It is becoming clearer and clearer from statements made by the Governor and the President that we will likely finish the second semester in our Home Learning Program. The extension of physical distancing practices to the end of April and statements made this week by Governor Whitmer on education planning, make it clear that what started as a short-term intervention must now be seen as the vehicle we will use for the remainder of this semester, and perhaps longer.
Know that The Roeper School is committed to ensuring that our students complete this semester and receive the necessary credit to move to the next level in their education. At the same time, my message to your family is that we must approach our work together with a sense of balance and compassion. We are not merely shifting the venue by which we deliver school; the Home Learning Program is not just a virtual version of Roeper.
Our teachers we will certainly continue to create a program that provides academic challenge and engagement for our students; we will continue to try to build skills, enrich learning, and guide our students through new and interesting material, but make no mistake, the social and emotional health of our community must be our priority. While we try to bring some level of routine to our families, we must also know our school community will not be immune to the hardship of the Coronavirus illness. We will not be immune to anxiety as we watch friends and family members serving as health care professionals and first responders continue to do their jobs. These intense stressors make focusing on teaching and learning a weighty burden for our students, and our teachers.
As we plan the next phase of our Home Learning Program, I want to emphasize that our priority will be to connect, connect, connect! We will prioritize our regular homeroom check-ins and use our live sessions to provide students with both learning and social space. Our mission calls on us to act with compassion for ourselves and this world – both are in desperate need of that compassion today.
While questions exist in other venues about the delivery of PreK-12 education, the Roeper School will continue to provide the teaching and learning that gives our students the opportunity to complete their academic year. We are grateful to our teachers, our parents, and our students for their care, commitment, and kindness in this crisis. The learning format is different, but the people behind the work bring their full selves each day. In this time of global crisis, the Roeper community continues to place the academic, social, and emotional needs of children at the core of our work. We are not stepping away from our commitment to families.
As we complete this school year, we know that we cannot stay anchored in place; we must also prepare for the fall and beyond. Outreach will begin in the coming weeks to guide middle and upper school students through registration for new classes, and where appropriate, placement in new stages for our lower school students. We don’t know how the pandemic will impact the 2020-2021 school year, and so we must move forward preparing for a variety of different options: regular school in our brick and mortar campuses; a hybrid of regular school and home learning; and the continuation of the Home Learning Program. In all cases we will live our mission and philosophy and maintain our commitment to student growth and engagement.
I truly can’t wait for the day when we are back in our buildings together laughing, engaging, and enjoying each other’s company. Know that in the interim, our teachers will become more facile with online tools and different teaching pedagogy, and in the end, that will make our faculty even stronger educators.
For now, our focus will be on how we finish the second semester, and how we take care of one another as we manage physical distancing and our physical and emotional well-being. Please take care of yourself, take care of your family, and continue to take special care of our community.