Independent Pre-K to 12 School in Atlanta

The Paideia School

Corona Virus Updates (COVID-19)

Dear High School Parents & Students:

Tomorrow is Day 9 of virtual high school.  As we settle into this structure, we continue to adapt based on feedback from faculty, students, and parents.  With each passing day, our teachers and students have a better sense of how this works and what to expect.

This week, we are excited to host our first Monday Morning Meeting via Zoom Webinar, which will bring together all of our high school students and faculty.  We also look forward to hosting more club meetings via Zoom, an online exercise program, and more student-run games to keep us connected.  Midterm advisor reports will be sent out on Friday, April 3 – just before spring break.

As a preview for what's coming up after spring break, we are evaluating these first few weeks to refine and roll out an even more streamlined schedule after break.  We will continue to send you weekly updates on Sundays, so the next communication from the high school administration will be on Sunday, April 12.

The summary below includes:

  • Structure of Virtual High School (updates)
  • Academic Life
  • Social Activities
  • Advisory
  • Support for Students
  • Support for Parents
     

As a reminder, we discourage social gatherings, small or large.  As hard as it is to practice social distancing, we are all making sacrifices for the greater good to stop the spread of this virus.  Let's keep finding ways to support each other.

Please take care,

Brett

High School Principal

Structure of Virtual High School (updates):

  • All high school classes will continue to host at least two live sessions per week via Google Hangout or Zoom. These live sessions will meet during a class' regularly scheduled time on a six-period day (so, no blocks). It is our expectation that students will make all efforts possible to join their designated class meetings – it is important that we see each other.
  • For reference, this week (March 30 – April 3) is an A week (periods 1 – 6). All video sessions require an invitation, so students will be notified of their class meetings.
  • Each class has a goal of 5-6 hours per week including work and meeting time. There will, of course, be some variability around how long it takes individual students to complete assignments, and faculty will make adjustments as needed. Teachers are available for support, questions, and check-ins.
  • Online assessments will occur but will have a different structure. Students might have papers, quizzes, and some tests. For all assessments, we assume open book and will allow for more time than typically allotted when in class on campus.
  • Virtual school will be closed for Spring Break. This time will give faculty and students a chance to catch their breath. It is also an opportunity for students to catch up on incomplete work or for faculty to prepare next steps.

Academic Life

  • We received an overwhelmingly positive response this past week to having at least two Zoom sessions per class. Students are happy to see each other and their teachers.
  • Some teachers in English and Social Studies have hosted class discussions around readings and group projects during these Zoom times. Others are using "breakout" rooms in Zoom and a platform called "Parlay" to create engaging student discussions online.
  • Most teachers in each department continue to use Youtube to record sessions for students who haven't been able to attend, or to post information online.
  • To enrich the curriculum, we've received access to stream movies and documentaries with students at their own homes.
  • Long Term class placements for fall 2020 will be sent to students and parents the week of April 13. We will host a series of Zoom Webinar chats by grade level for students who have questions about their placements and courses for next year. Students will also have opportunities to talk with their advisors and parents before finalizing their selections.
  • College Counseling will host chat sessions for rising 11th and 12th graders.  For more specific questions about curriculum, individual placement, and courses, students and parents are welcome to reach out to Laura Magnanini.

Social Activities:

In addition to the activities we mentioned last week:

  • Anna Hammond, strength and conditioning coach, is hosting twice weekly workout sessions.  You can join live or use the link Mike Emery sends out to the community. 
  • Seniors are hosting a TikTok competition.
  • The Steering Committee Instagram account is very active!  Follow paideiasteeringcommittee.
  • The PigeonGame is going strong!  We are about to start the third bracket of the game.
  • Paideia's literary magazine, Blue Rider, has launched on an online version - COVID Nine Zine.  
  • The Forum is now hosting an online version of our school newspaper.
  • Natalie Rogovin, director of service learning, has created a document listing the needs of our community partners.
  • Natalie also has a pamphlet for how students can volunteer from their homes.
  • We will host our first Monday Morning Meeting tomorrow, Monday, March 30 at 10:15 a.m.!  This is a time for the entire high school community to gather via Zoom Webinar.

Advisory

  • Faculty will continue to check in regularly with their advisees, by group and individually. This will occur either organically throughout the week or during our designated advisory time on Fridays at 10:15 a.m.
  • Advisors will also check in with students about their Midterm Advisor Reports.

Support for Students

  • Teachers and administrators continue to follow up with families and students who may need extra support in engaging on the online platforms.
  • Our learning specialists, Tricia Underwood and Morgan Potts, as well as our two mental health counselors, Thrower Starr and Kristi Budd, are actively reaching out to students and families to provide support.
  • Our learning specialists and our counselors have Google classrooms that many students have already connected with. If you are interested in joining one, please email them directly.

Support For Parents

  • A reminder to flex where you can. Some students are adjusting quickly, while some who never had struggles in regular school might find it hard to be motivated.
  • We recorded the two Zoom parent meetings this past week and will share them with interested parents as they become available. Stay tuned for more invitations to gather after spring break.
  • Here are highlights from ideas shared on the Zoom meetings and resources emailed home:
    • Have a designated work space away from home distractions
    • Take regular breaks to get away from all devices
    • Engage with activities unrelated to school or ongoing news about Covid-19.
    • In terms of homework, some might find it easier to focus if they work later in the afternoon or evening, while for others, first thing in the morning is better.
  • Our goals are the same:
    • Provide structure and platforms for learning
    • Engage students in developmentally appropriate and challenging content
    • Offer direct access to teachers
    • Connect with the community, and
    • Allow for differentiated learning in this online environment
       

Dear Junior High Parents,

Hello again!  We seem to be zooming into our third week of virtual school, and we are immensely proud of the work that we are all accomplishing.  Under unprecedented stress and anxiety, students are showing up and working hard, teachers are tap dancing as fast as they can and parents are pulling out amazing amounts of creativity and patience.  I am once again astounded by the care and intelligence and fabulousness of our community.   

