Online Learning and School Events Updates

Hannah Lee, Senior Staff Writer

Due to COVID-19, the MacDuffie community was brought together to face changes in our “normal” school life. The school has been struggling to keep up with the pandemic matter and there have been some essential changes made regarding online learning and school events. 

According to the Head of School Steven Griffin, there are no new updates about opening the school. Due to the instructions from the State of Massachusetts, the school will continue to use online learning throughout the rest of the academic year.

Starting at the end of the third quarter, The MacDuffie School started the online learning plan through Zoom and other video chat services until further notice. Students had to face a few challenges such as the time zone difference, a lack of internet access, an unstable learning environment, and other technical problems. Students around the globe consider it an unfortunate situation that online classes are the only valuable resources they use in terms of their school education. Teachers have been struggling to adjust to their new teaching environment as well. 

History Department Chair Joan O’Brien mentioned that the faculty members  are handling challenges in remote learning in terms of technologies, as well as the distance between the teachers and the students. 

“One of the biggest challenges for me thus far has been spending so much time on a screen – for planning and teaching my classes, for grading student work, for volumes of emails, and really any communication with people I don’t see face-to-face,” she said. The faculty’s main goal is to provide the best education experience possible for the students. 

O’Brien said, “We are all doing it to the best of our abilities given whatever constraints we may have – we are sometimes clumsy and frustrated, and some are graceful and daring, but we are, like you, always learning.”

There have been a lot of changes in school events. Most of the school events have been canceled, along with performances and shows from music, dance, and theater. According to the Head of Arts Department Becky Benedict, all live events from the Arts Department, including the Visual Arts Show, Dance Concert, Music Concert, the Acting Ensemble Showcase, and the Spring Play, will be canceled. 

She added, “All of the teachers in the Arts Department are devastated at the loss of the option to share our students’ talents with a live audience. Being in the same room where art is being created for you is a special and sacred event, and losing that opportunity is sad indeed.” 

However, there is still ongoing progress in the Arts Department. The members of Spring Play are recording the script as an audio play. Students in Choreography Class, Acting Ensemble Honors Class, and Visual Arts Class, are meeting virtually to finish up their final projects. Benedict mentioned that the Arts Department will still be hosting The Red Carpet Arts Awards. The awards will be recorded and shared with the MacDuffie community to honor the students’ work on May 29. 

Dean of School Trish Cox stated that students will still have an opportunity to show their talents, and the school is still trying to run Diversity Day, Run for Hope, and Prom, virtually. Information about the school election process was sent out on April 20, and the videos for each of the candidates were sent out on April 29. Students are able to vote for their top candidate for each position using a Google Form. The results of the school election are yet to be revealed. . 

“I wish there was a way to have all of them happen, but some just don’t lend themselves to an online or virtual version,” Cox said. “I would like to see as many of the traditions happen as possible, but I know that won’t necessarily be possible.” 

There are ongoing efforts to keep the community together. Cox mentioned a few Diversity Day Workshop leaders who are willing to do a virtual edition of their workshop. Some seniors have changed their leadership practicums due to the canceled school events and have decided to support the school spirit and bring positive vibes to the community. 

We shouldn’t forget the hardworking staff in the boarding community as well. Cox reminded of the SAGE members who are preparing meals for the boarders and staff who are on campus, including the housekeeping staff, along with the RAs who are all helping and supporting the boarders and staff on campus. 

 Although there have been major changes and it is a difficult time for the community, it is important to be positive. 

Griffin said, “I think it’s important for our students to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Take care of yourself!”