Lincoln Academy Reopening Updates

A message from Head of School Jeff Burroughs

LA Head of School Jeff Burroughs, summer 2020

LA Head of School Jeff Burroughs, summer 2020

Living in a world impacted by a global pandemic has been incredibly difficult for all of us–much more than we could have predicted. While we are fortunate to be here in midcoast Maine riding out the proverbial storm, we have students and families who have been immeasurably impacted by events over these past four months. The background noise of anxiety that has been in our subconscious as a hum of unrest has taken its toll on all of us. As we make plans to rebuild the community we long for, we will keep the needs of students, faculty and staff forefront in our minds.

We need to accept the fact that our job in this moment is to take full advantage of technology, best educational practices, and what we know about building community, and deliver an education to our students that relies on a medium that is relatively new to most of us. While this is not the mode of delivery any of us would choose under normal circumstances, Lincoln Academy faculty and staff will make full use of the tools we have.

This fall we will be better at delivering our education through Canvas, our Learning Management System. We will build our courses so that they are more authentic to the environment of delivery and take advantage of best practices. We will combine these best practices with intentional personalized support for students. We will rebuild community in cohorts of students on campus, finding threads to weave through our student body so that we can stay connected to those pieces that have made LA so invaluable to our students.

Schedules for Learning

We are gratified with the response rate to recent surveys, which have been tremendously helpful in our decision making. The greatest concern for the majority of respondents is bimodal:  evenly split between concerns about online learning and health and safety, which certainly reflects the country as a whole. Our planning team has worked with three options as recommended by Governor Mills’s return to school plan, supported by research into best practices, and guidance from other schools, and organizations. We will have three fully developed options for the 20-21 academic year.

1. Return to our regular fully in-person schedule.

This is the easiest for us and the one that we all are certainly hoping for. It is also the least likely based on current conditions and guidance, until there is a true change in the transmission of the virus and a vaccine has been developed and widely employed. All of the guidance for in-person instruction is still restricted by social distancing, mask wearing, and other health and safety protocols. The good news is that we know how to do this well and we have all of the schedules and rosters built so that we can move to fully in-person instruction as soon health and safety protocols allow it.

2. Fully Virtual Learning

This is the most difficult for all of us. It is new and uncomfortable, and very few of us– faculty, parents, or students–have had a lot of experience learning in a fully virtual course (although I imagine that many of us have learned something by looking up a video on YouTube, so in that sense we are familiar with the concept in practice). As you know, we made the jump to virtual learning in less than two days last year, and while I am incredibly proud of the work our teachers did to embrace this challenge, there remain many areas for improvement. LA faculty are working hard this summer to transform their traditional courses to be delivered virtually, and we believe these efforts will pay off with more engaging content, less screen time, and more opportunities for support during the weekly schedule. Additionally, this fall there will be a daily/weekly schedule that all students will follow as we have learned that routine is a critical factor in making virtual learning as effective as possible.

3. Hybrid Learning

At this point in the summer we are heading towards the third option, which is a hybrid model. Our Hybrid model employs aspects of both Virtual and Traditional learning approaches. We have two available hybrid models – one in which 1/4 of the school comes to campus one day a week and another in which 1//2 of the school comes to campus 2 days of the week. Which model we use will be determined by health and safety considerations. As many of you know, we have an older school, with many small classrooms and crowded hallways, which presents challenges for teaching spaces, transitions between classes, and ventilation systems.

As was clear in both the end-of-year and summer surveys, the aspects of school that students missed this spring were interactions with peers and the ability to get help on academic assignments, so these are the areas we will emphasize during our face-to-face time.  

We will use the time on campus to orient students, especially 9th graders and new students, to ensure all are familiar with the educational tools required to access learning through Canvas, and to help students, faculty, and staff adjust to being in school with masks and social distancing requirements. We will also use time on campus to connect students with school resources including guidance for seniors and juniors, access to our wonderful social workers, and small group meetings with teachers and other key adults in their lives. We will do what we can to build the community foundations that will ground us when we are able return to campus more fully.

We do anticipate that as long as we can have students on campus in a hybrid fashion, we will offer extracurricular activities including sports. We are all anxiously awaiting the news from the MPA on the competitive and league side of fall sports, because we know that athletics is an important companion to the high school experience for many students. We plan to allow athletic participation as long as health and safety conditions and MPA guidance allows. Many students participate in performing arts programs after school, and we will find ways for them to continue in those activities as well.

Finally, I think it is critical that we all acknowledge that this is going to be hard for all of us. This is not the mode that any of us would choose, but I know that I can count on the indomitable LA spirit to help us find a way through it together. We will be flexible in all that we do, keeping an eye on serving our students, families, faculty, and staff, and creating the safest and most effective learning environment that we can. We will use the tools available to provide regular updates to the community and hold Zoom sessions for parents and students throughout the fall. Staying connected is critical during these times, and I hope you will join us as frequently as you can. 

As always, I am available for questions or comments, willing to discuss individual situations and committed to continuing the proud tradition of serving the community at Lincoln Academy.

