St. Stephen's Coronavirus Information

St. Stephen's has completed the 2019-20 school year. We are looking forward to honoring the 120 students in our Class of 2020 at our Baccalaureate on Friday, Nov. 27 and Graduation on Saturday, Nov. 28.

The campus is closed to everyone except faculty, staff and members of our residential families who live on campus.

A Conversation with the Head of School and PA President

Head of School Messages

List of 15 items.

  • Update on Preparations for 2020-21 School Year – July 2

    Dear St. Stephen’s Families,

    As we approach the July 4th weekend commemorating the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776, I hope all members of the St. Stephen’s community around the world are enjoying their summers and staying healthy. Since my last email, our faculty and staff have made good progress in preparing for the reopening of school. At the same time, the COVID-19 situation “on the ground” continues to evolve. So I thought this was a good time to provide an update on several key topics, including health protocols and tools under development, the status of student immunizations and physical exams, technology requirements for the school year and changes to our graduation plans for the Class of 2020.

    Beginning with this email and continuing for the remainder of the summer, I will send these email updates to all St. Stephen’s parents and Upper School students. Middle School parents should feel free to share these updates with their children as they deem appropriate.

    Developing Health Protocols and Risk Mitigation Tools
    Our Reopening Task Force and Medical Advisory Committee are working diligently to establish appropriate health protocols and risk mitigation tools, including COVID-19 screening and testing for our community. Unfortunately, Texas Education Agency (TEA) guidelines for the fall have not been published at this time. While we have not finalized all details for this aspect of our planning, foundational work is well underway to determine the safest and most appropriate way to start school. Following are some of the requirements that will be in place when we reopen school. We will share additional details as they become available via email and on a new Reopening for Fall 2020 Webpage coming soon.
     
    • All individuals will be required to wear face coverings in buildings and anytime they are within six feet of someone else outdoors. For activities in which masks may not be used (e.g., dining, band rehearsal), other safety measures will be in place and will be communicated in greater detail at a later time.
    • Hand sanitizing stations will be placed at building entrances and/or in classrooms. All community members will be expected to wash or sanitize their hands regularly throughout the day.
    • We are building a daily schedule with significantly reduced class sizes. Occupancy of classrooms will be governed by the 45-square-foot per-person standard.
    • Dining Hall practices will be altered to promote social distancing and safe delivery of meals.
    • Faculty will be encouraged whenever possible to open windows to improve air circulation in classrooms and work spaces.
    • We will build and install plexiglas barriers in strategic places (e.g., library, dining hall, offices in high-traffic areas) to promote health and safety.
    • All members of our community will be expected to complete daily health self-screenings before arriving on campus. They will be required to stay home if they exhibit symptoms or meet other criteria. We will post these details on the new Reopening for Fall 2020 Webpage in the near future.
    • Outdoor gathering spaces will be enhanced. We are purchasing and installing additional outdoor furniture to encourage community members to gather outdoors in physically distanced ways.
    • Outside organizations will not be able to rent St. Stephen’s facilities, which will reduce the number of people accessing campus.
    • Parents’ access to campus will be limited for drop-off and pick-up purposes. Parent meetings will occur virtually until further notice.
    • Campus will be closed to prospective students and families, and we have created a new video tour of campus so these families can experience our campus remotely. Admission Office activities for the 2021-22 admission season will occur virtually until further notice.
    • Non-St. Stephen’s personnel employed by families as private tutors will not be allowed on campus. Students who engage with private tutors during the school day will need to do so virtually.
    • Bathroom occupancy will be restricted.
    • Passing periods will be extended to give students more outdoor time as well as breaks from viewing computer screens. These periods also will give us more time for cleaning classrooms and making technology adjustments between classes.
     
    Immunizations and Physical Exams for Students
    St. Stephen’s understands the challenges related to seeing healthcare providers during this time. However, the Texas Department of Health Services has not changed its immunization requirements for school entry. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that immunizations should not be deferred at this time and highly encourages the administration of the influenza vaccine in addition to those required. All St. Stephen’s students will need to meet these state immunization requirements for the upcoming school year. You may choose to sign your child up for an influenza vaccine to be administered at school in the Magnus Health portal.

    In accordance with outside agencies, all new students and 9th grade students at St. Stephen’s are required to have a physical exam to participate in sports and physical education for the 2020-21 school year. Additionally, 11th grade students participating in sports, dance, Theatre Focus and the Devil’s Canyon Wilderness Program (DCWP) will need a physical exam to participate.

    Once you have completed these tasks, please 
    log in to your child’s Magnus Health account to upload the documentation.

    Technology Requirements for the New School Year
    Each St. Stephen’s student will need to have their own dedicated laptop computer or Chromebook for the 2020-2021 academic year. This requirement is designed to achieve several objectives:
    • Ensure that students can fully engage in academic activities and realize the corresponding learning benefits.
    • Help students build and sustain the strong sense of being connected to our community that is distinctive of the St. Stephen’s Experience and particularly important during times of physical distancing and remote or hybrid learning.
    • Minimize the extent to which students share computers and other devices that could spread COVID-19.
     
    In a poll of our families conducted last October, about 80% reported that their children have their own laptop or Chromebook device. We recognize that some of our current students and some of our new students do not have these kinds of devices. The school will distribute a limited number of devices to students who are not able to provide their own. If your child does not have a laptop computer or Chromebook, please email St. Stephen’s Director of Technology Dan Laws at dlaws@sstx.org, and he can arrange the loan of a device for the academic year.  

    Dan and his IT team are working closely with faculty and administration to determine any other technology requirements for our students in the coming year. He will send an email to all parents in the coming weeks as they finalize those decisions.

    Changes to Graduation Plan
    Finally, in light of Mayor Adler’s recent announcement extending Austin’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order through August 15, as well as the growing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city, St. Stephen’s has decided to postpone Baccalaureate and Graduation for the Class of 2020 from August 7-8 to November 27-28. These are the back-up dates we determined when we originally decided to push these events from May to early August. Our top criteria in making this postponement decision was the health and well-being of our graduating students along with their family members and friends planning to attend the event. For those who cannot come to campus in November, we will livestream the events so they can participate remotely.

    I will touch base again in two weeks with another update on our preparations for reopening school. In addition, Jon McCain will send an email in the next week to students planning to participate in fall sports. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to email me at 
    cgunnin@sstx.org.

