May has been a very busy month in our online learning. Of particular significance:
- We held our virtual University of Waterloo Gauss test and four of our Grade 8 students achieved a perfect score. Congratulations to Ryan, Juliet, Maria, and Katie. Well done to all our Grade 7 and 8 participants and a special thank you to Mr. Veleno for running this event.
- Hudson College held its Annual Lower School Art Show virtually. A special thanks to all students and teachers for participating and a special thank you to Ms. Butscher for putting the gallery of Hudson artwork together.
- We also held our annual speech competition and we congratulate the winners: Gala, Camilla, and Thomas. Well done all participants and a special thank you to Mr. Minty for hosting this event.
On May 27, we emailed a communication outlining the rest of the school year. We are pleased to provide our students with the end of year ceremonies in June (virtually) that will celebrate their accomplishments. We are are glad to be able to celebrate the important milestone of Senior Kindergarten and Grade 8 graduation (virtually) with our students and their families.
We have now completed 11 weeks of virtual learning. During these 11 weeks, I have spoken to students in different grades – the overall message I receive is, “when is this COVID going to end? – I want to be with my friends at school.” I hear a consistent plea for direct human contact and interaction with their peers and teachers – virtual gatherings gloss over and temporarily appease the frustration some of our children are feeling. Virtual learning is NOT a replacement for the classroom! Our teachers consistently report how much they miss teaching in the classroom as well.
As we move into our final weeks of the school year, I am also aware of our parents’ concerns related to next year, “what will school look like in September?”
The truth is that we don’t know because we do not have even a ‘somewhat’ clear idea of what health precautions and directives will be mandated for schools as the COVID-19 precautions persist.
However, even with this uncertainty, we have begun the planning process for September.
I am meeting with students in Grade 3 to 8 over a three-day period. Whatever learning platform is implemented, our students are the focus, and their voice, ideas, opinions, and reflection on their online learning experiences are important to our decision making.
Teachers will be asked for their input – to reflect on their teaching experience, identify good practices and areas for improvement, and outline resources needed to improve service.
We will ask for parent input: what worked for their families and what did not.
Simultaneously, we are researching information from other private schools and we continue to wait on direction from the Ministry and health authorities.
In March, we had no choice but to move as quickly as possible to create an online learning program that met the multiple needs and circumstances of our families. Our families were asked to organize their work schedules, childcare issues, and technical resources. At the same time, our teachers were asked to learn new technology, find and access resources (as we could not go to the school), adjust their family schedules, and reformat in-class lessons for a virtual platform.
We have learned a lot over these 11 weeks.
For September, the objective is to ensure we are able to mitigate the learning needs of all our learners. This will be a focus for whatever September program is put in place.
So, it is important to Jeff and me that we don’t simply offer suggestions for a September start without a close evaluation of the current process, input from our community members, research on existing practices, and guidance from government and health authorities.
When we have sufficient information we will outline different scenarios that take into consideration the overall needs of our students and families and, most importantly, leave no child behind.
We ask for your patience.
Rose and Jeff