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Duke School 2021-22 Program Planning

Dear Duke School Families,

As we anticipate the 2021-22 school year, the Academic Team is dedicated to continuing to place learners at the center of a dynamic and collaborative learning, inquiry, and discovery process as we respond to the ever-changing environment created by the recent pandemic.


Modified Distance Learning Programming for 2021-22

At this time, based on the availability of a vaccine and demonstrated effective protocols that ensure a low-risk environment, Duke School anticipates offering an on-campus program that resembles our pre-pandemic schedule. We plan to offer a modified distance learning program next year only for families who require it for documented health reasons. The design and implementation of this program will be different from this year based on our close evaluation of multiple factors.


The Design of Distance Learning Programming is Informed by Multiple Factors

Our decision is informed by our understanding of predicted circumstances surrounding COVID-19, coupled with our on-going evaluation of our program, researched best practices emerging in the Preschool-Eighth Grade environment, and what is mission consistent for our school.


Based on the guidance provided by our school’s Clinical Analyst Group (CAG), we expect that teachers and staff will be vaccinated by August, thus making it safer to be on campus. However, we do not yet know that there will be herd immunity, and we thus are compelled to offer a distance learning accommodation to students who need that option for a medical reason.


To that end, we are developing a program wherein students will join on-campus classmates daily for live classes via devices and have access to multiple academic coaching sessions weekly. The design and plan for implementation of this program is based on what we have learned from the numerous courses and webinars we and members of our faculty have attended on this topic, offered by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools (NCAIS), and Teachers College at Columbia University, among others. Our design is based also on a comprehensive review of academic programs and in collaboration with peers at leading independent schools and project-based schools across the country. Most important, our decisions about how best to implement a remote learning program are rooted in our observations of our own students and the input and feedback of our faculty.


Important Information and Dates to Note

  • Our on-campus program provides the most comprehensive, mission-consistent experience possible.

  • Our long-term goal is to support the health needs of students requiring accommodations until they can safely return to campus.

  • We expect far fewer students requiring accommodations for 2020-21, but want those students who must be off campus for medical reasons to feel an integral part of their classroom community.

  • The deadline for re-enrollment remains February 5, 2021.

  • We will ask families with a documented health need to meet with their child’s division director no later than April 5, 2021 to discuss distance learning program requirements and eligibility.

  • There will be an opportunity to reevaluate a student’s placement in distance learning through June 5, 2021.


We are so grateful for your partnership and look forward to continuing it next year. Please join us for our next Bridged Distance Learning Tea at 12:30 PM on Tuesday, February 2, 2021. An email invitation and Zoom link will be sent shortly. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions.


Kind regards,


Duke School’s Academic Team


Lisa Nagel

Kathy Bartelmay

Emily Chávez

Jenny Murray

Nicole Thompson

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