On March 23, St. Anne’s-Belfield School opened to another “first day of school” with the start of its distance learning program. Prompted by the decision to close campuses to fight the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the program extends from the Two-Year-Old’s classes in the Pre-School through Grade 12.
For almost a week prior to kick off, faculty and staff worked to ensure that the School community would continue to thrive during this shift in teaching and learning. Teachers quickly designed new strategies on platforms with which they were familiar due to the School’s multi-year plan of tech integration across courses. They devised lesson plans, assignments, and accompanying multimedia in preparation for launch. To support them, the IT department prepared and loaned 166 iPads and 101 MacBooks to Learning Village students as part of the School’s 1:1 program, and made available resources for wifi hotspots, virtual help desk support, and on-demand references.
“It has always been an honor and privilege to work with such an incredible faculty and staff,” said Head of School David Lourie. “Last week was yet another reminder of this for me. They are all, in a word, amazing, and our students are in the absolute best hands in the days ahead.”
For Head of the Upper School Peter Quagliaroli, the extent to which faculty and staff have prioritized an uninterrupted sense of community along with their teaching during this time of transition has been inspiring.
“It is a rare but wonderful thing, to be simultaneously amazed and unsurprised by your colleagues,” he said of the School’s preparations.
Ahead of the first day of classes, each division created a suggested daily schedule for students while understanding that each family will have different circumstances in the weeks ahead. Schedules include time for core courses, as well as virtual meetings for homerooms and advisories, daily outdoor and physical activity times, faculty and administrator office hours, School meetings, and community independent reading time. Both synchronous and asynchronous plans are in place, so that international students working in different time zones can access class materials, assignments, teachers, and class recordings remotely.
Virtual faculty lounges and after-school social hangouts have been created by teachers for teachers during the distance learning time period, and those who have or have always wanted to participate in the Renaissance Reader program also have an online home thanks to Mr. Taylor. Learning Village Librarian Sarah FitzHenry has also created the #STABReadsAtHome campaign for those who would like to share what they are reading.
"The past few weeks have been hectic and emotionally exhausting," noted Jamie Malasek '20, leader of the Upper School's Peer Tutoring program. "The next few weeks will most likely be the same. As we start online classes we need to remember that it is new and foreign to all of us, including our teachers, so we'll need to be patient with everyone, go to class with the best attitude possible, and try to make the most out of online classes. Although we are not physically in school, education should still be a priority."
To learn more about the St. Anne's-Belfield School distance learning program, visit www.stab.org/distancelearning.
Photo courtesy of Jamie Malasek '20.