Impact: What Transitioning to the “New” Normal Means in EducationBy Jeanne Huybrechts and Allison Wilson
Stratford School Unveils its Plan for Fall 2020
We are excited to welcome students for the upcoming school year with safety in mind and plans for a flexible learning environment.
To date, we have established priorities aligned with our school’s mission and goals for students, created a return-to-school plan and are building out support systems for several potential contingency plans. Here’s a preview of our plans for fall:
Staying True to Stratford’s Guiding Principles
Safety: Our commitment to the health and safety of our school community is paramount. We will abide by all state and local statues, heed the advice of health organizations, notably the CDC, and maintain a clean and healthy environment within our schools. Additionally, we will implement several strategies to encourage behaviors known to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Quality Academic Programs: Depending on the final state and local statues for this school year wherein shelter-in-place or reduced-occupancy mandates are imposed, we will be ready to transition to one of several teaching and learning models, among them (1) a period of distance learning or (2) a hybrid of distance and on-campus learning (necessary, for example, if classroom capacity limits are imposed). Again, an uninterrupted traditional school year is our fervent hope, but every imaginable alternative scenario is being explored.
Commitment to Improvement: The school has committed to investing in computer hardware and software upgrades to aid in any hybrid accommodation we may face, and also at the request of our teachers, who, during the distance-learning period, learned and developed creative uses for instructional technology and learning programs, which they hope to continue using.
School year 2020-21 teacher training will focus almost entirely on blended learning techniques: how to develop curriculum and programing with clear through-lines that seamlessly integrate traditional and modern teaching pedagogies, synchronous and asynchronous learning, in-person and digital experiences.
A Caring Atmosphere: In all of our distance-learning interactions with students, we try to bridge the digital gap with some playfulness, some fun and other manifestations of care and connection. In advisory meetings and in academic classes, we incorporate elements that support social-emotional health. During our months apart, social-emotional learning is more relevant than ever.
Onward with Optimism!
As communities begin to open back up, it is important to be mindful of potential messages around COVID-19 that may be confusing to children. Introducing proactive, age-appropriate discussions about how school might look different when they start the new school year are important topics in which to engage and develop as information evolves. This continued focus around what we know about the virus and sharing the things that are within our control can help build confidence, and a level of comfort, in our children.
And, as we begin to plan for this upcoming school year, we are still driven by the mission and vision that attracted us to teaching in the first place, and we are reinvigorated by the creativity and inventiveness unleashed in response to extraordinarily challenging circumstances. We will begin the school year grateful for the opportunity to teach and to learn as we move onward to an excellent future!
To learn more about Stratford School or to schedule a personalized virtual tour go to stratfordschools.com!
Jeanne Huybrechts is Chief Academic Officer, and Allison Wilson is Senior Director of Curriculum and Innovation Preschool-Grade 2, at Stratford School.