Academics

Fall 2020 Virtual Learning Resources

On Wednesday, August 5, Gonzaga announced that all academic instruction will take place virtually during the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year.
For more information about our plans going forward—including information about the daily class schedule, homework, asynchronous learning days, and more—please expand the text boxes below.

List of 9 items.

  • Letter to All Parents and Guardians: August 5, 2020

    Dear Parents and Guardians,

    With the first day of school less than two weeks away, the Gonzaga administration met with the Board of Trustees on Monday to review our plans and preparations for opening campus in a hybrid fashion. As with all such conversations at Gonzaga, it was centered on the boys and how we can best serve them while safeguarding the health of our school community and the community at large.

    We discussed areas where we feel ready and prepared to bring students back to campus, and areas that we are still finalizing. We discussed aspects of operating a school in the current climate that we can control, and those things that, despite all best efforts and intentions, are outside of our control. We discussed the benefits that would come from bringing the boys back to campus, along with the strengths and limitations that are inherent in a hybrid model. And we discussed the importance of taking a measured approach that allows us to reopen campus incrementally, consistent with guidelines from the District of Columbia—as opposed to in a way that has the potential to take one step forward, followed later by two steps back.

    We write to inform you that the Gonzaga administration, with the support of the Board of Trustees, has decided to start the school year with academic instruction taking place virtually. As such, all classes will take place according to our distance learning protocols during the first quarter.

    We know this is disappointing to the boys and their families. It is disappointing as well to our faculty, staff, and administration who deeply miss your sons and the energy and vibrancy they bring to campus. At the same time, we have also heard from a segment of Gonzaga families who have significant reservations about sending their boys back to school.

    Please know that while classes will take place online, it is our intention to begin to bring the boys onto campus, in small numbers and for relatively short durations, during the first quarter for non-academic activities that foster the boys’ friendships, spiritual growth, sense of community, and motivation. More will be shared in the coming weeks as we shape those opportunities for the first quarter.

    In addition, during the first quarter, teachers will return to campus and will be able to teach from their classrooms, where they will have the opportunity to take advantage of new responsive video technology that is being installed throughout campus. This technology—and having faculty teach from a familiar setting rather than at home—will enhance the distance learning experience and serve as a critical step in bringing our community back to Eye Street. It will also give our faculty the ability to master this new technology, which will greatly improve the online experience of everyone both during the first quarter and when we do move to a hybrid model.

    Up until this point, our focus has been on preparing for the hybrid academic model. Therefore, when we feel conditions permit us to bring boys back into the classroom and onto campus in greater numbers, we will be well prepared. We are fortunate in that when that time comes, with a student body that is entirely local, we will be able to transition to the hybrid model quickly. In the meantime, we have created a web page with parent and student resources for the first quarter, which you can see by clicking here.

    For a number of well-publicized reasons, this has been a chaotic homestretch to the start of the school year—with conflicting orders from governmental authorities only the latest wrinkle in a constantly shifting landscape for schools. Through this entire summer, however, Gonzaga has been focused on developing a reopening plan that is informed by prevailing guidance, realistic, executable, and that we can do well. While we had of course hoped to begin offering in-person classes starting in August, rest assured that this is a significant step in that direction—and one that we believe will result in a smoother start to the school year and a more long-lasting campus reopening in the months ahead.

    Sincerely,

    Rev. Stephen W. Planning, SJ
    President

    Michael Tierney ‘70
    Chairman of the Board of Trustees

    Thomas K. Every II
    Headmaster

    Stephen M. Neill '89
    Chief Operating Officer
  • Block Schedule and Daily Cycle Days

    Click here to see both the Distance Learning Block Schedule and the Daily Cycle Day Schedule for the first quarter of the academic year.
  • "G" Days -- Asynchronous Learning Days

    Throughout the quarter, we have scheduled asynchronous learning and co-curricular days (G days). The intention is that, on these days, students and teachers get a break from the rigors of screen-based school work and are able to focus on offline tasks such as reading, writing and working problem sets by hand.