Much of the second week of this virtual reality show was spent getting students and teachers up and running with internet services, establishing the usefulness of a variety of software programs and tinkering with the amounts of work and life balance everyone needs.  Teachers continue to hone their sense of how much work they are giving to students and are testing out some new formats for students to use when listening to information and turning in work.  Homebase teachers are shooting for about six hours of work a week. Science teachers are working on a two to three hour amount, and math teachers are finding that about four hours of work seems to be right.  Throw into that mix thirty minutes to an hour of work from foreign language, music, art and physical exercise and seventh graders have about reached their limit.  Eighth graders are doing a bit more, and of course, all of this depends on the students and how they tend to work.

Che Calix, wearing his counselor hat, has conversed, through check-ins or conversations or both, with all seventh graders, and Jennifer Cox is beginning to reach out to individual students as well.  We were deep into working through some social issues when we walked away from school, so it will take a moment to work toward returning to those important conversations.  The eighth graders will be hearing more from Che this week.  If you believe that your child may need to speak with one of us, please reach out via email. 

Many of you have reached out to individual teachers to solve a few problems and to offer words of support and encouragement.  Please keep doing so.  Schedules that have already begun to take shape this past week will be tweaked again this coming week.  We want students to have good and useful work to do and also not be overwhelmed by that work. Getting away from screens and finding the rays of sunshine outside are vital to everyone's health and performance in school.  We are beginning to get a sense of which students are not consistently showing up, and teachers are reaching out via email.  The eighth graders have hit a solid stride with work while the seventh graders have improved this week.  Good job, everyone!

Please stay in touch with your experiences and thoughts and questions. 

Miss you,

Jennifer and Sandy

The Things Parents Can Help With

  • We are hearing from students and parents that the most helpful aspect of home life is boring, old routine.  The students who have been the most successful this week are the ones who have continued to go to bed on time, rise to make their breakfasts and get into school clothes just as they did before.  Arriving to virtual school on time with their previous assignments finished and supplies in hand is vital to this working well.  You can all help by setting bed times, and setting the alarms for the morning!
  • We know how hard it is to find the space for multiple parents and students to work from home.  It seems to be truly vital for students to have parent support in finding a quiet place to keep school supplies and meet the demands of work online.  Zoom conferences are an important piece of learning, so please help your students keep track of their schedules as they become more regular and predictable.  We will get there!
  • Continue to advise your children on how they can solve their own problems!  Some students are struggling with this transition, but they don't need you to completely jump in to fix it all for them.  They need your organizational skills and your time helping them know what questions they need to ask and to whom they should be asking.  One of the HUGE advantages to all of this is that students will learn to be even more independent with their work.  Let us know if you all are having trouble with this aspect of homebound learning.

The Things Parents Don't Have to Do

  • You do not need to monitor your child's Zoom conferences or work, once the initial schedule is set up.  They can and should be doing their own work in their own space.
  • You do not need to know what your children are doing with their online schooling each step of the day.  They need their own time and privacy to work, and they need you to trust them that they can do it.  Some students required more help before we switched to online school, and those kids still need you.  Teachers are right there waiting to help them if they reach out and ask for the help they need.
  • If we hear of discipline issues in Zoom conferences or if we hear that students are not meeting the expectations of school, we will tell you.  You don't need to be anxious that we are not paying close attention.  We are.  As a faculty, we continue to meet to talk about all of this during the week and are helping one another keep track of work being done (or not done), and we will be emailing and calling you!

The Good and The Bad of Social Media At-Home

Social media is a fabulous way for your kids to stay connected during this time of social distancing.  We don't know of a young, teenager who wants to be distanced from peers, so monitor this time as usual but also be supportive of their healthy use of time to connect with friends.  Now would be a grand time for kids to set up study groups through their social media platforms.

Please remind your children to continue their vigilance in not sharing the details of their lives online.  Remind your children not to share their complete names and addresses or routines on social media.  With the relaxed atmosphere of being at home, some students may relax their own boundaries with online sharing.  

Positives to Online Learning

Even though the past two weeks have seemed like six weeks, we have found some very clear positives in our experience of school. 

  • As you can imagine, students are having a resurgence of appreciation for being together.  Even though teachers have mourned the loss of the intimacy and ease of the classroom, they have also noticed that some students who were previously more reluctant to share have stepped up to the plate.  Zoom classes are focused and engaging times for teachers and students to interact, but it is also happening with posted videos of explanation and subsequent teacher/student conversations had through email and Google Classroom/Schoology. 
  • Students are becoming better problem solvers.  With parents busy with their own schedules and teachers immediately unavailable, students have had to think their way through their own questions.  As one teacher stated it, "their immediate needs not being met immediately" helps them use their analytical and higher order thinking skills more effectively. 
  • Students are expressing concern for classmates and their empathy skills are finding ways of reaching out and including one another in truly thoughtful ways.  You can help as well by asking your child to think of something kind they could do, from a distance, for a classmate that they may not even know particularly well.

Dear Elementary Parents,

Eleven days ago, our lives were turned upside down in one quick minute and now we are living in a new and unpredictable reality. During this extraordinary period, we have taken a school that is valued for its personal interactions, close relationships, creative curriculum and talented faculty into the virtual realm.  We are all learning a lot about how to do all that needs doing and doing well.  We will continue to refine our practice as time goes on because we are bound and determined to sustain our precious educational community.

