Notes from Dr. Irvin

Your WGHS Weekly eNews for March 26

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Hello Parents and Guardians,

I hope all are well, in spite of our shared circumstances. We know many that have been and will be impacted by what it happening around the world. We share the fear and worry that you may harbor. Thanks for your support to our staff; I know it lifts their spirits in a time when they have had life's passion disrupted. Please know we will miss seeing the children we all share but will continue connecting and learning this spring along with you.

Students should begin some engagement today with their teachers from all classes, as we are planning on all classes connecting each day going forward. Friday will be more of what the daily learning will be like, about 30 minutes per course, supported by office hours, and supported by technology.

We will all be challenged by this new environment and we will all work together to find the best answer. Thanks for your partnership.


Matt Irvin

A Peek at the Week Ahead

  • March 26: Practice online learning in Google Classroom
  • March 27: Online learning officially begins

Virtual Learning at WGHS

Thank you to all of you who have encouraged and supported us as we navigate a new environment for us all. We expect us to crawl before we walk and walk before we run. We are all going to learn together in this new e-Learning adventure. It will not be perfect, and we will get better each day. We are grateful for staff that began partnering with colleagues in PLC this year, and many have ventured into working with online supplements to their already strong classroom instruction. We are always so appreciative of and, in times like this, particularly aware of the incredible people that comprise our communities. You are our most important partner in ensuring continuity and ongoing learning opportunities for your children. We need your support and know that you will find a way to help us rise to the challenge and partner to make the best of our current circumstances.

As we adjust to the circumstances in our world and to ensure maximum safety and health for all, we have shut down our physical school space in accordance with our local, state, and national authorities. While this shutdown is extremely important to ensuring we limit the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are still a school community that will pursue teaching and learning in a different format for the time being. Understanding the value of quarantine

Teaching and Learning:

We have completed roughly three-fourths of our school year, but we still have the last quarter to go. The teaching and learning will continue, and we will interact with our content and students via Google Classroom and other teaching and learning websites. Teachers will have their daily class plans up for that day (we are not following the drop schedule while e-learning) by 8:30 AM each day. The plans will be a mix of reading links, educational videos, educational links related to the topic of the day, and student work/practice opportunities. All courses will begin Thursday (practice instruction to familiarize students) and Friday (official e-learning) this week.

Teachers will be available each day via Google Classroom, video chat, or school email for students. If students have any questions, teachers are ready to respond as each teacher has a designated daily “office hour” time period each school day to respond to students and parents.

Student distance learning FAQ

The remaining school year

As we make decisions going forward, we will be reviewing the ever-evolving information regarding coronavirus, consulting with health officials, and communicating future plans. We will keep you up-to-date on potential options for end-of-the-year events as we get more information. We know how important this last quarter is for all of us, especially our seniors.

What can parents/guardians do to help us during this time?

  • The World Health Organization recommends adolescents get an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. This is a challenge in our current circumstances but we know the positive impact on mental wellness and cognitive functioning we advocate for walks, general gardening (raking, trimming shrubs), dancing, or whatever helps keep your child moving. Figure out what works for you. We know that movement promotes a myriad of positive physical, cognitive and emotional outcomes.

  • 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. Try to choose a place with minimal distractions and make sure you have everything you need in that space.

  • Create a plan to complete your work every week. Whether you use your assignment notebook or a different method, by the end of the day--each Monday, develop your workflow plan. Build in breaks, lunch, snacks, and opportunities to engage in physical activity.

  • We realize parents/guardians have jobs, other kids to take care of, and a plethora of other things to worry about, so we appreciate any support you can give.

  • Here are some daily questions to ask your student: “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?”

  • Encourage your child to find ways to remotely connect with their friends and classmates in a manner that promotes appropriate social distancing.

  • Enjoy time with your family and loved ones in your inner circle.

We realize this is a new mode of learning, and we are also learning as we go. We appreciate your patience and support as we do this work in many different places and spaces. Of course, if anyone has any questions/concerns, please email me at and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Teachers will post their content on Google Classroom each day by 8:30 a.m. Students can work at their own rhythm throughout the day, provided they meet each teacher's deadlines/due dates.

