Remote Learning Phase 3 Begins May 11

May 4, 2020

Dear Families:

Every late afternoon or evening, my teenage daughter and I started to take what I affectionately call “drives to nowhere”.  We do not want to be anywhere unessential with crowds but do want to get out of the house.  I was going along but then she asked to come along.  Since she joined me, she consistently asks if we can try new routes and find new places.  I am a planner.  I wanted to take a course I knew to a destination that I had identified before I left the house.  Reluctantly, I started to explore.  We would venture down roads that, although close to home, we had never traveled.  I drive not knowing exactly where I am or where I am going.  This is not comfortable for me.  Sometimes, I end up on a dead-end.  Sometimes, I need reassurance and turn on the GPS.  More often, though, we keep driving only to find ourselves in a very familiar location and are comforted as we recognize it.  Of most interest to me has been the little uplift we get each time we put realize a new path and understand where it led even though we got there in a way we never had before.

I am struck by the analogy with our work in remote learning.   We did not have a road map or a chance to plan.  We thought it was short term but it wasn’t.  We tried many things that worked but not all of them did.  We continue to revisit, revise, and revamp the plan to make it the very best we can for kids.  The challenges are many.  There is research on remote learning.  But there is no research about remote learning during a pandemic.  Teachers are working harder than ever as they have to recreate new ways to do typical things and invent new ways to do things that were not possible before.  This all happens while caring for their own families and responsibilities that now exist simultaneously.  Parents are now coaches, mentors, and teachers themselves.  This happens while there are work demands, isolation, and worry for the future.

I want to take a minute to step back and consider where we are and where we are going.  A week or so ago, I shared Acton-Boxborough Superintendent Peter Light’s reflections to the community that articulately outlines the conflicting emotions and concerns within the school community.  We have been talking as leaders and teachers about what we have accomplished and what we want to accomplish, especially now that there is no return to normal this spring.  We asked for feedback and you responded.  The input regarding the experience of over 1800 students brought important, valuable insights as we reviewed both individual and aggregate results at all levels which are included here.  On April 24, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released its updated guidance for schools.  We melded all of these thoughts and created an outline of Phase 3 which begins on May 11.

Tonight, I provide an overview of Phase 3 that is attached to this email.  Each school will host a parent forum and present additional details as to the specifics of Phase 3 at that specific level.  We hope that more live experiences for students with teachers and peers and additional accountability are a welcome addition. We understand that for some it may not be because of the pandemic’s impact in your home, to your family or overall.  We understand and will support you.  Simultaneously, we are already starting to plan for Phase 4 which will take us forward to the summer and fall where there is still no road map and many variables.  The biggest difference though is the gift of time, collaboration, and creating a shared vision that we look forward to crafting with you.

All my best,


File attachments:
Phase Three.docx