During these uncertain times, it’s normal to wonder about the future. Like many things, the future of Concord Academy is unclear due to COVID-19. With a limited amount of time, the administration put together a distance learning curriculum for this semester, shocking students and teachers alike. While this academic year may be ending, it is no surprise that the school has begun planning for another semester of distance-learning next year. The Centipede was lucky enough to get an interview with Laura Twichell about what CA might look like next year.
It is important to note that the plans Laura talked about are not set in stone. Laura made it clear that the school is still in the early stages of planning and anything is subject to change. Nothing is definite until the school notifies the community of any changes that might occur next year.
Laura expressed that CA may not return to “normal” until a vaccine is available to the public. If the “virus is still around,” then gathering in large groups will be risky, and the school will have to adapt its program to prioritize the health and safety of the community. Laura also mentioned that CA will follow Massachusetts’ state policy when it comes to reopening campus, and the administration is following updates closely. The school will use state and national guidance to determine which benchmarks it needs to meet in order to safely reopen.
When discussing reopening campus and boarding life, Laura emphasized that the school’s priority is to “ensure a safe return.” The school has to consider many factors: how many people will be on campus, how to address boarding/day life, and how to practice social distancing at school. While “no final decisions have been made yet,” Laura mentioned that she wouldn’t be surprised if “some part of CA remains in distance learning.” She also mentioned that while the school has to make the final decision, it is ultimately up to families to decide whether they feel safe enough that they can let their children come back to school.
The last thing that Laura addressed was the academic curriculum. She mentioned that the feedback received from this semester will affect how next year might look. Teachers “are planning to do professional development during the summer in order to improve their ability to teach through distance learning.” When asked about finals, Laura said that “finals may not match with distance learning,” and we don’t know yet what finals will look like next year. A big point was pass/fail and whether or not it will be brought back next year if we continue distance learning. Laura emphasized that the feedback received could change that and that they are still deciding whether to keep pass/fail or go back to a letter grade system. The most important thing to keep up, though, is “motivation, and how we can make students excited about the love of learning in whatever learning context we are in.”