2020 has been a memorable year indeed. I daresay many of us would rather just pretend this year had never happened and forget it entirely. Indeed, from our vantage now in late May, it is easy to understand why the country seemed to experience collective amnesia after the 1918 Spanish Influenza Epidemic – who wants to dwell on so much hardship and sadness? That said, life does go on, and we will get through this.
At Mercer Education, our staff has been working hard to keep our programs running smoothly. After weeks of non-stop sanitizing, on Tuesday, March 10 we announced that we would be offering “hybrid” classes, giving our students the option to attend in person or remotely via Zoom video conferencing. Then, with Governor Inslee’s decision to shut down all public schools, on Sunday, March 15 we announced that we would henceforth be conducting all our classes remotely. It was an unpredictable time, and it was not clear how or if things would work out.
To my happy surprise, our clients were very understanding of the situation and were not resistant to changes since families everywhere were facing the same need to transition to distance learning by all the school districts and other institutions offering educational services. It was no small feat that in a remarkably short time, we all got onboard and became familiar with the quirks of Zoom and the challenges of distance learning. A big thank you both to our students and their parents, for being open-minded, resilient, and patient with that learning curve, and a giant shout-out and thank you to Mercer Education’s faculty and staff, who spared no effort in researching, implementing, and delivering our online classes in such a short time under unprecedented circumstances.
Now that we have begun to settle into the “new normal,” what is going on at Mercer Education, and what can we look forward to in the near future as Covid-19 still poses significant risks to classes attended in-person? For the most part, our programs – private classes, weekly group classes, and various summer camps – are all moving forward with no changes except that classes will continue to be delivered via Zoom video conferencing.
There is, however, one exception, which is our normally 5-hour summer Learning Camp. There are two factors at play: 1) we feel it is too much to ask of younger children (and their parents, serving as chaperones) to plant themselves in front of a computer for five hours, and 2) we cannot conduct the Lego robotics portion of the program via Zoom. Instead, the month-long Learning Camp program will have the following modifications:
1). The verbal portion will be held as planned for 2.5 hours daily, M-F, and the charge will be 50% ($675) of the full camp tuition.
2). There will be no robotics this summer.
3). The math portion of the camp will be optional and last 1 hour long. (For students attending the verbal portion of the camp from 9-11:30am, there will be a 30-minute break, and the math instruction will be from noon-1pm. For students attending the verbal portion of the camp from noon-2:30pm, the math instruction will be from 10:30-11:30 am followed by a 30 minute lunch break.)
4.). The math portion of the camp will be prorated, which is $270 for the month. For those attending the verbal and math parts of the Learning Camp, the total cost will be $945 not including books and the standard registration fee for new families.
Regarding fall classes, although it would be wonderful to resume in-person classes at our location near downtown Bellevue, at this time it is hard to imagine we will be ready to do so. Until there is a vaccine available to all and/or there is consensus with our staff and clients that “the coast is clear,” we anticipate a continuation of the current “learning mode,” which is entirely via Zoom meeting software.
That said, a lot can change quickly. We will watch the situation closely and stay in communication with all our students and their parents with updates. Please check in here at our new website or sign up for our email newsletter (below) to stay up to date on changes about classes online and upcoming course announcements. And again, thank you all for your support which makes our work possible!