One thing we know now is that virtual time runs at a different pace and online schooling should help arrange a child's day without dominating it.  Finding the right balance of screen, written assignments, projects, play (a.k.a. recess), and family time is not easy and varies person to person. We will gradually find our own productive pace and mix of work and play.  When it all becomes too much, let's learn to recognize it and take a breather.  As you understand, we want children to have plenty of useful things to work on while not overwhelming them, or you. Homework is adjustable and deadlines are flexible.  If you have any questions about this, contact your child's teacher or us. 

Structure:

Your child's weekly schedule should now include class meetings, math lessons, reading assignments and other assignments or projects particular to their class.  Work expectations vary according to the age of your child. This week, our wonderful specialists began entering your child's routine.  Arranging time with specialists is complicated.  The classroom and specialist teachers are collaborating to make schedules work.  Some tweaking remains necessary and tweak we will.  

Social Activity:

Many parents have shared that the companionship of the class meetings boosts morale. We have been "visiting" many of the class meetings, and we have heard many touching and kind stories of their radically changed lives. We have watched creative games and supportive interactions.  Although these are necessary and helpful, they are more than likely not enough to satisfy your child's social yearnings. We encourage you to help navigate virtual playdates and peer interactions during this extended period of social distance.  

Support for Students:

If your student is struggling, please contact your child's teacher or feel free to contact us.  We will work with these situations on an individual basis.

Support for Parents:

Please take a minute to review a newly posted Mental Health & Wellness page.  It has a lot of information that we hope parents will find useful.

In addition, the elementary school will host a webinar for half day and elementary parents on Wed., 4/1 at 8:00 p.m.  Details about the webinar will be sent in a separate invitation. 

Sincerely,

Mary Lynn and Brooke

March 27, 2020

Dear Parents,

"When going through hell, keep going."  – Winston Churchill

I hope your life has not been hell, but only a little hellish. The contours of most of our lives have been bent out of shape, quickly and in ways that we could not have imagined just a few weeks ago. Despite the heat, we will nonetheless keep going. The purpose of this letter is to report on how we are doing that. Each of the principals will send you an email more specific to their program later on Sunday. We are trying to coordinate our communications so that Paideia email does not overwhelm your inbox.

In Week No. 2 in our Create a New School project, we made much progress. The schedule was more organized and teachers increased their online instruction and ZOOM classes. We better organized the schedule to spread out the workload and reduce double booking; most of the specialist teachers appeared in the line-up. Very important have been the extra-curricular contacts, such as the online "playdates" in the elementary school and club meetings in the high school. There are still more refinements to come.

On Wednesday I was on a webinar with 70 school heads throughout the Southeast. Those who spoke reported that the challenges were the greatest their schools had ever faced. Most have been in the virtual school business for less than two weeks and, as one said, "We're already on our third iteration." Few schools were replicating online the same 5 or 6 periods-a-day schedule that they had in real school. Neither are we.

In order to keep children engaged, especially as the novelty of virtual school wears off which several other school heads said was already beginning to happen, we are doing a variety of formats, and emphasizing flexibility for teachers to draw on with different children and different age groups and subjects. There is direct instruction on platforms like ZOOM with mostly teacher presentation, discussion formats, use of the proliferation of video resources from places like YouTube, partial class activities, and individual tutorial. The junior high and the high school teachers are expecting that each student will average six or so hours of one kind of schoolwork or another each day.

Having a variety of formats helps to keep school interesting and liberates children from excessive screen time that induces passivity and can be deadening. The variety also plays to the different styles, strengths, and creativity of individual teachers. We have built a school on these strengths and creativities.

The coordination and format of an online school are necessarily more restrictive (much to the chagrin of some teachers), but for reasons as old as the school itself. We will continue to rely on the educational culture of Paideia as much as possible.

Paideia teachers have always worked hard without losing the joys of learning as well as the joys of spending days with children. Many teachers say that they have never been so exhausted and drained. It is especially acute for those with young children at home who themselves need help with their schoolwork.

We are, as I too often say, staying with the date we brought to the dance, but it is a different dance and perhaps even a dance marathon. You can depend on us to dance our best during these hellish times.

 

The faculty and the rest of us appreciate your support and kind words. Thank you.

As always,

Paul

Hi Everyone,

As we navigate these uncertain times, it is natural that anxiety is increasing. We are here to provide support and welcome the opportunity to talk with you anytime about this incredibly important topic of anxiety, and how it relates to you and your family while we tackle this new normal together. We invite you to share in our Wellness site, which includes short articles, links, reminders, and resources as we ride out this journey together.

Here is a link to the site:
sites.google.com/paideiaschool.org/parent-health-and-wellness/home

Please check back for updates and do reach out if we can help anytime.

Thanks,
Barbara Dunbar and Deven Greene

Dear Elementary Parents,

Thank you for your patience while we all adjust to long distance learning. Teachers are working tirelessly to communicate with your child. Each partnership is creating schedules that are manageable, predictable and flexible. And educational too.

It is reasonable to think about last week as phase one of our virtual elementary school. These next two weeks through April 3 are phase two. During phase two you can expect your child to have opportunities to interact with his or her teacher and see classmates, mostly via ZOOM. Also specialists will re-enter their lives during phase two. Instructional methods will be continuously refined, and as schedules unfold, we will learn more about what is possible, what is useful and what's already working.

We have not forgotten about parent conferences. We will be in touch about scheduling those after spring break.

We miss your children, and we know they miss school. But we will stay connected, even while apart, and exercise patience as we become more proficient. These are indeed trying times and we are in this together. We will learn to cope with a new normal. Take care of yourselves and of each other.

