At the time of writing, Concord Academy has just undergone its first day of distance learning – the learning model adopted following an ever-increasing outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the US. In the first all-school Community Meeting on March 30, Head of School Rick Hardy noted how unprecedented this scenario is for CA, as well as many schools and communities around the world. With social distancing and quarantine measures in places, in-person school is no longer achievable, and so CA, like many schools worldwide, has employed the conferencing software – Zoom – as a means to reconnect. As an international student residing on foreign soil in the midst of these circumstances, the plan is a laudable effort to keep the cohesion of the community and maintain the school’s academic goals. 

CA has evidently taken care to accommodate those both in and out of the US. Given the diverse nature of the student body, many students are in incompatible time zones for synchronous learning. Although I don’t have a time zone conflict, I find it reassuring that CA has ensured a relatively balanced approach to both remediating the inconveniences of the virus and to paying attention to the location and lifestyles of the international students, such as myself.

CA has also done well in terms of transitioning as an administration, although this is not to say everyone has had a smooth transition to online school. CA has provided sufficient information and instruction leading up to the full adoption of Zoom as the medium of instruction. There have been a series of emails from various teachers with clear instructions on how to use Zoom, as well as opportunities to test the efficacy of the software with our advisors prior to the start of distance learning. CA has done well in alleviating the confusion inherent in moving to an unfamiliar method of learning.

Personally, I find myself having trouble accepting the amount of actual learning we will do in the following weeks. While I have faith in the teachers’ ability to impart knowledge regardless of where we stand, I cannot deny the thought that these four weeks will not be as fruitful as they could be under normal circumstances. Furthermore, despite transitioning to a pass/fail system of grading, I still question how effectively I will adapt to this system as a learner. In this case, I do not think anyone knows what to expect, but that is precisely what I find so troubling. 

CA has tried its best in the face of the circumstances to shift the entire school online. CA did not or cannot address the varying amounts of uncertainty that is present these days. However, the school has put out an effort to keep what we are used to intact despite a world seemingly in tatters.