Manhattan's Only Therapeutic College Prep Independent School

Stevenson Blended Program Description

The question of the summer was: how are you going to open, and, more specifically, what will that look like for students?  We know that a good answer addresses safety, learning, and social connections.  We know that a strong answer includes robust clinical support.  Here’s the answer for Stevenson.

For safety, our plan combines engineering controls, administrative controls, and other layers to boost safety for students, faculty, and staff.  Screening, cleaning, mask-wearing, and hand-washing (including touchless faucets) all support safe learning and teaching in classrooms with HEPA filters and open windows.  The full details are on the COVID-19 page on the Stevenson website: www./

Our learning plan is where we shift from the reassurance of safety measures to the excitement of a return to in-person learning.

Stevenson’s B.E.S.T.T.™ model (Blended Education Supervised Teaching Therapeutically) holds true to the school’s core features—rich academics, frequent advising connections, and doctoral level clinical support—while also providing many benefits in improved teaching, student engagement, safety, and flexibility.  Our blended model means that students learn on site some days and from home some days. Whether at home or at school, students attend classes that are synchronous (live) five days a week, which is substantially more than the typical hybrid or blended model. It also dovetails with key features of our COVID-19 response:

  • Students largely remain with their advising group.  This significantly reduces the group size from 80 students down to a group of approximately 8 students—further reducing the risk of exposure.
  • Eliminates the need for changing rooms in order to change classes—that boosts safety and consistency for students AND teachers.
  • Makes teacher-student interactions and schedules consistent regardless of location—this is crucial in a COVID-19 world.  It means that each family can be confident about deciding to have their child attend in person or from home without worrying about a difficult transition.
  • Expands the Counseling Center for socially distant, confidential meetings with clinicians. Students on site will be able to go to the Counseling Center for support as needed, while students at home will have the same accessibility through virtual clinical meetings.

One way to understand how this all happens is by picturing the fusion of an internet cafe with an established team of teaching and clinical professionals.  We leverage technology to allow the individual students to connect virtually with different teachers while they remain in the same classroom. This blend of interactions decreases travel from room-to-room and mixing across groups for each class. Meanwhile, virtual teaching faculty are supplemented by onsite faculty and staff, including a classroom facilitator in each advising group.  With their own computers, their own headsets, and their own schedules, students are able to merge personal connections and learning in a safely distanced set-up.

The B.E.S.T.T.™ model also prioritizes parents.  Parents have the flexibility to decide if they want their child to attend the school in-person some days or if they want their child to learn from home 100% of the time.  As a nod to the importance of parents’ decisions, the model makes the transition between attendance preferences a seamless one.  In either case, students will:

  • Have a full schedule of classes based on personal paths to graduation
  • Connect with teachers for live classes every day
  • Connect with their advising group multiple times a day
  • Have both scheduled and on-demand access to a full team of doctoral level psychologists

Hybrid and blended have become popular terms for schools.  At Stevenson, we’re excited about our unique model because it boosts safety while making connections consistent regardless of student location.  Whether learners are at home or at school, our teachers, our advisors, and our clinical staff are all ready to make the 2020-2021 school year a successful one.

Be well,

Chris Ongaro

Head of School