Latest Updates & Guidance

St. Stephen’s School is closely monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. As the situation continues to change rapidly, our top priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of our community, on- and off-campus.

St. Stephen's has been operating a remote teaching and learning environment since March 9th in compliance with Italian government regulations and will continue to do so until official guidelines are issued on when schools may reopen.

The School’s Board of Trustees, the Head of School, and the Administrative Team are currently planning for several contingency scenarios and will continue to take decisive, informed action based on the latest science and government decrees to limit the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring the continuity of the School’s teaching and learning mission.

By being proactive in our planning, we can safeguard our own health and the well-being of those with whom we interact. Our COVID Action and Response Center contains weekly announcements from our Head of School, health and wellness tips from the School’s counselors and nurses, e-learning and program information, and FAQs.  We will continue to update this page regularly to keep you informed of additional measures, so check back frequently or consult with us for additional resources.

e-Learning at St. Stephen’s

We believe that St. Stephen’s provides an excellent, well-rounded education, articulating both the academic development and the social-emotional development of our students.

In response to the school closure caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic, we have created an e-Learning Institute in order to be able to provide the same quality of education during periods of full or partial school closure. The aim of the institute is to conduct research and training in digital pedagogy and effective educational technology in order to enable our teachers to deliver a best-in-class online education when needed.

St Stephen’s students will benefit from this in many ways:

  • Students enjoy a tailored, authentic, and meaningful online course designed by their teacher in full knowledge of their needs, interests, and existing skills.
  • Successful online teaching requires very clearly defined learning outcomes, weekly plans, clear definitions of types of work and assignments, and clear expectations for teachers and students. In order to keep students engaged, teachers develop a rich variety of activities, including formative and summative written and oral assignments, quizzes, and discussions.
  • E-assessment focuses on open-ended tasks, with questions that allow multiple answers which cannot be googled. This is a much more meaningful way of assessing students for 21st-century skills, and one increasingly adopted by the IBO and universities.
  • Successful online course design leads to higher levels of student ownership and student-led learning, creating greater independence and scholarship, two key St Stephen’s values.
  • By being taught online during some periods, St Stephen’s students develop digital skills that will be essential for them in future workplaces and beyond. They become highly literate in digital presentation skills and online forms of public speaking. Teachers assign collaborative projects and small group work, which develop time-management and collaborative skills. They are also a good way of avoiding feelings of isolation and replacing some of the community feeling typically experienced at St Stephen’s.
  • When school closure is mandated, the school organizes a healthy mix of synchronous and asynchronous classes and carefully monitors engagement and time spent on computers. Asynchronous learning is flexible and independent, whereas synchronous sessions are opportunities to monitor progress and well-being.
  • During periods of school closure, the students need more, not less, community support. The E-learning Institute is researching ways to develop a strong community network that replicates, as much as possible, the experience of being a residential or day student at St Stephen’s. This includes digital adviser meetings, Grade Level Meetings, virtual study halls, Wellness Center appointments, and online co-curricular offerings for students.

When we return to teaching face-to-face full time, students will be much more digitally literate and teachers will have a much greater methodological arsenal and will be able to design classes that are more effective and more diversified.


Poor WiFi/Connectivity?

Follow these guidelines from our IT Director, Fausto Di Marco:


1 - Shut down computers at night.

2 - Update computers on a weekly basis (update system and apps) but turn the automatic updates off during the day.

3 - Restart the computer during the day in case it shows a slow down in performance.

4 - Make sure the laptop is well ventilated (including the bottom) and does not overheat.

3 - Check memory availability (RAM at least 4GB, better 8GB; Hard Disk or SSD with at least 20% of free space). In case of problems with this point, I suggest increasing the RAM by taking the laptop to assistance and/or remove programs and files that are taking too much space and are not needed, eventually transferring them to cloud or external device)

4 - Run a Scandisk or disk Defrag to optimize the performance of HD on a monthly basis.

