As you may have heard, Governor Abbott has announced that public schools will remain in distance learning mode through the end of the school year. As much as we all were hoping to come together before the end of May, we will also continue in distance learning through the remainder of this school year.
While it greatly saddens us to announce this, we can hope that our efforts are flattening the curve and preventing COVID-19 from spreading even further.
At Keystone, we have been planning for this possibility; although we are spread out, we remain united as a community. Keystone faculty members have been learning how to present material online, and they are providing students with ways to stay connected with their classmates.
Despite these unprecedented circumstances, Keystone’s commitment to providing an exceptional school experience continues:
In the Little School, teachers are combining recorded videos and video conferencing with home-based tasks to provide developmentally-appropriate activities throughout the day. Our teachers are working with parents to make sure students are achieving their developmental milestones. Teachers are using Seesaw to post daily lessons, Zoom to conduct weekly show-and-tell, and FaceTime to meet with parents and children one on one. Enrichment Teachers are also posting weekly videos so students can participate in Helping Hand Lessons, Music, Spanish, Soccer, Martial Arts, Piano, and Dance classes.
In the Lower School, teachers are delivering instruction through Seesaw and the Google Suite for Educator Tools. In addition, teachers are connecting with students in small groups as well as individually through Zoom and FaceTime on school-issued iPads. Specials Teachers are posting weekly asynchronous activities and students are encouraged to pursue their interests and see Special Classes as a menu of opportunities to fill their “buckets.” To further stimulate their creativity and curiosity away from the screen, STEAM activities (science, technology, engineering, art and math) are presented weekly to all Lower School students.
In Middle School, students are using Canvas to receive and submit assignments and interact with teachers and fellow students via Canvas Conferences and Zoom. They supplement their online class time with one-on-one check-ins with teachers, town-hall style conferences, and small group meetings through advisory.
And in the Upper School, our teachers have artfully transitioned their lessons, lectures and class discussions online through Canvas Conferences and Microsoft Teams. Students are strengthening their ability to work online synchronously and asynchronously and move ahead in self-directed work. Simultaneously we are maintaining a student community through weekly class meetings, Wednesday advisories and a variety of fun, community online activities.
After the school year ends, we will conduct a self-examination of this quarter in distance learning mode to see what lessons we can take from what we did well and where we need to improve. Our teachers will continue their professional development so we are prepared to move into distance learning mode even more effectively in the coming school year, if necessary.
From Keystone’s early days when students learned speed reading with a tachistoscope, our school has been at the forefront of incorporating technology into their teaching to give our students what they need to be successful in school and in life. Whether online or in-person settings, we will continue to provide our students with the best education possible and maintain our strong sense of community. Keystone students deserve our best, and we will strive to help them realize their potential. Thank you for your support during this unprecedented time and thank you for entrusting us with your children.
With pride and gratitude,
William B. Handmaker
Head of School