Severn School Updates

Severn School will communicate details of our Reopening Plan and other safety policies and measures by Monday, August 3. Because the situation is changing and evolving quickly, we ask you to check this page regularly for updates.

List of 18 items.

  • November 18, 2020 Email Update

  • August 24, 2020 Email Update from Dan Keller

    Please see the Binnacle.
  • August 24, 2020 Email Update from Steve Soden

    Please see the Binnacle. 
  • August 3, 2020 Email Update

  • July 17, 2020 Email Update

    Dear Severn Families,
    I write to provide two updates.
    Reopening of School Considerations:
    Thank you to those who filled out the return to campus survey. The survey results showed that over 90% of families in all three divisions would send their child(ren) to on-campus classes prior to the development of a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. 
    We are continuing to monitor the progress of the Coronavirus, and are hopeful we will be able to accommodate students on campus in some fashion beginning in early September. Given the current capacity and social distancing restrictions we must adhere to, we simply cannot have all students on campus at one time, making a hybrid model the likely decision for grades 2 through 12.  
    Because of the unique learning needs of PS-1st grade, we are looking at reconfiguring classrooms at the Chesapeake Campus to accommodate nearly all students on campus after an initial gradual entry to instruct them in health and safety protocols.  With this said, we encourage parents of younger students to continue to think through child care arrangements should there be a need to switch to a hybrid or fully remote model.
    The hybrid model we are considering for grades 2-12 would allow students to attend school on campus for part of the week (2 or 3 days depending on the week) and will be able to attend classes remotely using technology on the remaining days.  This plan allows us to return to school while abiding by the capacity restrictions and social distancing expectations that currently exist in Maryland.
    These plans are still tentative as we continue to monitor the Coronavirus outbreak and the health and safety guidelines outlined by the CDC, WHO, and State of Maryland. We will communicate details of our plan and other safety policies and measures by Monday, August 3.
    Again, I must emphasize, any plans made at this time, on August 3rd or after may change given the fluid nature of the pandemic.
    Interscholastic Athletics for grades 7 -12
    The IAAM and MIAA announced today a delay in opening athletic practices and contests for the fall.  The new tentative start date for practices is Tuesday, September 1 with a tentative start date for interscholastic contest of Monday, September 21. 
    While certainly disappointing for many athletes, the leagues focus is on the health and safety of its athletes and coaches. 
    A Joint Statement on IAAM/MIAA Fall Interscholastic Sports
    In an ongoing effort to mitigate health risks while supporting student-athletes, the IAAM and MIAA will be delaying the start of the Fall Preseason until on or after Tuesday, September 1, 2020.
    At this time, we anticipate that league play will commence on or after September 21, 2020. Revised schedules will be issued to keep within the projected timeline for fall athletics.  
    The IAAM and MIAA will continue to reevaluate the viability of interscholastic competition for the fall season. The Board of Governors of both leagues will meet again in mid-August.  Blackout periods and out of season practice policies will be waived until further notice.
    The IAAM and MIAA share a common commitment to athletics as an extension of the educational process. Participation in healthy athletic practices provides our student-athletes opportunities to compete, build character, acquire, and improve skills, demonstrate leadership, and have fun. Both leagues hope to honor this commitment and, at the same time, keep athletes and their coaches as healthy as possible.
    Be Well, 
    Doug Lagarde 
  • May 21, 2020 Email Update

