I want to thank all of you who have pulled together over the last several days to help us move our academic program from our typical “live on campus” status to our initial day of an online program. It is said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” While we can’t take credit for the online world, we can certainly congratulate everyone for their quick transition to this format. Of course, many schools and universities are doing exactly what we are. I have asked our teachers to consider this an opportunity to discover what we can do online as well as see the limits of this approach. I ask our students to do the same.
For some time we have considered the adoption of online course offerings in some form, as well as other ways we might better utilize the digital world to help our students. While we have been forced to use this approach by the COVID-19 outbreak, we should do all we can to take advantage of the situation and learn, so in the future we can make even better use of technology.
While moving into our online format, we heard from many students and families around the Storm King School “community globe.” Many were supportive and some had questions. Some who live in different time zones were especially concerned about whether they would be able to participate. While we are initially running our classes at the same times they would occur during a regular school day here on the Mountain, we are doing several things to make sure that all students can follow their classes and accomplish what is asked of them.
First, if necessary, teachers are offering opportunities for students in different time zones to talk and ask questions that are more fitting with their locations. Second, all classes are being designed to run both in a synchronized fashion for those students who are able to participate at the time the class is being delivered live, and in an a-synchronized fashion for those who cannot meet at the standard time.
All assignments and expectations of students will be posted on their Blackbaud accounts and recordings of the class sessions will also be posted there. Since all of these approaches are new for us, we may have to adjust or correct some steps, but our goal is to deliver our academic program as completely as possible.
We also know that some of the students who returned to their home countries were immediately put in quarantine. In many cases, these students are able to use Zoom and Blackbaud, and have their phones and laptops enabling them to fully participate. In a few cases, some students in quarantine do not have access to their devices and/or the internet. We will work with these students when they are finally able to connect and catch up.
For those of you who have not heard, on March 20, 2020, Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York, placed our state under a stay-at-home order. As a result, our offices are officially closed. We have a skeleton crew in place to take care of the four students and families living on campus, receive mail, and take care of other necessary functions. Our faculty members are working from home to deliver their classes. If you call or email, we are here –virtually– to receive your communications and respond.
There is no way to know how long this crisis will last, but we will continue to do all we can to take care of one another and move the School forward. If you have any questions, ideas, or comments, please feel free to pass them along. Thank you for your patience and understanding and please do everything possible to stay healthy and safe.