    There is also the hope that this time will allow for co-curricular activities and events to take place, either on campus in appropriate small groups or online as necessary.

    There is the expectation that students “do” work for classes during these days. However, work can not be “due” these days. Work can only be due on days when a class is scheduled to meet.

    The time required to complete assignments on asynchronous days should not exceed 40 minutes per course.
     
     
  • Homework

    • Faculty will endeavor to keep homework to 15 minutes or so each night, and to the greatest extent possible, keep it offline.

    • Realizing that there will be two to three class days in between each class meeting, multiple night assignments may take as long as 30 to 45 minutes. This is independent of larger projects, papers and other forms of assessment.

    • Homework may only be “due” on the day a class meets. However, students should attempt to “do” at least 15 minutes of homework a day in each subject to stay on track and on top of his work.
  • College Counseling

    The College Counseling Office is available via online video conference and by phone for appointments with students and parents during normal school hours. Please contact your college counselor directly to schedule a meeting (contact information is available here). 
    • Click here for information about accessing online admissions information and tours (for juniors and their parents).
  • Online Office Hours

    The following offices will be available during normal school hours for video or phone conference; please reach out to them directly to schedule a time to meet.
    Campus Ministry 
    Center for Academic Excellence
    Counseling 

    Library 
  • Contacts

    For academic concerns, please email Headmaster Tom Every 
     
    For student technical issues, please email Educational Technologist John Kilroy or Assistant Educational Technologist Jonathan Spencer
     
    For questions about class schedules, please email Academic Dean Mike Howell 
     
    For questions related to admissions, financial aid, and enrollment, please email Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Andrew Battaile 
     
    For questions about student activities and clubs, please email Dean of Students Jim Kilroy 
     
    For questions about athletics, please email Athletic Director Joe Reyda 
     
    For health concerns, please email School Nurses Debbie Onufrychuk or Amy Harper

    For questions regarding business matters, please contact the Business Office

    For all other general concerns, please email Executive Assistant to the Headmaster's Office Kathryn Vaughn
  • Hybrid Reopening Plan Preview

    While Gonzaga has announced that academic instruction will take place virtually for the first quarter of the fall semester, preparations continue for the eventual return of students to the classroom. Click here for an initial overview of those preparations and a primer on what to expect when it is feasible for us to move to a hybrid teaching model.
  • FAQs

    I am a parent and I do not know how to log into Canvas. What should I do?
    Gonzaga parents do not have individual log in capabilities on Canvas. Consistent with our pedagogical approach, your son is responsible for his learning both in the classroom and online. The best way to ensure that your son is completing his work is to sit down with him and have him log onto Canvas and walk you through each of his courses.

    Will this transition to online learning affect my son’s college acceptance and/or readiness?
    No. We are confident that learning will continue at a high level through our online platforms. Colleges across the country are making similar moves to distance learning protocols. This move is now widely considered best practice in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

    What about athletics? Will this affect my son’s recruitment for college sports?
    No. Many colleges and universities are suspending operations as well. College coaches and recruiters are facing the same challenges that we are and will adjust as necessary to ensure that they have a talented crop of athletes for their future teams.

    My son is having trouble with the technology. Who should I contact?
    Contact our Educational Technologists during school hours. Their info can be found in the “Contacts” section above.

    What if wifi goes out or other technological glitches happen that prevent a student from engaging in his coursework during the proscribed time?
    We will all try to be flexible. Notify your teacher immediately of the glitch and complete any coursework that was missed by the next class day. Communicating any issues to teachers as early as possible is best practice. 