    Sincerely,
    Chris  
  • Update on Preparations for 2020-21 School Year - June 18

    Dear St. Stephen’s Families,

    I hope this email finds all of you settling into your summer routines and doing well. It has been two weeks since I last touched base, so I wanted to update you on the school’s progress as our faculty and staff continue to prepare for reopening school in August.

    Medical Advisory Committee
    I’m pleased to announce that we have established a Medical Advisory Committee that will guide our decision making with respect to a healthy reopening in August and ongoing operations throughout the school year. I will serve on this committee along with Gretchen Inman, director of health services; Cindy Stadulis, chief financial officer; and Dr. Kerry Rhodes, school physician; as well as parents Dr. John Abikhaled, a general surgeon currently serving as president of the Travis County Medical Society; Dr. Liz Alcocer, an infectious disease expert; Dr. Okey Nwanyanwu, a global public health expert; and Dr. Leslie Wells, a pediatrics specialist. I am grateful to all the members of this committee for their assistance in accessing the latest medical information, understanding health policy guidelines and connecting the school to valuable health resources.

    Contact Tracing Certification for Key Staff
    To bolster our health-related knowledge and resources, a number of St. Stephen’s employees will become certified in contract tracing this summer. In the coming weeks, our nursing team, house leaders, deans and division heads, and athletic trainers will complete an online Coursera class developed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. We do not expect these employees to serve in an official contact tracing capacity, as we would rely on Austin Public Health officials to perform that service if we should need it. However, the training will give these employees a greater understanding about how COVID-19 spreads at a community level and provide them with strategies and tactics to keep our community members safe.

    Parent and Student Survey Responses
    I am sincerely grateful to those parents and students who took time to complete the remote learning and living survey we sent out several weeks ago. Well over 250 students and more than 300 parents completed the survey. Following are highlights from the results.
    • Concerning our school’s overall response to the pandemic this spring, 90% of parents and 88% of students thought we did a good job.
    • Regarding our communications throughout the spring, 90% of parents and 78% of students thought the school did a good job.
    • On remote learning, 72% of parents and 78% of students found the experience to be favorable.
    • When asked about the amount of work assigned to students: 53% of parents and 39% of students said it was the right amount, while 14% of parents and 34% of students said it was too much.
    • When asked whether there was enough time built into the schedule to get that work done, 79% of parents and 80% of students said there was enough time.
    Overall, we received exceptionally valuable feedback from both constituencies about how to make improvements in certain areas, along with high praise from many about how well the school did in the short time we had to recreate the learning experience. As we continue to prepare for several possible reopening scenarios, we will combine this input with the lessons faculty and staff learned this spring and best practices gleaned from other school districts, universities, and independent and boarding school associations. We also will continue to tap into the valuable perspectives of our parents through conversations with our six trustees who are parents of students or alumni as well as our Parents’ Association board members.

    Academic Planning
    We are striving to maximize in-person learning activities this fall in hopes of providing an educational experience that closely resembles our “normal” academic schedule. However, we are balancing this approach with flexibility and creativity, recognizing that some students and faculty may not be able to physically be “in class” for safety and health reasons.

    While we continue to plan for different scenarios, we are sharpening our focus on a hybrid model that would allow students the opportunity to rotate between in-person classes and remote sessions on alternating days. The daily schedule for this model would feature a full day of learning from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (whether “in class” or participating remotely). Our regular grading scale will go back into effect and attendance will again be required. We are still considering how we would divide the student body and determine who would be “in class” and who would be remote each day. For students who do not feel comfortable returning to campus for “in class” learning, we will provide a high-quality remote-learning experience comparable to the one experienced by students attending classes in person. We also are exploring ways for students who are not physically “in class” to be able to be supervised on campus. As we refine our plans to provide in-person and remote instruction, we will use parent polling to assist in this effort.

    In addition, it is possible that the academic calendar may change (e.g., vacation dates, the last day of school, configuration of the school day). We will do all we can to honor the number of days for student learning and vacation time while finishing the school year as published on the current master calendar. We will communicate any changes to this calendar to the entire St. Stephen’s community as expeditiously as possible.

    Professional Development
    Our faculty have started taking professional development courses offered by Global Online Academy. As I mentioned in an earlier communication, GOA is a pioneering organization committed to helping seasoned classroom teachers adapt their traditional approaches for teaching, collaborating and assessing to the online learning space. At the end of this week, more than 50 faculty and academic administrators will have completed a one-week intensive “boot camp” course. By the end of the summer, 100% of full-time teachers and over 90% of part-time teachers will complete specialized training on how to make online learning engaging and dynamic. Teachers, advisors and dorm parents will study a variety of topics—from increasing student agency and voice, to optimizing instructional design in an online environment, to assessing students for understanding and mastery. Two of the overarching goals for our partnership with GOA are to figure out the best ways to: 1) nurture community-mindedness in an online classroom and 2) motivate students to embrace new kinds of academic and intellectual activities. I’m confident that these efforts will yield innovative and exciting learning experiences for our students this fall.

    Technology Enhancements
    We also are investing in several technology enhancements designed to improve the educational experience for teachers and students whether they are interacting in person or in hybrid or remote-learning environments. These include the installation of video conferencing systems in more than 55 classrooms. This will allow teachers to present richer content while facilitating more dynamic interaction among all participants, wherever they are. Increased wireless coverage will enable us to deliver a consistently higher-quality experience for faculty and students engaging in online learning anywhere on campus. New audio-visual equipment in the Chapel will enrich the experience of our online worship services, as well as those occasions when our community gathers in person for time-honored traditions and sacred rituals, including Baccalaureate and Graduation along with marriages and baptisms.

    I will touch base again in two weeks with additional updates on our preparations for the 2020-21 school year. In addition, Gene Phillips, our director of residential life, will be contacting residential families in the next day or two with more details about plans for residential students to return to campus in August. If you have questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for your continued patience and support.

    Sincerely,
    Chris
  • Update on the 2020-21 School Year - June 5

    Dear St. Stephen’s Families, 
     
    With the 2019-20 school year now completed, we have shifted our attention and focused our resources on next school year. While no one knows how the global health situation will evolve between now and then, or the exact conditions under which we will begin the new year, we have initiated planning for the most likely scenarios. Our top priority throughout all these efforts remains the health, safety and well-being of our students and employees, and we are working diligently to minimize risk. At the same time, we are eager to create innovative and engaging educational experiencesfor the entire Spartan community.
     