Don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always glad to hear from you.

Sincerely,
Mary Lynn


Mary Lynn Cullen
Elementary Principal
Paideia School


cullen.marylynn@paideiaschool.org

When we sent our letter to you last Friday as the school flipped the "off" switch, we had gotten together as a faculty and arranged the first steps of getting assignments posted online.  Over the course of the week, the faculty has learned to Google Chat, Zoom, Youtube (yes, it's a verb too!), Google Meet, scan, distance grade, and post, among other skills.  Many of you have sent words of thanks and support, and we can't tell you how valuable it has been to hear from you.  Taking a school that we value for its interactive and experiential nature and placing it into a virtual realm has been challenging.  We have learned quite a bit this week, and we will continue to learn more and fine tune what works best.

A major discovery for us has been that virtual/online school can take over life completely.  We have had teachers interacting with students and answering questions all day and into the wee hours of the morning, and some students who have completed weeks of posted work in a few days.  Slow down, everybody.  Pacing is a skill we are all going to have to practice.

We have not heard consistently from the seventh graders as much as we have from the eighth graders.  If you own a seventh grader, please make sure she/he is checking in and turning in assignments.  One teacher reports that half a class missed a Friday deadline, but within hours of sending a reminder email on Saturday, all but one assignment was returned.  We are patient with this, of course, and we know that not everyone's family situation allows for stable internet and quiet spaces to learn.  We want everyone to keep making progress, so definitely keep checking with your children and with us.

After this busy week, we have decided on a few guidelines that will become the foundations of our class schedules.  And yes, we are trying to create schedules that work for everyone.  This is like building the plane while we are flying it!

 

  • We need to find the balance of video/visual online teaching with assignments and independent work.  To that end, homebase classrooms will be "meeting" with students three times a week with space to grow and add more.  Specialists will be "meeting" with students at least twice this week along with the posted assignments.  In addition, our teachers are individually communicating with students outside of these times. It is our goal to have students and teachers able to see one another while learning, so this coming week should include more video teaching times. For the most part, homebase teachers will be sticking to their meeting/class times from regular school. Teachers will send out information to students using email and/or their online learning platforms -- Google Classroom or Schoology.   We will have much more on this aspect of virtual school after we have tested the schedule this coming week, so the guidelines above are not in full swing yet. Specialist teachers may have to create a video conferencing time that combines classes and meets at "off" hours like first period (8:15 to 9:05) or lunch time (12:40 to 1:30) or even a little after school (3:15 - 4:00).  When the final schedules are worked out, we will tell children and you.  Schedules won't be completed this coming week as we finalize what works best.
  • We are going to hold to a "no new work" on weekends and over holidays rule.  A student may be given an assignment on a Wednesday that is due on a Monday, but that student would have Thursday and Friday to work on the assignment.  We know that you are trying to help your children set schedules and be online when they need to be.  The weekend is a break from this.
  • We will be flexible with some deadlines for assignments, but we have to hear from the students who miss a deadline.  It won't be acceptable for a student to miss a deadline and also not email or message the teacher with the reasons.  To that end, students can not wait until they have missed a deadline to ask questions on how to get an assignment completed.  They must ask before the deadline, just like real school.
  • Teachers will be setting office hours for asking questions and general communication.  For some teachers, office hours will mean setting up specific online times to ask whatever questions have come up via a video format.  For other teachers, office hours won't be using a video format but will be specified, online hours during which they will be available for questions and responses.
  • Online or in person, it is always a challenge to find the balance between too much and too little work.  We have asked teachers to arrange their assignments and information to help students regulate their learning at home.  We want children to have plenty to work on but not be overwhelmed by huge amounts. We are thinking that a particular class will have assignments due every couple of days, not daily.  Daily due dates for all classes strap students to the computer and leave little time to explore some new and interesting opportunities apart from our online learning.  Your children have heard from many teachers separately, but to offer you an example, the art department sent out this letter: https://www.paideiaschool.org/cf_enotify/view.cfm?n=933.  You have a copy of the letter in your inbox if you didn't read it.  And, Danielle Moore, our learning specialist, sent home this letter earlier this week in an effort to try to help families switch over to online learning:   https://www.paideiaschool.org/cf_enotify/view.cfm?n=938.


Che Calix, our science teacher and counselor, has reached out to all students to ask them to share their experiences this week.  Your children have the link to that document and so far about 40 students have reached out to Che individually for support.  

We are entering our second week of virtual learning, and our program is evolving quickly.  The challenges are real, and the Junior High faculty is working very hard.  There will be glitches, of course, because we are designing a different school from scratch.  But, we are good at the essentials of school, and we know we can do what has to be done.  

Remember to laugh, spend family time together and wash your hands!  

Best,

Jennifer and Sandy

 

It seems many of the notes I've written over the past few weeks started with a version of, "We are in unusual and anxious times," and ended with, "We are in this together, so let's give ourselves space to sort it out."  Now I focus only on the ending, "We are in this together."  As some of you may know, earlier this week I spent two days driving roundtrip Atlanta-Chicago to move my oldest daughter out of her dorm and back home for the rest of her freshman year of college.  As we drove across 6 states, we witnessed stages of our country shutting down for an indefinite period of time.  Though unsettling, I remembered that each of us can take comfort in knowing that our community's strengths - of staying connected and supporting each other - will endure, and that there is a day down the line when we will be together again.

Below are reflections and guidelines on how we continue to build our virtual high school.  In response to feedback from faculty, students, and parents, we have updated the structure.  We are responding and adjusting as nimbly as we can.  With each passing day, we get better at this format, and collectively, we are creating a learning community that holds true to our school's culture, values, and individual personalities.

