We are thinking of all of you and hoping that you are well. The RCDS campus will need to be closed until at least April 14 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful that during this time of school closure and physical distancing in the interest of public health, technology will enable human connection, ongoing teacher-student relationships, and the continuation of the engaged learning that characterizes the Rye Country Day experience.
RCDS is an excellent school because we have outstanding faculty who pour themselves into planning thoughtful learning opportunities and developing meaningful relationships with their students. Another equally contributing factor to the School’s excellence is our student body, which comprises impressive learners who push themselves and each other to grow, discover passions, and dream big. Last but certainly not least, our RCDS families invest time, energy, and support in the School and in their children. This partnership allows us to deliver on our mission to raise leaders who have a lifelong passion for learning, understanding, and service. We are confident all of this will continue.
The RCDS@home mindset is derived from and guided by the RCDS Portrait of a Graduate, which identifies the key attributes and learning outcomes we strive to nurture in our students. The Portrait identifies four areas—CHARACTER, KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, and CITIZENSHIP—each of which contains multiple attributes that our program addresses. The RCDS@home mindset pulls one attribute from each of the areas, and we ask that in the coming weeks, we all remind ourselves of the following:
- Character - React and adapt with resilience to challenge and change.
- Knowledge - Meet and enjoy challenges that require the application of knowledge to novel tasks and real-world situations.
- Skills - Engage in the active process of making choices that lead to physical and emotional wellness. (You may note that “leverage technology effectively” is an attribute in the skills section of the RCDS Portrait of a Graduate, and indeed we intend to do just that during RCDS@home. But, much more important now is our collective focus on our physical and emotional wellness.)
- Citizenship - Aspire to make a meaningful and positive difference in the world.
- RCDS@home is the result of collaboration with respected peer institutions and educational leaders. We have benefited hugely from guidance from schools on the West Coast and around the world who are a few weeks ahead of us in this work. We have also been in daily contact with heads of school and leadership teams throughout the world. We are grateful for the way the education community has connected in support of defining and sharing best practices for quickly re-imagining school. Our team is also sharing what we are learning and developing during this time.
- We are not an online school, and we will not become one. RCDS believes firmly in the power of human connection in learning. We will use technology to continue connecting while we cannot be together in person. This plan is our effort to continue schooling in the best possible way for our students and families in the midst of this global pandemic.
- We do not seek to replicate online what happens in our classrooms every day. That would not be possible from an instructional standpoint, nor would it be feasible for the adults or children in our community. Instead, our goal is to maintain continuity of learning for our students, as much as is realistic and possible, outside of the school context. We believe this continuity is essential for students’ sense of well-being.
- We have done our best to create a plan that recognizes the greatly increased and continually changing personal and professional responsibilities all of our families are facing at the moment. RCDS@home will involve learning and work for our students, and teachers will continue to connect with students. However, we also believe that we must drastically adjust our expectations for content coverage and skill mastery at this time.
- We are a community, and we are here to support one another through challenging times. The success of the RCDS@home plan is centered on our collective willingness to pitch in and help and our individual willingness to ask for help when it is needed. Members of our community will have vastly differing needs right now. You will find the support you need in this community. Flexibility and compassion will be vital.
Community is who we are and how we connect with one another. This is true every day, and we are committed to maintaining our sense of togetherness in an online environment. You can expect community to continue to be a fundamental component of our work together as we shift to RCDS@home.
RCDS is fortunate to have a strong network of students, staff, faculty, friends, and families, and we believe this will translate smoothly to an online space. We have a group of faculty and staff on board to brainstorm and implement new ideas for connection and relationship building. Also, our students are often our teachers when it comes to creative use of technology. Our plan for continuing community engagement during RCDS@home is a collaborative one that will cross generations.
We will share ideas and offer opportunities to connect with each other and our extended partnerships as RCDS@home develops. We encourage you to stay connected and continue to let us know how you are doing. We are in this together!