I hope you all were able to enjoy a restful and restorative weekend and that those of you celebrating the Passover and Easter holidays were able to meaningfully connect with family, friends, and loved ones.
As Gordon enters phase two of our Online Learning Community this week, we are beginning to better understand what it means to “do school” in this new reality and how we can best support our students, families, faculty, and staff.
We’re still learning for sure, but we have a strong foundation for our day-to-day programs and operations. This means that the Leadership Team and Board of Trustees can now turn more of our energies to tackling some of the hard strategic challenges that lie ahead. One of the most important conversations to consider is the short-term and long-term financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Gordon School.
I wish this was one of those letters where a Q&A could take care of all of the questions that may be swirling for families right now. It isn’t. There remains too much uncertainty to be able to provide definitive answers immediately and in a responsible manner. I can, however, share my thinking to help the community better understand how Gordon is approaching the financial challenges before us.
In the short-term, we know that there are families in our community who are experiencing financial hardship because of this crisis. We have provided refunds to families who paid for after school care, enrichments, lunch, and any other “fee-for-service” programs. We have also suspended late charges on outstanding tuition balances. I encourage families who have concerns about meeting this year’s tuition obligation to contact our CFO Tom Cicatiello at 401-473-3316 to discuss your situation.
The question that has come up most often regarding Gordon and finances is whether or not we are considering refunding tuition for the time that students are not on campus. On March 27th, in the Q&A for families, I stated that we would not. As of today, that position has not changed; however, it would be short-sighted to declare the conversation closed.
Since I wrote that response to the community, we hadn't begun online learning, there was no federal stimulus package, and we did not know how long we would be out of school following spring break. Many more unknowns remain. Right now, Rhode Island schools have planned for distance learning until April 30th, but all schools are considering the possibility that our campuses may be closed for the remainder of the school year.
Given these uncertainties, I know that Gordon has to be flexible, open, and willing to change course when necessary. There are hard decisions ahead and inherent tensions to manage. The success of the Online Learning Community and the continued effectiveness of our operations both on and off campus require faculty and staff to work to their full capacity. At the same time, while we are immensely proud of what we have created, we know that nothing can take the place of the teaching, learning, and sense of community that happens when we are all together on campus every day.
We recognize that this crisis is asking more of parents and caregivers. Many of you are working from home and trying to manage your child’s schooling and caring for other family members. The need to have parents more involved at home, though, does not translate into teachers working any less. In this unprecedented moment, how do we make everyone whole? How do we acknowledge the losses felt and the work now added to our days?
As I shared earlier, I do not have the answers yet, but if my response on the March 27th Q&A indicated that the conversation was closed, I want you to know that is not the case. I am looking forward to engaging in this strategic work with the Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees in the coming weeks and will continue to keep the Gordon community informed as our internal discussions evolve.
Lastly, I want to echo Lynn Bowman’s request from her letter to the community sent this past Friday. Whatever you may be feeling about the tuition refund question, please do not direct frustrations at our teachers. Tom, Lynn, and I stand ready to respond to your questions and concerns as best we can. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
Thank you, as always, for your continued partnership and support.
News on summer camps
The last days of the year
Long term planning
Two Fridays off in May
Gordon closed through end of the year
Short-term and long-term financial questions
Phase two begins Monday
Zoom, security and Gordon
Noni and Gordie's video
Five weeks of online learning
Preparing for April 1st
Link to day one certificate
The spring 2020 Q&A
Daily structure of online learning
A move to online learning
It's still spring break
What's up on campus over break
Carnival, Grandfriends' Day
Gators cancelled next week
travel advisories expanded
just for fifth grade families
new travel advisories
importance of the travel form
family out of self-quarantine
clear and open communication
school closing process and policy
prepare for remote learning
a family is in self-quarantine
spring break travel form
precautions underway at school