b'A New Academic Yearby Academic Dean, Peter Williams After the whirlwind of distance learning in the spring of 2020, we faced the challenge of reopening our school for the fall semester.Throughout the summer, I could not help but read and reread Philip Larkins poem The School in August. Empty schools are strange places, and Larkin comments on this, remarking on hollow desks.lined with dust, and wondering, Who practiced this piano whose notes are now so still? Like Freud or Lacan writing about the uncanny, Larkin is noting what we all have felt this year: the strangeness of the familiar in an unfamiliar context. What, after all, is a school without its pupils?In August we welcomed back our faculty, staff, and students to a campus transformed. Following CDC+ guidelines, we rearranged all of our classrooms so that desks were spaced six feet apart, and we implemented mask wearing for all. With the addition of a newtents, tables, chairs, and rolling whiteboardsSchools that could improve student success Global Plasma Solutions air filtration system,for outdoor learning spaces. A great deal ofand well-being. The work of this task force this meant that our students could be in classrecent research, like that done by Kuo andresulted in 75 minute periods (allowing for with peers and teachers, even if it looked aPenner, finds that students learn better withdeeper learning), A-B day meetings, and little different. From math and English toample time to move and be outdoors. In thislonger breaks between classes. Adopting this science and art classes, our regular instructionsense, the necessities of Covid have improvedpreviously approved schedule one year early has continued in the new paradigm. our instruction. allowed us to leverage the work of our faculty and current research on best practices to help Of course, we knew that the realities of theus approach the problems of the pandemic.pandemic would mean that, regardless of our procedures on campus, some studentsWe are continuing to learn how to perfect would not be able to join us in person. Usingthe hybrid learning model. Our faculty have Zoom and our new Swivl robots, we are alsoundergone a massive amount of professional able to have hybrid and distance learnersdevelopment to teach in the pandemic, and join our classrooms. These students attendour students have learned a new way to be at their classes synchronously and are able toschool. experience lectures, class discussions, and group work with their peers. We even haveIt is still Greensboro Day School, though. Of some enterprising science teachers who havethat I am sure.We safely returned to campus found ways for them to be a part of labs.this fall, and this update says a lot about our life in the new school year. Over the With the need for cleaning breaks, timelate spring and summer months, the GDS With these measures in place in theoutdoors, and hybrid learning, we knewRe-Entry team and subcommittee members classroom, we still knew that students andthat the use of time during the day waslabored assiduously to prepare our campus teachers would need mask breaks, recess,more critical than ever. In the fall of 2019,for a safe return for our students and faculty and fresh air. Our students were all equippeda cross-divisional task force explored a new- the lifeblood of our school.nwith Crazy Creek chairs, and we secureddaily schedule for our Middle and Upper 40 | Winter 2020'