    Dear Severn Families,
    As we near the end of the school year, I write to provide some insight into next fall, information on the financial health of the School, and most of all, to thank this incredible community for supporting each other over the past three months.
    Uncertainty caused by the pandemic has raised many questions about the future structure of teaching and learning. I want nothing more than to have life return to normal and hold fulltime brick and mortar school next fall; however, given the current predictions, it looks unlikely. Consequently, the administrative team and Board have engaged in scenario planning, and will do so throughout the summer as we continue to review guidelines of the CDC, WHO and the State of Maryland and gather information and ideas from other independent schools around the country. 
    If the restrictions and conditions are such that in September we must remain fully remote, we showed as a community that, while not ideal, we can be remote and keep the integrity of the academic program intact. That said, we’ve designed our summer professional development around remote learning so, as a collective faculty, we can step back and reflect on these past three months and then improve the remote learning experience. We will survey constituents in the coming weeks to help guide our work. 
    The scenario that will require the most creativity and flexibility will be a hybrid approach to schooling - some brick and mortar schooling and some remote. To provide any details to a hybrid plan at this time would be premature because restrictions and conditions will likely change over the summer. However, any hybrid plan would likely necessitate some programmatic and scheduling adjustments. For instance, daily start and end times may be adjusted, restrictions to physical movement within the buildings may be implemented to satisfy social distancing requirements, and academic work that adapts better to remote learning may have more remote time dedicated to it than in person learning and vice versa.  
    Please know, in every scenario we are considering, the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff and school community is of utmost importance. 
    Since the start of the pandemic, the Board of Trustees and I have worked hard to understand the current economic landscape. Like other independent schools, all revenue streams have been negatively impacted. At the same time, we anticipate increased expenses relating to technology needed to continue remote learning, cleaning and disinfecting, and other measures we may have to take to ready our facilities. Given all the unknowns ahead and mounting uncertainty, the Board decided to apply for and subsequently qualified for a Paycheck Protection Program loan through the SBA, and we are grateful for having qualified.    
    Severn’s people are its greatest asset, and these funds enabled the School to maintain and support all of its employees without furloughs, decreased hours or reduced compensation. We are, also, committed to maintaining full employment in the coming year. The Board is resolute in its commitment to our faculty and staff and, by extension, our families. 
    Over the past few months, the Severn community has achieved amazing things together while demonstrating creativity, resiliency, and compassion. I could not be more honored to Head a School where each member of the community personifies the values of our mission. Thank you for your continued partnership and for your support. We will ultimately prevail and emerge a stronger School and community.
    Be Well,
    Doug Lagarde
  • April 20, 2020 Email Update

    Dear Families,
    Over the past few weeks we’ve been tested in ways that we could never have anticipated. We’ve had to change the way we work, the way we communicate, the way we undertake nearly every aspect of our lives. And we have more time to endure.
    For me, the hardest part of remote learning and social distancing, aside from the obvious lack of seeing smiling faces of Severn students every morning, is the loss of rhythm and tempo of school life. There is a simple joy and beauty in it, and I’ve come to rely on it in my 35 year educational career. It has been my normal my whole life, and it all feels strange in so many ways. 
    I know we will return to that normal in time. I also know some permanent changes will come out of our time in remote learning mode. Some of these will be good like new modes of content delivery and ways of thinking about teaching and learning, and yet other changes raise concerns, like the ongoing sense of a loss of control that contributes to anxiety. Regardless of what the new normal has in store for us, the irreplaceable value of the Severn community will support us all as it has done for over a century.
    One of the major impacts of COVID-19 is financial. Livelihoods have been either put on hold or lost all together as the economy has retraced. Please know, Severn is committed to keeping all its families and wants to provide support if, and when, needed. If you have been adversely impacted financially and have concerns about tuition commitments, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.
    The first lines of contact are either Director of Enrollment and Outreach, Molly Green ( ), or Director of Business and Finance, Terry Del Prete ( ).
    With the announcement on Friday that all Maryland schools will be closed through, at least, May 15, here are a couple of calendar adjustments. We will take Thursday, May 7th and Wednesday, May 13th as our next “snow days” in May. Please continue to check mySevern for further adjustments to the School Calendar. 
    Please continue to support each other, stay positive and healthy and we will endure this moment in history together.
    Be Well,
    Doug Lagarde
  • April 13, 2020 Email Update

    Severn Families,
    In watching, yet again, too much news coverage about COVID-19 this weekend, I came across both Superintendents and Teacher Union Heads comparing taking their respective systems online to a Moon Shot. Certainly, taking Severn remote is nothing like a large public system, but a Moon Shot? 
    For the 2014 Astle Lecture, I had the fortune of interviewing Buzz Aldrin, who spent time at Severn in the 1940s as a student. As you might imagine, for someone who was willing to get in a tin can with a rocket strapped to it, and do what no one else had ever done, he exuded self-confidence and fearlessness. He was also meticulously trained, able to adjust on the fly and thirsty for knowledge.  
    Remote learning has been part of the educational landscape for years. No one had been to the moon prior to Apollo 11. Severn planted the seeds of remote learning in 2014 by joining the Malone School Online Network. The entrepreneurial spirit and agile thinking coupled with investing in the professional growth of our faculty has allowed us to proceed with confidence and optimism during this time of change and keep our mission intact.   
    Thank you for providing feedback to our parent ambassadors. We will continue to reflect on insights gleaned from the conversations and adjust our teaching practices and expectations. Many of the concerns and suggestions were specific to a particular division and Cathy, Dan and Steve will be addressing these.
    Two general issue arose: the volume of homework and dealing with the anxiety brought on by the current situation. With regard to homework, it is important to distinguish between work done at home and homework. In a normal school day, there is a lot of work accomplished by the students. This work is now being done at home, and therefore, seems as though it is homework. If you continue to have concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the teacher, dean or division head. 
    To address anxiety and provide strategies to support your child(ren) through this unprecedented situation, the next Town Halls will be run by our counselors. Please go to the Remote Learning Tile for links to each meeting.
    Upper School:
    • Parents of 11th and 12th grade students on Monday, April 20 at 8:15 am     
    • Parents of 9th and 10th grade students on Wednesday, April 22 at 8:15 am 
    Middle School:
    • Parents of 6th – 8th grade students on Friday, April 17 at 1:00 pm 
    Lower School:
    • Parents of Preschool, Prekindergarten and Kindergarten students on Monday, April 20 at 3:00 pm 
    • Parents of 1st, 2nd, & 3rd grade students  on Monday, April 20 at 4:00 pm 
    • Parents 4th and 5th grade students on Tuesday, April 21 at 3:30 pm
    When asked by a student, “How come Neil Armstrong got to step on the moon first?”  Buzz replied, “Because he was closest to the door.” Sometimes answers to questions are simple. The simple truth about the COVID-19 situation is, if we continue to support each other, we will emerge stronger and better than when it all started. Thank you for your continued support.
    Be Well,
    Doug Lagarde   
  • April 7, 2020 Email Update

