Distance Learning Update

This page exists to serve as a central resource for what we know about school operations, events, and activities during this time of Distance Learning.

The challenges presented by COVID-19 are truly unprecedented, but at Ascension we remain committed to the health and safety of our students while continuing to promote educational excellence in a Christian environment.  Our Administration will continue to monitor the guidelines of our government and health officials, and we will update this page as necessary based on their recommendations.

If you have a question that isn't addressed below, please reach out to the appropriate campus director or administrator. Please check this page regularly for school updates. We will continue to update this page as decisions are made and communicated with our families.
Jeff Plunk's Signature
Jeff Plunk
Head of School

 School Operations 

  • How can we get some closure to the school year for our school community?

    Closure is important for our students, faculty, and parents. Our faculty and staff have worked hard to recreate closing ceremonies to honor our students.  A live stream all-school closing convocation will begin at 9:00 a.m. on May 20th and will last approximately 30 minutes. Additional pre-recorded closing ceremonies and other end of the year celebration videos will be shared with you that day and may be watched at any time. Stay tuned for more information from your Campus Director.

  • How long will our Ascension campuses remain closed?

    On April 15th, 2020, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he has officially closed K-12 public schools in Louisiana until the end of the current school year. In accordance with this proclamation, Ascension campuses will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019 - 2020 school year. The last day of distance learning for all three campuses will be Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

  • What will school look like next year?

    As of now, nothing has changed for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. We will continue to monitor state recommendations and to make plans for multiple scenarios should the return to school need to look a bit different in August.

  • Will we have to make up any school days?

    Since the state has suspended the number of required days for the 2019-20 school year, students will not have to make up any days at this point. However, Ascension’s distance learning strategies do qualify as official school days for attendance purposes.


  • Are students taking Final Exams in Middle and Upper School?

    Students in Middle and Upper School will not be taking final exams, except for AP exams, dual enrollment exams, third-party online courses, and independent study presentations.

    This decision will alleviate significant stress for students and help them be in the best possible position for finishing the semester strong. Our faculty will use the additional instructional time to focus on advancing student skills and essential content knowledge. Priority should be and will be placed on students’ present well-being and their learning.

  • How does my middle schooler select enrichments for next year?

    Enrichment teachers met virtually with 5th graders on Thursday, April 23 to introduce enrichment options. Teachers sent 5th and 6th graders the enrichment selection form on Thursday, April 23 by email. If your 5th or 6th grader did not receive the enrichment form by Friday, April 24, please reach out to your child’s advisor.

    Students in 7th grade will receive a Google form through their school email account by May 1 to select their eighth grade electives at SMP. If your 7th grader does not receive this form by May 1, please email Stephanie Fournet at

  • How does my upper school student select courses for next year?

    Individual college and academic counseling meetings continue to take place through Google Meet. Most students have already completed their scheduling meetings with either Ms. Caitlin Neal-Jones or Ms. Stephanie Fournet. The remainder of those meetings will take place before the end of April.

  • How will my child's grades be calculated?

    River Ranch - One to one assessments and face to face contact is needed to reliably make growth assessments for this age level. Therefore, “grading” third-trimester skills is not possible as we have not had the opportunity to be together physically. The end of year report cards will consist of a narrative providing growth of the student from the beginning of the year to mid-March, recommendations for promotion, and any areas that should be focused on during the summer.

    1st & 2nd - One-to-one interactions and face-to-face contact are needed to most reliably make growth assessments for this age level. Therefore, “grading” 4th quarter skills is not feasible as teachers and students have not had the opportunity to be together physically. Given that teachers do have three quarters of data and interactions, they will be able to make reliable recommendations and promotion decisions for each student. Our teachers will be reaching out to provide more details on how this will look going forward. We ask that you still encourage your child to participate in daily lessons and meet the weekly expectations that our teachers are working hard to provide. Maintaining structure and reinforcing concepts are essential for our little ones as we strive to offer some sense of normalcy in our virtual classroom routines and in our homes.

    3rd - 7th - In each core course, students will earn one of two grades for the 4th quarter: either the 4th quarter grade earned via distance learning or the average of the grades they earned in their first three quarters, whichever is higher. Students will not receive a 4th quarter grade for their enrichment courses, but they are expected and encouraged to continue to stay engaged and participate through the enrichment choice board. Ongoing assessments will be entered into MyBackPack as usual.

    8th - 12th - The end of the year grades will be calculated using one of the following two options for each class:

    Option 1 - The 4th quarter grade is recorded as earned. This option will take effect if the grade improves the student’s final average. The 4th quarter grade is then averaged in with the 1st semester and 3rd quarter to calculate the final course grade.

    Option 2 - The 4th quarter grade is an average of semester 1 and quarter 3. The final average is calculated using the 1st semester and 3rd quarter only. This option is for the student who earns a 4th quarter grade that does not benefit the student’s final average.


    In order to ensure each student gets the best available option concerning their final grades, SMP Administration will compare both grade choice options and give the student the best scenario. 

  • What about awards, packets, textbooks, and device turn-in?

    We will have an All-School Virtual Closing Convocation on Wednesday, May 20th beginning at 9:00 a.m. to recognize and celebrate student achievement.  The ceremony will be live-streamed and will last approximately 30 minutes. We encourage your family to watch this together if you are able.  This will be a day of celebration and will be a non-academic day.  

    Traditional Downtown closing ceremonies will be pre-recorded videos so you can watch at any time during the day. The SMP Academic Pep Rally this year will follow much of the same format as previous years. Book awards, headmasters list, and other academic accomplishments will all be announced. 

    Links to the videos will be shared via email on Tuesday, May 19 but will not be active until the release times below:

    9:00 a.m. All School Live-stream Closing Convocation
    10:00 a.m. 1st - 6th grade Closing Ceremonies
    11:00 a.m. 7th Grade Later Gator Ceremony
    1:00 p.m. SMP Academic Pep Rally (live and pre-recorded)

    River Ranch Campus
    May 19th will be a drive-through pickup/drop-off day for the River Ranch Campus.  Specific times for each grade level will be communicated by the campus director. 

    Downtown Campus
    May 21 and 22 are designated as materials pickup and drop-off days. In order to keep the number of people on campus to a minimum and stay within the Governors’ directives, May 21 will serve as the Lower School drop-off day and May 22 will be the Middle School drop off day. You will be required to sign up for one time slot for each child in your family. Lower School students sign up under their homeroom/classroom teacher, while middle school students will sign up under their ADVISORY teachers. If you have a child in lower and middle school, we ask that you adhere to the separate pick up days in order to ensure a safe environment.

    Prior to May 20, use the following links to sign up for a time slot:

    Also, please complete this Technology Checklist before arriving on campus. Included in this checklist are instructions for saving your child's photos and files.

    On your Pick up Day, please note the following instructions:
    • One parent/guardian per student
    • Arrive 10 minutes prior to your time slot to complete gym tasks
    • Park in the Amelia House parking lot and enter through the gym
    • Faculty and staff will be wearing masks for your safety. Please prepare your child in advance.
    • If you have to bring siblings, please keep them with you at all times.
    • Remind your child to maintain safe social distancing—air hugs only!
    • Playground equipment will be strictly off-limits.
    • A strict maximum time frame of 15 minutes per student will be withheld.
    There will be stations in the gym to drop off iPads and collect PE items. After leaving the gym you and your child will be escorted to the classroom to pick up personal belongings and end of year packets. We will keep the flow of traffic steady and brisk to expedite the movement of materials and close out the school year while keeping everyone safe.

    If you are unable or uncomfortable coming to campus during the designated days, please reach out to your child’s classroom/advisory teacher to make arrangements for pick up in the front office after May 26th, as campus summer office hours go into effect that week.

    Sugar Mill Pond Campus
    Thursday, May 21 and Friday, May 22  between the hours of 1 pm and 3 pm have been designated as drive-through materials drop-off and pick-up times.  Additionally, students will receive any awards, certificates, etc at this time. Please watch the streaming Academic Peprally on Wednesday, May 20 to determine if you have awards to be picked up. Laptops and chargers will be collected on these days from students who are not currently enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year or who plan to purchase a personal device and will be returning their leased laptop. Students leasing a laptop AND currently enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year, may keep their laptop over the summer.