    Aiming to Be on Campus, Planning for Three Scenarios
    We are currently planning for three scenarios, but our goal is to begin the school year with classes on campus. We know that we are at our best as a community and as a school when we are living and learning together on The Hill. But even this scenario will require us to add safety measures and reimagine certain types of activities. We recognize that some of the factors affecting our ability to resume classes on The Hill are beyond our control, including improvements in the quality of COVID-19 testing, access to testing and the spread of the virus in Austin. Nonetheless, we will work hard this summer to scrutinize every significant aspect of the student experience on campus, adapting our facilities, behaviors, processes and protocols so we can return to campus in the safest way possible, as soon as possible. 
     
    We also are planning for ahybrid model combining in-person and distance learning, with two to three versions of this approach depending upon several factors. The third scenario is a continuation of remote learning that would be improved by lessons we learned in the spring, results from the parent and student surveys, technology enhancements and faculty professional development  through our new institutional partnership with the Global Online Academy. 
     
    Intensifying Our Planning Efforts
    Last month, we formed a Reopening Task Force to guide our planning and preparation for the new school year. The task force consists of representatives from nearly every segment of our school, including academic administration, advancement, admission, athletics, dining hall, facilities and grounds, faculty, finance, fine arts, health and wellness, human resources, our international and residential programs, marketing and communications, and IT services. Task force members are considering the myriad details required to prepare for each of the three scenarios—from health screening, social-distancing protocols and facilities usage, to online teaching, assessment and collaboration tools, as well as daily and weekly academic schedules, and even the length of the fall term and appropriate breaks and holidays. All of these issues are complex and interconnected. In making its decisions, this task force is drawing upon a range of internal information as well as best practices from other school districts, universities, and independent and boarding school associations; the latest guidelines from the CDC; and official orders from local, state and federal agencies.
     
    These planning efforts will augment the customary ways our faculty and staff spend their summers improving the campus, refining courses, and enhancing programs and resources to better serve and support our students. 
     
    Giving Families a Choice
    St. Stephen’s recognizes that each of our families is unique. We also know that our families have different concerns about their children returning to classes on campus. While the school may decide to resume classes on campus, and some parents may be comfortable with that decision, others may prefer for their children to continue learning remotely from home. Whichever model we start the new year with, we will work with families as best we can to provide an educational experience that honors their concerns. I also recognize that many of our boarding families need to make travel and other logistical plans, and we will strive to make decisions and communicate them as expeditiously as possible so they can plan accordingly.
     
    Supporting Parents in Uncertain Times
    St. Stephen’s understands that some of our families have questions and concerns regarding tuition in light of the financial distress and uncertainty caused by COVID-19. We have looked at several solutions to help you manage uncertainty and alleviate stress. All families are welcome to use a tuition payment plan that would allow them to make 10 equal payments beginning August 2020 through May 2021. This option requires enrollment in our tuition insurance plan. If you are interested in pursuing this option, please contact Lawrence Sampleton, Associate Head for Enrollment and Financial Assistance, at lsampleton@sstx.org. In addition, we recognize that some families may not be comfortable meeting the June 15 tuition deadline in the midst of so much uncertainty. We are eager to work with individual families on a case-by-case basis if they wish to request a deadline extension for the remaining tuition and fee payments. 
     
    Our school has a long history of working to make the St. Stephen’s Experience accessible and affordable. The board of trustees voted this spring to make an additional limited amount of financial aid available in light of the economic downturn. If you recently have experienced increased financial hardship and would like to discuss need-based financial assistance, please contact Mr. Sampleton.
     
    Communicating with Parents this Summer
    We are very proud of the work our students did this spring, and early next week you will receive year-end comments from your child’s teachers and advisor. We will then send a survey to parents and a survey to students regarding their experience with remote learning this spring. These surveys are critical pieces of our overall planning efforts, and I hope that you and your children will complete them by noon on Saturday, June 13. This is an important opportunity for the Spartan community to reimagine parts of the educational experience at our school, and I look forward to this collaboration.  
     
    I plan to communicate with our families every two weeks over the course of this summer as the global health situation evolves and we continue our planning efforts. In upcoming emails, I will shed more light on the three learning scenarios/models we are preparing for and provide updates on our plans to support our community’s health and safety. 
     
    I wish you all a safe and healthy summer, and look forward to hearing of the many creative, fun-filled and purposeful ways you spend your time in the coming months.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Chris Gunnin
     
  • Head of School Chris Gunnin’s Comments at Senior Award Night – May 23, 2020

    This evening we have recognized a number of seniors for individual achievements and accomplishments. In closing, I want to make a few comments to the entire St. Stephen’s Class of 2020.

    Today was scheduled to be your graduation. We planned on hosting you for the School’s 70th commencement exercises. We were to be together. We were to shake hands, hug and high five, cheer in unison for you and for all that you’ve become. We were to stand shoulder-to-shoulder one last time in this chapel with your parents, families, friends and teachers to honor your time here, to celebrate the remarkable individuals you’ve become and the hopeful and bright futures you each have.

    I know that we all mourn moments, events and celebrations that have been cancelled, postponed or shifted from in-person to online. I know that these last 10 weeks were not what you signed on for. I know that you have not had the customary collective traditions or some of the impromptu individual moments that you anticipated in your senior year.

    But even as we acknowledge this reality, I want to offer three thoughts that, I hope, will provide some comforting perspective.

    First, while campus has been closed, our love for you, our pride in all that you have accomplished, our recognition of your many triumphs and successes are not diminished in any way. Although this graduating class is dispersed throughout Austin, across the U.S. and around the world, I hope that you feel the love, pride and celebration of the entire St. Stephen’s faculty and staff wherever you may be tonight. You have completed every assignment, you have met every challenge, you have exceeded our expectations, and you have been a source of pride, joy, and inspiration to your teachers, friends and families. However far from The Hill you may be, in this sacred chapel on this sacred hill, you are known, loved, and celebrated tonight. On behalf of the board of trustees, the faculty and the staff of St. Stephen’s, I recognize your achievements and the legacy you leave behind as individual Spartans and as the collective Class of 2020. You are in our hearts, and you have taken some of the best parts of The Hill with you to your homes and families and communities.