    Severn Families,
    I vividly remember my first day of teaching. I was 22 years old. The department chair gave me textbooks two weeks prior to the first day of school with this encouraging statement, “Your father was a teacher, so you know what you are doing, right?" I nodded confidently, knowing in my heart, I didn’t have a clue.
    We are all first year teachers and brand-new students right now. Certainly, there is a lot more training, support and resources available than I had 35 years ago, but anxiety levels are no less high. Faculty want to serve their students well and have been thrust into recreating how they teach and assess, while students are figuring out how to learn in different modalities.
    I’m proud of our faculty; I’m proud of our students; and I’m proud of our parents for the resilience, creativity and optimistic attitude everyone has brought to the first days of remote learning. The first days have gone far better than my first days of teaching those many years ago. Thank you.
    In search of best practices, I’ve spoken with colleagues around the country who are three weeks into remote learning, and we’ve heard that remote learning is demanding on both students and faculty prompting many schools to take “snow days” in order for the community to take a breath and recenter. As we continue to calibrate and recalibrate based on feedback from all constituents, it will likely be “snowing” in Severna Park and Arnold in the coming weeks. We will give plenty of warning as to what days we will take a break from our routines.
    The information below was sent to you by the respective division heads and placed on the website under the Remote Learning tile. Simply for the sake of over communicating, I’ve included the information in this letter. Please proactively visit mySevern and check back regularly for this will be a primary source of communication.
    I am grateful for your patience, feedback and understanding and very proud of the Severn community. We will thrive together.
    Be well,
    Doug Lagarde
    Optional Parent Remote Learning Conversations
    Please go to the Remote Learning tile for links to each meeting.
    Lower School 
    • April 8th @ 2:30pm Parents of Students in Grades 1, 2, & 3 
    • April 8th @ 3:15pm Parents of Students in Grades 4 & 5 
    • April 8th @ 4:00pm Parents of Students in Preschool, Prekindergarten, Kindergarten 
    Middle School
    • April 9th @ 10:00am Parents of Students in Grade 6 
    • April 9th @ 1:00pm Parents of Students in Grade 7
    • April 10th @ 1:00pm Parents of Students in Grade 8
    Upper School
    • April 7th @ 8:15am: Parents of Students in Grade 8
    • April 10th @ 8:15am: Parents of Students in Grade 11
    • April 13th @ 8:15am: Parents of Students in Grade 9
    • April 14th @ 8:15 am: Parents of Students in Grade 12
    • April 15th @ 8:15am: Parents of Students in Grade 10
  • April 4, 2020 Email Update to Lower School Families

    Dear Parents,
    I speak for the entire Lower School faculty and staff in saying THANK YOU! The work you have done to get your children "up and running" during the first week of Remote Learning is remarkable! I had the pleasure of briefly visiting each class via Zoom yesterday. The teachers and I are so proud of your children! Their work ethic and love for our community are evident and abundant. In addition, I recognize our faculty for the care they have given to build classroom communities through Zoom and for the work they have done. This week was a huge success because of the collaboration between home and school. We will certainly continue to reflect and refine. Thank you!

    I write to update you on 3 topics: Security, Optional Parent Conversations, and Counselor Resources.

