BERLIN – Despite the ongoing health crisis, learning has not been interrupted at Worcester Preparatory School.
Though classes were out of session for spring break last week, Worcester Prep students on Monday went right back to their studies — albeit from their homes. The school is using a variety of online programs to connect students and teachers while schools are shuttered due to coronavirus.
“Our campus is closed but school is still in session,” said Acting Head of School Mike Grosso.
When Grosso heard talk of possible school closures in early March, he quickly advised teachers to start planning for alternative learning.
“Being a private school, we wanted to make sure we continue our education as best we can,” he said.
School administration spent spring break preparing for virtual learning. Administrators provided guidelines and faculty members worked with Worcester Prep’s tech department to set up Zoom (a video conferencing program) and create online lessons to mirror what would be taking place inside the school.
“Teachers were working around the clock to get setup,” said Diane Brown, the school’s marketing and public relations associate.
Teachers launched their virtual learning initiatives Monday.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be perfect but at the same time we wanted to continue to educate our kids,” Grosso said.
Worcester Prep’s middle and upper school students were already using an online learning management system so there was little adjustment for them. Younger students have been completing online work sheets and watching recorded lectures, while older students, who all have their own iPads, are able to use a variety of programs to keep in touch with their teachers. In many cases, assignments were given to the students by 9 a.m. with expectations of being turned back in completed to the teachers by the end of the day.
Grosso said educators were giving online assessments and even offering online advisory sessions for the older students.
“We understand our delivery may need to be adjusted but we’ve had a successful start,” he said.
Senior Quinn McColgan said the transition to digital learning had been smooth. Her teachers reached out a few days before Zoom classes were launched and explained expectations.
“Zoom classes have been a fantastic way to stay in touch with my teachers, get my questions answered, and get to spend a few moments socializing with my friends,” she said. “I actually think online learning has been somewhat of a gift to us students during this strange time. It keeps my mind stimulated and helps me keep a routine.”
Grosso said he was proud of Worcester Prep’s students and parents for their support of the new learning initiatives and appreciative of the faculty for their efforts.
A schoolwide survey of the families was planned at the end of the week to gather feedback on what was working well and where improvements may or may not be needed.
As of now, Worcester Prep will be closed through April 24 like the public schools.