Dear Gould Families,
As we mentioned in last week’s newsletter, the Reopening Task Force is deep in the details of what school will look like this fall. And, as promised, you will receive a more detailed plan in early July, but we thought you might like to hear what we are working on. Already, we can feel the enthusiasm returning to campus as On Snow coaches have started daily dryland-training workouts with local athletes.
In every decision, our focus remains on our core principles — a student-centered plan, community building, and an eye to the future. Our top priority will always be to keep everyone in our community as healthy as possible — to minimize exposure, to foster social-emotional wellness, and to be prepared to isolate or quarantine students according to CDC and state guidelines if necessary. Bringing everyone back onto campus in a responsible way is a big hurdle. Our working plan is to stagger return dates over four or five days, and it seems likely that students will be expected to quarantine and have an FDA approved COVID test shortly before their return. Our recommendation on how best to do that will follow in July.
In the classroom, the Continuity of Teaching & Learning team is focused not only on the mechanics of health and safety in the classroom, but also in designing optimal learning experiences that can seamlessly transition from in-classroom sessions to remote teaching. Toward that end, educational design consultants Dan Coleman and Nick Salmon brought their expertise from Harvard Graduate School of Education, guiding the faculty in defining key principles of resiliency and unpacking how that applies to the student experience.
We also looked carefully at the results from our recent survey, and we heard you! Based on your experience with remote learning this spring, you told us you’d like to see your students have more in-class learning time, more consistency across courses, and that you want your students to have more frequent, regular communication about their academic performance.
We are considering structural changes to the schedule that simplify the week, reduce student movement, introduce more opportunities for applied learning, and provide for the time and space that we know will be needed for additional requirements like daily screenings, staggered lunches, or remote assemblies.
We know that interscholastic play in contact sports, such as soccer and field hockey, will likely experience changes. Incoming Athletic Director Bob Harkins communicates regularly with other MAISAD schools to see what might still be possible for interscholastic competition while minimizing travel and exposure. While there are still many unknowns, Gould is fortunate to have a 456-acre campus amid the mountains, lakes, and rivers of western Maine, an environment that supports many healthy outdoor options beyond our playing fields.
And our student leaders are at work as well, holding Zoom meetings by class, with returning students, in order to process and brainstorm about the 2020-2021 school year. They are sharing the information and ideas gathered at these meetings with faculty and staff. Including their input, positive attitude, thoughtful reflection, and creative problem solving will be key to Gould's success in the coming year.
The Return to Campus subcommittee has spent a great deal of time looking at what the opening days of school — including registration and orientation — will look like. We all need to be prepared for some changes in how dormitories and the dining hall will operate, and how training and signage can help acclimate everyone to those protocols. What won’t change will be the sense of community that makes Gould a warm, special, and inviting place!
In the many decisions we will make in the coming weeks and months, please know that we at Gould will stay true to our core principles: We know, respect, and embrace each student. We bring teachers and students together in relationships that nurture each student’s intellect, growing self-confidence, self-determination, and respect for others. We challenge students to strive for their personal best in every pursuit. We promote curiosity, open-minded exploration, and disciplined analysis in our students’ work. We believe that the complete development of each student requires intensive experiences in academics, athletics, arts, community life, and the natural world. We prepare students for successful and responsible global citizenship.
And, at the heart of any Gould endeavor are the energy to try, the willingness to risk, and the capacity to persevere. And persevere we shall! Thank you for your trust in us, and for your patience as we continue to work through the details. We look forward to seeing you soon!