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Middle School COVID-19 Resources

October 22, 2020

Click here to view the MRH Middle School reentry plan.

Important Information for Families Who Chose Virtual Academy Learning Option

August 25, 2020



Students at MRH Middle School are immersed both inside and outside the classroom in a variety of experiences through the metaphor, “School as Expedition.”

Learning expeditions are in-depth studies of a topic that engage students through authentic projects, real-life studies, fieldwork, and service. Expeditions occur within the school walls when the community is brought into the classroom through expert guest speakers and outside of the classroom, as a journey to conduct fieldwork.

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Good morning,


I wanted to take an opportunity to make a video to highlight some important dates and information for our families who chose the Virtual Academy Option. By now you should have had a conversation with the school regarding choices for Virtual Academy. If you have not, we have been trying to contact you. Please take a few minutes to watch the video and reach out to us if you have any questions.


Dr. Michael Dittrich


MRH Middle School



Michael Dittrich | 7539 Manchester, Maplewood, MO 63143

Return to Learning Message from Dr. Dittrich

August 24, 2020

August 3, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians of MRH MS Students,

I am hopeful that your summer has been a safe and healthy one.  My family and I continue to adjust and make the most of living in a COVID impacted world. Please know that we remain committed to finding the most effective and safest ways to educate and interact with our students. All of us in education were trained to work with kids directly and we have the extreme desire to do so.  After all, it’s what we know and why we entered this field of work in the first place. 

Our district has outlined a 3-tiered approach to returning to school.  We will begin the year in Tier 3 and may move from tier to tier as things change.  

  • Tier 1 - All students attend school each day with an emphasis on social distancing, disinfecting and safe COVID-related protocols

  • Tier 2 - Blended learning model in which half the student body attends school twice a week in cohorts based on last names to maintain social distancing expectations and protocols (more info later on in this letter)

  • Tier 3 - Full distance learning mode in which students do not attend school in person and engage in distance learning. 

Here are your options for MRHMS educational settings in the 20-21 school year:

  1. Remain enrolled in MRH, follow the MRH Reentry Plan and the tiered response plan laid out below. 

  2. Remain enrolled in MRHMS, commit to at least a full semester of MRH Virtual Learning Academy with an outside platform that is facilitated by a certified teacher. 

*While we hope to staff this with a current member of our MRMS staff, we cannot know this until we have more information about needs and numbers. 

  1. Unenroll from MRH, plan for your child(ren)’s learning experience with your own resources and materials.  

Based on the recent decision of the MRH School Board, we will start the year in a Tier 3 fully distance teaching and learning environment on September 1, 2020. This means that starting off the year we will NOT be meeting face to face with students in our school buildings, but working on our coursework via an interactive online approach provided by the school.  While we are anxiously awaiting a return to normal, it has been determined for the safety of students and staff that we begin the year with distance learning.   The goal is to have everyone back in our building space as soon as possible.  We will be reassessing our distance learning weekly and will make adjustments based on COVID levels and recommendations from St. Louis County Health and our district physician. 


What does a week of distance learning look like in the Tier 3 setting? 

Here’s a typical week (I also attached a Distance learning A-B calendar to this email for semester 1).






A Day Classes 





A Day Classes 





Intervention & Support Day;

academic help and supports for individuals and small groups

B Day Classes





B Day Classes





What does an individual distance learning day look like in the Tier 3 setting? 

We are going to have daily zoom class check-ins for all students in real-time (synchronous learning) the following way, especially the first part of the year: We have also built-in time for advisory teachers to meet with small groups of students for check-ins each week. 

TIER 3 MRH MS Daily Distance Learning Schedule







8:30-10 AM

Small group instruction, student family communication, student feedback, etc.




AM intervention,

homework support,










Lunch Break




PM intervention, homework 










Office Hours, individual student check-ins, small group check-ins

The expectation is for students on Monday-Tuesday, Thursday-Friday to have live interactions with their teacher and classmates.  Students will check in daily with teachers.  Once students check-in they may be asked to engage in live instruction, work in small groups, or complete independent work. The district has officially approved the use of Zoom which will allow us greater interaction with students.  We learned via student, parent, and teacher surveys that the desire to interact via video conferencing format was huge!  The A day portion (4 classes) will be on Monday-Tuesday and the B-day (4 more classes) focus will be on Thursday-Friday.  Teachers from A days may still have activities for practice scheduled on B days and vice versa.  This closely coincides with our Tier 2 Blended Learning plan when we reach that level of safety in our community. 

