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Upper School Director's Notes

Dear Upper School Families,

Photo of Vis sign with Maya Angelou quote, Nothing can dim the light that shines from within

I want to begin this week's letter with assuredness that the Upper School team is prepared to continue Distance Learning, educating the hearts and minds of our students. Whereas we always maintained hope that we might be able to open our doors before the end of the academic year, we have been planning for our current scenario since early February. The Upper School team stays in close communication each week, and we finalized as many details as possible once we knew that Distance Learning would officially continue for the duration of the school year. I have included important information for students and families in this edition of Distance Learning e-news. I also encourage you to take time to view the other stories, including Glimpse into Upper School as well as my letter that went out to Upper School students last Friday.

Academic Calendar
As previously scheduled before the launch of Distance Learning, the last day for seniors to complete academic work is Friday, May 22. The last day for ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students to complete academic work is Thursday, June 4. We will follow the Distance Learning rotation schedule through the duration of the school year.

No matter the duration of Distance Learning, we strive to engage students in such a way that they maintain momentum in their learning as well as continue to find ways to improve in their knowledge of necessary content and skills. In consultation with our Upper School faculty, College Counseling office, College and University Admissions offices, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Minnesota Association of Independent Schools, National Coalition of Girls' Schools and others, Visitation has decided that it is in the best interest of students to continue the academic year with grades. At the same time, Upper School faculty understands that we are operating in unprecedented times and will continue to relax their policies so as to allow more flexibility and ensure that students are not penalized for extenuating circumstances beyond their control. The Student Assistance Team has also made it a point to track student grades before the commencement of spring break and review whether or not students are maintaining progress during the weeks of Distance Learning, reaching out to students and families if there is reason for concern.

Final Exams
The Upper School will not administer final exams. Teachers do maintain the option of offering an assessment, project, presentation that will help to close out the semester and create opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning, but it will not count for 20% of the second semester grade as was the case in previous semesters. We want to ensure that students focus on the learning and are prepared for the upcoming school year without undue stress regarding large cumulative assessments.

The Upper School will provide more details about the postponement of end-of-the-year events in the weeks ahead. At present, graduation is scheduled to take place on Sunday June, 7. We also know that we will postpone the graduation ceremony in the likelihood that the event cannot take place in light of social-distancing measures. Alternative dates include Sunday, June 28 and Sunday, July 19. We have decided that we will not postpone further than July 19 given the various demands of our senior families, including varying start dates at colleges and universities. If graduation cannot take place in Commers Gymnasium, Visitation will host a modified ceremony.

Co-Curricular and Academic Awards
The Co-Curricular and Academic Awards will take place as scheduled on May 12 and 19. We plan to host these events virtually and invite all families and members of the community to join us as we celebrate our students, particularly our seniors. We will send details about how to access the virtual events in a future mailing.

End-of-the-Year Events
Visitation plans to postpone and host as many events as possible, including Senior-Parent Mass and Brunch and Mother-Daughter Tea. We will communicate details specific to each of these events in future communications to those students and families involved.

Collecting Personal Items & Returning Textbooks
Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, we will communicate details about how students can return to campus to gather their personal items from their lockers. In the interim, please reach out to Dean of Student Life Ann Feitl, if your daughter needs to collect a school-related item. We will also be in touch with students and their families about returning their textbooks and laptops (for updates) before the start of summer.

Our 2020-2021 yearbooks have successfully shipped to Visitation, and we will be distributing the important keepsakes to students at a future date. Stay tuned!

Upper School Virtual Town Hall
Head of School, Rene Gavic, and Director of Upper School, Anna Barter, will host the next Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, May 5 at 7 p.m. If you would like to submit questions and/or concerns ahead of time, please fill out this short form. You can join the meeting here.