Our COVID-19 Response | Villa Maria Academy | Malvern, PA
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Private All Girls School | Girls K-8 | Co-Ed Preschool | Malvern, PA

Our COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Response

First and foremost, we hope you and your family are staying healthy and safe. During this time of uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot thank you enough for your loyalty, commitment, and patience as we confront and adjust to the new challenges of today.

Villa Maria Academy Lower School has been closely following developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19). This page will serve as a central resource for our COVID-19 response for the Villa community, and will be updated regularly with the school’s preparations and responses. We will also be sharing information via email as necessary.

Timeline Events

February, 2020 – In response to student/family travel to and from China, Villa Maria Academy LS published this communication to all parents of enrolled students.

March 13, 2020 – Governor Wolf issued the first of mandatory closure of schools in Chester County, PA.

March 16, 2020 – Teachers prepared for the first day of online learning.

March 17, 2020 – Teachers began online learning in all grades through the use of the learning platforms, Schoology and SeeSaw in synchronous and asynchronous online learning sessions.

May 28, 2020 – The academic year at Villa Maria Academy Lower School ended.

June 30, 2020 – Villa Maria Academy Lower School released a statement and plan for re-opening in the fall.
Villa Maria will happily reopen in September with in-class instruction for all students. The VMA COVID Task Force for reopening is working to align the recommendations of the CDC, PA Dept of Education and Chester County Health Dept. with daily life at Villa. The 14 member team is in the process of designing appropriate protocols to ensure the health and safety of all students, staff and families. Please read here to understand the many considerations of the team. The final plan will be reviewed for approval by the CCHD.

July 20 – Villa Maria Academy Lower School released an updated re-opening plan to the Villa Community and invited the Villa parent community to Q&A session via Zoom on July 21.

July 21 – Parent Q&A session via Zoom.

August 4 – Villa Maria Academy Lower School announced updates to the re-opening plan based on parent responses via the Q&A session.

August 11 – Villa Maria Academy Lower School released an updated re-opening plan to the Villa Community (see below under Re-opening Villa), that will re-open school for in-person instruction 5 days a week on September 1.

Re-opening Villa

In order to provide an environment where all students can feel comfortable and one in which our protocols and procedures can be tested, we will employ a phase-in approach to school entry using the following schedule:

Student-Teacher Orientation Days:

9/1K-2 – Arrive between 8:30 AM and 8:50 AM; will be dismissed at 10:30 AM

9/23-5 – Arrive between 8:30 AM and 8:50 AM; will be dismissed at 10:30 AM

9/36-8 – Arrive between 8:30 AM and 8:50 AM; will be dismissed at 11:00 AM

Phase-in Schedule for the Beginning of the Year
Full days in school – Beginning Tuesday, September 8

  • Students bring their own lunch during the week of 9/8 to 9/11.
  • Monday, 9/14 –first day of Aramark Food Service for pre-ordered box lunch (more information to come)
  • Morning snack items from home should be packaged. Children should be able to be able to open the snacks on their own.

Tuesday, 9/8      Kindergarten
Wednesday 9/9  Kindergarten and 1st
Thursday 9/10    Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd
Friday 9/11         Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th 

Monday 9/14        Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd 4th, 5th
Tuesday 9/15        Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th
Wednesday 9/16 Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th
Thursday 9/17 Kindergarten – 8th 

Students will meet teachers for online learning each day until their scheduled day to begin in-person instruction. Students will receive guidance for online learning during on the orientation day.

Distance Learning (Spring 2020)

What does distance learning look like at Villa? While different for each age group, there is strategic instruction delivered for all levels through varied approaches, media and learning platforms. The curriculum is adapted weekly as teachers gauge what works well and what needs improvement for the success of the students. Distance learning provided opportunities for students to connect regularly with teachers and other students.  Collaboration between teachers coupled with administrative support streamlined intentional efforts to develop this new dimension of the Villa learning community. Villa continues to adapt and grow in this effort in online learning as teachers and staff maintain flexibility, understanding, patience, and compassion for one another—from a distance, but all together. Community has never been more important or apparent than right now at Villa Maria Academy Lower School.