We also considered teachers and students who have experienced the “Zoom exhaustion” that comes from too many hours trying to sit still and remain engaged in front of a screen. Some schools initially tried to replicate schooling in real-time using schedules that were designed for face-to-face instruction. They quickly found out that five or six hours of daily instruction, complete with the same bell schedules, breaks, and lunch schedules, was not workable over the long haul. One reason is that homes don’t run on a school schedule, and the burden placed on families made it nearly impossible for them to manage. Another is that our own homes don’t work that way, either. Consequently, finding the right balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning seemed to work best--and that’s our goal.

We also understand that sometimes students may not be able to “log on” to the synchronous classes at the exact times they meet. Of course, we want all kids to interact with their classes in real-time but know things happen. If students are unavailable for a class please email or contact their teacher or our attendance secretary ( to let them know of any time conflicts. 

We identified, after reviewing community feedback, that having a dedicated time to support, review, and check-in on students was also needed. Therefore, we added a Wednesday support day in which students will meet with their advisory teacher in small group sessions.  Also on Wednesday, teachers will have a dedicated lab to meet with students for additional support.  In some cases, students can be assigned to attend a mandatory lab session. Expect more on what Wednesdays will look like as we near the first day of school. 

Distance learning in Tier 3 is our starting point. We could move, at some point, to a blended daily plan (Tier 2) or a full attendance daily plan (Tier 1). The blended tier 2 plan simply means we’d have 2 evenly balanced cohorts of students based on last name (A-L and M-Z) attend school 2 days a week with the same Wednesday support day in the middle of the week.  The plan attempts to maintain consistency with the distant learning Tier 3 plan above in that it breaks the week into A (Mon-Tues) and B (Thurs-Fri) chunks with an intervention day in the middle (Wed.)  This blended plan below is NOT how we are beginning the year, but we wanted stakeholders to have this information to make an informed decision on the survey provided earlier in this email. 

MRH MS TIER 2-A/B block B-blended learning






A day 1

A day 2





Teachers will be meeting with small groups, and individual students. 


B day 1

B day 2

COHORT 1 attends school on site Students


By last name



(COHORT 2  distance A day work) 

COHORT 2  attends school on site. Students


By last name



(COHORT 1 students to work on A day distanceplans)

COHORT 1 attends school on site. Students


By last name


(COHORT 2  to work  on distanceB DAY course work) 

COHORT 2 attends school on site. Students


By last name


(COHORT 1  distanceB learning  today)

2-day planning “A” DAY FOCUS  Monday-Tuesday



Counselor led RTI meetings

2-day planning

“B” DAY FOCUS  Thursday-Friday


Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities

Stakeholder Roles In Distance Learning





Prep engaging and high-quality virtual lessons that address course standards while balancing learning volume for students. 


Plan clear lessons and utilize zoom and its learning as a hub of academic resources and plans


Post lessons, expectations for the week by Monday 10 AM


 -Daily “office hours” time set aside where students can contact via email/phone or its learning chat feature 8:30-10 AM, 2:30-3:15 PM for extra support, study sessions


Respond to student and parent emails within a one-day turnaround


Establish a consistent schedule/routine each week with clear lessons and homework for students


Communicate regularly with parents, especially as concerns arise and work with admin/counselors/parents regarding students who are not engaged


Participate in ongoing learning around best practices of virtual teaching


Offer each student feedback at least once a week.

Dedicate appropriate time to learning and logging in and actively participating in all synchronous learning sessions in a timely fashion


Check-in daily via its learning


Identify a comfortable place to learn


Actively engage in all learning activities being offered by teachers


Submit assignments via its learning


Take breaks when needed, step away/come back,  but put the time in to complete learning. 


Inform admin if having any tech issues or troubles interacting with content and completing work or email

for tech help


If you have any counseling needs please contact our counselors at 


Support and help teachers with their content on its learning by monitoring and meeting weekly w/ all staff


Offer a clear and supportive vision


Communicate weekly goals, news with students, parents, and staff 


Ensure our online platforms are consistent and prepared


Counselor roles: make calls to students who need support  Offer a connection to our students in crisis via weekly SEL team meetings Utilize SAGE staff to connect with struggling students.  


