A Day We Didn't Expect

Director Vince Durnan shared the following letter on Thursday, March 26 to update alumni, parents of alumni, parents, faculty, and staff on how the school is functioning during the first week of remote learning.
Dear friends across the USN community,
Hello from an empty campus, with a full heart. This day was to have been the Tiger Give Back Challenge, following on last year's howling success. We felt the support from around the country and around the world, and in the recent weeks of challenge for Nashville we cherish every connection even more. And our energies have turned to reinventing school as we're mandated to be Safer at Home. No bracket challenge or call-a-thons but an update for those cities and families from this hard-to-fathom moment:
  • Yesterday, we began remote learning K-12, sending plenty of materials home while staying focused primarily on the well-being of our students. We'll use the synchronous (video conference style) tools to help keep us connected and conversing, and we'll ask for most of the academic work to happen asynchronously, with support from faculty through online office hours. We are destined to learn a whole lot, and we're open to lessons that might last long past COVID-19.
  • And on the topic of faculty, they have been remarkable. What should have been their Spring Break last week ended up devoted mainly to preparing for the transition to teaching from a distance. Their colleagues in the offices and programs that support our classroom work — in admissions, operations, library, development, finance, and beyond — have stepped forward to what they can do to help, originally on-site and now from home. Our Board's commitment to paying full wages and salaries for the duration of this shock to our system was immediate and unbending.
  • We've spent hours recently working to confirm, in the wake of making sure homes were intact for USN families after the tornado, that food and technology access extends to all those same households. And we've been able to fill some gaps, to meet some genuine needs, and we know there will be more to do in weeks to come.
  • Most recently, we've been responding to a request from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, asking to borrow our After-School area for a program they're offering for essential medical staff who need child care so they can be at the hospital. We've also matched several generous Nashville alumni and parents of alumni as volunteer sitters with USN parents who work in health care so that they can continue to meet our community's essential needs while their young learners are home. We want to help. Of course we do, and I'm sure that's what you'd expect.
So we've been busy, and it feels right to pause on the Tiger Give Back front. We’ll be back, but there’s much that we need to be doing that's specific to this time and to the people in our midst. We’re determined to find lessons in this experience, to make the difference we can, and to be there for you, wherever that may be in the midst of these trying times. Keep looking for our updates, and know that we’d love to hear from you.
Stay healthy out there,
Vince Durnan

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