    If my son is going to be absent, and therefore not engaged with his synchronous classes, how do I report this so he's not considered truant?
    Parents and guardians are asked to either call Student Services at 202.336.7141 or email attendance@gonzaga.org about absences. Emails should include your son's name, class year, the date or time period of your son's absence, and a simple explanation. These calls or emails are expected before 9:00 am on the day of each absence. Example: My son, Joe Smith, class of 2022, will not be able to be online starting at 12:00 today because of an orthodontist appointment. 
    _____

    On Monday, August 17, Gonzaga held a virtual discussion about our Fall 2020 start of school plans on Facebook Live. The following questions and answers were posted during that event, or were submitted after it ended. To watch the presentation in its entirety, and read all of the comments, please click here.

    Q: Why aren't all teachers coming to teach from the classroom and using the new technology? The teacher is alone in a room and not at risk. 
    A: Some teachers have legitimate health considerations which preclude them from commuting to and being on campus, which although less crowded still will be populated with people. Also logistical concerns, such as care for their own children may prevent some faculty from being on campus 100% of the time. Most teachers will be on campus most of the time. 

    Q: How can students from home ask questions in this environment?
    A: Teachers will set their own expectations for asking questions based on what platform they choose to teach with. For example, if a teacher uses Zoom, the classroom expectation might be to use the ‘reaction’ option and signal to the teacher that you have a question with a ‘thumbs up’. Students can also simply speak as they normally would in a  classroom and they will be seen and heard. 

    Q: If you can do the hybrid model under DC guidelines, why aren't you?
    A: Mr. Stephen Neill discussed our gating criteria during the presentation. Please note: this part of the presentation begins around minute 36.

    Q: How can a teacher be caring for their own child or helping their own child with online school and teach a class at the same time?
    A: Our teachers proved their ability to teach from home exceptionally well in the spring--regardless of their personal circumstances. This year, with the technology enhancements we have made and with most of our teachers being on campus, we believe that they will only improve upon that experience from the spring.

    Q: On Thursday, my son's first class is lunch. Is he expected to log on at that time?
    A: Students only need to log on when they have class. Each teacher will give instruction for their particular course via Canvas

    Q: Thank you for communicating this information with the parent community. Can you please share the results of the parent survey? Thank you.
    A: Relatively few parents took the survey in June, less than ⅓ of the community. At that time, during an ebb in the virus, 25 percent of parents did not want to send their sons to campus or were undecided. Seventy-five percent were comfortable with the hybrid model. Please not, however, that while parent preference was an important data point, it was not what the school used to make a go or no-go decision.

    Q: Shouldn't every teacher be using the same platform? The new technology is much better than Zoom?
    A: The new technology is the means by which teachers will interface with students via Zoom or Google Meet. The demo you saw was via Google Meet, but Zoom works just as seamlessly. Our teachers are true professionals and are trusted to use whichever virtual platform best suits their teaching style and their material. This freedom is the same from last spring where teachers proved to deliver high quality instruction.

    Q: The new classroom tech looks fantastic! With a strong emphasis on technology, what happens if the audio/video/network malfunctions during class and is not able to be recovered for an extended time? Are there alternate communications methods to notify them of changes in plans?
    A: Yes, as always, our fallback is the text discussion board via Canvas, and of course, Google Chat is an option too. In addition, we have two full-time educational technologists who will be on campus every day to help with any problems.

    Q: Could the school please elaborate on how band and other similar collaborative classes will be conducted in the remote learning construct?
    A: Our band and choral arts instructors have plans for the use of unique technologies to provide both group and individual instruction in this remote format. Students will learn more from those teachers during the first few days of class. 

    Q: Will class sessions be recorded?
    A: No, we do not generally plan to record classes. However, classes may be recorded from time to time for the purposes of teacher observation and growth, or to cache resources for students who may be absent for extended periods of time. 

    Q: How do you ensure that everyone is included in co-curricular activities? 
    A: Stay tuned in the coming week for a G day schedule that will ensure that all students have the ability to engage in campus. 

    Q: Is this recorded by chance, for viewing of those who missed it (other family members, for example)? 
    A: Yes, this video will remain on our Facebook page after it airs, where you or other family members could come to watch the presentation in its entirety.