When it comes to transitioning the operations of an entire high school that thrives on being together, there is a learning curve for our whole community.  The summary below includes:  Academic Life, Social Activities, Advisory, and Supports, along with notes for parents.  As a reminder, we are not having any school-sponsored events and discourage social gatherings small or large – as hard as it is to practice social distancing, we are all making sacrifices to stop the spread of this virus.  Let's say connected virtually, be patient as we work through this shift, and above all, keep taking care of each other.

Structure of Virtual High School (updates):

  • To stay more connected, all high school classes will have at least two live sessions per week via Google Hangout or Zoom.  These live sessions will meet during a class' regularly scheduled time on a six-period day (so, no blocks).  Faculty will work to record the sessions and then add them to their Google classroom site for students who cannot make the designated time.
  • For reference, this week (March 23- March 27) is a B week, so next week is an A week.  All video sessions require an invitation, so students will be notified of when their classes will meet.
  • Each class has a goal of 5-6 hours per week including work and meeting time.  There will, of course, be some variability around how long it takes individual students to complete assignments, and faculty will make adjustments as needed.  Teachers are available for support, questions, and check ins.
  • Online assessments will occur but will have a different structure.  There can be papers, quizzes, and some tests.  All assessments will be given with the general acknowledgement of the context in which we all find ourselves now, and therefore, we assume open book and will allow for more time than typically allotted when in class on campus.

Academic Life

  • This past week, teachers checked in with students and found new ways to reinforce the material and skills they have already learned, while also looking ahead to new curriculum and materials.
  • Teachers have embraced new aspects of technology as helpful tools for their teaching.  Examples include:  Chemistry teachers using Youtube videos to broadcast all of their classes, Spanish and math students using an on-line video tool called FlipGrid to create their own videos of projects and dialogues, Math teachers using Doceri to turn their ipads into virtual white boards for direct instruction, and English teachers doing read-alouds of Shakespeare on Youtube with follow-up chats online.  

Social Activities:

Currently

  • HS Steering Committee is meeting twice a week to discuss and coordinate ways students can stay connected while only seeing each other online.  As expected, social media plays a big role in keeping our students connected.
  • Steering Committee has created grade level GroupMe accounts.  All students have been added to the GroupMe accounts.
  • Prior to moving to online school, Steering Committee created an Instagram account.  Currently, it houses notes from teachers and posts from students.  There is a grade-level competition for the best Corona-TikTok post. We are also connecting with the CDC, who, at our request, will be launching weekly informational videos geared for students.  There are over 400 followers on this Instagram account.
  • A GamePigeon Tournament starts on Monday, March 23rd.  This tournament is modeled off of the NCAA March Madness bracket.  Currently, there are 136 students participating.
  • ImPact has sent students resources about ways to volunteer while social distancing.  
  • Peer Leadership is reaching out to their groups via text and GroupMe.
  • The Forum is shifting to an online version.
  • Blue Rider will be launching a long-form online magazine.

In planning stages

  • Steering Committee is looking into hosting grade level NeflixParties.
  • We are in the early stages of hosting an online Open-Mic night. 
  • We are looking into the possibility of a headliner online concert for our high school students.

Advisory:

  • Faculty will continue to check in regularly with their advisees to see how they are doing.  This will occur either organically throughout the week or during our designated advisory time on Fridays at 10:15 AM.

Support for Students:

  • Teachers and administrators continue to follow up with families and students who may need extra support in engaging on the online platforms. Our learning specialists, Tricia Underwood and Morgan Potts, as well as our 2 mental health counselors, Thrower Starr and Kristi Budd, are actively reaching out to students and families to provide support.  Our learning specialists and our counselors have Google classrooms that many students are already connected with - if you are interested in joining one, please just email them directly.

Support For Parents:

  • We are setting up Zoom meetings for parents to come together this week and share about successes and challenges encountered so far.  There will be one meeting for 9th & 10th grade parents, and one for 11th & 12th grade parents.  Please be on the lookout for your invitation.  We know that being online cannot replace the in-person engagement of classes on campus, but we hope it can facilitate meaningful learning as we move forward.
  • A reminder to flex where you can.  It will take time for students, teachers, and families to settle into routines and schedules. Please work with your child to find a schedule that works for them.  In terms of homework, some might find it easier to focus if they work later in the afternoon or evening, while for others, first thing in the morning is better. Our goals are to:  provide structure and platforms for learning, engage students in developmentally appropriate challenging content, offer direct access to teachers, connect with the community, and allow for different types of learners in this environment.

Dear Parents,

It is obvious to all that the school closure is more than an extended snow day, and in different ways all of us are trying to figure out how to adapt to our new realities. None of us have a previous playbook to fall back on, and it can be exhausting to make it up as we go along. Let me tell you what we are doing at school and also offer a few perspectives.

  • The campus was totally locked down for three days since late Monday: no one, no how, nowhere. We are told that the virus dies a lonely and victimless death in 72 hours. Today the maintenance staff is doing another deep cleaning. Thank you, maintenance staff.
     
  • After this week, only faculty and staff will have access and it will be limited. As long as the internet keeps working (thank you, technology department), most of us do not need to be on campus. This shutdown applies to the playgrounds also, in part because we cannot deep clean a playground structure, and in part for liability reasons.
     
  • There will be no school sponsored activities until further notice. The fundraising will creep along under the radar and wait for the coast to clear. Thank you, Auction people and P@50 leadership.
     
  • The COVID-19 steering committee continues to meet online to respond to issues and try to anticipate ones that might come over the horizon. Thank you, COVID-19 Committee.
     
