Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart—the all-girls kindergarten through 12th grade Catholic school in Bethesda—and Landon, the all-boys private school (grades kindergarten through 12) in Bethesda announced they are temporarily closing school starting Friday and moving learning to a virtual platform.
Connie Mitchell, a spokesperson for Stone Ridge, said the virtual learning education model will start on Tuesday, March 17 and it will continue through at least April 6. School at Stone Ridge is canceled Friday and Monday as the school’s educational and technology innovation team prepares faculty on how to best utilize the virtual school technology program.
The campus will be closed for the virtual learning days at Stone Ridge. The “school day” will run on a two-hour delay schedule, with “classes” starting at 10 a.m.
Mitchell said while no one in the Stone Ridge community has been confirmed to have the coronavirus, administrators made the decision because health officials have been warning about the spread of the virus for large groups of people. Therefore, the school is being cautious of the “second contact” spread phenomenon in case anyone has been exposed to the virus without knowing it.
Stone Ridge understands “different types of inequities” when it comes to learning and they are working to address the needs of all students as best as they can, Mitchell said. Despite the challenging situation, Stone Ridge is confident in its virtual learning platform.
This will be Stone Ridge’s first opportunity to launch the virtual learning platform they’ve been preparing for the coronavirus and if the tool is a success, Stone Ridge might continue using it in the future.
Stone Ridge’s virtual school days begin right before its spring break, which is from March 23 through 29. Mitchell says the school administration will continue to monitor the spread of the coronavirus in the area and announce their decision about whether they will extend the virtual learning on April 1.
Landon is moving to—what the school calls—”distance learning.” Friday will be a professional day for the faculty to prepare for the change. Landon Headmaster Jim Neill said in a statement that Monday and Tuesday (March 16 and 17) will be considered “distance learning practice days.”
“While we are not regarding these days so much as school days, we are planning to use them to test, hone, and identify some challenges and opportunities associated with our distance learning approach – both for faculty and the boys alike,” Landon Headmaster Jim Neill said in a statement.
Landon will not have classes on March 18 and its spring break is from March 19 through March 30. Classes are supposed to resume on March 31, but the headmaster will give an update on whether they will continue with distance learning because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Both Stone Ridge and Landon are postponing athletic practices and games during this time.
The two schools announced they closing campuses for online learning following in the direction of many colleges and universities in the area. As of Thursday afternoon, Montgomery County Public Schools have not announced they are moving to online learning.
A statement on MCPS’ coronavirus webpage says, “Under Maryland law, the Department of Health and Human Services makes the determination on school closures when it pertains to a public health issue. At this time, per guidance from DHHS, schools will remain open. DHHS is closely monitoring the situation and will let MCPS know should anything change.”
The all-boys Catholic Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C. also announced its piloting its “distance learning” starting March 16 and 17.
“Beginning on March 18 and continuing on all scheduled school days through March 27, we will implement a Synchronous Online Learning Protocol. Faculty and students will be expected to engage in real time through various web tools, facilitated through [the online software] Canvas,” a message on Gonzaga’s website says.
Gonzaga’s spring break is March 28 through April 13.