Virtual School Briefing, Wed. Jan 29

Although the virtual school plan was developed by a team of faculty and administrators three years ago, the current situation is the first time we’ve activated it. We anticipate bumps along the way since it’s an untested system, and we know that with your feedback we can make it better. That’s why, in the interests of agility and transparency, I’ll be publishing regular virtual school briefings based on questions and feedback from the community. These briefings will be used to make clarifications, share emerging best practices, and adjust course. Here’s what has come up since yesterday:

Wait, what day is it?

Tuesday is a Day 1. Make sure you’ve added the Day Rotation Calendar to your Outlook by following these instructions.

Get in the (right time) zone

If you’re logging in to Office 365 on the web, make sure your time zone is right. Go to Settings > General > Language and time and check if the time zone matches your physical location.

If this is wrong, your scheduled meetings with others won’t show up correctly.

Remember, regardless of where you are, work hours follow the school’s regular class times, in the China Standard Time zone.

Tools for online discussions

Jodi T and her CPT asked about tools to help students have asynchronous and live discussions.

Is there a way our kids can “meet” virtually? We were planning to do lit circles when we got back from break. The concept would lend itself pretty well to an online lesson world if we had a forum that the kids could log into and talk to each other.

The Tech Ambassadors and I will address this repeatedly over the coming days, but if you want to get ahead, three good choices are:

  1. Canvas’ “Discussions” feature for written forum discussions
  2. FlipGrid for asynchronous video discussion
  3. Microsoft Teams for live group discussions that can be recorded, too!

Seeing your Parent-Teacher Schedule

Until recently we haven’t had teachers log into SchoolsBuddy, the platform we use for ASA registration. However, we’re using SchoolsBuddy now to facilitate parent-teacher conference signups in the high school. HS Teachers, see the information below:

  1. How to see your parent-teacher schedule in SchoolsBuddy
  2. Make your parent-teacher conference schedule show in your Outlook calendar (note: the instructions use the URL “” for your email in step 6, but you should use “” as the URL.

Action Required: New Office 365 Features

Over the summer changes to Office 365 have been made that require your action and/or attention.

Receiving Group/Team Messages

Don’t worry, you are receiving all staff emails. But for your department groups and other Office 365 teams, the following applies:

Microsoft updated the Outlook web interface over the summer. You need to find your groups in the left nav bar, click on each, and confirm that

  1. The Star is checked
  2. Settings > Follow in inbox / Receive all email and events is checked


If you don’t complete these two steps, group email will not be delivered to your inbox. They will instead only appear when you click on the group’s inbox.

Staff Portal Updated

Update your bookmarks! The Staff Portal was updated over the summer. The correct address is Look in the “Instructor Resources” and “Extracurriculars” for most documents relevant to you. Thanks to Joe for beautifying and simplifying the site!

Your Outlook Calendar Now Syncs from PowerSchool

You’ll notice that your Outlook calendar now shows your classes, ASAs, advisories and study hall from PowerSchool.

We hope this makes it easier to schedule meetings across departments, as the Scheduling Assistant will now show correct free/busy times. A few caveats:

  • Currently, your calendar shows your PS classes two weeks in advance
  • If you’re a co-teacher, your events don’t yet sync over

eLC now just one bookable resource

After looking at usage patterns for the eLC, we’ve discovered that in the vast majority of cases people booked both eLC-East and eLC-West for their events. In cases where each side was booked by a different event simultaneously, the users found that noise from each event interfered with the other. Therefore, to improve the user experience in the eLC, as of today we have combined eLC-East and eLC-West into one booking. From now on, please book the “eLC” resource instead of looking for “eLC-East” and “eLC-West”:

Your previous bookings have been preserved, and if you had only booked one side of the eLC, you now have the whole room reserved.

Furthermore, to reduce conflicts and optimize scheduling, an office assistant will manually review and approve all booking requests, similar to how the library and main hall conference rooms work.