  • What will happen to end of the year Parent Teacher Conferences on the DT and RR Campuses?

    River Ranch parent conferences will be held on Friday, May 15. These conferences will be by phone or Zoom meeting and teachers will be in touch with more information. 

    Downtown Lower School parent conferences will be held on a day or days designated by each homeroom teacher before Friday May 8th. Teachers will be in touch with parents to schedule either videoconferencing or telephone conferences.

    Downtown Middle School parent conferences are not usually held in the 3/4 quarter during the year, however if parents have a concern, we encourage you to reach out to your child's teacher or advisor directly to set up an OMNI meeting with your child's teachers.

  • Will my child be prepared for next year?

    Our teachers are working daily to provide the necessary content to ensure our students are prepared to move forward beyond this semester. Teachers are seeking to strike a balance between striving for academic integrity/rigor and being sensitive to the potential stressors our students and families may be experiencing. Our teachers also know they may need to “start the year from a different place” and include some additional remediation if necessary.

 School Events

  • Has Sound of Music been canceled or postponed?

    After exhausting every alternative, the middle and upper school production of The Sound of Music has been canceled. Refunds for tickets purchased will be issued in the upcoming weeks. An option to donate your ticket money to the Fine Arts Alliance will also be available.

  • What about Seniors? How will prom and graduation look?

    It remains our goal to make the Class of 2020 a priority and to honor them and their accomplishments.  Administration and teachers will distribute usual awards and recognition. 

    Graduation is tentatively scheduled for July 18th.  Traditional events for our seniors such as prom, Senior Chapel, Senior Breakfast, and the Crawfish Boil are still postponed until further notice.

    May 11- 22 – The College Board delayed the start of AP exams by one week. At-home exam administration will begin on Monday, May 11, and conclude on Friday, May 22. The updated exam dates and times can be found on the College Board’s website
    as well as our school calendar.

    Thursday, May 14 - As this was the original day scheduled for graduation, a special tribute for our seniors will be shared. We also plan on honoring our seniors in different ways during the month of May. Stay tuned on our social media pages for more details. Graduation awards will still be announced at the commencement ceremony.

    Wednesday, May 20 - A live All School Closing Convocation will start at 9:00 a.m. and a live/prerecorded Academic Pep Rally will start at 1:00 p.m.  Valedictorian will be announced for the first time at the Academic Pep Rally. 

    Thursday, May 21 & Friday, May 22 - Between the hours of 1-3, students can drop off materials and devices at the SMP campus. 
  • What is happening with class photos?

    Teachers will include Downtown class photos already purchased through Mr. Hines in the end of year packet your child will receive. Track and golf photos will be available for pickup on the SMP pick-up dates (May 20 and 21).  

    Unfortunately, we are unable to reschedule class photos for SMP and RR.  Composite images are being created instead. 
    RR: Mr. Charles is creating composite images of each class with their teachers. You can preorder these composites on his website by clicking here. These class photos will be delivered directly to your home during the summer when they are ready. Mr. Charles has also begun issuing refunds for previously purchased River Ranch class photos. 

    SMP: Mr. Charles is creating composite images of each grade level. You can preorder these composites on his website by clicking here. These class photos will be delivered directly to your home during the summer when they are ready. Mr. Charles has also begun issuing refunds for previously purchased SMP class photos. 
    Thanks for your patience and understanding. If you need to reach Mr. Hines, please email him at

  • What will happen to our school field trips?

    The majority of our school field trips have been canceled and will not be rescheduled. The only trip that will be rescheduled is the 8th grade Boston trip, which will take place during the 2020-2021 school year. All money from school trips will be refunded as the school is refunded from our vendors. If you have questions about a refund, please reach out to our business office at


 College Counseling

  • How will the closure impact the college counseling process?

    Counselors at the Sugar Mill Pond campus continue to hold college and academic counseling meetings with students and parents through Google Meet and are available to answer questions, send transcripts, and provide guidance as seniors make their enrollment decisions.

