Even a global pandemic won’t stop the Crescent School learning experience.
Since March 22, Crescent School students have been attending school in their bedrooms, dining rooms, dens and kitchens. They’re engaged in the Virtual Learning Program that Crescent faculty designed to ensure that the school’s curriculum and community aren’t disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our current circumstances are unfortunately something beyond our control. But some things hold constant: as a school community, we are steadfast in our commitment to our boys and to ensuring their learning continues,” says Headmaster Michael Fellin.
Crescent made the proactive decision on March 12 to close its campus for at least two weeks following March Break as a precautionary measure in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. That closure has since been extended. Alongside all public schools in Ontario, Crescent is now closed until at least May 4. The decision to reopen will depend on directives from the government and health authorities.
During March Break, faculty and administrative staff planned the new Virtual Learning Program (VLP) and prepared to launch it on March 25, two days after classes would normally have resumed.
With three guiding principles – continuity, flexibility and community – Crescent’s VLP draws from best practices from schools around the world that have experience with delivering online curriculum. It is intentionally designed to evolve to reflect the needs of Crescent students, parents and faculty.
“As we grow together through this experience, we’ll learn as we go and continue to improve the VLP,” says Dr. Sandra Boyes, Executive Director, Professional Learning & Research and Head of Lower School at Crescent.
In the first two weeks, Crescent’s VLP focused on providing a structure for the students and teachers to adjust to the unusual circumstances of learning and working at home. Each school day began with a morning check-in via Zoom video meeting, when official attendance was taken. The timetable allowed students to work independently on the assigned curriculum. Teachers were available by email and video call to assist students one-on-one as needed during the day.
Starting April 6, Phase 2 of the VLP will introduce more synchronized learning, with students in each grade working together on curriculum subjects under their teacher’s guidance. There will continue to be blocks of time dedicated to independent learning and opportunities for teachers to provide one-on-one assistance. The Phase 2 VLP schedule also offers community discussion times. For the Lower School boys, there is scheduled time for “Be Curious @ Crescent” activities, such as sports, music, makerspace and outdoor exploration – all done via video conferencing and following appropriate social distancing practices.
Students and faculty have adapted quickly to Crescent’s “new normal,” finding ways to engage with each other and show their school spirit. One of these ways is by sharing photos of the boys dressed in Crescent clothing in their home learning spaces. Those photos are posted on Crescent’s Instagram
Some school events have also been adapted to the new circumstances. For example, the student elections are using online tools for candidate presentations and voting. Video conferencing is being used for “Coffee & Conversation” parent meetings.
“Over the past weeks, I’ve observed the countless hours and dedication the entire faculty and Heads of School have put into getting our sons’ Virtual Learning Program up and running. They have all worked tirelessly to accomplish this transition and we are all so very grateful,” says Matilda Sos-Mavroudis, President of the Crescent Parent Association.