Is MacDuffie Nearing a Remote Schooling Future?


Clara LaChance

A British Literature class at MacDuffie in November 2020 taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19: face masks, distanced desks, and cracked windows for ventilation.

Gabe Shumway and Nam Charlie Nguyen

The MacDuffie School was one of the only local schools who chose to reopen to day and boarding students during the difficult COVID-19 induced school year. However, as the number of COVID-19 cases in local cities and towns continues to rise, the statistics suggest that learning at MacDuffie may be going remote very soon. 

In the Friday Mailbag, MacDuffie’s weekly letter addressing their community, on November 13th, Head of School, Steven Griffin, announced that every Friday, the school would be evaluating whether or not to return to classes in-person for the following week. 

Griffin said that “[the school board is] using a metric that weighs the percent positivity in a community with the number of people who commute to us from that community. We use only towns with populations of over 10,000 people in order to reduce noise in the statistic.” 

This metric can be found here, or found in the Friday Mailbag from November 13th. If this metric surpasses 5% one week, or surpasses 4.75% in two weeks in a row, then MacDuffie will remain remote for 14 days. The percentage is evaluated every Friday, and students will be notified of this information each week in the Friday Mailbag. 

The MacDuffie School has been working very closely with the Granby Board of Health for several months, but the metric that MacDuffie has devised is independent from the Board of Health. 

Granby Board of Health Chair Dick Bombardier was asked what would constitute MacDuffie to transition into remote learning.

In an independent statement, Bombardier responded saying, “The Board does not have a COVID-19 level limit that would trigger forced remote learning at MacDuffie. The limits on public education are in a state of flux at this time.”

Additionally, the Granby Board of Health has been keeping track of cases in the town of Granby as well as state-wide. All of this data can be found on the spreadsheet here

From the week of 11/13 to the week of 11/20, the metric that MacDuffie has been using has raised from 3.25% up to 4%. If this metric continues to increase at this rate, and MacDuffie may be teaching remotely in the very near future. 

Additionally, after Thanksgiving break, in the week from 11/30 to 12/6, all classes will be remote in order to accommodate students who traveled during Thanksgiving. This plan was approved by the Granby Board of Health. MacDuffie School Nurse, Erica Piwcio, will also be following up with any families who are traveling over the break to confirm that students will be safe to return in person. 

There are still questions regarding technological difficulties and the readiness of both teachers and students in a scenario where long-term remote learning is a possibility. In addition, the psychological impact and Zoom fatigue need to also be considered. Despite these challenges, Griffin and other faculty members are working hard to provide the MacDuffie students with the best education while also keeping them safe.  

These times are uncertain and with the constant flux of COVID-19 cases, it is challenging to predict the next step. The data suggests that MacDuffie will start learning remotely very soon, but when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, things can change in an instant.