Distance Learning Overview

Town’s Distance Learning Plan 

Goals, process, tools, and support:

 

Our overarching objectives for distance learning at Town are to:

  • support students’ continued progress towards curricular goals
  • maintain teacher-student relationships essential to deeper learning
  • preserve a sense of connection with classmates and the school community
  • create resources to facilitate engaging home learning
  • provide consistent support to students and parents, as we navigate this experience together

Schedule: We are working to approximate our regular school schedule and pacing, in support of developmentally appropriate learning. For our younger students, we do not expect parents to replicate school hours at home; rather, we have structured the schedule to reflect the typical daily lineup of academic subjects and offer both synchronous class meetings and asynchronous lessons to complete independently at times that work for your family. Upper School students replicate fairly closely their regular class day in real time. More details are included below.

School Communication and Teacher Availability: 

  • Town emails a weekly preview of the week ahead with each grade's daily subject lineup and a review of how to access the required learning materials. 
  • Teachers and specialists schedule regular individual student/family conferences, to check in on student progress and well-being and to offer individual attention and support.
  • All Town teachers, administrators, and staff are available by email, and by appointment for virtual meetings, during regular school hours. Use the Faculty and Staff directory on TownToday to find the email of any Town employee. 
  • For general help at any time, contact FrontOffice@townschool.org; a friendly Town staffer will be checking that email consistently. 
  • For technical help, contact helpdesk@townschool.org.

Technology tools and platforms to support distance learning: 

  • Teachers will provide resources for students as well as video lessons and other enrichment options online. 
  • Homeroom teams and Upper School advisors will schedule weekly check-ins with students and families via GoogleMeet or phone. 
  • It will be necessary to access online material at home, through platforms already in use by Town parents and students (TownToday for N-K and 1st - 3rd Grades, Schoology for 4th - 8th grades). 
    • You will now find on TownToday a Distance Learning Hub for each of your child’s grades, under “Groups” in the top-level menu, where you will access all content for N3 - 3rd grades, and where you will find directions to access Schoology for 4th - 8th grades.
  • If your family does not have a computer or tablet in good working condition at home, please let us know right away (contact helpdesk@townschool.org), and we can arrange to loan you a school device. All distance learning resources can be accessed via any internet-enabled device, but we do not recommend sustained student work on a smartphone. 
  • If you have any concerns about your home internet connection (your connection speed should be fast enough to support video streaming), please contact helpdesk@townschool.org, right away to discuss how we can help. Test your internet speed here: https://www.speedtest.net/ (goal is a minimum 20 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload). 
  • We do not expect that families will print out assignments or school work at home. For younger grades, teachers have sent hard copies of needed materials home, and all Upper School assignments will be completed digitally, or by using the notebooks and paper students already have.

All families should also consider where and when their children can successfully engage in distance learning at home, including when a parent or caregiver can help facilitate learning for younger students. More details/advice on this topic are included in the Division details below.

Nursery-Kindergarten Distance Learning Details

Nursery-Kindergarten Distance Learning Details

 

Distance Learning tools and platforms that parents and students will need:

  • Parent TownToday login (contact helpdesk@townschool.org if you need assistance). 
    • Distance learning materials will be posted daily in your grade-level Distance Learning Hub, found under Groups.
  • An internet-enabled device, ideally a laptop, computer, or tablet. 
    • Please contact helpdesk@townschool.org, if you do not have one of these tools at home; we will loan you a school device. 
  • Paper and drawing/writing materials: pencils, crayons 
  • Seesaw, an app to facilitate teacher-student engagement around their submitted work. 

Schedule and pacing: Young children thrive in routine and our Distance Learning Schedule will mirror as closely as possible the activities and routines that children experience in the classroom on a daily basis in order to support their emotional development. Lessons posted on TownToday daily will include classroom lessons and possibly a lesson from a specialist. It is essential to also build in time for play in between lessons, rather than engage with all lessons back-to-back. With young children, we understand that parents or caregivers will need to facilitate their distance learning experience. We therefore do not expect that students will keep regular school hours at home, but that families will find times that work for their schedules to cover all posted lessons each day.