Preschool online learning sessions included both large group and small group sessions with two – four students. As early childhood educators we know children need time to eat, play, read, interact and engage with the world around them. As we found ourselves moving from our classroom to an online platform, activities were designed to encourage our young learners to explore and make discoveries. Meaningful learning was delivered using Zoom, Seesaw, and Epic Library. Weekly lessons began for the whole group on Zoom. An email to parents followed which included an easy to follow weekly lesson plan provided for family scheduling. Teacher created mini lessons, tutorials, cognitive games and activities were presented to the children using the Seesaw app. The children listened and responded to their teachers reading stories, sharing finger plays and rhymes, and engaging in math and science activities. The teacher was able to view and interact with the children as they responded to lessons. Activities that were geared towards the development of essential skills such as letter identification, letter sounds, and number recognition were designed to be repetitive in order to enable students to gain independence and take ownership of their own learning. Small group Zoom sessions allowed our young learners to work with their peers toward a common academic goal while working on their conversation and turn taking skills. The Epic library exposed the children to a wide variety of books related to the weekly theme in preschool, as well as expanded literacy, science, mathematics and social studies topics. The children could listen to stories independently or enjoy them with their families. To meet the needs of different student learning styles, paper and pencil, digital, audio and video learning activity submissions we offered through Seesaw. The wide variety of teacher created lessons and activities presented on the online platforms permitted the children to explore, gain a sense of self and build confidence.

I have to say we are very impressed with how quickly you were able to get the online work created and posted for the class given the fact that PreK has not done this before.  I have been hearing of some other schools where it took them until the end of last week to even get any work posted for their students. Ed and I really appreciate it because not only does it keep her learning and busy but keeps her connected to her school community in some way. – PreK Parent

Elementary online sessions were held daily. As we moved to online learning, continuing to develop a learning community and a consistency in routine became very important.  Students participated either in synchronous or asynchronous sessions. Elementary teachers implemented daily Zoom lessons to provide direct instruction and video lessons that were accompanied by various activities to reinforce the skills being taught. The curriculum had a strong focus on ELA and Math, Science, Social Studies and Religion.  Individual and Small group instruction sessions allowed our students to work with their peers and teachers on a more personalized learning scale.

During the course of the trimester, students used various technology tools to present research and projects to their classmates.

  • First graders studied ecology and went on a virtual Zoom field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where they discussed what they had learned based on what they saw.
  • Third grade girls researched and dressed as a Famous Woman in history and presented information related to her life to classmates over Zoom.
  • Fourth grade completed ELA culminating projects in which the students were given their choice of activities such as performing a skit from the book, creating a sequel to the story, illustrating a new book cover, writing a newspaper article to present.

Added Value Classes in physical education, art, Spanish and STEM also remained part of the online learning curriculum with teacher provided videos, activities and assignments.

Although learning through Zoom and other online tools was a new experience, we believe that our students gained knowledge very similarly to how that would have in our traditional classroom environment.

We cannot thank you enough for all you have done for our daughter this year! You have been a constant force of encouragement and enthusiasm while keeping Kaitlyn challenged and learning. The biggest change we have seen in her is her confidence. This year, we watched her become a leader in her actions, her words of kindness to others, the way she was helpful and the way she stood up for herself. She could not have done that without your support! – 4th Grade Parent

Middle school students participated in online classes daily. The student scheduled provided for an hour of each of the five major subject areas – religion, ELA, math, science, and social studies – along with Added Value Classes in physical education, art, Spanish and STEM.

Students submitted assignments through Schoology and Google Drive and used the breakout room feature on Zoom for peer conferencing of writing assignments and collaborative practice of grammar topics. In middle school, Keynote and other presentation programs were used for group presentations and the “blogs” feature on Schoology was used for classroom discussions. Teachers also utilized prerecorded lectures and videos, interesting activities and virtual lab experiences, for the girls to experience science at home.

During the course of the trimester, students used various technology tools to present research and projects to their classmates.

  • Sixth graders researched and presented Heritage Day projects about their family’s heritage via Zoom to classmates and teachers.
  • 7th graders studied the works of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, dissected the scripts and performed skits to help them to better comprehend the works. Instead of performing on stage for Villa’s Shakespeare Festival, they had the option of performing via homemade puppets or live-action play with the help of friends or family members at home.
  • 8th grade students used Google to collaborate on period newsletters and highlight the history of women.
  • Middle school science classes utilized breakout rooms in Zoom for the girls to conduct group work and projects like discovering types of sustainable energy or investigating different endangered species. The girls used Zoom to present their findings as well.

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