Updated April 27, 2020

I am grateful in this confusing and complicated moment to be a member of such an extraordinary community, and I am confident that we will do all we can to support one another.” Dr. Susan Paynter, Head of School, via email to all High Meadow families on March 13, 2020

And so began High Meadow’s venture into a new way of teaching and learning, using technology as the sole means of communication during the Coronavirus pandemic. “A sense of shared purpose and determination has characterized this time,” she stated as the school’s staff prepared for the unprecedented. 

The following timeline provides insight into the process High Meadow followed to ready everyone for the new challenges and opportunities distance learning would reveal. The school administration moved quickly to create protocols and processes with the goal of providing a smooth transition for teachers and students. Said one parent of an 8th-grade student, “It was incredible how fast they moved so that the students’ education did not suffer. That only one day of classes was lost says a lot about the care, compassion, and responsibility everyone on the High Meadow team has towards our children’s education.”

This timeline will be updated as new elements and milestones come to pass.

  • Timeline
  • January 2020
    • New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) issues warning about Covid 19 and impact on schools; suggests preparation for distance learning
    • HMS begins plan for distance learning, technology assessment, and communication improvements
  • February 2020
    • HMS begins in-house development of custom portal for teacher-parent-student communication
    • Testing of different video communication options; Zoom selected
    • Teachers start creating protocols for online learning to include Zoom and Google Classroom (already in place for Upper School for several years)
    • In-house technology inventoried to ensure all students would have access to needed equipment
  • March 10
    • Parent survey issued to determine in-home technology availability
  • March 11
    • All major gatherings/events are postponed
    • Announcement mailed that the following Monday school closed for Teacher Training to prepare for possible shut down
  • March 14
    • Students instructed to take home all books and personal items
  • March 15
    • Last day of in-person classes
  • March 16
    • No classes; Teacher training for online learning instruction protocols 
  • March 17
    • Buildings closed; HMS distance learning begins for all classes
  • March 24 
    • Survey out to families to glean where improvements are needed in our remote learning program
  • March 28 
    • Initial resources distributed to families, announcement that learning will be remote until further notice
  • April 6-10 Spring Break
    • With no significant loss of educational time, HMS’ spring break happened as planned, giving students a chance to relax and recharge
    • Covid-19 Resources page added to HMS web site, providing information and “Things to Do” during break and beyond
  • April 18
    • High Meadow Community Cares fund announced, aimed at connecting those with immediate needs to those with the capacity to help
  • April 23
    • Second parent survey issued to assess effectiveness of distance learning
  • April 30
    • 8th Grade parents ZOOM call with HMS staff to discuss Regents Exam and graduation plans

Net loss of school days: 1

Key Elements of HMS Online Learning Program

G-Suite/Google Classroom

  • Had already been in use with Upper School
  • Put to use throughout the school for document management and communication

Proprietary Portal

  • Developed in-house and tailored for use by Lower School
  • Presents daily learning schedule 
  • Download and upload of assignments
  • Includes communications channels for parents to contact teachers
  • Backend for teachers includes dynamic scheduling so that students are not double-booked or two students in same household are not booked for the same activities


  • Daily teacher-lead morning meetings
  • Subject-specific videos pre-recorded and hosted live
  • Weekly “Office Hours” scheduled, giving students and parents opportunity to speak one-on-one with teachers
  • Music classes continue with group and individual instruction
  • PE classes continue with exercises (live and pre-recorded videos)

Teacher Training

  • In-house and outside professionals used for technology training

Technology Availability

  • Provided laptops for six families that needed extra equipment due to more than one student in household