  • We are getting used to online instruction. It is not the same as three -dimensional school. In some cases, we need to dial down the demands we are making on students, or conversely, up the ante.
     
  • I told the faculty yesterday that spring break, April 6-10, will be a school-free break. Everyone needs a break, now more than ever.
     
  • For the 60 or so students on financial aid with the highest need, we will substitute vouchers to continue the lunch support previously handled through Pi Bites.
     
  • The board of trustees and its committees continue to meet online. Thank you, trustees.

I think that perhaps even harder that these adjustments and others to follow is the emotional adjustment to the different world in which we find ourselves. Teachers and students report that not having school is disconcerting and sad. Almost everyone at Paideia likes coming to school, in large part because of the relationships we enjoy: relationships among students, between students and adults, and among colleagues. Those relationships have been interrupted and we do not know when we will be back together. This uncertainty compounds the anxiety.

It is not surprising that in such an uncertain time many of us grab at things familiar or things we believe we can control: we buy too much toilet paper, over clean the kitchen, or rearrange the sock drawer. For me, even though I know it's stupid, I had my golf cart delivered home. Several times this week I have cruised through the neighborhood, waving to puzzled walkers and their dogs, and speculating on which house would be a good place for one more elementary classroom. I am also hoping to bump into a colleague or find an advisee to honk at. I never thought I would miss carpool. It's possible that driving a golf cart on a city street is illegal, but with the courts shut down, I'm probably safe.

We are all adapting, not from choice, but we can choose how to make sense of these adaptations. We can frame them as a test of our capacity for resiliency. Everyone lauds resiliency; now we get to practice it. We can also come away with some insights into the relative importance of what we have typically taken for granted, as well as expand our capacity for empathy for the many people in our society whose lives are regularly pockmarked with ongoing vulnerability. Also, how we respond and how we narrate our responses will be seen and heard by our children.

We are fortunate to be part of a strong and caring community. Let's rely on that strength and compassion, both to support us at Paideia and others not at the school.

I'll be back in touch. Meanwhile, wave if you see me on my golf cart in your neighborhood.

Paul

A great way to monitor you family's illness and decide whether to seek attention!! The Kinsa app is available for free. They do sell thermometers but it is not necessary to buy them to use the app. You can enter temperatures and symptoms manually. You are given information about caring for your family member and whether to contact a health professional or emergency services. When going to the doctor the information can be reviewed by your healthcare provider and is very helpful with diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. The following link will take you directly to the website with more information and a sample screen of the app in use. https://www.kinsahealth.co/products/#kinsaapp

We are remaining vigilant in monitoring the Coronavirus situation and hope you and your family are well. As always, you are welcome to contact us at nurse@paideiaschool.org if you have any questions. I will be checking email daily Monday through Friday.

Dear Parents,

The teachers are finalizing details for virtual classrooms. You will be hearing from teachers shortly. In some cases they are up and running. Several elementary classes had teachers reading to the group, or reading with individual children. Even Luddite Me met online (with video) with my high school history class.

As of Monday, March 16, students will have no access to any buildings on campus.  If you have an emergency situation, please contact your school level administrator.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to Coronavirus (Covid-19) please feel free to contact the school nurse Lisa Brummer at nurse@paideiaschool.org. We would appreciate knowing if there has been any exposure that concerns you, but how you handle such a possibility is your choice.

While school is closed, there will be no school sponsored events for parents or students, including all sports and practices. We advise families to follow CDC guidelines regarding social distancing and not attending large events and mass gatherings.

We will continue to follow CDC guidelines for schools during this period of closure and communicate with you regularly.

In the waterfall of advice pouring down on us, let me add my own droplet. I know it's only been a couple of days and there are many more to come, but whether you are self-quarantining or not, it is important to establish a routine, certainly important for children. The greater certainty of structure can only help in an environment where so much has suddenly become uncertain. A lot of this crisis we cannot control; let's act on that which is within our reach.

Paul  Bianchi
Headmaster

We know these past few weeks have been challenging and anxious times.  First, thank you for your support, communication, and flexibility as we continue to navigate our response to this crisis and our care for this community.  As we move to an online high school, the connections, passion, and learning will continue.  On Monday, March 16, the high school will begin shifting to a virtual school using Google Classroom for all communication with students.  Below is our plan for managing high school learning while we are closed:

  • On Monday, March 16, we will launch a beta test of the online system from 10 AM -12 PM.  We ask that all high school students log onto Google Classroom and work through the assignments and communication with their teachers.
     
  • Tuesday, March 17, will be a transition day with assignments, work, and communication from some classes.  By Wednesday, March 18, all classes will be up and running.
     
  • From Wednesday, March 18 until we reopen, we ask that students log in daily to work through assignments, respond to communication from faculty, and engage in school.  The virtual high school will provide students with a flexible schedule, for which they will receive a list of work to accomplish over a specific time frame. The use of Google Classroom allows faculty to provide the necessary resources to their students, including: video, textbooks, teacher notes, websites, and online access to faculty for questions and guidance.
     
  • We ask that students check Google Classroom for each class on a daily basis. Assignments for each class should take, on average, 45-60 minutes per day (up to 4-5 hours per day total). We encourage students to balance their learning time with frequent breaks for other activities.  Any students who are unable to complete assignments due to illness or technology issues should contact their teachers directly, and teachers will work with those students individually to determine accommodations.
     

We ask that parents provide a supportive learning environment. It would be a good idea for you and your child/ren to check connectivity with the internet on Monday after teachers have had a chance to post initial assignments. We want to make sure students can access the sites and information they need. Some teachers will be posting assignments daily, and others will post a week or weeks of assignments at a time. Please help students balance their daily work with other activities. 

