Learning during COVID-19

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This is intended to be an ongoing series in which we take a look at the great lengths that educators, students and parents are going to in order to maintain a rendition of the school curriculum during quarantine.

In recent weeks, most local school systems have officially suspending several longstanding policies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grading systems and graduation requirements are being altered.

Many high school students will receive “no grade lower than the grade they earned in the course as of March 20.”

Only 20 credits will be required to graduate. Previous requirements like the completion of the ACT or SAT test will also be waived.

Middle and elementary school students will not be required to take the annual TCAP exam. Students will not be penalized for a failure to attend online courses.

However, private institutions like St. George’s Independent School, which has campuses throughout the county, remain “in session.”

Somewhat ahead of the curve, staff within the elementary, middle and high schools at St. George’s began preparing for a virtual curriculum in the second week of March.

Head of Schools Timothy Gibson said school leaders discussed the impending pandemic before Spring Break, which was from March 9-13.

“We needed to be ready to go,” he said, “just in case.

“Reading the tea leaves,” he added, “our chief academic officer said that we should be prepared to do 4-to-6 weeks of virtual schooling.”

Teachers met for two days of professional development to work out any “technological kinks.”

Families that needed computer support were also assisted.

The next day (March 18) classes at St. George’s commenced.

Students now use the popular Zoom program to access classes on a rotating block schedule. They even access chapel on Wednesdays.

Zoom is a modern video communications, with a cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems.

Gibson said the school is now focused on “essential learning.”

“We’re not losing sight of the fact that our students are in the midst of a global crisis,” he noted. “We want to peel back on what we were planning to teach and focus on what is most important.”

However, that doesn’t mean that the school’s syllabus has been retired. Students are still being graded and even take tests online.

“The work that they are doing right now is to prepare them for the grade they are going in to next year,” Gibson said.

He added that the school’s prioritization on “trust and faith” has helped students and faculty prevail throughout the pandemic.

“That’s one of the things we do best,” he said. “We are a community of people who trust each other.

“As we entered into a space that is unknown,” he added, “we knew that we needed to be flexible, but also well aware that everybody was going to give it their all.”

On March 16, St. George’s Independent School transitioned to distance and virtual learning to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Although the school is closed to students and visitors, it remains open for virtual tours.

For more information, email [email protected].

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