Adapting to the Future

May 1st, 2020

We are wrapping up another school year, and it’s difficult to believe that it’s already over. This school year has been one defined by our school’s determination to succeed. We reopened the pre-K; we invited students into the new Commons—we worked hard, and we succeeded in so many ways. I am proud of each of our students and all that they’ve accomplished this year. I’m also proud of how well we were able to adapt to unusual circumstances. In this case, our small size proved again to be an asset that allowed us to pivot to a digital environment more quickly than most. Even still, we may not be done pivoting yet—we’re wrapping up the school year, but there is a chance that school won’t quite look normal in August.
We’re preparing now—and throughout the summer—to develop curricula flexible enough to deliver a high-quality education regardless of external circumstances. Essentially, we envision one of three possibilities playing out: (1) school resumes as normal in August, (2) school remains totally online for some portion of the fall semester, or (3) we implement a blend of classroom and distance learning. We, of course, know how school will look in the first and second possibilities. Even if school resumes as normal in August, we will practice heightened safety protocols until guidance from the CDC dictates otherwise.
In the third scenario, though, it may be that one division learns on-campus two days per week and at home two days per week, with rotations between divisions to ensure that there is 24-hours for disinfection to each classroom and a limited number of children on campus each day; or it may be that we limit class sizes to ten and reduce contact between classes or divisions for some period of time. Nothing yet is set in stone, and we’re working on understanding what configuration would work best for our teachers and families should public health dictate a blended learning environment. A Think Tank at Selwyn is discussing precisely how we best implement a blended classroom. I’ve asked a group of teachers to begin considering how to deliver most effectively a Selwyn education if we are not able to resume classes in a traditional way this fall. Scheduling, student expectations, workflows, safety protocols that follow CDC best practices—all of these need to be considered, and we want to be prepared to go from the first day of school, regardless of which scenario becomes reality.
All of this planning, of course, hinges on how the coronavirus impacts our communities and nation in the months to come. We cannot be certain how the world will look in August. We can, however, be certain that we will develop plans for the likeliest contingencies to ensure that Selwyn continues its mission of educating students effectively and safely. I will communicate with the entire school community our progress on this endeavor throughout the rest of the school year and the summer, as well as the result of all of this planning in the weeks ahead. Whichever way we do it, we will still be teaching students in the fall!

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