We are always available via email and by phone.  Brett Hardin's cell phone is 404-819-8355, Stacey Winston's is 404-376-3059, Laura Magnanini's is 404-583-0160, and Rachel Peterson's is 917-301-3788.

Be well and know that we are all in this together.  Although we will not be on campus for some time, we will stay connected.

Take care,
Brett

We have entered some very unusual and anxious times. Above all else, we want you all to stay as healthy as you can and remember to laugh as much as possible each day. It is going to be through our humor and enjoyment of family time that we will retain a sense of normalcy and stability. We are so very used to touting the value of being in class with the magical mix of classmates and teachers, and here we are switching to online learning in a very short amount of time. Teachers have been amazing with sharing information and learning how to use online platforms in new ways. It's been a whirlwind of a week.

Junior high students will continue to use the learning platforms already in place with each of their teachers (Google classroom, Schoology, or teacher webpages) to find and submit assignments.  We are asking students to check those sites for each class on a daily basis. Assignments for each class should take, on average, 30-45 minutes per day (up to 3-4 hours per day total). We encourage students to balance their learning time with frequent breaks for other activities.  Any students who are unable to complete assignments due to illness or technology issues should contact their teachers directly, and teachers will work with those students individually to determine accommodations. Email remains our primary source of communication between students, teachers and parents.

We ask that parents provide a supportive learning environment. It would be a good idea for you and your child/ren to check connectivity with the internet late Monday after teachers have had a chance to post initial assignments. We want to make sure students can access the sites and information they need. Some teachers will be posting assignments daily and others will post a week or weeks of assignments at a time. Please help students balance their daily work.  Lessons we have learned from other countries that have shifted to remote learning indicate that students tend to fair best emotionally if they stick to a regular schedule, so consider how you might be able to help them structure their days. It might be easy to fall into irregular patterns with learning time, so be aware that they may need some help.

Sandy and I are always available via email and by phone. Of course, we aren't going to be here at school. Jennifer's cell phone is 404-401-7014 and Sandy's is 404-992-8479. If you have questions about health issues or information to share, please direct those inquiries or comments to Brett Hardin at hardin.brett@paideiaschool.org.

Be well and know that we are all in this together!

Best,

Jennifer and Sandy

Jennifer Cox                                                                
Junior High Principal                                                       
The Paideia School
Email: cox.jennifer@paideiaschool.org    

Sandy Jordan                       
Assistant Junior High Principal
The Paideia School
Email: jordan.sandy@paideiaschool.org

By now you have received Paul's email that we are closed for the near future.  If they haven't already, your child's classroom teachers will be in touch about their plans for distance learning.

If you have questions, it is best to contact the teachers directly, but, as always, we are here to help facilitate communication. Reach out to us if you need us.  

On Monday, we will launch a beta test of our elementary online distance learning.  We are asking that families log on to teacher webpages or google classrooms (depending on what format your child's teacher is using) between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.  During this time, you and your child should peruse the site and ensure that you can access the information.  Teachers will be available to communicate with you and answer any questions or assist with any hiccups.  Teachers will let you know the best way to communicate with them during this window.  

We hope that your child has made it home with all they need for their learning to continue remotely.  Should your child be missing something, the school buildings will be open on Monday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., though no students will be here.  If you should need to come back on campus for any reason, please communicate that directly with your child's teacher so that arrangements can be made.

Beginning Tuesday, March 17th, we will officially launch our elementary distance learning. We are asking students to check those sites for each class on a daily basis.  We encourage students to balance their learning time with frequent breaks for other activities.  Any students who are unable to complete assignments due to illness or technology issues should contact their teachers directly, and teachers will work with those students individually to determine accommodations.

We appreciate everyone's patience and flexibility as we navigate this new territory.  

Thank you so much,

Mary Lynn and Brooke

Dear Parents,

After today Paideia School will be closed indefinitely until further notice. At this writing we know of no member of the community who has been infected by Covid-19. It is not possible for us or anyone else to predict the timing and course of this pandemic. Experts advise it will be several weeks. During this time there will be no school sponsored events for parents or students, including all sports and practices.

During this unwanted sabbatical, teachers will communicate with students regarding course work and assignments. Because of the differences among the elementary and junior high and high school, it makes sense that specific information come from each level of the school. Level administrators will be in touch today or Monday, March 16.

We will continue to communicate with you on a regular and appropriate basis.

Paul Bianchi

Dear Parents,

  1. It is highly likely that we will shut down campus at some point. We are told by knowledgeable people that it is only a matter of time. The faculty has been preparing to go to online learning. We need more preparation time. Therefore, we are changing the schedule next week as follows:

    No School on Monday, March 16 so that we can prepare more and test the systems we have. More details to follow.

    The previously scheduled Teacher Workday on Wednesday, March 18 will not happen, and we are planning for a regular school day.
     
  2. The Auction.  I'm sure that it will not come as a surprise to anyone that we have decided to cancel the March 28 Auction party. The scores of Auction planners were very excited about going to an "Old School At School" event this year. Instead we're going "Old School At Home". The Auction always draws a large crowd, exactly what experts are saying to avoid.

    It helps that we already conduct much of our Auction online, the so-called Pajama Auction. (www.paideiaschool.org/auction). It will open tomorrow, Friday, March 13 at 9 a.m. You will be receiving detailed instructions on how to register and bid. The items that were going to be at the live event will be online plus lots more. Please bid. We won't be standing next to each other to raise money for financial aid, but we can still stand with each other.

 

Paul Bianchi

Dear Parents,

Here is this morning's update on school matters relating to the COVID-19 situation. We continue to monitor all information available to us inside and outside of the school and have taken actions we believe are appropriate responses to protect our students and the rest of the community.

