Due to the current situation caused by COVID-19, we, like schools all over the world, have had to close our physical doors for the time being. Although the school may be closed, learning is not.
Before we decided to close our campuses, our teachers were preparing for such an event, and were testing several options, including different software to select the ones that would work best for us. Online classes at The École started on Monday, March 16th, and thus The École Online was born. Experience over the past several weeks has brought an even more refined organization and structure to classes.
In order to support as many families as possible, the school has provided laptops to all families who needed one, and we are also very proud to see our Parents Association organizing printer donations for families who had a need.
To ensure that all of our students have been receiving the expected and needed online teaching, we have been sending out a weekly survey to parents to gauge their satisfaction with The École Online—to see what is working well for their child and what areas might need improvement.
Thanks to the constructive feedback we have received, we have been able to adjust The École Online schedules. Our favorable student-to-teacher ratio and the excellent support offered by our FLE and ESL teachers as well as our School Life Assistants has allowed us to add more individual and small group live sessions as needed.
To give more opportunities for student interaction and socialization and add some fun options for physical activity, we are offering several supervised online recesses for students in Elementary, facilitated by our wonderful School Life Assistants.
It is important to remember that we are not trying to recreate life in the classroom. Rather, we are finding ways to continue providing our unique bilingual program remotely, in the midst of a global crisis. Our values, however, remain the same, and our entire community—from staff to students to parents—has shown that they are agile, by being flexible throughout this changeful situation; that they are open, by being receptive to this new way of learning and teaching; and that the future is still bright, by not giving up and continuing to work together every day.
Click on the links below to visit our two campuses. You will discover the classrooms for each grade, the common spaces and the different facilities.
Fifth Avenue Building (Nursery to Kindergarten)
Main Building (1st-8th Grade)
We are also happy to offer prospective families a remote live tour of our facilities. Please contact admissions@theEcole.org if you would like to set up a remote live tour.
For Nursery, Pre-K and Kindergarten, each day starts with a live video-conference for circle time. These small group video-conferences are conducted by the French teacher or the English teacher, depending on the day of the week, in keeping with the normal French/English days.
On average, students take part in four activities a day that they receive through pre-recorded videos from their teachers.
On top of that, everyday, two movements breaks are suggested, as well as some offline activities. The school also shares weekly resources with families.
There are optional, additional video-conferences in the afternoon, for families who would like further instruction with their teachers, or some support in a specific language with our ESL and FLE teachers, or even some more fun and socializing times with our School Life Assistants.
Tools being used for Maternelle classes: Zoom for video-conferences, VoiceThread for any recorded videos and Google Drive to share documents.
Students in Elementary have on average one live session in French and one in English every day. All classes have bilingual lessons where both French and English teachers are present for the lesson twice a week. Our music and theater teachers are also offering lessons to elementary classes, and students have Mandarin at least once a week starting in 3rd Grade.
When not in live meetings with their teachers, students work independently to complete Math, Spelling and Reading activities that are assigned and submitted through Google Drive or VoiceThread.
For students who need further support in French or English, they have time scheduled for additional language lessons with our ESL and FLE teachers. And Study Hall sessions are available every afternoon for Elementary students who need additional help with homework.
Arts, Gym and Music classes are part of the weekly schedule and optional online recesses are offered daily and are staffed by School Life Assistants.
Tools being used for Elementary classes: Zoom for video-conferences, VoiceThread for any recorded videos and Google Drive to share documents.
Core Middle School classes teachers meet their students twice a week for all grades: Math in French, Math in English, Humanities, Français, Histoire et Géographie, Sciences in French, Science in English, Spanish, and Mandarin.
Specialist classes such as Advisory, PE, Music and Theater, meet online live at least once a week.
On average, this represents 4-5 live sessions per day, for a total of 2.5-3 hours per day.
Twice a week, students meet for 30 minutes with a homeroom teacher.
ESL and FLE teachers organize live sessions with some students, as needed.
An optional Study Hall is offered daily for 30 minutes by Middle School faculty.
Tools being used for Middle School classes: Google Classroom, Google Meet, Zoom, Padlet, Adobe Spark, Nearpod.
We are very proud to be able to continue offering some after-school activities remotely as part of The École Online. This has allowed students to keep up with many of their extra-curricular activities, including music lessons, Tae Kwon Do classes, Chess Club, and many more!