    Second, I encourage you to consider not only what has been lost, but what you have contributed to in the last 10 weeks by sheltering in place. In short, you have saved lives. Your actions have been part of a global human effort to prevent the spread of a deadly disease. From your earliest days as Spartans, you have been mindful of your responsibility to the greater good. You have recognized that you are a member of the human family. You have known that our own success and well-being individually are connected to the well-being, health and happiness of others. You have prayed to be empowered to make a difference in the world, and I want to acknowledge your cooperation with and participation in the School’s effort to put the health and safety of ourselves and others as the highest priority. Yes, you have given up personal privileges, but you have contributed to the health and safety of the human family. No other class in the school’s history can claim with as much conviction as yours that in the way you have lived the final months of your high school career, you sacrificed for the greater good. You’ve placed the health and safety of the most vulnerable in our family over your own very real desires and you’ve done so with grace and good will.

    Third, I want to be very clear that the final 10 weeks of your senior year never represented the end of your relationship with the School, with your teachers or with your classmates. Being a Spartan is a lifelong experience. That may be difficult to understand or grasp now, but I am confident you will continue to find meaning in the moments you’ve experienced here, you will continue to hold on to lessons and relationships, and there will be many more St. Stephen’s moments for you in the years ahead. There are things that we did not get to do together, that we wanted and planned to do. But you have your lives in front of you. Your relationships with one another will continue to grow and evolve in the years ahead, and your relationship with the School was always intended to last a lifetime. You are always welcome here. Our love for our students never ends when they receive a diploma. While one chapter in your relationship with the school closes, the story is not over. There are many more chapters that you will write, and I hope that other members of the Spartan community will continue to be primary characters and that The Hill will continue to be the setting for future moments, events and triumphs. In short, I believe that there are great days ahead for each of you as Spartans.

    To the Class of 2020, Godspeed and God bless you until we are together again.
  • Thoughts on the End of the School Year - May 22

    Dear St. Stephen’s Families,
     
    As we approach the final week of the 2019-20 school year, I hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy in mind, body and spirit. I know this has been a difficult spring term in many respects. I sincerely appreciate the patience, resilience and kindness that all of you have demonstrated in navigating this challenging time in our lives.
     
    Celebrating Spartan Spirit and Ingenuity
    I am so proud of the way we have responded as a school during the period of remote learning and living. Students and faculty, in particular, have not allowed the situation to inhibit their talents. Through class assignments, extracurricular activities or purely independent impulses, they have achieved new heights of intellectual exploration, artistic expression and athletic exertion. The Senior Parade and Bell Ringing Ceremony on May 15 was only the latest example of the love, creativity and community at the core of the St. Stephen’s culture. I hope you will take time to celebrate their unbridled Spartan spirit and ingenuity.
     
    Looking Forward to Upcoming Events
    In the coming week, I am looking forward to celebrating several important end-of-year events with all of you. These include the Senior Recognition Event on May 25, the Middle School Recognition Event on May 27, and the Middle School Closing Ceremony and End-of-Year Parade on May 29.
     
    Initiatives to Help Prepare for the Fall
    I am pleased to announce several initiatives that will help us prepare for next school year, regardless of the circumstances facing us at that time.

    • Remote-learning survey for parents and students: I have asked John Rocklin to create a survey of parents and students regarding their experience with the remote learning and living model this spring. In designing this survey, we will tap into the expertise of Independent School Management (ISM), an organization founded in 1975 to improve the strategic decision-making and day-to-day management of independent schools in the United States and abroad. We will administer this survey immediately after the end of the spring term and use that feedback—in concert with the lessons we have learned as a faculty and administration in the last 10 weeks—to make sure that we have the best plan possible for the start of next school year, no matter what kind of living and learning model is required. 
    • Professional development for faculty via Global Online Academy: We have decided to partner with Global Online Academy (GOA) this summer to provide our academic administrators and faculty with enhanced knowledge, skills and techniques in remote teaching and learning. Every classroom teacher and advisor will take a variety of courses focused on online lesson design, assessment, student engagement and colleague collaboration, among other topics. Through this partnership with GOA, which was founded in 2011 by some of the nation’s leading independent schools, St. Stephen’s will strive to develop even stronger competency in online teaching and learning that will enhance the educational experience for all our students.
    • TABS Healthy Opening and Operation Committee: I will be serving with nine other heads of school on this committee, which will provide boarding school leaders and practitioners with concrete resources and actionable ideas that can help their schools open this fall in the healthiest possible way. St. Stephen’s will benefit directly from my participation on this committee as we define guidelines to help all TABS schools operate campuses in the safest manner possible.
     
    I know that this is a time of great uncertainty and that there are many questions about the future. I will send a more detailed email in early June regarding the different scenarios we are preparing for in the fall. In addition, I will communicate with families at least every two weeks during the summer to update you on our plans and preparations for next school year. 
     
    In the meantime, I am wishing our students success and joy in their final projects and activities of the school year. We are truly proud of their efforts to persist under difficult circumstances, and we draw daily inspiration from their positive attitude and hard work.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Chris Gunnin

  • Class of 2020 Celebrations and Ceremonies - April 24

    Dear Members of the Class of 2020 and Parents,
     
    The Class of 2020 has consistently demonstrated leadership, creativity, good-will and courage in their final year at St. Stephen's, and the School remains committed to finding meaningful ways to celebrate their accomplishments. I know that graduation and other year-end celebrations are top of mind for all of us. I want to take a brief moment to update you on our current plans.
     
    In the last few days, Kim Garey, G.P. and I hosted five live-streamed "Senior Check-ins" to talk with members of the senior class about how we can best celebrate and support them. I am very grateful for the seniors who logged-in and took time to talk with us. One of the themes that emerged from those conversations is that the seniors strongly prefer a postponed, face-to-face graduation ceremony over something live-streamed. Second, they want to schedule graduation at a time when we are most likely to get the largest number of seniors to attend. We are hopeful that day students, domestic boarding students and international boarding students will be able to return to campus for graduation. 
     
    To that end, we will begin planning two possible graduation scenarios. If it appears that we can safely host graduation in the chapel in early August, we will. If, at that time, it is not safe, we will try again in November.
     
    August Plan
    Baccalaureate: Friday, August 7
    Graduation: Saturday, August 8
     
    November Plan
    Baccalaureate: Friday, November 27
    Graduation: Saturday November 28
     
    We are also working hard to plan a series of other special senior activities:
    • The Senior Bell Ringing Ceremony will be creatively reimagined and will occur in a socially-distanced way on campus during the day on Friday, May 15.
    • A new “Night at the Drive-In” event is being planned for members of the senior class at Doc’s Drive-In Theater in Buda, TX on Tuesday, May 19.
    • Senior Awards Night will be live-streamed on Saturday, May 23.
    • The senior parents are continuing to plan prom at the Headliner's Club and have scheduled a make-up date on July 17.
    • The seniors that we spoke with also were clear that they want some time to just hang out together on The Hill. We are open to supporting that and will do so as soon as we believe that it is safe and appropriate to do so.
     
