Notes from Dr. Irvin

Your Weekly eNews for December 3

Hello Parents and Guardians,

This is something I recently shared with our staff:

I know many of you wonder why we are in school now, with other schools recently cancelling days after the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond. Please understand that this determination is made--as it should be--in direct and indirect consultation with teams of doctors, collaborating with other school leaders, as well as emerging research and data. In spite of that information, it is reasonable to question and debate this decision, and I understand those that might think differently than I do about our return and continuation of in-person schooling. While empirical evidence specific to schools is at the forefront, I feel our district should also acknowledge the power and possibility of schooling as a compelling reason to stay in session. If we can reasonably be safe when we are in school, we should do so.

I recently listened to a podcast by Jon Meacham titled "It Was Said," which chronicled the visit by President Barack Obama to Charleston, South Carolina after the tragic murder of innocent parishioners and church leaders at Emanuel AME Church by a white supremacist. It is the oldest AME church in the South and once hosted a sermon by Dr. King and has launched several protest marches. This historical site has operated in the most difficult times in our history, once burned down because of its role in opposing slavery. In a city that values its history and its places of worship, it was notable before it was impacted again by tragedy in 2015.

In his comments, President Obama spoke of the important role of black churches: “…community centers where we organize for jobs and justice; places of scholarship and network; places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harm’s way, and told that they are beautiful and smart -- (applause) -- and taught that they matter. (Applause.) That’s what happens in church.” This section begins around 25:12 in the podcast and is powerfully delivered if you are interested in hearing it and feeling it-you will be moved.

I was aware of the history of Mother Emanuel in my home state between my own interests as a history major and my older sister serving as a tour guide in Charleston when she was in school. I still visit the sight when I am back home to recall the horror it witnessed when it was again visited by hate and to remember its example of goodness and service. I am not equating our school to black churches in impact but rather note that President Obama’s comments serve to inspire me in what our school might attempt to do on behalf of students and families either virtually or in-person. As we have been in the building, I have seen and heard the love, the care, and the belief we share with children. The magic of our calling is one that happens best when we can be most present, observant, and responsive to the light that shines in our students as they learn and grow in our setting. The sound of a class discussion that deeply probes one’s thinking, the echo of our band playing across the street in preparation for our Turkey Day virtual pep rally, and the smile behind a mask have greeted us as we have returned to our building. I am wary of what we continue to face and endure, but I am authentically moved by our work to be a place that President Obama described for children.


Matt Irvin

EOC Testing is December 7 & 8

End-of-Course Exams (EOCs) are scheduled to begin next week.Teachers/counselors should have contacted students if they are required to take an EOC. Please note that the bell schedule for Monday, December 7 and Tuesday, December 8 will be reversed (4th hour starting first) during the AM and PM session (see below).

Students taking EOC exams must not have their cell phone with them as these are not permitted in the testing area. Also, students will need to bring headphones and a calculator.

EOC Schedule for Monday/Tuesday

Big picture

Progress 2 grades will be available on the Parent Portal on December 9.

Learning at WGHS

Please visit our website for all the latest information regarding in-person learning, the virtual program, schedules, and support for our students and families.

Webster Groves Parent Advisory Council Last Meeting on December 16

The Webster Groves Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is holding its last meeting of 2020 on Wednesday, December 16 from 6:30-7:30 pm over Zoom. We will be joined by representatives from MPACT. MPACT is a statewide parent training and information center that serves parents of children with all disabilities. Its primary goal is to assist parents in their effort to effectively advocate for their children's educational rights and services. The Webster Groves PAC was formed by families who expect that children with disabilities and/or unique learning needs are educated effectively, afforded the dignity of belonging, and valued throughout all WGSD learning opportunities and experiences.

Zoom link: (meeting ID is 947 7391 9805; no passcode required)

Please contact Rebecca O’Laughlin ( with any questions.

School Meals Are Safe

Please click on the attachment below for important information about grab-n-go meals and food safety through Chartwell's.

Did You Know?

What do I do if my child is in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19?