Nurse-to be available for discussion, return needed meds and contact parents for any concerns


Ensure kids are spending time interacting online with their schoolwork


Ensure students have access to wifi. If you need support with wifi access contact


If you need any general tech help contact tech help at


Engage your kids in conversations regarding assignments.  


Maintain communication with teachers, admin and/or counselors


Contact us with any issues or concerns/needs


Support your student’s emotional balance by providing time for physical activity and play


Identify a comfortable space to learn & Monitor time spent engaging in learning

I am excited to get going, even in this distance learning format, so we can begin interacting with our kids. Teachers go into education to work with learners and we miss this opportunity tremendously. 

Below I have attempted to respond to the most common questions I have been asked by parents/students.  I am sure there are many more, thus I am asking you to send them my way at


Q: Will fall sports continue?

A: MRH Youth Sports has made the decision to postpone all youth sports activities.  MRH Youth Sports will revisit when it is determined students can be back on campus safely.  

Q: My child rides the bus to school.  What precautions will be taken?

A: The district has increased the number of bus routes, which will reduce time on bus; Assigned seating; Masks will be required; Hand sanitizer available; Enter and exit the bus using safe distancing measures; only one student per seat unless sitting with a family member. Buses will also be treated with electrostatic sprayers. 

Q: What if my child needs help outside of normal school hours?

A: We have a dedicated staff that will work to answer emails, meet via ZOOM, and use other communication when possible.  We will continue to look at additional ways we can meet the needs of our students during all of our tiers.  

Q: My child has an IEP. How will my child receive his or her IEP services in Tier 3?

A: Students who are eligible for special education will continue to have an Individualized Educational Program (IEP). In the tier 3 format, each student’s Case Manager will develop a Distance Learning Plan, which will be based on the IEP. The Distance Learning Plan will address IEP goals, services, accommodations/modifications, and access to the curriculum. Special education services can be provided in one or a combination of the following ways: live/synchronous lessons using Zoom, lessons and activities to be completed at home via itsLearning, support of general education instruction, and consultation. The Distance Learning Plan will summarize which of those ways will be used to provide services. Each Distance Learning Plan will be reviewed periodically and, if necessary, revised. Distance Learning Plans will be shared with families. Special education classes will be held according to the A/B schedule. The scheduling of related services (ex. Speech Therapy, Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA, Social Work Counseling) will take into consideration the larger school schedule.

Special education staff will maintain regular office hours for questions, concerns, and support. 

Q: My child has an IEP. How will my child receive his or her services if we select the MRH Virtual Learning Academy?

A: Students who are eligible for special education will continue to have an Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Students who receive special education and related services (ex. Speech Therapy, Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy ABA, Social Work Counseling) will have modified supports in place for their learning progressions as outlined in a Distance Learning Plan, which will be reviewed periodically and shared with families. If MRH schools re-open, families could choose to access related services in person instead of virtually. 

Special education staff will maintain regular office hours for questions, concerns, and support.

Q: My child has an IEP. How will my child receive his or her services if I elect to unenroll from MRH?

A: Students who receive special education and related services would be referred to the Special School District’s Special Non-Public Access Program (SNAP).

Q: If and when we move from Tier 3 (distance) to Tier 2 (blended learning) what will be the deciding factors to make that move?

A: MRH personnel and the MRH Board of Education will continue to monitor the pandemic and are committed to getting students back to campus but only when it is safe to do so. Working in conjunction with the Saint Louis County Department of Health will continue to look at a wide variety of community factors to make decisions. 

Q: If a student “misses” a class or is ill, how can they catch up?

A: The normal ways a student makes up for lost time including:

  • Checking itslearning pages for classwork and lesson plans

  • Contacting the teacher for any missed notes or shared documents

  • Contact a classmate for any particulars or nuances missed

  • Attend Wednesday, AM or PM supports offered

Q: How will parent-teacher conferences work in October

A: We will continue to monitor the situation.  We will have more information in the coming weeks as we get more data on local infection levels. 

