August 28, 2020
Dear Lab Community:
As is so often the case in these complicated times, I am writing to you while grappling with a swirl of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am so excited to begin the school year and have treasured the opportunity to meet some of you in our drive-through pick-up/drop-off lines for supplies and technology. Many of you have shared your joy and gratitude for being a part of this School – feelings that I already share in my eight short weeks at Lab.
On the other hand, my heart is heavy at this intersection of two important anniversaries – the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This intersection takes place while current events underscore the reality of the continued effects of racism, inequality, and injustice. And while I am saddened, I am also inspired and energized because there has never been a more important time for us to truly commit to our mission of empowering our students to become “engaged and compassionate members of a global society.”
I look forward to getting to know all of you as we do this work together. I am especially excited to invite you to join Dr. Anthony Perry, our new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and me at our upcoming Parent Virtual Happy Hour on September 3 at 7pm. We hope you will mark your calendars and join us!
Today, I am writing with a specific purpose: to share some important technology-related information that will be important for your family in navigating the opening of the 2020-21 school year.
Some Thoughts on Communication in a COVID World
As we have navigated these past five months since COVID 19 upended so much of our regular routines and practices, we have all likely grappled with the difficulty of balancing work life and home life. I would like to offer a few thoughts about how we might work together, in the interest of our students.
First, I am sure you have experienced this in your own work lives: the volume of e-mail communication has expanded dramatically. Because we are not seeing our colleagues, students, and extended families in person, almost all of our communication has become digital. Things that we might have asked in passing or clarified at an in-person event now require an e-mail. Because of this, our capacity for responding in a timely (24 hour) manner has been diminished.
We firmly believe that every parent question deserves a timely and thoughtful response. However, I ask that we all adopt a measure of understanding that allows our division heads, teachers, and staff to “triage” their communication. Things that are truly urgent should be marked as so, and we will strive to respond to them as quickly as possible. If your question or concern has a longer shelf-life, it is still important to us; but we may get back to you in several days rather than just one. We may also, at times, ask a colleague to respond to an informational request so that we can get you an answer sooner rather than later. If many parents have the same question, we may respond in a general e-mail or as part of a regular newsletter.
I am also encouraging students, parents, and teachers to draw some healthy boundaries around work and home. We will not expect students or parents to read a school-related e-mail after 5pm, and we will encourage teachers and administrators to carve out essential evening hours to attend to their families and their own well-being, without the pressure to respond to every question on the day it was sent. These are not ordinary times, and the usual supports we all use to create a healthy work/ life balance are missing. So that we can support each other through this challenging time together, we are committed to encouraging a healthy balance for your families, as well as for our faculty and staff. We appreciate your understanding of this goal, and believe that it will go a long way toward helping our community thrive in these complicated and demanding times.
Our Approach to Virtual Learning and Some Important Action Steps
Over the summer, we have worked on fine-tuning Our Approach to Virtual Learning. In this document, we share some of the underpinnings of our approach, as well as some specific policies, expectations, and tools with which students will need to be familiar. We encourage you to read “Our Approach to Virtual Learning,” and to discuss it with your child(ren).
Below you will find specific information about technology tools, including some Action Steps we need all families to take.