    As we have received countless emails from colleges and universities across the country, it is clear that the spring semester of 2020 will be like no other. Higher education institutions have reassured us that whatever high schools have had to do for academics and extracurricular activities will not have a negative impact on students’ future admission decisions. Schools are aware that transcripts, test scores, and resumes will look different for this school year.

    Because ACT and SAT have had to cancel test dates, many colleges and universities are announcing optional test policies for the 2020-2021 application season. Additionally, the state has announced that seniors who already have the 2.5 GPA to qualify for TOPS but lack the 20 on the ACT will have until September 30, 2020 to make that qualifying ACT score to earn TOPS without a penalty. For more information about COVID-19 and TOPS click here.

    If you have other questions about college counseling, you can email Stephanie Fournet at

  • What has changed with Advanced Placement (AP) Exams?

    On Friday, March 20, the College Board announced changes in the administration of AP exams. You can visit Updates for AP Students Affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) for more information and an updated schedule. College Board is not penalizing students for cancelling the exam, and Ascension is offering students the choice to cancel the exam with no penalty, and we will issue a refund for the testing fees ($94/test). 

    According to College Board, students will now take the test at home during the assigned times and dates. Our school calendar has been updated to reflect the new times and dates. They can also be found on the link above. Also included in the link above are resources for review sessions. There will be additional information about logging on, etc soon.

    Below are some takeaways from the link-
    • The exams will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March.
    • This year’s AP Exams will be open book/open note.
    • Most exams will have one or two free-response questions, and each question is timed separately. Students will need to write and submit their responses within the allotted time for each question.
    • The exams will be 45 minutes long and include an additional 5 minutes for uploading. Students will need to access the online testing system 30 minutes early to get set up.
    • Students taking AP world language and culture exams will complete two spoken tasks consistent with free-response questions three and four on the current AP Exam; written responses will not be required.
    Please reach out to Shelly Landry at if you have any additional questions.

 Student Life

  • What is the status of Summer at Ascension camps and classes?

    Our top priority is starting the school year normally on August 10th/11th. We believe things are going to look different (more frequent hand washing, lots of Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.) when we return, but we also need to take prudent steps now, and this summer, to seek the safest environment possible and give ourselves the best chance for a full launch this August. We do not want our actions in June and July to jeopardize the start of the school year. To that end, we have decided that we will not conduct our Summer Camps this year. This was a difficult decision we did not take lightly, but we feel it is best to reduce the traffic and activity on our campuses this summer.

    We are leaving open the possibility of running our Bridge Classes in early August. We will make a decision later this summer and will provide more details once a decision is made. Anyone that had previously signed up for summer programs will receive a full refund in the coming weeks.

  • When will extracurricular activities resume?

    Ascension will follow the guidance of local authorities and resume extracurricular activities once it is safe to do so. Teams and clubs will be notified once the policy is updated for opening up practices and gatherings.

  • Will SMP students need to complete service hours?

    The senior class has been informed that their 15-hour requirement for this year has been waived. Seniors will need a total of 45 hours to meet the graduation requirement if they have been at Ascension for all four years of high school. (Students who have transferred to Ascension during high school have an adjusted requirement.) Students in grades 9-11 will be responsible for 7 hours for this year, reducing their total number of service hours required to graduate from 60 to 52.

    For the duration, students may turn in service hours by emailing a scanned or photographed copy of the Community Service form to Stephanie Fournet at Forms need not be signed by the supervising adult as long as a current telephone number for that adult is listed on the form. Any questions about service hours should be directed to Ms. Fournet. We hope students will consider an act of kindness in their community, such as mowing a neighbor’s lawn or doing a trash cleanup along their street. Even when practicing social distancing, we hope our students will continue to be servant leaders.

 Health & Wellness


  • How will new students be tested or evaluated for admission?

    In-person screening of PreK3 - K students will be administered at a later date; however new families will receive a survey to complete about their child. In-person screenings are not needed for a family to be accepted into our preschool program.

    Admission exams are applicable to students entering grades 3-12. At home screening can take place and can be explained in more detail by our Director of Admissions, Camille Renard. She can be reached at

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