Screen time: It is important that during this time you monitor the amount of screen time your child will be experiencing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screen time should be limited to one hour per day for children ages 2 to 5. We recognize that this may be difficult during distance learning.  It is important to create a healthy balance between online screen time and play. We would, therefore, recommend that  the total amount of time of the videos watched for school lessons be counted towards the total amount of screen time for the day. To help limit screen time, it is our expectation that children will view the lesson video (which will be no more than five minutes long) and then turn off their screen. We also recommend taking play or free-time breaks in between lessons when possible, as we would at school.

Check-in meetings with famiies and weekly class meetings: Student meet as a whole group or in small groups together with their teachers multiple times each week to maintain student social connections, and we are introducing more live learning opportunities alongside our continuing asynchronous lessons. Collaborative calls with teachers, children and parents occur on a regular basis.

Office hours and Communication: Teachers will be available during the same hours they would if they were at school. For the N-K Division, that will be 8:00am to 3:00pm. If you should have questions regarding your child’s distance learning experience, we recommend that you write the teaching team an email and then arrange for a mutually convenient time to talk. 

Parent Support:  We recognize that supporting distance learning for your child may conflict with your own job schedules. To alleviate any stress that this might cause, we suggest that you try to find a way to incorporate your child’s watching of the lessons into your daily work routine. For example, you might consider watching a lesson with your child in the morning, one at lunch time, one during the afternoon and one in the evening. We ask that everyone remain open and flexible in finding a way that makes the learning workable for the children and for you with as little stress as possible.   

The Nursery-Kindergarten Division Head, psychologist, learning specialists, and all teachers will be available to parents as usual. Please schedule meetings by email. (A full directory of faculty and staff emails is available on TownToday).

Lower School Distance Learning Details

Lower School Distance Learning Details

 

Distance Learning tools and platforms that Lower School parents and students will need:

  • Parent TownToday login (contact helpdesk@townschool.org if you need assistance)
    • Distance learning materials for 1st - 3rd grades will be posted daily in your grade-level Distance Learning Hub, found under Groups.
  • Student Schoology login for 4th grade: 4th grade students have Schoology loaded on their Town iPads and have been practicing using it with their teachers this past week. 
    • Parents can access Schoology on the web at app.schoology.com or download the Schoology app on a mobile device.
    • The login is your child’s Town email and school password (we will send your child's login prior to the start of distance learning).
    • If you need help signing in, contact helpdesk@townschool.org.
  • Epic, and online books resource available to 1st - 4th grade students. Contact your teachers or helpdesk.org for assistance in accessing this resource. 
  • An internet-enabled device, ideally a laptop, computer, or tablet. 
    • Please contact helpdesk@townschool.org, if you do not have one of these devices at home; we will loan you a school device.
  • Paper and drawing/writing materials: pencils, pens, crayons, washable markers
  • For 4th graders: Town-issued iPads and keyboards

Schedule and pacing: We do not expect that students will mirror the exact school schedule at home, rather that families will navigate when they can best facilitate distance learning. We do expect that students will engage with lessons in the subject areas that would be covered in a typical day at school. Grade level teams will offer an academic schedule that evenly balances and distributes the load of academics each day throughout the week. Subject areas will have different time durations suggested than the regular school schedule, as learning at home will be different than in a typical classroom setting; this guidance will be included along with the lessons and assignments. Teachers will provide a weekly summary outlining the schedule.

Screen time: We want to monitor screen time expectations for students. Teachers will be uploading video recordings of mini-lessons to provide guidance in reading, writing, math, and social studies, and specialists (arts, PE, science, library) will also offer lessons via video. We expect children to view the video and then turn off their screen to complete assignments or engage in the assigned activity.

Balance: We want to balance children's academic progress and move them forward in the program as best possible from a distance, while also keeping in mind their full experience as young children and recognizing the benefits of play and downtime.

Specials: All specialist teachers will be offering lessons and activities for children to complete when they arrive at one of those times on their schedule. These may also take the forms of recorded videos to view and activities to practice.

Check-in meetings and live class meetings: In addition to weekly live class meetings and small-group work sessions, teachers and specialists schedule regular 1:1 check-in meetings with students to understand and support their progress in the core academic areas and partner with parents to consider each child's overall progress across domains. Meetings will take place via GoogleMeet, which you will access through your child's Town Google login (we will send in advance of the start of distance learning). Meetings will be scheduled using SignUp Genius, and a link for each class's meeting sign-up will be posted on the TownToday Distance Learning Group Hub. 

Office hours and Communication: Teachers will typically be available to families during regular school hours of 8:00am - 4:00pm. Communication for schoolwork and students' progress should occur during these hours.