    Q: How do you plan to get freshmen vested as Gonzaga students?
    A: Fortunately we were able to pull off a successful three-day freshman orientation this summer which included both in-person and virtual formats. Freshman met with various school leaders and spent a considerable amount of time learning about Gonzaga’s expectations regarding technology. A new freshman advisory program is being adopted to support freshmen throughout the year. More information to come from the Class of 2024 counselor Mac Kimmitt. 

    Q: Please share your current forecast for how long the boys should plan to commit to virtual learning. In all honesty, this feels like an indeterminate timeline--which could span the entire year.
    A: I wish we could give a definitive answer on this. All we can do is plan to put ourselves in the best possible position to move to the hybrid model when we are ready to do so. But know that we are committed to bringing students to campus in as timely and safe a manner as possible.  

    Q: Please can College Counseling make sure colleges know how Gonzaga has in the last semester along with the semester ahead to continue to provide an excellent learning schedule? It’s very important to differentiate our school. Gonzaga really was exceptional compared to many.
    A: Yes! Our College Counseling Office has been proactive in speaking with colleges and a note has been added to each student’s transcript explaining that Gonzaga students received fully synchronous online instruction and that we did not dilute grades during this time. 

    Q: In regards to the socially distanced football gathering, why aren't all the other teams encouraged to do the same? 
    A: Since the school announced the decision to begin the year virtually, all teams, clubs and activities have been encouraged to submit their plans for bringing teams back to campus in small groups for short durations of time. Please give teams and groups time to construct plans that meet mitigation protocols and also serve their respective populations well. Even though it will be in smaller numbers and not for traditional practice or competition, our coaches are very much looking forward to seeing your sons.

    Q: Why are you starting the block schedule with two lunch periods? This makes the start of the day a moving target for the kids. They should all wake up and log in at the same time in the morning.
    A: It was important to us to have both a hybrid and virtual schedule that was the same. Starting the days with lunch periods gives us more flexibility during the hybrid model. When we move to the hybrid model our students will appreciate a schedule that has not drastically changed and the lunch periods at the beginning and end of each day will allow for easier commuting for our families.

    Q: Has the DC govt stated what its criteria is for going to the next stage or, for that matter, for returning to normal?
    A: DC’s gating criteria to move to Stage 3 and beyond can be found here: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/page/coronavirus-data

    Q: Are there any updates for PSAT in the Fall?
    A: Yes, we plan to offer an optional PSAT for juniors this fall. We will also be able to offer the SAT on campus to all seniors who wish to take it this semester. And we’ll be ready for juniors to do the same this spring. We’ll get that information out shortly. We are also exploiting easy to offer the ACT on campus. 

    Q: With full virtual classes, will Gonzaga no longer follow the Montgomery County weather decisions? How will such things be handled, should a weather event happen which affects tech (power outage, for example)?
    A: Gonzaga will make its own decisions regarding weather closures during remote and hybrid learning.

    Q: Hello. As we move to hybrid model, it is my understanding that we will be 1/3 capacity. Will parking restrictions/limited pass holders still be in place for the garage or will they be more relaxed. Students may have reservations taking metro to school. Thank you.
    A: Gonzaga will make every effort to accommodate every student driver during the hybrid model regardless of grade. Given we would operate at ⅓ capacity we anticipate having enough room in the garage. 

    Q: Will athletes be given guidance on at-home workouts?
    A: Yes, head coaches and our Strength and Conditioning coach will continue to engage with teams and give guidance on at-home workouts. 

    Q: Will there be any retreats this year such as Kairos?
    A: Yes, but they will not happen exactly as they have in the past. They will be a mix of in-person meetings on campus and virtual engagement. Our Campus Ministry team is hard at work forming opportunities for each grade level.

    Q: How will tests and exams be administered from home?
    A: As happened in the spring, teachers can administer tests and quizzes via Canvas that are secure and easy for students to take. Also, we have encouraged  faculty to consider alternative means of assessment such as projects, papers, and presentations. 

