Several weeks ago, I wrote in my weekly letter about the need for us to be flexible and to keep things in perspective. Who would have thought that we would need to depend on those traits so quickly? I sincerely appreciate the patience and understanding that everyone has had during this very difficult weather event. It is amazing how cold it has gotten, and how much snow fell in different parts of the county from a storm that very few of us anticipated. Your flexibility and perspective has been very helpful. It is our sincere hope to get everyone back into the rhythm of school as quickly as possible.
Several factors have surfaced that are worthy of our consideration:
Please know that we will be reviewing our policy of following Fairfax County’s decisions regarding school closings and delays, but please understand our reason for following their lead: we have families who come to us not only from Fairfax County, but also from Loudoun County, Prince William County, Fauquier County, and even Montgomery County. Fairfax County does an exceptional job of trying to watch for their large area and their decisions reflect the complexities of our region.
Our primary focus is safety. We are concerned about the safety of our children and parents out on the roads, the safety of our student drivers in the Upper School, and the safety of our students who need to wait for buses each and every morning. Whether it is slippery streets or the extreme cold that we have experienced this year, each of those considerations is worthy of reflection.
At the same time, it is imperative that we continue to learn and take advantage of our impressive technology. Teachers operate with the notion that students get one snow day. In other words, the first snow day of the year is basically a freebie for everyone. Beyond that, teachers begin to communicate and work virtually with their students online whenever possible or expect that students at appropriate grade levels are “checking in” on their devices. Whether it is adjusting assignments for the week, sending materials to review, or expecting that they work on a project while they are at home, the truth is that school can go on even though we are not in session. When I surveyed how many faculty members had recently followed that process, I received feedback from parents and from faculty, in all three divisions, that it was happening for many students. Samples of work students have been receiving and work done by our students while at home, have all given me confidence that his approach works and can be expanded in the future.
In light of the recent days, some parents have asked if we will be adjusting the current school calendar as we look ahead. The fact is that we try hard not to “add” days that are lost. We know that people have made Spring Break arrangements and that many families have already made plans for the upcoming Presidents Day weekend. We are conscious that everyone’s schedules are tight. However, we do want to ask for your support as we “take back” the two-hour delayed start mornings that we had planned for next Tuesday, January 28, and for Thursday, February 13. While I am confident that our faculty will work with our students closely to make up the time that it has been lost, we think that these two mornings will be helpful in that process.
We have certainly had quite a winter so far this year. Your support as we go forward, your patience, your understanding, and your flexibility make all the difference in the world. If anyone has some great pictures or stories to share regarding how your children handled the week, please don’t hesitate to share them with me. It would help all of us keep these days in perspective. It is our hope that soon, the weather will warm up just enough to give us hope that spring actually is just around the corner. At this rate, temperatures in the 20’s will sure feel balmy.
Best wishes to you!