Be well and stay safe,

Jeffrey S. Burroughs
Head of School

Frequently Asked Questions About LA’s Return to School this fall

(Last updated July 28. This page will be updated regularly)

Lincoln Academy plans to open with a combination of in-person and virtual learning to start in September. Day-to-day details of the plan depend on the changing public health status in Lincoln County, Maine, and the US, as well as Governor Mills’s recommendation that schools be prepared for several scenarios–fully in person (with masks and social distancing), fully virtual, and a hybrid–with plans to transition as needed among the three plans.

The planned hybrid scenario will include a minimum of one day on campus for all students. We will have an extended orientation program in early September before academic classes begin. This will include “Technology Boot Camp,” training in new health and safety protocols, and a chance to get acquainted with the incoming Class of 2024. All students will participate in this orientation, though not all students will be on campus at any one time.

Health and Safety

Yes. Everyone will be required to wear masks at all times inside Lincoln Academy buildings. You may not come to school without a mask.

Students will be expected to complete a daily check-in making sure that they are not experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19. An online portal is being developed for this purpose.

In our new reality, we must take all symptoms related to COVID-19 seriously. Students who have even mild symptoms of sore throat, body aches, chills, fever, or cough are asked to stay home and report your condition to the Health Center using the online portal. We expect that absences will be more frequent and longer than in past years, and we will make every effort to accommodate students who miss school. All courses will be delivered using the Canvas Learning Management system in a virtual format, which will facilitate teaching and learning during student absences.

In the case of a positive COVID test within the LA community, campus would immediately shift to all-virtual learning for a minimum of 24 hours while the school completes contact tracing in conjunction with the Maine CDC and assesses risks to the community. Reopening after any closure will follow CDC protocols and happen only after it has been determined that it is safe to return to school.

The LA residential staff has been working all summer to create a safe space for residential students to return. This includes creating an isolation wing for any student who falls ill, and plans to care for sick students safely. The Health Center is working closely with Lincoln Health to set up support systems to test, diagnose, isolate, monitor, and care for any member of the residential community who falls ill.

LA is preparing school spaces to help the community stay safe at school this year. These preparations include: replacing shared tables with individual desks in classrooms, increasing sanitization of spaces and surfaces, restricting visitor access to campus, limiting access to certain classrooms and dorm spaces, increasing air flow throughout school buildings, adding plexiglass shields at reception desks, de-densifying classrooms, adding handwashing and hand sanitizing stations, and reducing sharing of equipment such as books, computers, and lab supplies. Students will have lunch in classrooms instead of in the Dining Commons.

Calendar and Important Dates

We expect that teachers will have extra Professional Development days at the end of August to prepare for a very different-looking school year. Students should be prepared for orientation likely starting between August 31 and September 4, and classes likely starting between September 8 and September 11. All dates are subject to change.

At this point, we plan to follow the Important Dates Calendar as originally scheduled:

  • Thanksgiving Vacation – November 11/21-11/29
  • December Vacation – 12/19 – 1/3
  • February Vacation – 2/13 – 2/21
  • April Vacation – 4/17 – 4/25
  • Commencement – 6/4
  • Last Student Day – 6/10
  • Last Faculty Day – 6/11

Teaching and Learning

At this point we plan to begin school with the hybrid plan where all students attend in person at least one day a week. During the days where students are not on campus, they are expected to engage in virtual learning during school hours every weekday. Classes will be taught in weekly modules on Canvas, with academic work assigned and submitted online. This will accommodate students who cannot attend in-person classes, and will ease the transition if we need to go to all virtual learning during the course of the year.

In-person time will be used for individualized student support and time connecting with peers and teachers. Face-to-face time on campus will emphasize academic support for students, and extra-curricular involvement. In-person days will include advisor meetings, subject-specific and technical support, mentoring with faculty, staff, and peers, and a chance to pick up or return equipment and assignments that cannot be completed virtually. For the time being, direct instruction will be delivered virtually, with work assigned and submitted through Canvas, and in-person days will offer the opportunity for students to meet in small groups with teachers to discuss their learning and ask questions. 

If students and their families have specific health concerns, they may choose not to attend the in-person instructional days at school. This is a decision that should be weighed carefully in consultation with the health center, the students’ advisor, and the student’s guidance counselor. Students will not be able to simply come to school some weeks and stay home other weeks (unless the student or a family member is ill). All courses will be taught virtually, so students who stay home for the entire trimester or who quarantine for periods of illness will be able to continue instruction.

Students are expected to engage in school work during regular school hours on any given day, whether that day is an in-person or virtual learning day. Students should not make other regular commitments during the school day, including paid work during the hours of 8 and 2:30. The school will take attendance during both in-person classes and virtual synchronous sessions.

Class material will be assigned and completed through weekly modules on Canvas, LA’s Learning Management System. During in-person days, teachers will prioritize academic support rather than direct instruction. In-person days will focus on subject-specific discussions, small group work sessions, and help organizing and managing work. Teachers will also hold virtual office hours during the week. 