The school's COVID-19 Steering Committee meets almost daily and Brett Hardin who chairs the group is spending a lion's share of his time trying to manage a fast changing environment. Brett and I are talking at least a half dozen times a day.

We have canceled school trips and activities, such as the high school soccer program's trip to a Hilton Head tournament this weekend, all other out-of-town student and faculty travel, and tonight's big concert involving the high school bands, orchestras, and choruses.

To give you a sense of the considerations involved in these decisions, let me share our thinking about one event, tonight's concert. We were advised by two CDC epidemiologists working with the school that having the concert was probably acceptable, but that soon such large gatherings would most likely be ill advised. As much as everyone hoped that this end-of-the-year big concert at Glenn Memorial would go forward, experts were unable, of course, to tell us that the event would be free of risk. Also knowing that many parents and grandparents would be anxious about the event, it seemed that the more prudent public health response was to call off the concert.

We are all living in uncharted territory, and there is no proven road map to guide the way. But we are not helpless. It is very important that we not succumb to unsubstantiated rumors about what is happening or happened at school. Situations less unnerving than this breed misinformation, some spread by students, some by faculty, some by parents. Do not believe everything you hear in the carpool line. As of now, we know of no one in the school community who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Believe us instead. We are committed to communicate with you regularly and tell you immediately all important information about what is happening at school and our responses to it. If you have any questions or information we need to know, email me or Brett or the school nurse. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Paul Bianchi

Parents are invited to stock up on library books from the elementary library for their children if they would like to have a supply at home during the coming weeks!

Junior high and high school students can check out fiction and non-fiction from the library collection to have on hand at home.  In addition, if you would like to set up an account to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from our Sora/OverDrive collection, email Anna Watkins at library@paideiaschool.org for instructions and account information.  Parents and students from third grade up can have their own Sora accounts.

We encourage reading every day for pleasure and reassurance.

The administrative committee responsible for guiding the school's response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) is meeting and monitoring daily information updates on the spread of the virus.   We are and will continue to take appropriate precautions at school and follow the CDC guidelines

Based on information from the medical community on the potential for an increase in the number of new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), the committee is canceling all school related plane travel and monitoring the advisability of all school trips.

The committee has developed a plan to provide all students with class work via distance learning should we need to close school for an extended period of time. If a closure were to occur with limited notice, we would give faculty and students a day or two to reorient before we start virtual school.

Half day teachers will be in communication via email with their families regarding at home learning activities for students.  Elementary classroom teachers (and some specialist teachers) will offer continued learning for students through the platform of their teacher webpages. 

Junior high students will continue to use the learning platforms already in place with each of their teachers (Google classroom, Schoology, or teacher webpages) to receive and submit assignments.

The high school is prepared to function as a virtual school using Google Classroom for all communication with students. 

The committee is working with technology to ensure all students are able to access these lessons.

Here at school we are continuing increased cleaning protocols and highlighting proper hygiene and hand washing begun last week. Maintenance and our cleaning services are disinfecting common surfaces daily. All classrooms have hand sanitizer and wipes.

The school nurse will observe students not feeling well and contact parents if she feels the students should not be at school. Please keep sick children at home.

As a reminder, the school policy on students needing to go home: "temperature over 100.0 is a definite reason, if they have other symptoms such as sore throat, coughing, congestion and are not performing up to their usual standards they should go home."

If your child or someone in your family shows symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever >100.4 F, cough, shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms), the Georgia Department of Public Health's current instructions are to contact your healthcare provider. 

We will keep you updated with our plans as we continue to monitor this situation. Click on the Corona Virus (Covid-19) button for the latest information.

If you have questions please contact Brooke Marty (elementary), Sandy Jordan (junior high), Brett Hardin (high school) or the school nurse.

Paul Bianchi

Dear Parents,

This may be the first of several communications as together we monitor and respond to the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are and will continue to take appropriate precautions at school and follow the CDC guidelines. I have appointed a small committee of administrators and the school nurse with health care parents as advisors to guide the school in its decision making.

The CDC has resources and web sites with regularly updated information including travelers' health advisories (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html). 

At school we are:

  • Intensifying cleaning protocols on frequently utilized surfaces such as door handles, desks, and other furniture;
  • Making sure that hand sanitizer is in every room;
  • Increasing frequency of proper hand washing;
  • Promoting sneeze and cough precautions;
  • Insisting that any student not feeling well see the nurse for observation as well as to contact parents, if necessary;
  • Asking parents to keep sick children home for as long as necessary;
  • Asking all parents to let us know if any family members have traveled to COVID-19 hotspots or have been in contact with possibly infected persons.

 

At home you can prepare by:

  • Talking about what social distancing is;
  • Avoiding crowds to minimize risk of catching a disease;
  • If someone is on chronic medications (for example for blood pressure), make sure you have enough to last you a couple of weeks;
  • Talking about hand hygiene, practicing it and making sure your kids become "expert hand washers".


Even the most informed public health experts do not know the course and impact of this disease. It seems likely that we will have to be vigilant and stay informed for some time. As more information becomes available, we will communicate with you about the school implication of that information.

A disease threat is upsetting to many children, particularly to the youngest children. We will watch closely for signs of emotional distress and respond in age appropriate ways. With the older students we will find ways to initiate the conversation.  Please let us hear from you if your child is experiencing reactions that we might not be aware of. There was a useful article in Saturday's New York Times entitled "What Parents Should Know About the Coronavirus" (https://parenting.nytimes.com/childrens-health/coronavirus-children-pregnant-women). I am sure there will be more.

Sincerely,
Paul Bianchi