Middle School Remote Program

The middle school faculty have been hard at work adjusting their curriculum for our distance learning experience. In our design, we are guided by the understanding that connection forms the foundation of a successful learning experience. We want to support your children in their learning as well as their overall well-being in these unusual times. I am so inspired by how everyone is stepping up to this challenge!

We have purposefully crafted a schedule that promotes community, connection, and rich instruction -- without tethering students to their iPads all day. With this in mind, our distance learning program will include a mixture of synchronous learning (real-time video conferences, using Zoom) and asynchronous learning (students working at their own pace, on their own time).

Moving to an online program will be a learning curve for everyone. Let’s keep the lines of communication open! Our most important goal is helping students thrive as they adjust to this new endeavor. Feel free to contact me if I can help in any way!

—Michael Kris, Head of Middle School


List of 7 items.

  • Middle School Class Schedule

    Click here to view the daily class schedule.

    An updated schedule of the week's club meetings and other afternoon activities can be found in the Rivers Strong section of the Rivers Responds site.
  • Advice for Rivers Parents and Guardians

    The transition to remote learning will be a challenge for everyone involved. These guidelines provided below are intended to help parents think about what they can do to help their child find success as we transition to remote learning in the Upper School. It may also help you to review the expectations and guidelines for students in the sections that follow.

    • Try to establish routines and expectations as much as possible. Encourage kids to go to bed and wake up at defined times.
    • Try to define the physical space/location where your children will learn most of the time - a place that can be quiet and has a strong wireless signal, if possible.
    • Remember that this is a school day and your kids will be expected to be on time for class and in appropriate attire. Attendance will be taken.
    • Encourage physical activity and / or exercise during the day. Students taking breaks from their monitor when they have free blocks is important for their well-being.
    • Try to remain mindful of your child’s stress or worry. Kids will be challenged by this new learning environment and need as much routine as parents can provide.
  • Remote Learning: How it Will Work

    • Rivers Middle School distance learning will officially begin on Wednesday, March 25 at 8:15 am! We will gather virtually in advisory and walk students through their first day.
    • After the first day, every morning will begin at 8:30 am with a 10-minute advisory check-in via Zoom. These check-ins will help advisors and advisees stay connected and troubleshoot together.
    • Students will attend online classes each day, following a modified schedule. These classes will run for no more than 45 minutes, sometimes less. For example, teachers may run a short lesson or discussion and then provide independent, screen-free work time. Students will participate in at least two synchronous classes for most subjects each week. They will also engage in meaningful independent, asynchronous work -- and we have scheduled “work time” blocks throughout the school day to support this and to offer flexible time for them to receive extra help from teachers.
    • On Mondays, each teacher will communicate the plan for the week via Schoology, an online platform that students and teachers are very familiar with! This plan will include an overview of the classes and learning objectives for the week, homework assignments with due dates, and times when students can schedule extra help by emailing teachers directly.
    • Students will always have an hour break for lunch.
    • Teachers will take attendance during their “live” classes. If a student is unable to attend classes, parents should report their absence via an email to the middle school office (n.righter@rivers.org).
    • Students will submit homework for each class online approximately every 48 hours. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to strengthen their academic independence. If, however, students fall behind in deadlines, we will reach out to parents to keep them in the loop.
    • Middle School students who take an upper school class should join the upper school class at the designated start time, even if that means leaving a middle school class early. Middle School teachers are aware and will be flexible in supporting students.
  • Student Technology Expectations

    Rivers expects students to use technology responsibly and in accordance with the Acceptable Use Policy that every student signed in the fall. During this season of distance learning, we expect students to exercise good judgment and display academic integrity at all times. In addition, students should use their school-issued iPad for their work.

    When participating in distance learning, students will:

    • Seek permission before recording or posting sound, video, or images of teachers, staff, or other students.
    • Alert the Technology Department (techoffice@rivers.org) if there are problems with functionality or security concerns.
    • Refrain from participating in any behavior that violates our student handbook – including online harassment, bullying, or behavior that creates an unsafe learning environment for others. Students will report any such behavior to Assistant Head of Middle School John Bower (j.bower@rivers.org)

    In addition, students should strive to adhere to our community norms – recognizing that an online format poses distinct challenges. Our norms are:

    1.Speak from the “I” perspective
    2.Lean into discomfort
    3.Be aware of intent and impact
    4.Respect others’ realities
    5.Suspend judgment; assume positive intent
    6.Don’t blame, shame, or attack self or others
    7.Practice “both”/“and” thinking

    Here are some other helpful tips for making the most of online discussion.

