Each day this week, we have all received developing information regarding COVID-19 and the various plans being put into place to limit its spread and the potential impacts on the lives of so many. We remain concerned with the impacts that our own school closure will have on our students, faculty, and parents and are committed to doing what we can to provide a continuity of the Priory experience over the coming weeks. That being said, we recognize that the situation remains extremely fluid and the particular consequences already being experienced are likely to be as numerous and varied as there are members of our community.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through a number of plans to keep everyone safe and healthy while moving forward with a number of our essentials operations, namely partnering with you, our parents, to further the education and formation of your sons.
Distance Learning Plan
The members of the school’s Academic Council have been developing a Distance Learning Plan over the last two weeks, in preparation for a potential school closure. Our overall objective with such a plan is to provide an educational experience for our students that continues to develop skills, proficiencies, and understandings so that they can demonstrate mastery of current course concepts and are prepared to continue their learning at the next level. In addition to the academic objectives of our plan, we know and believe that students and adults can benefit from an established sense of routine and appropriate expectations in times of uncertainty and heightened anxiety. Our hope is that we will all work to balance defining and meeting curricular expectations with a sincere understanding and compassion for the challenges that many of us will continue to face for some time to come.
We have developed a Distance Learning Schedule that we will implement, beginning on Thursday, March 26. Our faculty will work on March 23-25 to develop lessons/units by grade-level and department that are conducive for distance learning based on the objectives described above. A couple of general points regarding the schedule:
- The school day will run from 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM
- Classes are scheduled for one or two blocks (1.5 hours) of instruction per week
- There are 30 minute breaks built into the schedule between each class block
- Students will have unscheduled blocks throughout the course of the week
- Blocks can be used for synchronous learning or as ‘office hours’
- Posting Assignments and Weekly Plan on MyPriory
Posting Assignments and Weekly Plan on MyPriory
We continue to work with faculty to consider a number of asynchronous and synchronous methods of delivering content and assessing student progress and achievement. We anticipate that most of the instruction will be asynchronous, with faculty posting assignments, readings, activities, and projects and checking in with students throughout the week to provide feedback and answer questions. Faculty will send an introductory email to students and parents prior to the start of classes next Thursday, outlining their plans for distance learning. Each week, they will then post a weekly ‘plan’ on MyPriory for students and parents to follow, and many will continue to use their current Learning Management System (MyPriory, Google Classroom, or Trello) to interact and engage with their students.
Using Zoom For Synchronous Lessons
Faculty who plan to incorporate synchronous lessons into their instruction will be using Zoom and scheduling those meetings in accordance with the published weekly schedule. Again, we anticipate that most of these sessions will not require access to Zoom for the entire 90-minute period but will allow for a common time when a teacher and his/her students in the same course can be ‘online’ at the same time for a virtual class lesson. We’ve prepared a Distance Learning Plan for our students which provides an overview of how the program will run and how they can prepare for the transition next week.
As with any developing process, we realize there will be questions and issues we will have to work through as we roll out the Distance Learning Plan. We are focused on preparing for the transition next week and ensuring that we address any issues related to access and faculty training on the various platforms available.
Thank you, again, for your support and for working with us to help your sons continue to learn and mature through this challenging time. Continued prayers for all of you and your families.
Jared M. Rashford