ANAHEIM, Calif., July 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- When Fairmont Schools opens its five campuses on August 17, it will do so with a plan that ensures safety is paramount and parents have a choice in their child's learning experience. For the 2020-21 school year, Fairmont is offering two learning options: five-day-per-week, in-person instruction as well as remote learning. Both approaches ensure students benefit from an immersive classroom experience led by an experienced Fairmont teacher (not by an assistant), where collaboration between in-person and remote classmates is possible through thoughtful integration of technology.
"Fairmont is not encumbered by the same constraints that our public schools are facing this year," said David Jackson, Fairmont's chairman. "We are free to respond to the needs of our families — making sure our students have the best opportunities to continue learning and growing, and doing it safely, in person, with their classmates and teachers," Jackson added.
Nationally-recognized and accredited, Fairmont has been a leader in private school education since its founding in 1953. While all schools have been affected by the rapid changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fairmont's leaders see their schools as uniquely positioned to pivot and help students thrive in these challenging times.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued this statement: "We recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom. But children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills at school,... exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online."
"Pediatricians and medical experts agree it's time for students to re-engage socially and emotionally with their teachers and classmates," said Fairmont Faculty Development Supervisor Kristen Jansen, who leads the school's reopening task force. "Families are ready to return to campus, where our small class sizes allow us to provide physical distancing in the classroom."
AAP stated that, "Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue reopening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers, and staff." This guidance is in complete alignment with the philosophy of Fairmont's reopening plan and the school's execution of that plan.
Fairmont teachers and administrators have been hard at work researching best practices for an on-campus reopening — from sanitation and logistics to teacher training and technology. Fairmont's reopening task force consulted extensively with medical and education experts, while consistently monitoring local, state, and federal guidelines to ensure all five campuses, (including its grand opening of Fairmont's San Juan Capistrano campus), can reopen safely. Fairmont's plan includes everything from "the basics" (such as the use of social distancing, face coverings, and rigorous sanitation) to incorporating enhancements to their physical buildings (such as the installation of touchless bathroom fixtures).
Regardless of what safeguards are in place, some families are simply not comfortable with returning to campus.
"We respect and affirm these families in their decisions about what is best for their children," said Jansen. "And we're thrilled to be able to provide them with a remote learning program which delivers the same standard of excellence they have come to expect from Fairmont Schools," added Jansen.
Fairmont's remote program will employ a robotic device called Swivl,™ which enables an iPad camera to track the teacher as he or she moves around the classroom. This creates a "virtual classroom" — one where in-home students will be able to see and hear their teacher and their classmates, just as they would if they were seated in the classroom itself. In addition, rooms will be outfitted with big-screen televisions so remote learners can join the live stream and interact with their peers who are physically present at their desks. Small group lessons and collaborative learning will take place between the two cohorts of students, fostering teamwork and social connection.
"We are living through very challenging times, but Fairmont's focus hasn't shifted," said Jackson. "Our students come first, and our teachers and staff have been working tirelessly to ensure everyone's return to school exceeds expectations."