    • Turn off notifications while you are online and avoid having multiple windows or apps open – multitasking is impossible and hinders learning!
    • Take turns during online discussions.
    • Be aware of your volume and background noise – you may need to mute your microphone when others are speaking.
    • Always keep your video on during a Zoom meeting with a class
    • Be aware of what is visible in your webcam and choose an appropriate location.
    • Contribute thoughtfully to discussions, recognizing that written comments do not always convey tone. If you are uncertain of someone's intent in a written comment, seek clarification through the language of the community norms.
    • Do not use emoji or gifs that may distract from your message.
    • Use proper spelling and grammar to convey your ideas.
    • Be patient with yourself and others – we are all figuring this out together, and we are here to help you!
  • Support for Students

    We ask all Middle School students to proactively seek out and communicate with adults at Rivers as different needs arise. Contacts for a variety of support will remain the same. If you are unsure of whom to ask about an issue you are having, your advisor is always a good point person. There will undoubtedly be a lot of questions in the first days, so please be patient as we reply!

    In addition to using your advisors as a resource, you can use the following list to help identify the proper person to contact for various issues:

    • Difficulties in a particular class: Your teacher
    • Broader concerns or questions: Your advisor
    • Counseling and Wellness: Mr. Liston and Ms. Knortz
    • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Ms. Archibald
    • Technology: Tech Office (techoffice@rivers.org)
    • Student Life: Class Deans and Mr. Bower
    • Curriculum Concerns: Dr. Kris
    • Athletics: Mr. Pipe
  • Counseling and Wellness

    We understand how important it is for students to have access to social/emotional support in these uncertain times. We encourage families to utilize the counselors for scheduled appointments and check-in during the counseling drop-in hours, and also to access the “self help” resources for parents and students below.

    The first self help resource is our COVID-19 Padlet page, which has resources for parents and students. The second resource is our main resource page that has over 40 resources that address typical issues that adolescents face.

    Our counselors will continue to be available for virtual drop in consultation, via a HIPPA compliant video conferencing platform (that works with Apple and Android phones, iPads, and through web browsers) during the academic week. Drop in hours for virtual counseling support for both Middle and Upper School students will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00am - 12:30pm.

    During those dedicated times, both students and parents can video conference with Ms. Knortz though this link and students can connect with Mr. Liston through this link. Students interested in resuming standing weekly meetings with their school counselor should email Mr. Liston or Ms. Knortz to coordinate meeting times.

    The Rivers Counseling Department will continue to be “on call” to support families around urgent matters that arise, as they always are. The primary contact person for any matters that merit immediate attention is our Director of Counseling and Wellness, Ben Liston, who can be reached on his work cell at 617-835-9266 during the academic day or the evenings.
  • Using the Technology: Zoom and Google Calendar

    Click on the following links to view videos created by Director of Academic Technology John Adams that explain how to use the remote-learning technology.

    • Getting started with Zoom and Google Calendar
    • Using Zoom
    • Connecting Notability with Google Classroom

A Weekly Message from Mr. Bower

Each week John Bower posts a video message to Middle School students. Visit his YouTube channel to see his latest message or review the previous messages that are archived there.

Feedback Form

Have questions or feedback related to some aspect of the new remote-learning program? If so, we'd love for you to share them with us using this feedback form, which we've developed to help us be more efficiently responsive to your thoughts and concerns.

Need Tech Support?

If you need technology support during our campus closure, please reach out to our Technology Office at techoffice@rivers.org. When emailing them, please include your name, phone number, and a complete description of the issue you are having. Our technology team will be in contact with you as soon as possible.


List of 9 frequently asked questions.

Find Student Life Info on Rivers Responds

Information about advisory, club meetings, athletic schedules, and other student activities can be found in the Rivers Strong section of the Rivers Responds site​.