NCS Close Apart
2020-2021 Educational Plan
At National Cathedral School, we are called to live out our core values of excellence, courage, conscience, and service. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our students, faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and alumnae have shown their commitment to these values by staying at home, wearing a face mask, and maintaining social distance even as doing these things felt difficult and unwelcome.
Our work is not yet done. Coronavirus remains a threat to the public health, and containing its spread is a responsibility we all bear. To get our school community back to campus as soon as possible, everyone must do his or her part every day. This website describes how we can get there, what we will do then, and what in the meantime we must do.
NCS’s priority through this crisis has been and remains “People First”—to do what best ensures the well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. For now, that means we must continue with remote learning until the community spread of COVID-19 is under control.
Accordingly, NCS will begin the 2020-2021 academic year on Tuesday, Sept. 1, with several days of orientation and community-building sessions. We are hoping these can be both virtual and in-person; any in-person activity would take place outside, with small groups of students taking turns on campus.
On Tuesday, Sept. 8, we will hold our annual Opening Cathedral Service online, and on Wednesday, Sept. 9, classes will begin, with all teachers and students engaged together in online remote learning.
The NCS campus, including the Athletic Center, is currently closed to all but essential personnel. Most employees continue to work remotely.
The information on this website will update regularly to reflect the latest school conditions and guidelines. The most recent update was made on Sept. 21, 2020.
For 2020-2021, NCS has made changes to remote learning. The daily schedule and the academic calendar have been revised, additional time each week is devoted to community gatherings, and students will have more synchronous classes each day.
When we are able to return to campus, NCS will introduce a blended-learning model that balances academic continuity and community connection. Faculty and students will engage in both in-school instruction and remote education with an online component.
We look forward to students returning to campus, and especially to the time when conditions will allow all students, faculty, and staff to be campus at one time and school will look and feel more familiar. The blended-learning model provides a smooth transition between all learning remotely and all learning on campus.
Message From the Head of School and Governing Board Chair
Dear NCS Families,
We hope you have been experiencing a safe, healthy, and enjoyable summer as we continue to weather the global pandemic. We are looking forward to launching the NCS 2020-2021 school year on Sept. 1, 2020. Over the summer, we have been researching, strategizing, and planning for several potential educational scenarios, depending on the health and safety landscape at any given time throughout the year.
This website will be the main source for all information related to NCS during the COVID-19 pandemic. This online format will provide us flexibility to add and revise content as we continue to provide a top educational experience during this time of uncertainty and constant change. NCS has developed a unique phased approach that will allow us to provide a robust learning program consistently in several different ways. We will seek feedback and make any needed adjustments as we move through the school year.
Although we had hoped to bring our students back on campus with a blended-learning model that would alternate a week of in-person instruction with a week of remote learning, this approach proved not to be right for this time. We decided instead to open the year using our remote-learning model, after much thought and with a focus on health and safety and the ability to provide a top educational program online.
No one data point was dispositive. Instead, we looked comprehensively at a number of factors, utilizing the information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local officials, and our physician experts, all of which convinced us that it would be very difficult to mitigate risk on campus sufficiently at this time. We considered, for example, metrics such as the positivity percentage, hospital occupancy, total cases/100,000 and increased community spread. In addition, overall challenges such as anticipated workforce depletion due to medical concerns, school closings, and a lack of availability of classroom facilitators in a teacher’s absence would have negatively impacted the delivery of on-campus instruction.
Consequently, although our administration, faculty, and staff have diligently prepared to open school with blended learning, current circumstances have caused us to delay implementing this model. Fortunately, recognizing that the course of the pandemic could be unpredictable and unprecedented, we planned for seamless transitions among our various planned instructional scenarios. Over the course of the summer, our faculty members have engaged in professional development opportunities and collaborative meetings across departments and divisions to best prepare for the academic and co-curricular programs that are integral to all of our planned scenarios. We are thus prepared to pivot to the remote-learning model.
We learned much from our distance-learning experience in the spring, which has positively impacted our overall remote-learning program for the fall. We also have made significant improvements in health and safety preparedness, including to our physical plant. As a result, our school buildings will be ready for our students and faculty when the time is right to welcome them back to campus. We offer our heartfelt thanks to our faculty, staff, administrators, members of the Governing Board, and experts in health and safety for their tremendous efforts on behalf of NCS and our students.
As part of our initial remote stage, we hope to be able to bring small groups of students back to campus periodically for gatherings with teachers and advisers, for welcoming new students and maintaining our strong community, and for overall opportunities to connect with each other. These opportunities might include orientation activities, outdoor experiences on the Close, and/or gatherings in the school buildings, as long as the local COVID-19 conditions allow. You will soon receive details by division on these opportunities.
We had so hoped to see you this fall – in person – from the start! Please know we will be ready to welcome our school community as soon as is possible. In the meantime, please let either of us know if you have any questions, and please check this site periodically for updates. For instance, your feedback will help us create forthcoming question-and-answer pages on Health and Safety and on Academics.
The Governing Board and our administration, faculty, and staff are fully invested in providing your daughters with a meaningful and engaging school year of teaching and learning, accompanied by vigorous attention to health and wellness, and enriched by the warmth of community connection. We look forward to having some fun and joy as we traverse this difficult path together!
Susan C. Bosland, Head of School
Ellen M. Jakovic, Chair of NCS Governing Board