With information about the coronavirus being talked about and being on the minds of the ASL community constantly, students have many questions about what would happen if the school closes. Scroll editors interviewed three members of the school’s administration to get the answers. Head of School Robin Appleby, Director of Technology Nadjib Aktouf, and Middle School Principal Pete Lutkoski have been involved in creating the school’s Distance Learning Plan, and they answered some of the most pressing questions that ASL students may have:
How long do you think the school would close down for, and what do you think would happen when it re-opens?
Middle School Principal Mr. Pete Lutkoski: “I think, most likely if it were to happen, it would be more than just two or three days. It would probably be a couple of weeks or more… After schools were to reopen, I guess we would just set a date for school to return to business as usual. Maybe there would be a slightly altered schedule so that we can all be together first in the day instead of going right into class, but I don’t think there would be a partial day. There wouldn’t be any scientific basis for that.”
Why would the school shut down?
Head of School Mrs. Robin Appleby: “So if the government decided to close, we would definitely close because we would be following their guidelines. The school could also make an independent decision to close… “[The school’s closure] isn’t related to the number of cases at all. It would be related to our good judgment about what was in the best interest of the health and safety of our community and also our community’s responsibility to support efforts to lessen the virus in our London area.”
How was the Distance Learning Plan created?
Director of Technology Mr. Nadjib Aktouf: “The Distance Learning Plan was created by the academic leadership team and the senior leadership team, and those teams are comprised of principals, assistant principals, and K-12 directors… The plan has been adapted and remixed from the learning plans of other schools around the world that have been in distance learning or have had school closure for an extended time. These educators and teachers at different international schools have opened up the resources globally, and different schools have been adding. Schools that don’t have plans yet have been adapting and pre-mixing to make plans that work for their schools, and that’s how we put it together. There was a set of meetings, and most of the work was done online because we have a collaborative Google Doc.”
How does the Distance Learning Plan work?
Mr. Aktouf: “The format for delivering distance learning is called an asynchronous learning environment. For distance learning, teachers will not be following the daily timetable and the daily schedule where your class starts at a specific hour. Instead, teachers will be making materials available on those days that students meet. Then students can check in weekly or daily as appropriate for their grade and the division to check in and see what materials teachers have put in; those materials can be links to resources… The reason we’ve chosen an asynchronous learning environment is because of how complex and tricky it can be to deliver quality distance learning programs when it is synchronous.”
What platforms would be used in distance learning?
Mr. Aktouf: “The platform that we use for distance learning is Schoology. We expect all students to log in to Schoology to see their materials. Having said that, there are tons of other educational apps and other platforms that we use across the school which will be linked from Schoology. The launchpad is everybody to log in to Schoology to see where they need to go to participate in the distance learning activities.”
How are teachers being trained to implement the Distance Learning Plan?
Mr. Lutkoski: “Because it’s unknown to all of us out there, I think we’re all just gonna have to work together to figure out the best way to do it. There’s been time devoted to department meetings to read through and interpret the plan that’s in place, but it’s been pretty recent that we’ve been able to finalize it. One aspect of the plan is that if the decision were made for the school to close, we would have four workdays before we actually started the distance learning. During that time, we would have our full attention devoted to training.”
Is there formal testing in the Distance Learning Plan?
Mrs. Appleby: “Right now the Distance Learning Plan would not include formal testing… There may be some forms of assessments. Teachers can actually give you things to do online, and there are lots of different ways to think about it. I think a lot of it would depend on how long we ultimately were out of school. If it were only a couple of weeks, that would be different than if we were out for much longer.”
When handling their laptops and learning at home, what is important for students to remember?
Mr. Aktouf: “It is important that students maintain their laptops and that they adhere to the responsible use agreement for laptops both in and outside of school. Also, they need to keep updating laptops when there are those update notifications because it allows us to provide better support, and it allows for a better distance learning experience overall.”
News Editor Clara Martinez contributed to this article.