Wellness, WiFi & Weather: Hybrid Learning Lessons

This is a blog post written by Assistant Head Charles Franklin about the results of a Hybrid Learning survey sent to our community in October 2020.

In the spring of 2020, we surveyed our families, boys, and faculty and staff on two separate occasions to gather feedback on what was working well and where there were areas for improvement with our distance learning program.  The feedback we received allowed us to affirm areas of strength and focus in on where we could refine our approach. Similarly, after our first two weeks of Hybrid Learning in October (after boys in Weeks A and B had completed their first week on campus), it made sense to again ask for feedback from our community. 

Thank you to the hundreds of families, boys, and faculty and staff who responded to the survey, as your replies have provided a wealth of information.  Here are the main takeaways from this round of surveys:

There was a strong consensus that the weeks of Hybrid Learning were well received by families, boys, and faculty and staff.  Families reported noticeable improvements in their son’s overall wellness and academic engagement, students reported being buoyed by seeing friends and teachers in person, and faculty and staff were similarly heartened to reconnect in person with their students. 

Areas noted for improvement mainly focused on lunch, WiFi connectivity, the interior of the tents, and concerns about the weather.  Several of these areas were ones we have been working on from the beginning of our hybrid planning, and it was helpful to hear where we can improve.  Over the past days and weeks, we have made the following adjustments.

  • Lunch: Instead of having set pre-packed lunches, boys are now able to choose what they want from an array of options laid out for them, under the supervision of SAGE Dining staff and Landon faculty and staff.  This change allows boys more choice in their lunch.  Boys are also allowed to take, for example, extra sandwiches and to return for seconds.  
  • WiFi: Outfitting 36 outdoor tents with WiFi connectivity has been a truly remarkable effort from our technology and buildings and grounds team.  While our WiFi connectivity has been good, we are looking to improve it daily to ensure we have the best possible coverage we can, knowing that a perfect system is not realistic.  Under the leadership of our Information Technology Manager Neil Magsino, we have conducted a site survey of the wireless coverage in conjunction with our wireless vendor.  That report has identified 10 recommendations for refining our WiFi coverage, and Neil and our technology team have implemented all of those recommendations.
  • Tent interiors: The recent addition of ground covers, such as hay and ground mulch to some of the tents has helped make the “floor” of the tents nicer and dryer, as spots where the grass had been trampled down or were little muddy on damp days are now covered.  Concern over the size of some of the desk/chair combinations were also expressed and that is one area where we will most likely not see any changes in the immediate future given the backlog on ordering furniture.  That said, in some spaces we have moved tables outside to replace desk/chairs as they better suit the content of the class.
  • Weather:  As for our approach when it gets colder, we will want to utilize the tents as long as we can, provided it does not get too cold.  We are evaluating this on a daily basis and will be communicating more soon as Jim Neill mentioned in an email on Wednesday.  We recognize that realistically there are limitations to the tents’ utilization and, along with our continued COVID-19 testing efforts, determining what our next stage might look like is a major focus of our planning efforts right now.  But for now we plan to use them through at least Thanksgiving and ask that the boys wear appropriate clothing based on the weather, including hats, warm socks, and layers. 

I’ll conclude with a comment from a parent that reflects the tone and tenor of so many of the replies we received.  It is a testament to the entire Landon community (families, boys, faculty, staff) coming together in this unprecedented time to hold school on-campus, in-person, and outdoors.

“I am so pleased with all Landon is doing to get our sons back to campus. There are a lot of different view points amongst the families and administration, and Landon is doing an incredible job at balancing the desires of the families with listening to the science and the guidelines set out by local government to build a strategy that is best for all involved. It is so tough, but Landon has rolled up its sleeves and is willing to take this challenge and find opportunity. Thank you, Landon!!”