    As you can imagine, there are a lot of details to finalize and we will need to continue to be flexible, but I wanted to share this information with you so that you can mark your calendars and begin making preparations. Please look for further details from G.P., Ms. Garey and Senior Class Parents. 
     
    Thank you for your support of the Class of 2020 and for your flexibility in thinking about how to honor the seniors.

    - Chris Gunnin
  • Updates on the End of the Spring Term - April 17

    Dear St. Stephen’s Families,
     
    As we wrap up another week of remote learning and social distancing, I hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy in mind, body and spirit. I am writing to update you on decisions school leadership has made on several important issues.
     
    Continuing Remote Learning for Remainder of Spring Term
    In light of Governor Abbott’s order today to all schools in Texas, St. Stephen’s will not resume classes on campus this school year. We will continue with the remote-learning model through the end of the spring term. While I anticipated the possibility or even likelihood of this outcome, I am deeply saddened by the loss of community experiences that we hoped for together on The Hill. I know that I speak on behalf of the entire faculty and staff when I say that we miss being together with our Spartans on campus. 
     
    Refunding Student Accounts for Certain Auxiliary Fees
    With the cancellation of on-campus classes, the board of trustees has decided to refund families for certain auxiliary fees. In general, we calculated the number of class-days missed on campus and will be refunding student accounts for the following applicable fees at a rate of approximately 28%, with some exceptions: Dining Hall, Facility Use, Transportation Services, Boarding, Soccer Academy, Tennis Academy and Theatre Focus. These refunds do not apply to day tuition, as we are continuing to provide the basic services funded by those dollars—including academics, athletics, fine arts, chapel, counseling and learning services, and college counseling—through our remote model.
     
    All told, we will be refunding about $1.5 million to our families. These refunds can be applied to this year's remaining balance or next year's tuition and fees. If requested, we will refund families with a check. Families also can donate these refunds back to the school in the form of a tax-exempt donation. 
     
    More detailed information about your specific refund will be posted on your student account by the end of next week. If you have additional questions about your refund after reviewing your student account, please contact Cindy Stadulis in the Business Office at cstadulis@sstx.org.
     
    Evaluating Different Scenarios for Graduation and Other Year-End Events
    Graduation and other year-end celebrations and traditions continue to be top of mind for me. In the past week, Kim Garey, Gene Phillips and I hosted five conference calls with members of the Class of 2020 to visit with them and answer their questions on a whole range of issues. Many seniors participated on these calls, providing us with great suggestions about ways to reimagine or reschedule important traditions like the senior retreat, the bell-ringing ceremony and graduation, among other things. We are considering all of their ideas as we evaluate different scenarios for these big year-end events. Recognizing that graduation in particular requires considerable planning and preparation by our families, I will provide more details on that big event and other year-end activities in the coming weeks. Our Middle School leadership team also is imagining meaningful ways to recognize and celebrate our 8th graders, and we will communicate in the coming weeks as those plans become more clear.
     
    Retrieving School Materials and Other Belongings on Campus
    In the days ahead, we also will communicate a plan for students to retrieve their school materials and other belongings on campus. We recognize this is a particular concern for our residential students, most of whom are staying with their families, relatives or friends right now across the country and around the world. Gene Phillips will communicate directly with our residential families with instructions about how this will be handled. Please do not come to campus in advance of these directions, as our efforts will need to be carefully coordinated for safety reasons.
     
    Cancelling Summer Camps
    We also have decided to cancel our summer camps program this summer, and these will be refunded in full. This was an extremely difficult decision, as we recognize summer camps are very important to many members of the St. Stephen’s and broader communities. We know that parents depend upon these camps for high-quality programming for their children during the summer months while they continue to work their jobs. We also recognize that students look forward to the sports, fine arts and enrichment activities as fun, low-stress ways to learn new skills and develop new friendships. In addition, they’re a great way for Austin families to experience our school for the first time. Weighing these factors, recognizing there is no definitive end to COVID-19 in sight, and sensing that our community needs time this summer to recover physically, emotionally and spiritually while beginning to plan for various contingencies in the fall, we decided to cancel the camps.
     
    I continue to think of all our families, especially our students, during this period of social distancing and remote learning. And while I miss our time interacting together on campus, I see evidence every day that the St. Stephen’s spirit is alive and well—from hosting virtual coffee houses, to donating medical supplies to local healthcare facilities, to real learning and engagement occurring in our newly adopted remote living and learning model. I encourage all of you to imagine new ways to explore your passions, connect with each other, take care of yourselves and support those who are most in need.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Chris Gunnin
     
  • Planning for the Continuation of Remote Learning - March 31

    Dear St. Stephen’s Families,

    I hope you are staying healthy and well as you adjust to the new ways of working, learning, connecting and living during this time of social distancing and sheltering in place. I am gaining newfound perspective on life, as old routines are replaced—at least temporarily—by new ways of being and interacting with others. I am comforted by the strength and compassion of our community—two constants steadying the ship in these turbulent times.

    Governor Abbott announced earlier today that Texas schools will need to continue to use an online model until, at least, May 6. St. Stephen’s will adhere to those guidelines.

    Continuing Remote Learning
    As we plan for the continuation of remote learning, our model will evolve. Our academic leadership team is working quickly with the faculty to identify the best ways to integrate synchronous experiences into the remote learning curriculum to complement existing asynchronous approaches currently underway. Please look for an email from the division heads later this week that will outline the schedule and strategies we will begin implementing as early as this Monday. We also are defining “digital etiquette” for teachers and students, as well as adapting for the remote learning environment the Safeguarding God’s Children practices that we currently follow in our face-to-face interactions with students.

    Commitment to Episcopal Identity and Enduring Principles
    Among all of the articles I’ve been reading about how to facilitate remote learning—and they are legion when you look at what universities, public school systems, independent schools and boarding schools are doing—the focus seems to be on academic content. St. Stephen’s is certainly committed to engaging students in meaningful opportunities to learn and apply core concepts, knowledge and skills in various academic disciplines. But during this time of change and upheaval, we also are focused on fostering our enduring principles; this entails sustaining our strong sense of community, staying true to our Episcopal identity, living values of equity and inclusion, and supporting our students' mental health and wellness.