    Security with Using Zoom
    Our Technology Department continues to monitor and share best practices with faculty on using Zoom to ensure safety and security. All Lower School Zoom classes will use the"Waiting Room" security feature. This means attendees (your children) cannot enter the Zoom classroom until the teacher admits them. While they are waiting, the teacher takes attendance and checks that all attendees are indeed Severn students. If there are names that the teachers do not recognize, they will not admit them. In the event an attendee is admitted who should not be present, the teacher will remove the attendee who then becomes blocked from returning to class. Please help by making sure the device your child is using states the child's name or parent's name. It is difficult to identify an attendee when the attendee is listed as "iPad 2" or "Great Kid." Having your device state a name is part of this security. Note regarding the use of the "Waiting Room" during our first week...We understand that a few students arrived late to class and were unable to get into class. Our apologies. Our teachers are learning "Zoom" too and will double check attendees to admit as class starts. It's always helpful to have your child enter the "Waiting Room" a couple minutes before their scheduled Zoom times.

    Optional Parent Remote Learning Conversations - Wednesday, April 8
    In order to continue to provide you with any updates and time for Q & A, we will continue to offer parents optional Remote Learning Conversations. Several staff members will join me to answer your questions. If you have more than one child, you may select one (unless you would like to attend others). We will record these meetings and place in the Remote Learning tile in mySevern. Again, our goal is to continue to partner with you to support you and your children during Remote Learning. The Zoom links for April 8 are listed below.
    • 2:30pm Parents of Students in Grades 1, 2, & 3 (see email for Zoom link)
    • 3:15pm Parents of Students in Grades 4 & 5 (see email for Zoom link)
    • 4:00pm Parents of Students in Preschool, Prekindergarten, Kindergarten (see email for Zoom link)
    Lower School Counselor Resources from Karin Mitchell
    Karin Mitchell is available to support you and your children during this time. She posted resources for your families to utilize at home to support children during this unique time. Links to articles and activities on a variety of topics are included to help with things such as loneliness, boredom, and anxiety around social distancing and the Coronavirus. In knowing that many families have multiple children at different age ranges, she included parent resources that support Lower School aged children and teenagers. You may find this information located within mySevern by visiting your child’s homeroom teacher page (PS-5th) or your child’s Heartstrings page (K-5th). Once on the classroom teacher page or Heartstrings page, click on “Topics” and click on the tile titled Maintaining Wellbeing During Social Distancing (a photo of the tile is located below). You may contact Ms. Mitchell at or leave a voicemail at 410-647-7701 x2030 to arrange a time to speak with her.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I look forward to seeing you all soon and wish everyone a restful and enjoyable weekend.
  • March 30, 2020 Email Update to Upper School Students

    Dear Upper School Students,
    I continue to be encouraged by the energy and attitude of everyone here at Severn, and I feel more lucky than ever to be a part of this community. We will not be perfect as we shift to remote learning. Indeed, perfection is not the expectation! But, if we continue to do our best and support each other along the way, I am confident that we can emerge from all of this stronger than when we started.
    I’m sure there are a lot of questions right now, so I wanted to give you a quick idea of how next week will work. Additionally, please be sure to read the Remote Learning Guide if you have not already, as it will answer many of the questions you probably have right now. I am copying your teachers and parents on this to make sure we are all on the same page.
    For students, this will be an important day to double check some details in preparation:
    • Check your internet connection
    • Look at the mySevern pages for each of your classes
    • Check your email
    • Make sure your Bucks are ready to go (optional)
    At 10:00 a.m., your grade deans will be holding Zoom meetings for you and your advisors. This is to gather and answer any lingering questions, go over some final notes, and simply check in. On Monday (if not before), you will receive an email with a Zoom invite from your grade dean. Please note that these are required meetings for all students, as it will be important to connect with everyone.
    We start Remote Learning! Please check the mySevern class bulletin boards for information about how your classes will be meeting and reach out to your teachers with any questions.
    We’ve got this!
    Mr. Soden
  • March 29, 2020 Email Update for Lower School Families

