Last Wednesday evening, as the COVID-19 situation began to feel very real for Boston, one Back Bay school decided it was their moral responsibility to close and suspend classes – and became one of the first organizations to begin talking about closure as a civic duty.
The Learning Project on Marlborough Street in the Back Bay announced to its families on March 11 that the K-6 private school would be closed in order to help lessen the potential load on medical professionals.
At that early date in the response, most schools hadn’t entertained closure yet, and the only ones that did had done so because of specific virus exposure situations.
The Learning Project’s Head of School Michael McCord said it was ironic because it is a school known to never close.
“We’re often open during snowstorms,” he said. “I think people kind of enjoyed the irony of that. We told everyone to treat the first day like a snow day, and then the children really needed to get to work.”
McCord said there was no immediate concern at The Learning Project last Wednesday, but they felt it was the right thing to do as a part of social responsibility – something everyone is talking about now, but something few spoke of last week.
“We were just feeling that it was closing in and getting closer and closer,” he said. “I was hearing the concerns expressed by many people that we needed to close for the greater good. The people dealing with this on the frontlines – our doctors and nurses and medical professionals – could be helped by us closing. This was one way we could protect ourselves and our healthcare system. By staying open, that could make things harder for people we know and don’t know.
“I think it was a clear message of social responsibility for us in the end,” he said.
The school was ordered closed for two weeks, but that decision will likely be revisited as one week has already elapsed and things are continuing to intensify.
The school is heavily invested already in technology, McCord said, and all students have iPads. In the normal course of schooling, students at The Learning Project use those iPads for work. That said, it is expected to be a smooth transition to an all-home-learning environment.
They plan to use online instruction techniques and, perhaps, other innovative ways of teaching children online.