    As we move into the second phase of remote learning in the weeks ahead, we will celebrate rituals and traditions in digital spaces and worship together from a distance. We also will deliver a mix of synchronous and asynchronous educational materials focused on providing students with an equitable learning experience across all the different study environments, technology set-ups and time zones in which they now find themselves.

    What We Are Made of
    There is an old adage that in times of great trouble and distress, a person or a people show what they are truly made of. And I am proud to say that Spartans of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs have “stepped up” during this health pandemic.

    We witnessed this in the collaborative effort of Lauren Murphy, Kathy McCain and Dean Mohlman, who gathered more than 5,000 medical gloves—earmarked for use during dissections in science classes—and donated the much-needed items to local physicians and nurses who can use them immediately. Even as they were harnessing these supplies, current international parents have sent facemasks and other PPE items as donations to the St. Stephen's and Austin community. Our Athletics Department has redoubled its efforts to facilitate students’ fitness by reimagining workouts in the digital realm, while our Counseling Office has launched the Counselors’ Corner to continue fostering student wellness from afar. Meanwhile, Caroline Herrera ’15, former volleyball, basketball player, and SPC champion, is working on the front lines as a first responder in Mobile, Alabama. She reports that as stressful as it is, she is experiencing more good in people than ever before. The litany of inspiring stories goes on and on.

    Thinking about the Remainder of the Spring Term
    At this time, we are planning to implement remote learning until the situation “on the ground” dictates otherwise. We will continue to base our decisions about the spring term on the latest information from the CDC and WHO, as well as directives from national, state and local officials. Having said that, we recognize that our families need time and advance notice to plan their lives. There will come a point in time in April when we will need to make a decision about how to proceed for the remainder of the spring term. We will make that decision in the best interest of our community, based on the best available information at that time.

    Our Hope Springs Eternal
    For now, we are holding out hope that we will be able to reconvene on campus at some point to finish out the spring term. Hope is, as Emily Dickinson observed, “the thing with feathers that perches in our soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” This hope is fueled primarily by our love for our students and our deep desire to return to community life on campus with them.

    Students, I am proud of your resilience and good cheer during this unusual time. If I have learned anything in the last 15 days, it is how much our life together on campus fulfills and uplifts me. Please know that while we are not face-to-face, I am cheering you on!

    Sincerely,
    Chris  
     
  • Update in Light of Recent Events - March 25

    Dear St. Stephen’s Families,

    My thoughts continue to be with you and your families as we experience these challenging and difficult times. I pray for the safety and health of everyone in the St. Stephen's community.

    The school’s senior administrative team continues to monitor the latest local, national and global news as we consider the best course of action for educating our students this spring. Please know that as we make any decision regarding the continuation of school, the health and safety of our students and adult community members remains our highest priority.

    On March 21, I communicated that St. Stephen's would adopt a remote living and learning model that would extend, at least, until April 6. Since that time, the Mayor of Austin has established a shelter-in-place directive for Travis County that extends beyond that date. Because of that directive and the ongoing health concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19, St. Stephen’s will not return to traditional community life with classes on campus on April 6 as we previously hoped.

    Because the information from health officials and leaders around the world is changing so rapidly, I am not establishing a date for our possible return to traditional community life at this time. We will continue with the remote living and learning model until further notice.

    Our faculty and staff in every department are working hard to provide innovative, appropriate and positive activities for our students during this time of social distancing.

    I know that these days require courage and creativity, and I am grateful for the patience and support of our families. I am also inspired by the resilience of our students and look forward to seeing the meaningful ways that they grow during these trying times.

    Sincerely,
    Chris
  • Update on Our Plan as Remote Learning Approaches - March 21

    Dear St. Stephen’s Families:

    I hope this email finds you and your families healthy, safe and sound. I know that all of us are struggling to establish new routines and rhythms of life while navigating a rapidly changing environment. As we get set to embark upon remote learning this week, I’m touching base to provide updates on several aspects of the school’s COVID-19 continuity plan.

    Overview of Remote-Learning Plan
    By now, you have received emails from Kim Garey and Magnus Maccow providing more details about how the remote-learning plan will work. I’d like to share a few key thoughts regarding that plan.

    First, we will kick off the first week of remote learning at an intentionally slow pace, which will increase a little as we move into the second week. We recognize that students and faculty will need time to adapt to this new learning model, and we want to preserve time for student and faculty self-care as they make these adjustments. At this time, we are all experiencing enough anxiety from non-school-related challenges, so this is not a time for school to add to that anxiety. If we decide to extend remote learning into the week of April 6, we will provide more details on that later.

    This initial period of remote learning is intended not to replicate everything that would normally be accomplished in face-to-face classes, but to engage students in meaningful opportunities to learn and apply core concepts, knowledge and skills. As we considered a range of logistical and equity issues, including access to technology and time zone differences, we decided to implement asynchronous instruction initially. In addition, we do not want to create a situation where students at home are on their devices from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. “sitting” in their classes.

    Teachers will assign modules, which will vary from class to class within a department and across disciplines. Each module will consist of some kind of assignment (e.g., reading, video clip, recorded lesson) that students will be asked to respond to in some way (e.g., practice exercises, reflections, writing assignments). Teachers will then provide feedback to student responses.  

    Second, the remote learning schedule will provide ample opportunity for teachers and students to communicate about academic assignments as well as continue to build one-on-one relationships that are such an essential part of the St. Stephen’s Experience. Advisors will be touching base with their advisees in the coming days, and teachers will be contacting students with the specifics of their remote-learning activities.

    Third, students will be able to take ownership of the learning that occurs in this less structured environment by pursuing academic-enrichment opportunities above and beyond assigned modules. Cynthia Bartek and her library team are curating additional online materials and resources that will allow students to extend their learning, if they so choose. These enrichment opportunities are not mandatory. We will be sharing a link to these enrichment resources and materials in the coming days.

    Please note that many of our other program leaders have announced, or will be announcing, changes they have made to accommodate the remote-learning schedule. These include College Counseling, Chapel and Counseling.