If a student is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 while at home, the parent/guardian is asked to:

  • Keep their child at home; he/she should not report to school

  • Notify the pediatrician/physician and contact the child’s assistant principal’s office

  • Seek medical attention for their child as it relates to symptoms

  • Speak to the school’s nurse for the purpose of contact tracing

  • Provide updates to the school nurse and classroom teacher

If a student tests positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation or quarantine, the absence will be treated the same as any other extended absence. Teachers will provide assignments for students who are quarantined. Students should check Canvas pages and email teachers if they need assistance. Teachers will clearly state what the expectations are for students who are quarantined. Parents and students are encouraged to reach out if they have questions.

A+ Updates

For the 2020-21 school year, the state has updated their A+ requirements for seniors only. Please download the attachment below and take a moment to review the accommodations.

Counseling Department Updates

PSAT (January 26th) Registration is Now Open—Deadline Extended Until 12/3

The Preliminary SAT, also known as the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), is a practice version of the SAT exam. In addition to a practice SAT, the PSAT is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship program. Sophomores and Juniors can take the PSAT but only Juniors can use this test to qualify for National Merit.

Test Date: Tuesday, January 26, 2021

(Virtual Academy students will have the option to attend school for testing if they wish. Unfortunately, College Board does not offer an option for students to test virtually from home.)

Deadline to Register: extended to 12/3

Fee: $20.00

Registration Link:

For more information about the PSAT (including practice questions) visit:

Virtual College Planning Event Hosted by Mentors 4 College

Mentors 4 College is hosting a free virtual college planning event for students on Thursday, December 3 from 5:30-6:00 pm

“College Search in the COVID Era: Finding Your Dream School from the Comfort of Your Couch”

To register, visit

Need Help Coping with Covid?

Show Me Hope’s Disaster Distress Helpline can provide immediate counseling to anyone who needs help dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic incident. This is a free, confidential, and multilingual crisis support service. Callers and texters are connected to trained and caring professionals from crisis counseling centers in the network. The Helpline staff provides confidential counseling, referrals, and other needed support services.

Phone: 800-985-5990 Text: "TalkWithUs" to 66746

Seniors: As a reminder, colleges will use information from your FAFSA to determine your federal, state, and their own institutional financial aid. Complete the FAFSA online at

As a reminder, WGHS school counselors and social workers are working to support the academic, social and emotional, and post-secondary planning needs of our students. If you or your child are having difficulties or need assistance, please reach out to their counselor or social worker.

School Counselors

A-E Alex King (

F-K Ken Winingham (
L-R Joe Hepfinger (
S-Z Simone Cunningham (

College and Career Counselors
A-K Karen Verstraete (
L-Z Jennedy Lombard (

School Social Workers
Anne Gibbs (
Anne Marie Guntli (SSD) (

COVID-19 Information

St. Louis County COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Testing

Getting tested for COVID-19 has never been more important during this pandemic than it is now. More than 260,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in St. Louis County. This crucial to our efforts to contain the spread of the virus and is a major factor in understanding the patterns of its spread.

This includes testing for those who are asymptomatic and anyone who had close contact with the public to get a test – even if they haven’t had direct contact with someone who was positive. Testing is available to anyone who requests it. To make an appointment for a free test through St. Louis County Department of Public Health, click here or call 314-615-0574.

Drive-through testing is done at the following DPH clinics:

6121 North Hanley Road in Berkeley

4580 Lindbergh Blvd. in South County

Missouri residents who may be experiencing stress and anxiety related to COVID-19 may call the “Show Me Hope Line” at 800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 for assistance. The service is available 24 hours a day throughout the week. For additional information, please click here.


For students or families having technology issues, please do the following:

  • For specific Canvas issues, contact Ms. Liz Forderhase at or call her at 314.963.6400, ext. 11928.
  • Below is a link to the technology support ticket system we are utilizing to help give our learners and families the most efficient system to help us keep track of technology support requests. Use this site to submit when you are having technology difficulties with your child's equipment/access/accounts/etc.

As always, you are welcome to contact us at 314.963.6400 for assistance.

News from Dr. Irvin

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