The Lower School Head, psychologist, learning specialists, and all teachers will be available to parents as usual. Please schedule meetings by email. (A full directory of faculty and staff emails is available on TownToday). 

Upper School Distance Learning Details

Upper School Distance Learning Details

 

Distance Learning Tools and platforms that students will need (they already have and use these regularly)

  • Town-issued iPad and keyboard. 
  • Student Town Google account, for school email, GoogleMeet, and productivity tools like Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. 
    • Upper School students should get in the habit of regularly checking their Town email.
  • Schoology, loaded on the student's Town iPad.   
    • Parents can access Schoology on the web at app.schoology.com or download the Schoology app on a mobile device.
    • The login is your child’s Town email and school password (we will send your child's login prior to the start of distance learning).
    • If you need assistance signing in, contact helpdesk@townschool.org; Upper School Tech Integrator Jack Mansager will be happy to help. 

Schedule and Pacing: Students will follow their daily class schedule in real time as much as possible. They will start each morning with a homeroom check-in to structure the day, and then either have a live lesson with their teacher or work on assignments/projects according to the subjects they have scheduled each period. 

  • The schedule will still include lunch and sign-ups as free time.
  • Students will receive an email before each class (through their Town email) with instructions about what to expect.
  • Students will complete assessments during synchronous class periods. 
  • Students are expected to be present each day in virtual school, but we understand there will need to be flexibility.
    • If a student is not able to participate in classes in real time, it will be their responsibility to let their teacher know (by email), and to check Schoology for additional information.

Class format: When we launch the distance learning model, the first meeting of each class will be synchronous, meaning everyone will join a live meeting with the teacher through GoogleMeet. Afterwards, classes will be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous (when students will review a lesson and complete assigned work on their own), but the teacher will always be available to students during the class period whether or not they are live-teaching. After the first class meeting, students will receive advance notice of each subsequent "live" class meeting. 

Office hours and Communication: Teachers will be working regular school hours of 8:00am - 4:00pm, and will be available to students and families during scheduled class times as well as by appointment. Teachers are reachable by email, as usual; look on TownToday for a full directory of faculty emails. Keep in mind, some faculty are also parents themselves and will be supporting their own children's progress at home as well as their students' progress. We will need to maintain flexibility and understanding together as we move through the distance learning format.

Check-in Meetings: Students will have a weekly virtual check-in with their advisor via GoogleMeet, which will be scheduled directly with their advisor.

The Upper School Head, counselor, learning specialists, and all teachers will be available to parents as usual. Please schedule meetings by email. (A full directory of faculty and staff emails is available on TownToday).

S.O.S. in our Online Community

S.O.S. in our Online Community

We will take care of Self, Others, and Surroundings during distance learning just as we do at school. 

  • All expectations around student behavior and participation will apply in our virtual classroom setting. 
  • We will continue to uphold our community expectations for kind, respectful, inclusive interactions.
  • Just as with our books and technology tools at school, all media created and shared for the purposes of distance learning are to be used only by Town students and parents and only for the purpose of distance learning, not shared or re-used in any way. 

Who's on Your Team

Who’s on your Team

Helpful contacts for support during distance learning:

  • Doug Brophy, Head of School
  • Odette Muskin, Head of Nursery-Kindergarten Division
  • David Andrew Wood, Head of Lower School
  • Carol Seeley, Head of Upper School
  • Janie Vance, Academic Dean
  • Jodie Wilkerson, Director of Communications
  • Front Office/Advancement Team: Ginger Loor, Assistant to the Head; Abbie Fombellida, Assistant to the Academic Team; Emily Abbott Davis, Development and Communications Manager
  • Tech Team: Grant Olds, Director of Technology; Ryan Vereen, IT Operations Manager; Matt McGowan, N-K and LS Tech Integrator; Jack Mansager, US Tech Integrator; Alex Santana, IT Support Coordinator 

Additional optional educational resources. 

We are pleased to share with you this Town-curated list of optional online educational enrichment resources, should your children be interested in engaging with more reading, math, or online cultural/museum experiences. These are not intended as part of your child's daily distance learning program, but as optional, fun enrichment activities, in alignment with Town’s curriculum and approach.

Contact

540 East 76th Street
New York 10021
p 212-288-4383
f 212-988-5846
info@townschool.org