    Dear Parents of Lower School Students,
    It was great to see so many parents attend our “Town Hall” meetings via Zoom last week.  As shared, the classroom teachers will hold “Mini Town Hall” meetings on Tuesday, March 31 to meet with parents by grade level.  The meeting will last approximately 20 minutes with the goal of having classroom teachers share any specific information related to students’ first Remote Learning Zoom classes that will occur on Wednesday, April 1 as well as answer questions you may have.  We will record each grade level meeting and post on mySevern within the "Remote Learning/Coronavirus" tile for parents to view as a follow up or for parents who are unable to attend the meeting on March 31.
    Due to the brief nature of this meeting, students may pop in for a quick wave, but rest assured the classroom teachers are planning to fully engage students in a Zoom classroom meeting on April 1.  The schedule and Zoom links for parents to attend the grade level "Mini Town Halls" is below.  In addition the the classroom teachers, Director of Instructional Programs Sherri Hoyt or I will join the meetings.  We look forward to seeing you via Zoom on Tuesday, March 31.
                Parent Mini Town Hall Meetings with Classroom Teachers - Tuesday, March 31
    Grade 1
    Parents of Grade 1 Students w/ Classroom Teachers & Sherri
    Grade 2
    Parents of Grade 2 Students w/ Classroom Teachers & Sherri
    Grade 3
    Parents of Grade 3 Students w/ Classroom Teachers & Cathy
    Parents of Preschool Students w/ Classroom Teachers & Sherri
    Grade 5
    Parents of Grade 5 Students w/ Classroom Teachers & Cathy
    Parents of Kindergarten Students w/ Classroom Teachers & Cathy
    Grade 4
    Parents of Grade 4 Students w/ Classroom Teachers & Cathy
    Parents of Prekindergarten Students w/ Classroom Teachers & Sherri
  • March 24, 2020 Email Update

    Severn Families,
    I hope all of you are staying healthy and adjusting to and constructing new routines. While it is disappointing to write - for I would like nothing more than to welcome all students back to campus this Monday - we will move to our remote learning modeAs outlined in my most recent letter, we will use Monday, March 30th and Tuesday, March 31st as preparation days for faculty, and on Wednesday, April 1st students will begin remote learning.
    As of writing this letter, Governor Hogan has not made a declaration with regard to the length of time public schools will be closed. Delaware closed public schools through mid-May and Virginia closed public schools through the end of the school year. Governors are making decision on the macro level while we would make a decision on the micro level for Severn.
    Therefore, we will continue to monitor the situation before setting a date to reopen. Given the current information that is available I expect to be in remote learning mode through, at least, May 1st. I remain hopeful students will be able to return at some point this school year so that we can celebrate the hard work of everyone in the Severn community. I will continue to update you as we learn more.
    Division heads Cathy North, Dan Keller and Steve Soden, along with director of studies Kelly Wilson, and I used this past week to share ideas and strategies to prepare for the start of remote learning. The fruits of that labor are a Remote Learning Guide for Parents and Students, and division specific Remote Learning Guides for Faculty and Staff. I am grateful that I work with such dedicated, creative colleagues.
    Since 2014, over 150 Upper School students have taken courses and four faculty members have taught course through the Malone School Online Network (MSON).
    Additionally, I have been on the MSON Steering Committee for five years. The Severn School Remote Learning Guides are informed by our work with MSON yet scaled appropriately to meet the needs of our respective divisions. That said, much of the work on these guides has been in the abstract, and once we get underway with remote learning, changes and adjustments are expected. We will continue to ask for feedback consistently via short surveys and direct calls to families. We will communicate changes and solutions to the inevitable hiccups we will encounter.
    Division heads will be in touch in the coming days to schedule “Town Hall” Zoom Meetings for parents in all divisions and students in grades 6 – 12 to address immediate questions and concerns.
    I feel lucky to be in a community of educators and families who care deeply for each other and are committed to delivering excellence. Settling in on vastly new routines, however, takes enormous energy. Please take care of yourself and your families and be patient with each other.    
    Stay healthy, and thank you for your cooperation, flexibility and goodwill as we enter a new chapter in the long history of Severn School together.
    Be well,
    Doug Lagarde
  • March 13, 2020 Email Update

    Severn Families,
    It has been an unprecedented week in this Country and the world. Thank you for your goodwill and support.
    We are very fortunate that our spring break directly aligns with Governor Hogan’s declaration to close all public schools. I will continue to monitor the situation over break and update you if needed. If we are required to be out of school the week of March 30, it is likely that we will begin remote learning according to the ramp up schedule I detailed in my last communication – day 1 (3/30) and day 2 (3/31) would be preparation days and remote learning will begin the third day (4/1).
    I imagine many of you have questions about remote learning. I did speak to all students in grades 6-12 today and answered some of their questions, and Cathy North has addressed remote learning with Lower School students. That said, we are in the process of drafting a parent and a student resource guide that we plan to distribute early in the second week of break. Frankly, we are new at this as well and need time to draft and edit the documents.
    Please find below a wonderful piece written by our Upper School Counselor, Sam Straub, about helping parents support their children with the inevitable range of emotions they will feel in this difficult and confusing time.
    Please, continue to exercise healthy habits and make appropriate lifestyle changes to keep you and your loved ones safe.
    Stay Healthy,
    Doug Lagarde

    How Can Parents Help Support Their Children?

