The board and administration of Laurel Christian School continues to monitor recommendations from the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools and health-care authorities to make decisions regarding adjustments to the school calendar and the possible need for distance learning during the time students are not on campus. 

The board and administration had a proactive and productive meeting last Monday. Based on the advice of local health-care authorities, the board made the decision to cancel school and all school-related extracurricular activities for students for the week of March 23-27. 

The MAIS has granted member schools a waiver of one week to allow them the opportunity to develop a technology distance-learning education plan. The plan can be used if school remains closed longer. Under a distance-learning plan, teachers will create lessons and activities that students can complete outside the normal school setting. The plan will include a strategy and mechanism to grade and respond to the assignments students complete. 

Beginning Monday, the faculty and staff of LCS will meet in small groups to discuss and develop a plan for distance learning. Using a variety of resources and strategies, LCS officials will develop a plan that will be communicated to and then used by parents and students. The faculty and staff will meet in small groups to allow for social distancing and to address the particular needs of teachers/students at various grade levels. In these meetings, key components of Facts(RenWeb) and the use of other online platforms that can be used for educational purposes will discussed. The primary goal will be to develop the best plan for distance learning for each grade, Headmaster Norman Rowe said.

Throughout next week, there will be additional meeting/training times with different groups of teachers. Teachers will develop lesson plans and strategies for using technology to remotely teach their lessons. Some plans will rely on worksheets and workbooks while others will require more use of technology, depending on teacher preference, grade level, subject and other factors, Rowe said. Initially, teachers will develop lesson plans for two weeks.

By the end of next week, based on the advice of the MAIS and health-care authorities, a decision will be made to return to school on Monday, March 30 or to implement the distance-learning plan. If needed, times will be scheduled for students to gather books and other items that they need from campus. 

The board and administration will re-evaluate the potential return of students and teachers to campus on a week-to-week basis. In an earlier meeting, families were asked to complete a survey to help LCS assess its readiness to use technology in a greater capacity. The results of the survey indicate that LCS students are equipped to use a distance learning plan if needed.  

During this time, the LCS family has been encouraged to pray for our government leaders, health-care workers, those who are sick and our entire community, Rowe said. 

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