    Q: Once the hybrid model is in effect, will Gonzaga be using rapid tests to test the students and faculty on campus? Or just relying on daily temperature checks/health screenings?
    A: Given the delays in the DMV in receiving test results, we have not yet found a solution that would allow us to do immediate testing. We are going to keep exploring this option, however at this time, we are going to rely on our daily pre-health check as well as our in-person screenings.

    Q: Are you going to mandate a vaccine assuming one is available?
    A: Yes, let’s all hope we get there soon! Parents, please note that because of the virus, DC immunization rates have dropped, and DC Health is closely monitoring and enforcing student immunization requirements.  Please login to Gonzaga.org and click on Magnus (our student health record system) to update your son’s student health records if you haven’t yet done so. Students who don’t have an immunization record on file may not be able to come to campus for G Days or other activities. Thank you.

    Q: Are the 2020-2021 admission dates posted on the school website for future eagles still accurate? Lots of little brothers getting worried. assuming visits are not happening before December if at all. How will admissions work as 8th graders this year are coming from all kinds of school situations.
    A: Our Admissions team is working on the best ways to engage prospective students virtually and in-person when possible. We realize that active engagement during 7th and 8th grade are essential to students’ choosing Gonzaga. 

    Q: Can you please share the external health experts mentioned who are providing guidance to Gonzaga? 
    A: Unfortunately, no. They and we think it best that they be able to help inform the school’s plan without external influences. Please know that they are deeply committed to Gonzaga and we are working together towards the common goal of bringing the boys back into the classroom. 

    Q: Is the Bookstore open?
    A: The bookstore’s online store is open and they are fulfilling orders and coordinating non-contact pick-ups in the Forte Hall circle. Please call the bookstore with any specific questions regarding merchandise. 

    Q: One slide from DC Health said that cohorts may not cross throughout the school year. Does this mean Gonzaga will cancel sports for the entire year? Is it just the hope the DC Health will remove this requirement before sports seasons are scheduled to resume?
    According to guidance from DC Health, as long as we are required to be in the hybrid model, interscholastic competition is not permitted.  While whole teams may not gather due to cohorting when we are in the hybrid model, coaches may still gather sub-groups from their teams who are on campus that day (in their cohort) for workouts and training during the co-curricular period.

    Q: I didn’t quite understand the answer to the question about why some students’ school day starts with their lunch period.  What this means is that on “B” days one of my sons doesn’t have a break from 8:30am-3:00pm.  While I can see how this will work when he is learning from home (presumably he can come to the kitchen between classes or eat something at his desk), I don’t see how that works when we move to the hybrid model.  I don’t quite see how it facilitates commuting (which was explained in the answer in the FB comments).  I feel like I might be missing something.  Sorry.  Can you please explain. 
    A: It is true that many students might have 4 classes on either the A or B day, but the time in between classes was stretched from 5 to 10 minutes and the 30 minute lunch break in the middle of the day will allow ample time for students to eat and stretch. There is a built in 10 minute period as well which is non-academic. To see the hybrid/distance learning block schedule again, please click here.


    Q: I love the idea of students being able to come back on campus on “G” days but don’t quite understand how that part works.  Presumably, the “G” day cohorts need to be the same as the cohorts for the hybrid model (since the cohorts can’t co-mingle) and I was told that those cohorts were created alphabetically.  But, it was explained that the “G” day will facilitate co-curricular activities.  I don’t understand how they can be focused on co-curriculars and separated alphabetically. Can you please explain?
    Since we are not bringing  students to campus on a daily basis during the first quarter, cohorting is not required. If and when we decide to move to a hybrid model, we will take a two-week pause in co-curricualrs on campus to reset in time to safely begin the hybrid model. At that point, yes, students would be brought onto campus for G Days in their cohorts.

Educating young men in the Jesuit tradition since 1821