Announcements: Schedule and Activities

March 23, 2020 update

Dear EMS Family,

It is with a heavy heart that we heard Governor Northam’s mandate this afternoon to close all K-12 schools, public and private, for the rest of the academic year. As difficult as it is, we understand that this is the right thing to do and are ready to do our part.

I am writing today, on behalf of our Strategic Leadership Team, to let you know that we are committed to providing the best possible distance-learning experience for our students. This includes academics, social-emotional support, outdoor and physical education, and faith formation.

Tuesday evening, we plan to send a 2-question survey for parents with student input so we can evaluate the distance-learning experience thus far. We want to continue to build on our strengths and improve where we can do better. We will continue distance learning strategies through April 3 as scheduled earlier, and take a spring break with no distance learning expectations through April 14. At this time we plan to resume online learning on April 15.

We have many decisions to make in the coming days and will keep you informed along the way. We grieve with you the ongoing losses of this time. We are missing seeing one another every day, competitions, performances and celebrations. We also recognize that school closures result in the loss of many meaningful activities and events, including the May 1st junior/senior banquet as well as promotions and graduation ceremonies. When safe, we plan to create meaningful end-of-year celebrations to replace lost scheduled experiences. We are not yet able to speak to what shape these celebrations will take, but we want you to know our commitment remains with you for a successful completion of this year along with meaningful celebrations of your students’ accomplishments!

Everyone is experiencing dramatic changes during this unprecedented time, and we want you to rest in confidence that EMS intends to walk sensitively with you through difficult challenges should they come your way. I was reminded today that EMS was founded in 1917 in the midst of a global crisis, WWI.  God was present then, and I believe God remains with us today! Know that our prayers are daily with each student and family as we find our way forward, step-by-step.



Paul Leaman, Head of School

March 20: Technology update

There are a limited number of EMS-owned Chromebooks available for checkout.  If your student is having trouble accessing a device to do his/her remote school work, email to request a Chromebook for the duration of the closure.  A parent will need to read and sign a form prior to checking out a Chromebook.  If you are having technical issues with a school-owned Chromebook, email the address above for help.

March 20, 2020 update

Eastern Mennonite School is holding classes by distance learning beginning March 18 through April 3 due to the local, state, and federal recommendations to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. Our office hours will be Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, only a limited number of administrators and essential staff will be working in the building, so email will be the most reliable way to communicate.
EMS teachers, administrators, and support staff are working hard to continue offering valuable learning experiences. Please do not hestitate to ask for support during this time!
During Easter Break, April 6-14, EMS offices will be open by appointment only.
May God protect you and your family. Prayers for your health and safety during this time of stress and uncertainty.

March 16, 2020 update

Details and guidelines for our life together (and apart) seem to change by the minute. As of 5 p.m. on March 16, this is our plan to get materials into family hands for their student’s home-based learning in the coming weeks. Another email will come out later this evening from the principals about academic expectations during this time.

Tuesday, March 17 is the day for students (or their parents) to pick up materials from the school.

Elementary parents may pick up items in the lower building (elementary school) from 8 a.m. to 12 noon on Tuesday, March 17. Please park in the gym lot.

The following time frames for pick up are recommended for pick up at the upper building:

Middle school: 8 a.m. to 12 noon on Tuesday, March 17
High school: 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17

Middle and high school students will be allowed into the upper building in limited numbers to go to lockers and the Commons where teachers have materials ready for pick up. Administrators will monitor numbers of students allowed in the building, traffic flow and social distancing.

Parents and students may elect to have their student’s items brought to the curb. An administrator will be at the curb to gather information and retrieve the items. Be prepared to provide: student name, locker #, class schedule and items needed, including medications and musical instruments.

Note: Families with students in multiple divisions may make one trip to collect items.

March 13, 2020, 8 p.m.

Following Governor Ralph Northam's closure of all K-12 schools in the state this afternoon, EMS leadership announced the following schedule:

  • March 16 - 17:             School Closed for Teacher Workdays
  • March 18 - April 3:      K-12 Distance Learning
  • April 4 - 14:                 Easter/Spring Break

Between now and April 14, ALL co-curricular activities and events are canceled; inclusive of athletic practices and games, drama practices and performances, Touring Choir rehearsals and concerts.

Parents, students, faculty and staff should have received an email from Paul Leaman, head of school, with further details. If you did not receive it that letter, email

Justin King, high school principal,  and Maria Archer, K-8 principal, will share additional details about distance learning strategies and specifics early next week.

March 12, 2020, 10 p.m.

Eastern Mennonite School will be closed for students on Friday, March 13 through Monday, March 16 for teacher workdays.

Faculty and staff will be using this time to prepare effective distance learning opportunities for students in the event that a long-term closure becomes the recommendation of the Virginia Department of Health. As a precautionary measure, all school activities and events have been canceled for Friday, March 13 through Monday, March 16.

EMS will communicate upcoming plans for the remainder of next week as soon as possible on Monday

MARCH 12, 2020, 3 p.m.

Update by Paul Leaman, Head of School

Dear EMS Community:

EMS administration is meeting every morning to keep tabs on the moving COVID-19 pandemic and to make decisions we believe are best for our community and beyond.  We will be in regular communication with you via email and/or text alert.

In a webinar with the VDH it was reported that communicable disease responses tend to be either:

  1. Preemptive efforts aimed at reducing contamination risk and stress on healthcare systems beyond what they can manage.
  2. Reactive efforts because business as usual is no longer possible. 

Recent decisions by area universities to go online  targets the pre-emptive approach illustrated nicely by this CDC “Flattening the curve” illustration. Now is an important time to look beyond ourselves and personal well-being to important safety measures for our region, nation, and world. It is important to do what we can to preserve capacity within our healthcare systems and for our providers.

EMS’s Preemptive Responses

  • Daily leadership team meetings @ 8:15 w/ community communication
  • EMS K-12 classes plan to continue 
  • Cancel E-term & Explore Weeks
  • K-12 School Calendar Change: Easter Break April 6 - 14
  • EMS will align with the VHSL & VISAA which at this time continues to permit outdoor competitions between schools
  • Teach & model best hygiene practices such as washing hands w/ soap & water for 20 seconds, use of 60% alcohol based sanitizers when washing isn’t possible, keeping hands to oneself and not touching one’s face.
  • Athletics - only personal water bottles; disposable cups for water jugs during games; no pre or post handshakes or high-fives
  • Honor parent discretion on absences with sensible expectations on make-up work
  • Students - Stay home when sick and until fever-free for 24 hours without medication

At this time, we believe operating on a normal schedule is the best way to support our students and families with stability while encouraging our community to remain localized in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.  We will alter the school calendar so our K-12 community is on the same operating schedule. EMS (K-12) will close for an Easter/spring break from April 6-14 which coincides with previously set dates for our elementary families. At this time, we plan on continuing school and all co-curricular programming as scheduled.  

EMS Reactive Responses

  • EMS leadership will be in frequent communication regarding advised changes
  • Families traveling to/from a Level 3 Risk area will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days
  • Faculty and administration are working toward preparedness in the event distance/online learning options become necessary

MARCH 10, 2020

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation continues to evolve, we know that parents wonder how it might affect our school community.

Our leadership team and healthcare professional are closely monitoring updates and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS).