Manhattan's Only Therapeutic College Prep Independent School

RLS Remote Program Description


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Robert Louis Stevenson School has been operating in a remote learning setup since Monday, March 16, 2020.  Stevenson’s remote learning program was designed by the school administration led by Stevenson’s Head of School, who has significant field knowledge, who has conducted relevant doctoral level research, and whose guidance for remote program design is endorsed nationally1.

The Robert Louis Stevenson School achieves a robust continuity of services through its remote learning program.  The remote program has meant that all classes and clinical services have been operating without interruption since the transition on March 16, 2020.  The remote learning schedule was built based on relevant research and Stevenson students’ specific needs.  Each day, students are scheduled for six or more synchronous interactions.  As a general schedule for all students, the synchronous interactions include multiple class meetings, multiple meetings with an Advising group, a daily meeting for learning support, and both scheduled and on-demand meetings with doctoral level psychologists. Additionally, students work asynchronously on assignments, the completion and development of which are supported through personal teacher feedback.  Student schedules also include a wellness block, which is a time in which asynchronous school work can occur but also during which key activities like physical exercise and healthy eating are encouraged.  Through daily collaboration among the staff and with families, outside professionals, and the students themselves, the general schedule is personalized based on specific learning and emotional needs.

Stevenson’s remote learning program unfolds through an intentional blend of synchronous and asynchronous interactions.  The interactions are rooted in G Suite for Education.  In addition to the many forms of shared documents supported by Google, Google Classroom serves as a hub to manage classes and related assignments, and Google Hangouts Chat and Google Hangouts Meet anchor the synchronous interactions.  With Google, students, faculty, and staff are able to interact in many ways, including, among other things, two-way audio and video. Notable amid recent concerns, Zoom has not been used for student interactions.  Instead, doxy.me served as the primary platform for both scheduled and on-demand teletherapy sessions with students.

Stevenson’s remote learning program achieves continuity of services through familiarity and collaboration.  For years, Stevenson has been a 1:1 device school that provides a Chromebook and G Suite access for all students, which means that all students and faculty were already familiar with G Suite–and with remotely accessing it–prior to the program-wide shift to remote learning.  Although the global pandemic creates conditions that are undeniably unfamiliar for all and uniquely trying for Stevenson’s emotionally complex population, the familiarity with G Suite provided a point of consistency.  Families and faculty were both surveyed about technology prior to the shift to a remote program in order to make sure all had access to a reliable internet connection and key devices needed to achieve that consistency.  Around that consistency, continued communication with students, parents, and outside professionals made the remote program’s implementation a deeply collaborative one.  Specifically for the Stevenson faculty and staff, they continue to meet as a group every day to vigilantly maintain a focus on student issues.

Attendance at Stevenson is also a point of continuity. Attendance operates through a threefold process.  Clinicians keep attendance records, and faculty keep attendance records.  Additionally, students are able to virtually indicate their attendance through a Google form.  Together, that threefold record-keeping process yields a composite view of student attendance that is accurate and contains checks and backups.

With all of that in place, no changes to tuition occurred for the current period.

Be well,

Chris Ongaro

Head of School

  1. Ongaro, Christopher, “Possibilities Amid Pandemic: Mapping Interactions for Remote Learning,” Independent Ideas, National Association of Independent Schools, March 23, 2020, https://www.nais.org/learn/independent-ideas/march-2020/possibilities-amid-pandemic-mapping-interactions-for-remote-learning/