Q: Do I still need to purchase school supplies if we are in a Tier 3?

A:  For now you can hold off on purchasing the school supply list sent out last month. While in Tier 3 we will communicate with families as specific supplies are needed. 

Q: What do I do if I have more questions?

A: Middle school parents are invited to attend one of the two ZOOM sessions hosted next Thursday, August 6th at 10 am or 4:30 PM.  

Q:  Will the start of the year being postponed impact when my 8th grader can pick up their Chromebook?  

A: Yes, we have pushed this back by one week.  The new dates are August 17-21 and August 24, 25, 27, and 28th. Chromebooks can be picked up from 8-3PM in the school cafeteria.  Chromebooks will be placed on tables by the advisory teacher.  Please sign the technology use agreement form and leave it on the table.  All students and parents coming to pick up their Chromebook should enter through the red cafeteria door on the west side of the building. 

Q: What if I have questions?

A: Please reach out via email to and/or attend one of our Information Zoom meetings. 

For more information, our Academic Options Guidebook can be found here. 

Thank you in advance for your support, 

Michael Dittrich, Ed. D
Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School

MRH Ongoing Meal Distribution

Click here for pickup times and locations

Helping Families Cope

MRH Community Resources: Covid-19

Weekend on Wheels Offering Weekly Food Bags Beginning April 16

Healthy Adults for Healthy Kids: Modeling in the Time of COVID-19

We all recognize that for many of our families, this pandemic crisis is making a difficult home situation even worse.  As part of a regional response, there has been a coordinated effort by area school districts to simplify the search for resources for those in need.  Please click on the flier link below.

Family Resources Flier

Teaching and Learning:

The teaching and learning will continue and our students and teachers will interact on-line through Its Learning and other teaching websites. MS students already use and reference Its Learning and they are familiar with it. Teachers will have their daily class plans up for that day (we are still following our A-B, 4-class a day schedule) by 8:30 AM each day.  The length of time that students will be working may vary per class, but it is not expected that students are sitting at their computer from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm working as in a traditional school day. Expect approximately 40-60 minutes of instruction per class, with 4 classes each day. All courses will begin on Wednesday, March 25th, an A-day. While teachers do have scheduled office hours, feel free to break up the learning that takes place throughout the day. 

Teachers will be available each day via Its Learning, chat or school email for students. If students have any questions, teachers are ready to respond as each teacher has a designated 2 hour “office hour” time period each school day to respond to students and parents. Of course, if anyone has any questions/concerns, please email me at  You can also call my office phone at 314-446-6604 and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Here is a link when all teachers in middle school and high school will have office hours along with a link to their email. 

Need for Counseling

We know this may be a stressful time for our students. Students are at an age when they may feel distanced from their peers and now we are asking them to purposely practice social distancing. Our counselor, Ms. Brown, will also have regular office hours. Students can email Ms. Brown and she will reach out to them via email or phone. If students are in need to speak with someone immediately, Youth Connection Helpline is available at 314-819-8802, text: BHEARD to 31658, or webchat:

Technology Support during Remote Learning

MRH will provide tech support for MRH devices and/or MRH online programs. MRH cannot troubleshoot Internet issues or systems issues related to your personal device. You will need to contact your Internet or system provider for questions related to these issues. For MRH School District technology support, click here. Please leave a message that includes the issue you are having, the best number you can be reached, and an email address. This information is important so we can route the technology work orders to the appropriate personnel. A member of the tech team will respond as soon as possible.

 In order to assist families and the community during this time, Charter Spectrum has committed to offering special discounts or 2-months of free internet and WIFI service to families of K-12 students who need remote education if they meet certain criteria. For more information regarding this program, please see the following link: Coronavirus Internet Offer for Students.

What can Parents/Guardians do to help us during this time? 

  • Help ensure students spend time daily online interacting with their class content each day.  

  • Create a space/time where they interact with their learning materials. 

  • Ask your students questions throughout the day:

    •  “What 4 classes did you have today?”

    •  “Talk to me about your learning session in _____class?”

    •  “What do you still have to get done?”

    •   “Do you need to email a teacher for anything

Please let me know how I can continue to care and maintain high expectations for our students and staff.

Michael Dittrich, Principal

MRHMS Middle School