5 - Check the WIFI connection by standing 1 meter from the router. Run an ADSL Speed Test online (download: minimum 2.0 Mbps - upload: minimum 1.0  Mbps)

6 - Check the WIFI connection at the actual location where the student is normally working (consider that in an apartment usually the speed/signal drops by 50% at 6/7 meters from the router and drops by 75% at 10 meters from the router but this depends on many factors including walls, isolation of floors, niches, doors open or closed and others).  Run an ADSL Speed Test online (again: minimum requirements: download: 2.0 Mbps

upload: 1.0  Mbps).

7 - In case of poor signal consider the following in this order:

  1. Disconnect devices that could potentially limit the bandwidth (Xbox, TVs, Alexa, mobile phones etc.)
  2. Keep doors open.
  3. Connect your laptop directly to the router with a LAN cable and a USB to LAN adapter. There are at least 4 empty LAN ports behind the router.
  4. Add a repeater.
  5. Add a portable wifi hotspot (unlimited traffic with SIM from any of the phone companies around: TIM, WindTe, Vodafone, Iliad, and others),
  6. Change Internet Service Provider if the line that comes to the apartment is weak. Try to get the fiber optic connectivity if it reaches the area and the building.


The faculty and staff at St. Stephen's go above and beyond to support students every day, and now is certainly no exception. This unique set of circumstances may bring with it new scenarios where students require pastoral support. It can be challenging to know how to support a struggling student on the best of days, let alone through Zoom, Google Meet, or email. The nursing and counseling teams are still here to provide any guidance to faculty should it be useful. If you have any concerns about a member of our community's physical or mental health, please reach out to or to AbbyCarlo, or Phil.

For managing stress, the School’s Wellness Center website has several suggestions and videos about calming anxiety and keeping healthy during coronavirus quarantine.

School counselors also filmed a short conversation over Zoom in which they provided some advice and useful things to consider as the community finds useful ways to support students:

In the links below are resources that specifically address supporting students throughout this period:

Health Precautions

The health of our community is our top priority. We realize the extraordinary social distancing measures and the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19 are incredibly challenging. We hope you find the resources on this page helpful in maintaining your overall health and wellbeing. We'll continue to add to these resources over time.

Facts as explained in CDC Guidelines about COVID-19 infection

The severity of COVID-19 infection ranges from mild to severe. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control include the following Symptoms, which may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

What you need to know

  • Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms.
  • Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

Watch for symptoms

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

When to seek emergency medical attention

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.


Caring for yourself or others

What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and Covid-19?

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.


Is there a cure or a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. Clinical trials for a vaccine and effective treatment solutions are underway in many countries, but at the moment, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Precautions You and Your Family Can Take

Stay-at-home and Social Distancing

  • Adhere to local government and department of public health stay-at-home orders.



  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Please remind your children to wash hands after coughing or sneezing, before, after and during food preparation, after toilet use, and after coming in contact with animals.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Remind children to throw tissues in closed bins immediately after use.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


Wear a Mask

 Health organizations such as the CDC and the WHO recommend face coverings or masks when in public settings. While face coverings do no eliminate the need for physical distancing of at least one meter, they do add an additional layer of protection.


Official Resources

Below are several organizations that offer the most up-to-date information on Coronavirus.

  1. Call Italy’s 112 emergency number if you believe you have symptoms.  English speaking operators are available. You can also find additional numbers here.
  2. The W.H.O. (World Health Organization) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control)
  3. INMI:
  4. Italian Ministry of Health:


Our community is taking every precaution it can to keep your children safe. We encourage you get in touch with us should you have any questions or if you need additional information.


On March 9th, the Italian government closed all schools throughout the country in its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Since then, St. Stephen's has transitioned to a remote teaching and learning environment for our three hundred students.

St. Stephen's students will continue to participate in classes online until the government issues guidelines on when and how schools across the country may reopen.

Based on current data and projections for COVID-19, the School will be back in session in September 2020. However, the School's Contingency Planning Committee is also reviewing the possibility of exam sessions in June and is in ongoing discussions with local authorities about graduation ceremonies. Please check the bi-weekly updates from the Head of School regarding this subject.