March 16 – Distance learning update

Dear Families,

After assessing current events, consulting with public health professionals, public officials and a long discussion with our Safety Committee this afternoon, I want to share Keystone’s plan for moving forward in the weeks ahead.

Beginning Monday, March 23, we will implement distance learning through at least Friday, April 3. All school events will be cancelled until April 6. We will assess early in the week of March 30-April 3 if we will continue with distance learning further into the fourth quarter. This applies to all four divisions, including the Little School.

Please know that we do not make this decision lightly. We would much prefer to have your children at school and to see you around campus. Our faculty and staff are deeply devoted to their students, and we will miss them.  We also realize that this places a burden on you.

Teachers are spending this week preparing for distance learning, sharing and grading assignments through technologies such as Seesaw, Canvas, Microsoft Teams and FaceTime. Please look for emails from your children’s Division Heads on specific information.

This Friday, March 20, we will have Distribution Day, where we will ask parents to drive to school and we will hand you a box with the contents of your child’s locker and any school-issued technology device. Lower School and Middle School students will use the school-issued iPad. Students in the Upper School may use their own laptop. We’ll send you a message later in the week with instructions related to Distribution Day and beyond.

Of course, the Keystone experience is about much more than what happens in the classroom. What makes this school special are the moments when students learn from each other in informal conversations, the chats with teachers that go beyond assignments, and the projects that students take on to challenge themselves and serve others. While even the best computer programs and apps can’t substitute for these interactions, we are working hard to extend our sense of community through technology and mutual communication.

Beginning this Friday, we will resume the weekly Keystone Communiqué. In the coming weeks, it will share information about the activities of teachers and students in our different divisions. In addition, our core subject teachers, division heads and “specials” teachers will create opportunities for students to engage with the school and each other, even at a distance.

We’re in new territory here and we’ll make mistakes along the way. To use a phrase that’s popular in the Lower School, we’ll have some “beautiful oops,” learn from our missteps and improve as we move forward. This is a challenge I know we will meet together.

With admiration and gratitude,

Billy Handmaker

William B. Handmaker
Head of School