Office Hours by School Subject/Department

Each department will host office hours for hosting virtual meetings with individual students, being available for student questions/concerns, and responding to emails. Individual teachers will also post these office hours on their Google Classroom. Some teachers may offer extra office hours outside of the times listed below, and they will post those as well. Please refer to the table below for each department's posted office hours.
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A Message from Our Counselors

While conducting school virtually, WGHS school counselors and social workers will continue to support the academic, social and emotional, and post-secondary planning needs of our students. Our office hours are from 8:30-9:30am daily (for immediate attention) but we are available by phone or email throughout regular school hours. Please see our contact information below and reach out with any questions or needs you may have. Students can also request assistance by completing this form and their counselor will follow up with them.

Additionally, there are a number of outside agencies and organizations available to provide support to young people and their families during this difficult time. Below is a list of resources available to you and your family.

Virtual Counseling: Parents or guardians should call the numbers below to set up services.

CHADS Coalition: 314-952-8274

Preferred Family Health: 314-729-7050

St. Louis Counseling: 314-544-3800

Online Resources:

Unicef: How Teenagers Can Protect Their Mental Health During Coronavirus (COVID-19)

18percent Coronavirus Mental Health Resources

St. Louis County Resources (including help with food, utilities, rent, and mental health)

Special School District’s Family Resource Page

If you need support and cannot wait, please use one of the crisis numbers below:

Youth Connection Helpline: Call (314) 819-8802 or text BHEARD to 31658

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

Child Abuse and Neglect: 800-392-3738

For emergencies, please call 911

As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns. We look forward to seeing you all soon!


Alex King

Counselor (A-E)


Ken Winingham

Counselor (F-K)


Joe Hepfinger

Counselor (L-R)


Simone Cunningham

Counselor (S-Z)


Karen Verstraete
College & Career (A-K)


Jennedy Lombard

College and Career (L-Z)


Anne Gibbs

Social Worker


Suzanne Goldstein

SSD Social Worker


Ann Marie Guntli

SSD Social Worker


Barb Smith

Office Assistant

Transcripts and Summer School


Brittany Hill

Office Assistant



Counseling Department Updates

AP Testing Changes

  • Traditional face-to-face exam administrations will not take place. Students will take a 45-minute online free-response exam at home.
  • Some students may want to take the exam sooner rather than later, while the content is still fresh. Other students may want more time to practice. For each AP subject, there will be 2 different testing dates.
  • The full exam schedule, specific free-response question types that will be on each AP Exam, and additional testing details will be available by April 3.
  • We will share information as it becomes available to us. Questions? Contact our AP Coordinator, Jennedy Lombard, at

SLU and UMSL Reopen Registration for Dual Credit

In light of changes with AP testing, UMSL and SLU have decided to reopen registration for dual credit. SLU has already opened their website for registration (Adv. Forensic Science and Oceanography) with a deadline of April 5, 2020. More information from UMSL will be shared as we receive it.

School Closure Extended to April 22

In light of recent developments, including the recent Stay at Home Orders issued in St. Louis County and St. Louis City, we in the Webster Groves School District have made the decision to extend our schools’ closure through April 22.

The decision to extend the closure was made with the health and well-being of all in mind. During this time, the staff of the WGSD will continue to do whatever we can in order to support our students, families and staff. The primary responsibility for educating our students remains on us, the staff of the WGSD. Our team of teachers and staff will be there for you and your children, just as they have been every day!

We know that you as parents and guardians will do everything possible to keep your children and family safe, to work to provide for your families – many of you by working from home at this time -- and to support the learning of your children. The lives of our staff will be no different in that they will care for the health and well-being of their families, do the best they can to do their jobs from home – which are centered on our students and their learning -- and do whatever they can to support the learning of their own children. The task is big for each of us, but our care for our children and students is bigger!

Let’s continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our loved ones, this region and this world, while doing the best we can to help our children learn and grow.

With care,

John Simpson

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Other News/Announcements

Cardinal Orthodontics Offering Free Braces to Students

Cardinal Orthodontics is offering free braces to up to 16 students in the St. Louis area under the age of 17 whose families cannot afford them. The deadline to apply for the first quarter is 3/31. For more information and to apply visit:

Senior Parents: Get Your Dancing Shoes On!

Senior Parents: It’s a WGHS tradition for the senior parents to put on a line dance at the graduation lock-in. This is a great chance to spend that last bit of time with the other 2020 parents — and maybe embarrass your graduate a little in the process. No dance background or rhythm needed. It’s all for fun! The lock-in is overnight May 12/13, and the dance is expected to happen at about 12:45 a.m. We will offer several rehearsals after spring break so that hopefully anyone interested in participating can make it to at least a couple. If you want to join in this fun tradition, let us know via email ( so we can add you to our list.