March 27, 2020
Dear Moses Brown Community,
I hope you have enjoyed a restful spring break and found rejuvenation in the midst of unsettling circumstances caused by the coronavirus. Over the past two weeks, I think we’ve all discovered that maintaining some of the joys of daily life---like friendships, hobbies, and exercise---during a period of social distancing takes creativity and determination, and I hope that your family has been successful in creating new routines for this unprecedented time.
Since spring break began, MB teachers, staff, and administrators have been preparing for distance learning. In this new model, we are confident that students will continue to receive an excellent education grounded in Quaker values. We also know that we’ll all need to be patient, flexible, and resilient as we launch the program next week.
This letter---in the form of Questions & Answers---is intended to provide practical information for what lies ahead and to answer 10 basic questions that I’ve received with some frequency this week.
How will distance learning work?
As shared in previous communications, with MB’s campus closed, distance learning will begin on April 1 and last at least until April 10 and likely longer. We’ve created a short-term
Distance Learning Plan
(disseminated before and again during break) in which teachers will use a variety of tools to deliver lessons, assignments, and projects and explore different ways to keep students engaged. Experience suggests that blending asynchronous learning (when students work at their own pace, on their own schedule) with synchronous (when groups meet in real time) provides an effective model for online education. Later today, Division Heads will be sharing more information about what distance education will look like at the Lower, Middle, and Upper School level.
What if I left my computer or other materials at school?
Please email your Division Head. With your guidance, we hope to locate your items, bundle them up, and deliver them curbside at a mutually agreeable time. We need to avoid having students and parents in the buildings so that we can maintain social distancing for essential employees still working at the school. If you need to retrieve a musical instrument, please contact the Chair of the Performing Arts Department, Justin Peters, at
Whom do I contact with questions about distance learning?
How will school norms, values, and rules be applied during distance learning?
While distance learning will involve new ways of meeting and interacting online, all school rules, expectations, and policies (including dress code during video sessions) will continue to apply during this period. Students should conduct themselves online with the same level of decorum, respect for others, and commitment to integrity as they would in a regular class setting. The Student Handbook for each division articulates the academic and behavioral expectations of Moses Brown School, whether we are operating remotely or in-person.
Will families still be billed for services such as lunch, after-school programs, or transportation?
No. During the period of distance learning and campus closure, MB will not be providing fee-based services such as lunch, after-school programs, or bussing. Any bills received for such services during the period of distance learning should be ignored, and any amounts pre-paid for these services will be refunded at the end of the school year.
What about interscholastic sports and other co-curriculars this spring?
All sports and other co-curricular programs are cancelled for the duration of distance learning. We deeply regret this outcome, as after-school activities are an absolute passion for many MB students, faculty and staff and an important component of building community and school spirit. If and when we return to campus this spring, we will do everything in our power to rapidly re-start our co-curricular program and provide as much opportunity as possible for our thespians, athletes, and others.
What about the MB TRIPs program? Are domestic or international trips happening?
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing global spread of coronavirus, our Dominican Republic and Galapagos Islands trips have been postponed for a year and other international trips (Switzerland, Italy, Nepal) likely will be as well. We are currently monitoring the situation within the United States and assessing the feasibility of Lower and Middle School summer trips to New York, New Hampshire, and Washington, DC. We will keep the community apprised as decisions are made about all these trips in the coming days and weeks.
How will the school manage public events like MBeThere, Reunion, or Commencement?
Following CDC and state guidelines about public gatherings, MB’s annual gala (MBeThere, scheduled for April 18) will not take place as planned, and we are exploring other potential formats and dates for this annual event. Reunion, planned for May 9, has been postponed to the fall. Looking further out, we recognize that there are many special events and celebrations associated with the end of the school year, especially for seniors. If campus reopens this spring and CDC/RIDOH guidance allows, we will be thrilled to hold events such as Lower and Middle School Closing Exercises, Senior Dinner, Baccalaureate, and Commencement. If restrictions on public gatherings remain in place, we are committed to holding these community events at a later time or in a different format. We will do everything possible to celebrate our students with the sense of pride, fun, and accomplishment that normally accompanies the end of the school year.
How will we maintain a sense of community when we cannot be in the same place?
In this challenging time, the importance of maintaining human relationships and connections is paramount. Our Friends values, and especially our commitment to community, will continue to be at the center of our work as teachers and learners. Students will have regular opportunities to see and interact with others, to collaborate with peers, and to have access to supporting adults. Similarly, we hope that Moses Brown can continue to be a source of education, connection, and friendship for parents. To keep our community connected, we’ll be using a variety of formats, including:
· As Head of School, I will be communicating regularly either in writing or video.
· Advisors will maintain regular contact with advisees.
· Teachers will enable peer connection and collaboration through tools such as Google Meet, Zoom, and other innovative synchronous and asynchronous formats.
· Learning support specialists and counselors will be in touch with students in their charge on an as needed basis.
· Division Heads---together with support staff such as counselors Krista and Jess and nurses Barret and Alice---will continue their regular meetings with parents (but virtually).
· Weekly Meeting for Worship will continue for all divisions through virtual platforms. In addition, we will be providing optional MFW sessions for families or other community members who welcome the opportunity for shared reflection.
· If distance learning continues past April 10, we will begin each day in Middle and Upper School with synchronous advisory meetings.
· All regularly scheduled parent meetings will continue as planned using an online platform, and parents should feel free to reach out to schedule a meeting just as they normally would.
· Community partnerships and service work remain a priority. We are working to collect service opportunities for students, families, and the broader community and will publicize them through our website.
· We will continue to develop and refine ways to build community in our school. Your patience, understanding, and good ideas are all appreciated.
What are some tips for managing work and learning at home?
Like many, your inbox and social media feeds have probably been flooded over the past several weeks with suggestions for managing remote work and school. We’ve learned from other schools that online learning is both challenging and rewarding: it requires motivation and time management, but also allows scope for independence and autonomy; it can be isolating, but also collaborative; and distance learning demands screen time, but also invites a lot of good, old-fashioned reading from books. Parents, who themselves may also be working from home, can find it difficult to balance care and support for children with their own work responsibilities. As we move ahead, we are committed to helping MB students, families, faculty, and staff monitor their work-life balance, and to making adjustments to our distance learning model where needed in order to keep our community healthy. In the meantime, in the spirit of partnership, please feel free to consult
this excellent resource
on maintaining good mental health compiled by our N-6 Counselor, Krista Haskell, and our Psychologist, Jess Stewart.
This is an unprecedented time in our school’s and our nation’s history, and while I am incredibly proud of the hard work, commitment, and positive attitude shown by our community over the past few weeks, I am sad that we cannot be together right now. It will be a happy day indeed when school resumes on campus. Clearly, there are a number of issues still to be resolved and decided, and I ask for your patience as we work to address them, and I pledge to remain in close contact moving ahead. Please be on the lookout for a weekly survey from our Communications department, seeking your input on what is working well and what needs some attention.
In the meantime, please know that we miss you. We’re excited to engage with you in new ways online, and eager to see the results when students have the time and autonomy to lean into well-crafted lessons and projects. We are working incredibly hard to support and nurture every member of this wonderful community that is Moses Brown, and we’re ready to get started.
Please reach out to me at any time if you have questions or concerns of any kind.
Head of School