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March 27, 2020

Jeffrey M. Howard
Distance Learning Week One
For the foreseeable future, it is my intention to use this space to provide some updates on how we are doing as a community with Distance Learning, what the new, temporary normal looks like and how the staff and faculty are working on behalf of your students. 

As you know, we launched into the Distance Learning Adventure this week. Our preparation for it was most helpful for our faculty and staff. Having in person discussions on Thursday, March 12 and then two days of preparations earlier this week has helped our teachers feel as confident as they can be going into these next weeks. I am incredibly gratified by the work of the Distance Learning Task Force (13 of our teachers, counselors and staff) who planned for this work. I’d like to note that over 25 faculty and staff members volunteered to take part in the Task Force… such is the quality of educators who serve your students.

The Task Force spent time considering the best ways to begin Distance Learning with your students. We discussed the new reality we are facing and the best ways to address it. We debated content, context and collaboration going forward. We determined a solid course of action and handed the work of it over to the immensely talented faculty and staff. 

We anticipate our students being engaged in the courses for a minimum of five hours a day during this Distance Learning posture as I noted in detail in
THIS LETTER. They will, likely, be engaged longer than that. Obviously, prescriptive time expectations are somewhat arbitrary as students complete their work at different paces but this is a guideline our faculty is considering. We, as a school, are also very mindful that the lives of our students from home-to-home and experience-to-experience are very different now than they have been. We are sensitive to the new realities our students are confronting, to the changes in their dynamics at home, to the pressures of technology when many people in a household are “remoting” in to school and work and to the general shifts in our ways of doing things. We want to be sure that we continue to engage them in their school work - center them in their lives as students - we do so mindful of these new factors.

We also know that our teachers, talented and dedicated though they are - and they are so very talented and dedicated - are learning much of this on the fly. Have you seen Apollo 13? THIS is a good approximation of what our teachers are doing. The Task Force determined that giving teachers clear parameters and flexibility to operate within them was the best way to begin this phase of the school year. I completely support this idea.

We will get better as we go. We will improve our efforts. We will survey your students and serve their needs in adaptive and new ways going forward. 

I have watched our faculty and staff meet virtually all week, in groups large and small, in departments and one-on-one, to discern how to best serve your students. I can tell you this much: they are working incredibly hard, harder than they would be working were we all together.

And together is what we want to be… together is what we are.

What’s Next?
Though we will still be in our Distance Learning posture, Good Friday (Friday, April 10, 2020) and Easter Monday (Monday, April 13, 2020) we be days off. We will not conduct Distance Learning those days. 

As of this writing, our intention is to be back at school, together and by association, on Monday, April 20, 2020. I will note that our original calendar had Monday April 20, 2020 designated a Teacher Work Day. It will, hopefully, be our first day back.

There are, of course, many events scheduled after April 20. These include all of our end of the year celebrations, gatherings, sports and so forth. While our intention and plan is that all of these events will happen, they likely will not happen as they have been scheduled on the calendar. When we return to normal operations, we will have to be flexible in how we approach all items on the schedule. We will have venue considerations, timing considerations, planning considerations and the like. Though I wish I could say definitively today how all this will go in April, that is unrealistic.

What I can say is that we will celebrate together, whether in person or not, the end of the school year and will hold every event we can!
  
Timely Updates
For the most timely updates of what is going on this trimester, please visit the SPRING 2020 page on the website. 

See you as soon as possible!

Peace,  


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