look like this:
Attendance will be recorded for every synchronous class meeting. If your student will miss or be late for a class, parents should communicate with Mr. Dixon as they normally would. You can call the attendance number (858-453-3440 x300) or send him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For each of the first two weeks of e-learning after the break, detailed information should be sent to students and their parents for each class. Beginning the week of April 20th, we will continue this practice of emailing students and parents with 9th graders but will only email students (not parents) in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.
At present our current letter grades/feedback system will remain in place for all divisions. We believe this is in the best interest of our students, particularly those in upper levels. We will have to make adjustments to our process, approach, and thinking and those adjustments will be clearly communicated by your teachers. Our college counseling team is tracking nationwide independent school choices around grading and we are currently aligned with the majority of like independent schools.
Moving forward we will dedicate ourselves to providing the absolute best e-learning experience for our students and community. We know you understand there will be successes and challenges and that we will learn from both. We welcome your feedback as we continuously reflect on our progress and make adjustments as needed. The importance of our working together, showing patience and empathy, and taking care of each other and ourselves can not be overstated. As always we will make decisions based on what we believe is in the best interest of our students and community. I can say with confidence that from what I have witnessed so far, we will find our way through these times and emerge a stronger and closer community.