    So the kids are out of school for two weeks in the name of “social distancing.” Some are no doubt excited for the potential downtime. Others may be experiencing worries or concerns about all that is to come. How can parents help?
    Today our state’s governor announced that public schools would close starting Monday for a two week period in order to quell the spread of the coronavirus. Locally and nationally, schools and school districts have pushed out messages bracing families and students for an even larger potential impact on spring events. Proms, graduations, and sports seasons all seem to be in the balance. Meanwhile, students are being encouraged to practice social distancing, a recommended step for prevention of disease spreading, but also a step runs completely counter to the ways in which many teens prefer to handle stressful events. Typically, when teens are fretting about something, they seek company in the comfort of one another.
    In addition to the prospect that they or someone they know might fall sick, what are some things teens might be fretting about at this point? As schools work to deliver some sort of distance-learning option, teens (and their families) may feel in the dark about how their schooling is going to look. What about those standardized tests for juniors? Will kids have the option to sit for the SAT or ACT as planned? Some kids may be mourning the potential loss of a spring athletic season, or a prom that might not come to fruition--and all the fond memories that might not get made. Some may wonder about graduation or other end-of-year send offs; kids may worry they will miss these rites of passage that typically mark the final days of middle and high school. They may be upset at the prospect of not seeing their friends face-to-face. Academic content may be transmittable via on-line platforms, but the social business that happens in the hallways between classes and in the lunchroom will come to a slow down, if not a halt. Teens stand to miss these electric moments when friendships get tested or strengthened, when flirting happens, and when social circles take shape and shift.
    All of the above are legit concerns, and your teens might find themselves feeling pretty crummy, if not tonight, at some point down the line. So what can parents do or say to help their kids navigate these uncertain times?
    1. Validate your child’s difficult feelings. When our kids are in distress, parents’ first instinct is often to find a bright side to a negative situation or seek a solution. We just want that distress to go away, so we enter “fix it” mode. Some day, there may be a silver lining in all of this hoopla, but don’t lead with that. Your child will feel invalidated and may dig in harder to her difficult feelings. Instead, just make a space for your child to express her discomfort. Let her know her feelings are legitimate and you are there to listen.
    2. To the extent you can, provide your child with anticipatory guidance. Tell them about communication you may receive from school administrators with updates on this situation. If your child has questions, answer them to the best of your ability.
    3. Share reliable and age-appropriate news about the coronavirus with your child, but do so in moderation. On the one hand, your factual input may stand to overturn misinformation spread through social media feeds and click bait. On the other hand, too much info can overwhelm. This is especially true for kids who tend to run on the anxious side.
    4. If your child gets a case of the “why me’s?” (a very real possibility under the circumstances), remind her that these important, though extreme measures are not happening TO her. They are just happening--and for good reason She just happens to be of a certain age at a certain time in history, and no one has any control over those facts. Remind your child that there are many other kids in the same boat. She is not alone.
    5. If your child is worried about her health or the health of her loved ones, emphasize all the steps your family is taking and all the steps her school and state are taking to keep everyone safe.
    6. Be patient with the fact that your teen may be even more tethered to their electronic devices than usual.
    7. Provide your child with a sense of belonging at home by letting him know your family will navigate these uncharted waters as a team. And then prepare to do just that.
  • March 11, 2020 Email Update to Lower School Families

