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WA Creates Hybrid eLearning Model for Fall 2020

After careful planning and evaluation, The Woodstock Academy has chosen to pursue teaching and learning through a hybrid eLearning model in the fall. The plan, called an Adjustable Instruction Model (AIM), allows The Woodstock Academy to safely provide consistent, robust, and high-quality eLearning to all students and approved optional, in-person instruction and activities in controlled, small group settings. The residential program will continue for students in dorms on campus.

“Earlier this year we were eagerly preparing for our students to return to campus and to resume the excellent education and experiences our students have come to expect. But it has become clear in our current climate, that pivoting now to a hybrid learning model is the best option for our students’ health, safety, and educational well-being,” said Christopher Sandford, head of school at The Woodstock Academy.

Sandford explained that, in addition to student health, the driving factors behind the decision were, first, the inability to meet state guidelines for full reopening, then the health of the local area and the current structure of the public health system not allowing for timely information to make data-based decisions.

The AIM model includes four days of live eLearning classes and one day a week, Wednesdays, dedicated to optional in-person activities on campus and additional office hours for individualized instruction. The plan was developed in conjunction with local sending towns to continue to offer town-provided transportation to campus.

Holly Singleton, associate head of school at The Woodstock Academy, shared, “With this model we can give students quality and consistent instruction while also providing some small-scale and controlled in-person opportunities that will be a huge boost for our students’ emotional and social health.”

On-campus small group activities might include learning opportunities like labs or simulations, hands-on activities like robotics, fine arts opportunities, athletic and exercise activities, or support services. The activities will be based on student needs and interests.

Singleton added that, “The way school would have looked in the fall, if we were able to meet state mandates, would not have given students the quality interactions that they so desperately want.” Instead, The Academy has chosen to intentionally shift and prepare for high-quality hybrid eLearning.

The Woodstock Academy’s academic dean, Michael Harten, explained the advantage of preparing now for eLearning “Making this decision now will allow our teachers and students to focus their energies over the next month to the significant task of preparing for remote eLearning. Building on the lessons learned from the spring, we expect more active learning, improved student engagement, a commitment to social-emotional learning, and a more equitable and inclusive curriculum.”  

The fall schedule for eLearning days includes an earlier daily start time than last spring’s schedule and slightly longer live teaching sessions. The hybrid model will continue to be evaluated through the fall semester and the plan for the spring 2021 semester will be finalized closer to the end of the first semester.

Students and families will receive additional details and specific instructions over the coming weeks.

The Woodstock Academy is an independent, day and boarding, co-educational, college preparatory high school for grades 9–12 and postgraduates located in Woodstock, CT. The mission of The Woodstock Academy is to prepare all students by providing diverse opportunities through a rigorous curriculum and a variety of programs in order to cultivate the necessary skills to become lifelong learners and global citizens.