Using the Canvas modules will help ensure consistency in instruction and facilitate transitions that could become necessary if there is a local outbreak of COVID-19.

The year will start with “Technology Bootcamp” as part of back-to-school orientation. This will help prepare students for online learning and ensure that all students are comfortable navigating Canvas and other supporting technology platforms. Once the trimester begins, faculty will host small-group online support sessions and offer targeted support sessions for individual students. LA will provide technical assistance with Chromebook loaners and wifi hotspots for those without Internet access. Technical support for parents and families will be provided using recorded videos and regularly scheduled virtual drop-in sessions.

Performing arts classes will continue to meet virtually and in-person to work on core skills, and music and theater performances will be modified to meet safety requirements.

No. We expect that while students may not be in school every day, when they are in school they will be there for the entire school day to help ease busing challenges.

No. We expect that all final grades (trimester and year-end) will be graded on the standard 100 point scale. Virtual learning will also involve more formative assessment and rubrics for project-based assignments.

The Bath Regional Career and Technical Center (BRCTC) will set their own schedule, but LA is working with BRCTC to come up with a plan that is workable for our students who plan to attend one of their programs in the coming year.

These programs will follow a schedule independent from other classes, and we expect students in these programs to be on campus as much as possible this fall. Please note that Life Skills, IDEAL, and Alternative Education will now meet in Hall House, which is being converted this summer from dorm space to classrooms.

No. While there will be required weekly synchronous sessions in each class, classes will not simply be live streamed, as this presents technical challenges, does not account for student accommodations, and is not the best way to deliver virtual content. Teachers are spending time this summer learning best practices for virtual learning in order to “think beyond the Zoom lecture,” so this will improve the overall virtual learning experience for students.

The key to learning in a hybrid or virtual model is good communication between teachers and students. Please make sure your student checks in with each teacher (including their advisor) every week. Students will have a clear schedule that parents can help them adhere to during the week, and not all of their academic work will be on a screen. Information about how to become an Observer in Canvas will be shared at the start of the school year. This account allows a parent or guardian a view into the academic learning environment that students use everyday. It is recommended that all parents set up an Observer account so that they can assist their students, if needed.

Guidance counselors will be available when students are on campus, through email and through virtual sessions via Google Meet or Zoom. In the fall, guidance counselors will be working to support seniors as they plan for life after high school and will be connecting to freshmen to help them transition to Lincoln Academy. They are also a resource for any student requiring support and will support struggling students throughout the year.

Athletics

Lincoln Academy values school sports as an important component of education, and we will do everything we can to get kids moving and playing with teammates this fall. That said, the fall of 2020 will look very different than past sports seasons. 

While we do not yet know the details of our fall athletics program, we expect that there will be fewer interscholastic contests and these will be closer to home, and we will look for help from families to transport their students in order to de-densify buses.

We expect sports practices to begin on September 8, and competition to begin on September 18, the dates set by the Maine Principals Association (MPA). We are waiting on the MPA for more detailed guidelines.

Every athlete will need to complete the athletic section of Lincoln Academy’s InfoSnap Registration portal, which will open on August 10 for student registration. In addition, all fall athletes should contact their coaches and do some conditioning to prepare for a shortened season.

Even if we are unable to complete the fall season, as long as school has in-person instruction LA coaches will work with athletes after school in a program that keeps them safe and helps them stay fit and active.

Transportation

We expect that all students will be on campus for at least one day a week, with the exact schedule to be determined.

We expect that buses will run at a de-densified capacity. We encourage families who have access to alternate transportation to use it so that those who have no alternative can have the safest bus experience possible.

Social and Emotional Support

Time with students’ academic advisors will be prioritized during in-person days in the hybrid model, and advisors will be available to students virtually as well. Advisors should serve as the first point of contact if students are struggling, followed by guidance counselors and social workers. Special Education ed techs will continue to provide support for students, and the Student Support Team (SST) will continue to track students with emotional and academic needs. 

Guidance counselors and social workers will be available for both in-person and virtual appointments. Please check with the Guidance Office (guidance@lincolnacademy.org) or Health Center (hennyr@lincolnacademy.org) for details, or email social workers Tory Wright (twright@lincolnacademy.org) or Lisa Katz (katz@lincolnacademy.org).

Clubs and extracurriculars that can meet virtually can and should continue to meet. In-person days will also allow times for club meetings to take place on campus.

Contact Information

For Questions about the fall return plan:

The Academic Fall Planning Committee was made up of administrators and representatives from each academic department. Questions about academics should be directed to Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kelley Duffy: duffy@lincolnacademy.org

Questions about  and health concerns and campus safety should be directed to LA Health Center Director Eric Duffy: eduffy@lincolnacademy.org

Questions about accessing technology for virtual learning should be directed to Academic Technology Coordinator Stephanie Cheney: cheney@lincolnacademy.org

Other useful contacts include:

Other faculty and staff contact information can be found in the Faculty and Staff Directory