    Dear Parents of Lower School Students,
    I wish everyone a most enjoyable spring break!  I know the students are looking forward to having this time with their families.  I write to you as a follow up to my last email, as each day brings new information and a level of uncertainty for potential school closings due to the Coronavirus.  Below is information regarding student materials being sent home this week, planning ahead, and resources you may find helpful. I apologize for the length of this email as my goal is to communicate initial information and considerations regarding a remote teaching and learning plan within this email.
    School Materials Coming Home with Your Child(ren)
    Given the unknowns of what may occur during our two-week spring break and as a precaution, classroom teachers plan to send home instructional materials with your child before spring break.  These are materials that your child may need in the event that school is closed upon our return from spring break. In addition, art teacher Ms. Friedman has prepared and is sending home art activity bags for students to have and use in the event that school is closed at any time after spring break.  Please know that we are not asking for your child to complete any assignments with the materials being sent home during spring break, so we suggest that your child keep these materials in his/her backpack or bookbag or in a work space at home. Of course, your child is always welcome to write in his/her journal if they wish to do so about their spring break fun, or to read a book that they bring home.  Classroom teachers will send you a separate email to inform you of the materials that they are sending home as well as directions regarding the materials they would like for you to return to school and/or keep at home when we return from spring break. The art materials should remain at home for future use in the event that school is closed. 
    Planning Ahead: Schedules and Devices
    Spring break is a good time for you and your child(ren) to identify a suitable work space for learning, and to gather supplies that will be needed to complete school work.  Lower School teachers and I will share specific details about each grade level’s learning plan that includes having access to online lessons in the event of an extended school closure.  With this said, we are also remaining mindful of the range of learners that we have, preschool through fifth grade, and will allow flexibility within assignments for students and parents as we plan.  For example, we will be offering online class meetings and lessons synchronously as well as providing other lessons and learning plans asynchronously to allow students and parents options for when students may complete assignments during the day.  
    Having the online class meetings and lessons provides the important face-to-face connection with teachers and other students, and we will provide students and parents with a schedule of when the online lessons will occur, as well as provide video recordings of various lessons for students to watch at a later time if they are unable to join the live lesson.  For many assignments, students may use a laptop, desktop, or iPad. 
    Below are the recommended tech devices for students at each grade level. 

    Preschool – laptop, desktop, or iPad
    Prekindergarten – iPad
    Kindergarten – laptop or desktop
    First Grade – laptop or desktop
    Second Grade - laptop or desktop
    Third Grade - laptop or desktop
    Fourth Grade - laptop or desktop
    Fifth Grade - laptop or desktop
    Please email me if your family needs assistance with having the recommended tech device at home. 
    Additional Resources
    I understand that the uncertainty of all of this is difficult, but do want you to know the faculty is working hard to put a remote teaching and learning program in place if needed.  Below are two weblinks that you may find helpful as you talk with your children and consider factors to plan for a possible closure. We greatly appreciate your collaboration and support as we prepare and potentially implement a remote teaching and learning plan. 
    I appreciate the ongoing collaboration that we have between home and school and remain committed to working with you to support students. 

    Cathy North
    Lower School Head 
    Severn School Chesapeake Campus
    1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd.
    Arnold, Maryland 21012
    410-647-7701 extension 2033

  • March 10, 2020 Email Update

    Dear Severn Families,
    I write to provide an update and information about spring break travel precautions, our academic continuity plan and potential changes to future school events.

    Spring Break Travel Plans
    We expect every member of the Severn community to follow CDC guidelines with regard to international travel and strongly encourage you to exercise caution and use your best judgment for all domestic travel.
    • If, over break (or at any other time in the coming months), you travel to a country that is designated by the CDC as Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2, please report that information to your respective Division Head or to me. 
    • Depending on the situation, upon return you may be required to self-quarantine for a period of time. 
    Academic Continuity Plan
    Severn’s administration, faculty, and others are working together to plan how we will support distance teaching and learning in the event of an extended school closure. Depending on the length of the closure, we will use a blend of synchronous and asynchronous activities at all levels.
    If the closure is longer than three days, the first two days will be a ramp up period for faculty and families to ready themselves for online learning. Online classes and work will begin on day three and continue until we are back in session. Expectations and schedules will be division specific, and respective division heads will communicate these details to you when applicable.
    At home, please take the time now to consider what will be needed to be successful in an online learning environment:
    • A quiet, consistent place to do work
    • Have at home all necessary school supplies including textbooks and other course materials
    • High-quality internet connection
    • Access for each child to a computer or other device
    If your family needs support in obtaining a device or internet access, please contact your respective division head or reach out to me to discuss. We have a number of devices that we can lend, if need be.
    Counselors, learning specialists and college counselors will post specific times of availability for online support.
    Should you have any questions or concerns unique to your family or child, please do not hesitate to contact your division head or me.
    Field Trips and Larger Gatherings
    At this juncture, no field trips have been canceled by Severn, but I do expect that if the virus continues to spread, it is likely we will cancel some, if not all, of them.  In addition, we will give consideration to amending or canceling large gatherings such as the Astle Lecture, Grandfriends' Day and the like. No decision has been made at this time. As we learn more, assess the situation and make a decision, I will communicate that information.

    Healthy Habits
    Please continue to practice common-sense preventative measures such as washing your hands often, using hand sanitizer, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, covering your cough with a tissue and throwing the tissue in the trash, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, and above all, stay home if you are sick.