    Reminder about Information Resources
    In addition to these academic-enrichment materials for students, I want to remind all of you about other information resources available to you this spring.
    • The St. Stephen’s Coronavirus Information site houses updated information related to COVID-19 and its impact on our school, along with links to other related school resources and event cancellations/changes.
    • Remote Learning at SSES offers remote-learning guidelines and technical help for students and teachers. This site also serves as students’ portal for academic assignments (modules).
    • The school’s biweekly newsletter, News and Notes from The Hill, provides a school-wide perspective on recent accomplishments as well as upcoming events and announcements.
    • The Resource Board grade tiles on MySSES feature the latest grade-specific, division-specific and school-wide announcements.
    Request to Be Vigilant about Social Distancing
    Finally, I want to reiterate and underscore the importance for all of us to practice responsible social distancing. I hope that each of your families will help “flatten the curve” by reducing risky interactions in the coming weeks. This is a chance for each of us to live our school’s core values as responsible global citizens behaving in ways that serve a greater good.
     
    While I know the risks of social isolation are real, we can use technology to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues in the coming weeks. In addition, CNN ran a story today that offers creative options for overcoming the kind of cabin fever we are all experiencing these days. It offers something for everyone—from busybodies and foodies, to lovers of the arts, sports and the great outdoors.
     
    I sincerely appreciate the patience, love, flexibility and support that our families have exhibited thus far in dealing with this unfortunate situation. In the days ahead, please take care of your loved ones, and know that we are committed to providing an enriching educational experience for your students through the end of the spring term and beyond.
     
    Sincerely,
    Chris
     
  • Update from St. Stephen's: The Plan for the Weeks Ahead - Saturday, March 14

    Dear St. Stephen’s Families,

    I hope you all are doing well physically, emotionally and mentally amid the turbulence and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 situation. Our administrative team has developed a learning continuity plan that is designed to accomplish several things: 1) ensure the safety and well-being of our school community while helping sustain the health of the global community, 2) facilitate continuity of learning for our students and 3) maintain a sense of living in community in a time of social distancing.

    Our plan is based on the latest news and information from the CDC, WHO and other organizations as well as our ongoing communications with local health officials and peer schools. As we embark upon this plan, I’d like several key themes to influence our thoughts and actions:
    • The period of remote learning we are establishing is going to be fundamentally different from the classroom instruction we’re used to. We will all need to be flexible, creative and resourceful, embracing new ways of doing things.
    • We will manage the change that’s coming by working together in a spirit of collaboration.
    • We will finish out the spring term in a successful fashion, though success this spring will likely look and feel different than it has in the past.
    I ask you to please embrace these themes from the start of this journey, sprinkle them with grace along the way and revisit them in times of stress, which will be inevitable in the days ahead.
     
    Shift to Remote Learning for the Weeks of March 23 and 30
    St. Stephen’s will implement a remote learning plan for the weeks of March 23 and March 30. At this time, we plan to resume classes on campus on Monday, April 6. Please note that this date is subject to change based on events transpiring in the world around us between now and then. We will keep families apprised of any such developments.

    This suspension of on-campus classes will effectively serve as a 14-day quarantine. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection among the extended St. Stephen’s community.

    Remote-Learning Assignments
    Teachers will post remote-learning assignments beginning on Wednesday morning, March 25, with the expectation that students will access them via spartans.sstx.org and work independently on them through Sunday, April 5. Teachers will design these assignments so that students will not need to: 1) use textbooks and materials that may have been left in their lockers on campus or 2) use new textbooks that have not yet been purchased from the bookstore.

    All Activities on Campus Are Cancelled for the Time Being
    St. Stephen’s has cancelled all events and activities on campus until the week of April 6. This includes all extracurricular activities, fine arts events, and club and organization meetings, as well as any activities planned by outside organizations. Activities scheduled to take place after April 6 are subject to change depending upon events transpiring around the world between now and then.

    Special Note about Sports
    Please note that all SPC athletic contests have been cancelled through April 12. SPC hopes to resume the regular schedule of sports on April 13. As a result of this decision, St. Stephen’s is cancelling all sports practices and games (including non-SPC games) between now and April 13.

    Residential Students Currently On or Off Campus
    I recognize that the global COVID-19 crisis creates anxiety and logistical challenges for everyone in our community. In an effort to reduce stress and uncertainty surrounding travel and other issues, residential students who are currently at home should plan to stay home until on-campus classes resume on April 6, if possible. For residential students who stayed on campus during the break plan, we request that they return home until classes resume on campus on April 6, if possible. We know that some of our residential students, for a variety of reasons, cannot return home. We will work with those students to ensure they can remain on campus with our support.

    Any residential students should know that they can elect to stay at home with their families for the remainder of the spring term and still receive full academic credit. We are committed to providing a remote-learning experience for any of those students through the spring term that is meaningful and rigorous. As we approach April 6, we will touch base with those residential students who are at home and who are planning to return to campus for the remainder of the term.

    In the coming days, our International and Residential Life teams will be sending targeted communications to boarding families and having individual conversations with parents to address specific issues.

    Practicing Responsible Social Distancing
    I believe independent schools can take a leadership role in addressing the global crisis by practicing responsible social distancing. So I am asking all employees and students to help “flatten the curve” by reducing risky interactions in the coming weeks. One way to do this is to avoid congregating in groups of 14 people or more. We can also use technology to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues to avoid a sense of social isolation.

    Your Contacts for Questions
    We understand you will have additional questions and concerns after reading and absorbing this email. Please contact the following people, depending upon the nature of your question or concern. Various administrators will be sending follow-up communications to more targeted audiences in the days ahead.

    Health issues related to school: Gretchen Inman (If you or your child are experiencing any personal health-related issues, please contact your primary care physician.)

    Academic issues: Magnus Maccow for Middle School, Kim Garey or John Rocklin for Upper School

    Boarding issues: Gene Phillips

    International issues: Sarah Todd

    St. Stephen’s Coronavirus Website
    We will be posting all updates related to COVID-19 on the St. Stephen’s Coronavirus Information website. Please be sure to bookmark this site and refer to it often for the latest information regarding event cancellations and changes along with useful resources for students and parents.

    Thank you for your patience, understanding and resilience in the days and weeks ahead, as we strive to learn and live together in new ways. While these are challenging times, I’m confident we will develop new skills and strategies for living, working, collaborating and learning that will serve us well in the future.

    Sincerely,

    Chris

    P.S. The following prayer provides valuable perspective on managing the COVID-19 crisis.

    Prayer for a Pandemic
    May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.
    May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.
    May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
    May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.
    May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.
    May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
    As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
    During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
    Amen.
  • Grand Day Has Been Cancelled This Year - Monday, March 9

    Dear Spartan Families,

    In light of the continued spread of the coronavirus and new advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the most vulnerable segments of the population, including older adults, St. Stephen’s has decided to cancel Grand Day this year.