These activities give students another way to socialize with their classmates while they continue to learn and/or improve new skills.
We are also offering multiple Study Hall sessions every afternoon for Elementary and Middle School students who need additional help with homework. Students who need specific support in French or English can join the study hall in that language.
The two-week Spring break that was originally scheduled in April posed a challenge for most of our families: they were wondering how to pass the time for those two weeks with their child/children without the structure of remote classes and activities and given the social distancing protocols in place. Also, everyone—parents, students and teachers—had worked hard to establish routines for remote learning, and it was clear that a two-week break, as it was scheduled, would have required the re-establishing of many of these routines once the break was over.
To this end, and with the agreement of the majority of our community, we adjusted our calendar by splitting up the two-week April break:
- The first week of the break, April 6-10, was kept as is to allow everyone to have a short break from The École Online, as we knew that it had been a big adjustment.
- The second week of the break was moved to May 18-22, just before the long weekend for Memorial Day to help to split up the remainder of the year.
As we know that it might be difficult for students to stay busy without the structure of The École Online during these breaks, we have decided to maintain the after-school activities for free during the breaks. Additionally, we have developed a complimentary virtual camp. We rolled this out during April in-service day, and we offered the camp again for the week’s break in May.
The École Summer Lab is the perfect combination of bilingual summer classes and camp activities!
This two-week online program is for students currently in Nursery through 5th Grade and will be held from Monday, June 22nd to Thursday, July 2nd (9 days), from 9am to 3pm EST.
- In the morning, starting at 9am, students of the same grade will attend three academic-based lessons.
- In the afternoon, starting at 1pm, children of the same cycle will be offered three camp activities.
For more information and to register, click here!
We know that it can be difficult to keep yourselves and your child occupied during this period of isolation. So we have put together a Resources Folder that is available to members of our community through our parent portal: Focus. The Resources Folder contains everything from Podcasts to listen to and ideas for Arts and Crafts to Counseling Resources and Physical Activities. We are adding to the folder daily, as we gather more resources.
Although we may be successfully adapting to the current reality of remote working and online school, there are other challenges that may be surfacing due to social distancing protocols during this pandemic.
For these reasons, our Counseling Department is expanding their offerings to help keep our parents, students and staff connected and supported during this crisis. They are now offering open counseling hours to both students and adults throughout the week. In addition, they are hosting Fun Fridays for students, where they can take part in various activities, from yoga to playing games to sharing stories. Just another way for us to stay connected while we’re apart.
Our Educational Support Team has moved their support hours online for students who need some individual attention and help.
The École Challenges is a school-wide project designed by the teachers, under the leadership of Nowaki Asada, Christelle Beaujon and Colin Cavarroc, to propose some fun and educational activities to keep students engaged and connected academically, socially and emotionally. From construction challenges to writing challenges to math challenges, there is something for everyone, no matter the student’s age! The École Challenges will be going on as long as we are learning remotely.
While The École’s main purpose is to provide our unique bilingual program to our students, one of our secondary roles, and an intrinsic part of our primary purpose, is as an employer. Between teachers and staff, The École employs 66 people. Adding our third-party vendors, such as our security guards, catering company, cleaning crew, after-school activity vendors, there are more than 100 people who work with our school, and we take our responsibility as an employer very seriously.
To this end, we have continued to employ all of our teachers and staff. In cases where someone’s main functions cannot be carried out remotely, we have found unique ways to use their skills for The École Online. We have continued to pay our security guards even though they are not able to come to the building, and we have kept our cleaning crew on as well. Transitioning a lot of our after-school activities online has allowed us to continue to employ many of our third-party vendors as well.
Our Parents Association has even found a unique way to keep our lunch catering company employed. Although we don’t currently have a need for school lunch to be served every day, there are plenty of healthcare workers who are working hard and need a healthy lunch to get them through their day. So the Parents Association has encouraged our parents to donate their remaining lunches for the school year to those on the frontline, keeping our catering company employed and paying it forward to these essential workers. The École is also donating the staff meals that would normally receive while school is in session.
We know that some of our families are facing financial hardship because of the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy. To respond to the urgency of the situation, we are proud to be one of the only independent schools in NYC reimbursing families for the after-school activities that are not suitable for online learning. On top of that, to help families facing possible future hardship situations, we have already planned a significant increase in next year’s Financial Aid budget, and we are currently looking at other ways to provide even more support to those in need within our community.