During this school-year-unlike-any-other, and more than ever before, independent schools have become more flexible about what teaching and learning looks like--online options, hybrid options, and on-campus options abound. Families and students have flexibility, autonomy, and choice about what works best for them, in their current situations. As we start to see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, academic leaders will be wise not to return to the assumption that all learning has to happen in a classroom, on a campus, at a particular time. Because we've shown that the old rules don't apply, families are pushing past old boundaries, requesting--and expecting--schools to be more flexible and accommodating.
Now, the new paradigm of school is facing its first test: to offer or not to offer online or hybrid options for the 2021-2022 school year. We hear from every school that we talk to that some percentage of families (more or less, depending on the market) are asking about options for hybrid or online enrollment in the coming school year. Academic leaders, at the same time, are wary about creating these options for what is likely a small percentage of students. The reasons for the wariness are legitimate: zooming remote students into live classes isn’t working well for students or teachers; and expecting teachers to create comprehensive learning experiences for both online and in-person students isn’t reasonable.
Losing those families who want to continue with remote learning isn’t in a school’s financial interest. After this transformational year, schools have an opportunity to demonstrate to families and students that they have learned and grown from the pandemic.
There are potential solutions for offering an online or hybrid program in 2021-2022 that don’t have to repeat the slog of this school year. The two most likely are:
If this second option sounds interesting, please do not hesitate to send me an email so that we can learn more about what your school is thinking and make sure to meet your needs.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)