As news began to spread early February that schools were closing in China, CAS started planning ahead for a distance learning plan in case Covid19 were to become a pandemic...forcing all schools to shut down! A well researched long term plan was put in place only 3 days after Morocco forced all schools to close for confinement.
Casablanca American School ahead of education in distance learning
News began to spread in late January and early February that schools were closing in China and beyond due to Covid-19. Casablanca American School’s Director, John Randolph, requested his team investigate a potential distance learning plan. The plan was informed by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Department of State's Office of Overseas Schools, as well as various accrediting agencies such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Randolph felt it crucial the school have a solid distance learning plan should Covid-19 become a worldwide pandemic.
The school currently owned digital platforms that were re-assessed based on the needs required for distance learning. Mr. Randolph also asked the CAS IT department to study alternate solutions in case the current software they had didn’t meet the needs of the teachers and students. The school made sure that all of their teaching faculty's home internet was upgraded to the maximum as to ensure smooth virtual online classes to be held.
On March 13, when the Moroccan government announced that schools would close, the Casablanca American School Senior Leadership Team spent the weekend reviewing and finalizing the Distance Learning plan, communicated to school stakeholders, and prepared for staff training. The CAS Instructional Team with the immense support of our IT department only required two days for training and to test drive systems and platforms. Additionally, the Lower School staff gathered all of the student belongings and school-owned Chromebooks necessary for home learning and distributed same to Lower School families.
Parents were informed of a date and time to collect their child’s learning tools and the adventure began!
Before, during, and after distance learning and throughout the school, all decisions were research based and well-informed. It’s during times such as these that one can see the benefit of belonging to a greater international network that allows collaboration and benchmarking. One aspect of an American education that was not neglected during the period of distance learning is emotional wellbeing. The mental health of students, families and teachers remained on the forefront of the administration's mind. Teachers were checking in with students and families to help them through not only the distance learning process but also the stress that came with confinement. Teachers as well were provided support with regular google meet sessions. The school psychologist met with classes, families, individual students and teachers. The Principals conducted welfare calls to check in with absent students.
Though Distance Learning has concluded for this year, Casablanca American School’s Leadership Team has already begun to assess the curriculum adjustments that will need to be made for next year. Basing their previsions on conclusions from previous case studies of school closures such as with Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, the Leadership Team already knows which subject matters will need to be reinforced during the 2020-21 academic year.
Distance Learning confirmed what community members already knew- things are better together. From the Business and Finance Offices to instructional staff to the maintenance team to individual families, the entire school came together.
Despite challenges and through thick and thin- once a Cobra, always a Cobra!