    I know this is disappointing news to our Spartan families and grandparents, as Grand Day is one of the most meaningful days on the calendar for our school. We love hosting grandparents and cherish the time they are able to spend with our students on campus each spring. But when it comes to the safety and well-being of everyone in our extended St. Stephen’s family, we believe we should exercise an abundance of caution. This will always be our top priority.

    We are in the process of reaching out to all grandparents, including those who have registered for Grand Day, to inform them of the cancellation, and we will update our website to reflect this decision. We would appreciate your assistance in reiterating this message to any of your families’ grandparents who were planning to attend. I recognize that some of our grandparents have made special plans to travel to Austin for this event, and we regret any inconvenience they experience as a result of our decision.

    We look forward to resuming the wonderful Grand Day tradition next spring, and wish all of you a safe spring break.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Gunnin
    Head of School
     
  • Update on Coronavirus - Friday, Feb. 28

    Dear St. Stephen’s Community,

    I know this is both an exciting and anxious time for many of our families as you finalize travel and other plans for spring break. As we head into the final week before the break, I want to provide you with an update on the school’s planning and activities related to the global coronavirus situation.

    Daily Monitoring of Situation

    As you are aware, the coronavirus outbreak is an evolving situation. While nobody knows exactly how it will unfold, St. Stephen’s top priority remains the safety and well-being of all our community members.

    As we make plans to be prepared for a variety of possible scenarios, we are reviewing preventive measures, risk assessments and travel advisories issued daily by organizations such as theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), theWorld Health Organization (WHO) and theU.S. State Department. We also are communicating regularly with families whose travel plans could be impacted by the evolving situation. This includes our ongoing efforts to assist some of our international families in making alternative plans for their children during spring break.

    Reminder of the School’s Travel Requirements

    In a Feb. 11 email, I shared the school’s travel requirements this spring for students and their families as well as our employees. If you are planning to travel this spring to or through areas of the world that are affected by the coronavirus, or if you will be spending time with someone who has been to or through affected areas, as identified in the CDC travel advisories, please ensure that you are symptom-free for 14 days after you return from your travels, before you return to campus. This travel advisory page is updated daily as the CDC tracks the geographic spread of the virus.

    Implementing Hygienic Best Practices

    In the meantime, the most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of infectious disease is to follow basic health best practices. These include:
    • Washing hands thoroughly using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
    • Covering up coughs and sneezes, and then cleaning hands afterward;
    • Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs and shared computers; and
    • Asking all faculty, staff and students who are feeling ill to stay home until they recover. 

    We are encouraging our students and employees to follow these practices, which are based on preventive actions recommended by the CDC.

    Continuity Planning for Future Scenarios

    During a press briefing earlier this week, Nancy Messonnier, a director at the CDC, encouraged parents to ask their schools what plans they have for dealing with the coronavirus. So I wanted to let you know that we have begun continuity planning for a variety of scenarios, including ones that might require us to close school for a period of time. St. Stephen’s is committed to providing meaningful learning experiences for our students whatever the scenario. Toward that end, our academic and technology teams will be meeting in the coming days to review and enhance strategies that would enable us to sustain educational continuity for our students, including providing course materials, managing assignments and maintaining regular communications with them.

    I will continue to provide updates as the coronavirus situation evolves and we adapt our plans accordingly. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Gunnin
    Head of School
     
  • Message about the Coronavirus and Travel Plans this Spring - Tuesday, Feb. 11

    Dear St. Stephen’s Community,

    As we continue to monitor news about the spread of the coronavirus, our top priority remains the safety and well-being of all our community members, here in Austin and around the world. I know that many of you have made plans, or are in the process of making plans, to travel to various destinations this spring, so I wanted to share the school’s request for how to handle such plans. We are applying the following requirements not only to students and their families but also to our employees’ personal travel plans as well as school-sponsored trips.

    If you are planning to travel this spring to or through areas of the world that are affected by the coronavirus, or if you will be spending time with someone who has been to or through affected areas, as identified in the CDC travel advisories, please ensure that you are symptom-free for 14 days after you return from your travels, before you return to campus. In addition, please let Gretchen Inman, director of our health center, know of these travel plans in advance so she can assist with any questions or concerns you may have. Travel advisories and restrictions are changing daily due to the spread of the virus, so please keep apprised of the latest details as the date of your travel approaches. Also, be aware that travel to certain parts of the world is likely to become even more difficult in the weeks ahead.  

    In developing these requirements, we have reviewed the latest travel advisories and restrictions, preventive measures and risk assessments issued by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. State Department.

    In addition, the school administration has been working diligently with boarding program and international program staff to help our international students make alternative plans for spring break. We hope to finalize arrangements for all these students in the coming days. I sincerely appreciate the hard work, patience and flexibility of these staff members along with the impacted students and their family members throughout this effort.

    If you have any questions or concerns about these travel requirements, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to discuss them with you.

    Christopher L. Gunnin
    Head of School
  • Update on the Coronavirus - Wednesday, Jan. 29

    Dear St. Stephen’s Community,

    As the coronavirus situation continues to evolve daily, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with our families throughout the world whose lives are being impacted by this crisis. As concern grows throughout our school community, I want to update you all on the precautionary measures we are taking on campus in the context of the virus.

    First and foremost, we are exercising an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of our school. We do not have indications that any members of our current community are symptomatic, and we are taking appropriate proactive steps to make sure visitors to campus do not put our community at risk.

    Our senior administrators and our health center director are regularly reviewing information as it is released from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We also have been in contact with leaders from other schools as well as the directors for The Association of Boarding Schools and Independent Schools Association of the Southwest.

    In addition, we are working with our students from affected areas and their families to make alternative spring break plans for them instead of going home. These alternative plans are in accordance with the WHO and CDC travel restrictions.

    Most importantly, we are striving to live our core values by striking a balance between being proactive and responsible with respect to an evolving world health situation while caring for valued members of our community.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please do hesitate to contact me or Gretchen Inman, director of our health center.

    Christopher L. Gunnin
    Head of School
     

Event Updates

List of 1 items.

Helpful Information on Coronavirus

 
How does the virus spread?
  • Through coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands thoroughly
What steps can I take to protect myself from the virus?
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used objects and surfaces, such as computer keyboards in public spaces and student desks.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you feel ill.
What are the symptoms?
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Anyone exhibiting these symptoms should contact their primary care physician as soon as possible.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213