Private schools close, navigate housing for international students and remote learning across time zones

  • High Mowing School Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/25/2020 4:41:48 PM

Private schools closed amid federal and state recommendations regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, and are in the process of transitioning to remote learning.

“This is the largest most serious health situation the country has known for a very long time,” High Mowing School Head of School Geraldine Kline said last week. “We felt it was very right to close the school to not expose people.”

The school decided to close through April 12 a week ago, Kline said. Online classes started up on Wednesday for for grades kindergarten through 12.“We’re not a school that was either equipped or prepared...[with] curriculum that’s suited for online learning,” she said, with only high schoolers having “some” computer time during the day. 

“The curriculum is social, hands on,” Kline said, of the Waldorf school, with students working together in the theater and other spaces. “I’m super proud because we did this in four days,” she said, and commended her faculty, who pulled up to ten hour days in conferences to adapt their curriculum to a digital format, even some exceptionally challenging subjects. “You can’t teach gardening online,” Kline said, but that every teacher managed to put together “appealing and interesting” coursework. Students in grades six through 12 have full days of classes, she said, and the younger grades will be learning on more abbreviated days. Kline said her greatest concern was with nationwide bandwidth and the capacities of internet providers as more schools transition to online coursework in the coming week.

The school has 320 students overall, and All the school’s boarding students were able to leave campus, she said, and international students from China, South Africa, and the Republic of Georgia were staying in the U.S. with sponsors or other contacts.

Dublin School Head Brad Bates announced the school’s closure on March 15, during the second week of the school’s three-week spring break.

“I remain deeply saddened that our students cannot be on campus at a time when I believe we are all longing for the power of the Dublin School community,” he wrote in a message to students on Monday. Online classes are scheduled to resume on March 30. Bates encouraged international students to go home to their families if they were able, and wrote that he was working on an appropriate method for coordinating classes and meetings for students across multiple time zones.

“I was talking to a student from Hawaii yesterday and said you might have lost the lottery,” Bates said, as he plans to meet as a whole school community daily at 9 a.m. EST, which translates to 9 p.m. in China and 3 a.m. for the student in Hawaii. For inspiration, Bates said he looked to lessons learned from Duke University’s  Chinese campus, since they already went through closures, and is communicating with heads of school throughout the country. Classes per week will be scaled back, and students will learn from a combination of synchronous classes, as well as some they can access at an appropriate hour according to their geography. One upshot of the timing of these cancellations are that students have already bonded, Bates said, and have been creating virtual communities for their dorms and classes by themselves.

Dublin Christian Academy closed last Monday, and president Eric Moody said they’d transitioned fully to distance learning two days later The school began its spring break on Monday, March 23, and after that week he said the school would reevaluate according to CDC and Department of Education recommendations.

“Overall, our school community is adjusting very well to the changes,” he said. The school has 26 faculty and staff and 100 students, some of which are international students who remain in their dorms on campus, he said.

Heritage Christian School in Rindge is closed through at least this week. 

“Our school board is monitoring the situation,” principal William Broughton said. Students were in on Monday to pick up materials, and have been remote learning since Tuesday. “It was a lot to put together,” Broughton said, but the staff and 54 students seem to be coping well. 

The Well School is also closed, and is following current recommendations and staying closed through April 3. Mountain Shadows School is closed.


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