    Thank you for your cooperation, flexibility, and goodwill as we, together, navigate these uncharted waters.
    Stay Healthy,
    Doug Lagarde
  • March 4, 2020 Email Update to Lower School Families

    Dear Parents of Lower School Students,
    As a follow up to Mr. Lagarde’s email and knowing the volume of information being shared about the Coronavirus within the media, I write to you regarding how we are supporting your children at the Lower School.  While some students have not commented on the virus, other students - mainly older elementary students, have had some conversations and questions arise at school. While we are not directly instructing lessons about the virus, teachers are monitoring students’ level of conversation and questions, and providing time to hold age-appropriate conversations regarding the Coronavirus as needed.  We are reassuring students that the adults are working hard to keep them safe and giving them opportunities to express their feelings and discuss their questions and misconceptions that they may be hearing. 
    All classroom teachers are having age appropriate discussions regarding the recommendations Mr. Lagarde made in his email to you earlier this week as they hold true at school too.   For example, classroom teachers and school nurse Ms. Given conducted handwashing lessons with students, and to assist them with the length of time they should wash their hands, we ask students to hum or sing “The ABC song” or  “Happy Birthday” two times.
    Below is a link to the article, “Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus” from Child Mind Institute that you may find helpful.  Limiting exposure to news and adult conversations regarding the Coronavirus is helpful for most kids. We also understand that parents of younger students may not be having specific conversations with their children regarding the Coronavirus but do appreciate parents taking time to reinforce the general healthy habits outlined in Mr. Lagarde’s email.  If you observe that your child is feeling overwhelmed and/or anxious by this topic, you may contact Lower School Counselor Karin Mitchell at
    Finally, the Lower School faculty and I are outlining plans for instruction in the event that school is closed for multiple days and will communicate more as needed.  You are welcome to contact me with questions. 
  • March 1, 2020 Email Update

    Dear Severn Families,
    Severn is closely monitoring the fluid situation brought on by the international outbreak of the Coronavirus, and given that the health and well-being of our students, faculty and community is of utmost importance, we will continue to monitor and follow the guidelines provided by the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and our Independent School Organizations (AIMS, NAIS).
    All of us play a role in prevention. Severn will continue to supply hand sanitizers where age appropriate throughout the buildings, provide disinfectant wipes and sprays to faculty and staff, and discuss additional cleaning protocols with our cleaning staff to ensure frequently touched areas, such as doorknobs and tables, are wiped with products that are effective against common disease causing organisms.
    Healthy Habits
    Families are the first line of prevention, so I ask that all families follow and discuss the importance of the below general recommendations with your child/children to help prevent the spread of any respiratory virus (including 219-nCoV):
    • Avoid close contact with people who are exhibiting symptoms.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth (easier said than done).
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands when possible or use hand sanitizer.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. (cell phones, laptops, keyboards, ear buds etc.)
    • Stay home when sick.
      1. Students should not return to school until they are fever free for over 24 hours without medication.
      2. Parents of students who feel unwell should check their student’s temperature and assess symptoms before allowing their student to attend school.
    Spring Break
    With spring break two weeks away, I ask all families who have travel plans, particularly those who plan to travel internationally, to consider the latest public health information. It is critical to continuously check in and evaluate advice regarding travel guidance from trusted sources, including the CDC and US State Department. As you make decisions about travel, please remember that the situations here and abroad are rapidly changing and things may shift even while you are away. Remarkably, this is the only year in my 14-year tenure at Severn that we do not have any planned international travel for students. In speaking with Heads of School from around the country this past week at the National Association of Independent Schools conference, almost all trips sponsored by schools have been or will likely be canceled.  
    Continuity Plans
    In terms of future impact, please know that Severn is equipped to move school operations online. Certainly, we will not be able to replicate fully what happens every day in this vibrant learning community, but using existing online learning platforms as the primary point of communication, we will be able to hold virtual “School days”. Specifically, in the Middle and Upper Schools, our learning management system, mySevern, will be the primary vehicle to deliver content, and in the Lower School, mySevern, Seesaw and other grade specific instructional websites that we already use with students will be the primary sources. That said, we still have much internal work to do to prepare for the possibility of taking the school online, and will dedicate time to these details in the coming weeks and months.
    We will continue to monitor the situation and update you if necessary. Below are a number of trusted resources. In the meantime, remember that viruses know no national boundaries nor racial/ethnic segmentation and the emergence of the Coronavirus should not be a source of division anywhere, and particularly at Severn School. Please let level heads and common sense prevail.
    Stay Healthy,
    Doug Lagarde

Preventing Illness

As stated by the CDC, preventing and mitigating an outbreak is the most important strategy. We all have a responsibility to adhere to the following preventive measures and we ask that you review them with your child(ren) at home:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick (and do not return to school until you are fever-free for 24 hours without medication).
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012
Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146