Return to Learn: Two Models for Casady School in the Path Forward

Dear Casady Community,
 
Let’s take a moment to celebrate a beautiful Baccalaureate and Graduation! Both ceremonies were different from what we are accustomed to, and both were meaningful for our graduating seniors.
 
We knew it would take a team of parents, students, faculty, and staff to make these unique graduation events a success for our seniors and their families. As I watched our seniors take a final lap around the lake to the applause of the faculty, who had been watching in various buildings, it hit me: "We are truly all in this together!"
 
This sense of unity is one reason we have focused our attention on opening with students on campus in the fall. You may have heard of some schools working toward what is commonly referred to as a “hybrid learning environment,” where most students are in the classroom and some students attend class remotely. We have decided not to pursue a hybrid environment. While hybrid sounds flexible and helpful, neither the in-person nor the remote students receive the durable and engaging learning that you have come to expect from a school the caliber of Casady. Until a more robust and sustainable platform for hybrid learning is made available, we will remain focused on either all students in-person or all students remote models of learning.
 
We are confident that you will support our efforts to open up on campus in the Fall, in much the same way we pulled together to have successful and unique graduation events. Our “Why” for reopening in a bricks and mortar environment is our commitment to creating strong relationships between teachers and students. These relationships are what helped us stay together and learn together this past spring. As Mike Turpin said in his charge to the seniors at Graduation, "Focus on high touch and not just high tech!"
 
To that end, we have concentrated our efforts on two goals for the Fall. The first goal is in-person classes for ALL, and the second goal is improving and preparing the remote classroom for that time during the year when we may have to close again, temporarily. We are also creating new remote schedules that will minimize downtime in order to maximize active learning time. We feel reasonably confident that the health authorities will ask us to close campus for brief periods throughout next year. When they do, we will be ready to pivot to remote learning for your child quickly and efficiently.
 
Opening the school year with in-person classes for all will help students and teachers develop strong relationships for when, or if, we have to close campus and return to remote learning. Of course, our students range in age from 4 to 18! For some of the younger students, our emphasis will be on a cohort model, keeping a group of students together throughout their day with social distancing where possible. Keeping cohort groups together will minimize the number of students who may have to quarantine and move to remote learning. For older students, our emphasis will be on monitoring students and reminding them, endlessly, about social distancing.
 
Thankfully, we already have students back on campus! Summer by the Lake camps and athletic strength and conditioning programs began for us on Monday! We are excited to implement various measures of safety we hope to use in the Fall. Should we learn that one of our protocols does not work well, it is helpful to learn that with a smaller number of students.
 
It will be essential and a part of our commitment to each other that you follow the guidelines and keep your child home if symptomatic. Now is not the time to take unnecessary health risks; let's do it right to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our community.
 
Finally, the Southwest Preparatory Conference has not yet announced how they intend athletic competition to happen in the Fall. We know that the Fall sports programs will be different, and we will update you as soon as we have more details. Thank you for being patient as the SPC identifies how they will allow member schools to participate in athletics.
 
Casady School’s goal is to focus on in-person learning, so, to be successful, it will take ALL of us working towards the same purpose in our Community Covenant. We understand that our return-to-learn model will not be perfect and that sending your children to Casady means you accept the inherent risks with in-person learning. The truth is that we will do the best we can by prioritizing in-person education as safely as we can, and, as a community, we, along with you, will be prudent with our safety measures.
 
I close with a quote from Hellen Keller that I have used before, "Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much." This coming year will again be challenging in many ways. However, like the last 12 weeks of our Spring term, we witnessed what happens when we pull together to educate our children so they can, with confidence, pursue their passions.
 
We are in this together, and together, we are Cyclone Strong!
 
Faithfully,

Nathan L. Sheldon
Head of School
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Casady School welcomes a student body that reflects the diversity of the world around us and therefore does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, nationality, or ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletics, and other school-administered programs generally accorded or made available to students at the School.
Casady School is an independent, co-educational, college preparatory, Episcopal day school serving students in pre-k-12. Educating Mind, Body, and Spirit.