For the first time since 1990, ACS Athens had to stop its on-campus operations and close the facilities for a full 2 weeks, starting yesterday, March 9 and until March 23. The closure was ordered by the Ministry of Education as a case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) was verified in a Pre-K class of the school.
The on-campus operations had to close... but the school continues to function online through "ACS Athens Virtual", for most of its grades. According to Julia Tokatlidou, ACS Athens Dean of Academics and key point person of the ACS Athens Virtual, “our school has been ready to transition to the online realm for many months now, as we have offered a number of our accredited high school courses online. The only additional step was to extend this platform to grades 5-12, train our teachers in the most modern tools of e-learning and prepare our families for this eventuality, due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus.” Grades K-4 depend on e-learning tools, teacher sites, documents, videos and activities that require the collaboration of the parents.
"ACS Athens Virtual" is powered by Moodle®, an open source learning management system used by schools and universities worldwide, which hosts all the courses offered by the school in the form of webpages called “shells”, one for each course. Teachers maintain and update their course material daily, which is directed to every classroom they teach. Students meet in a synchronous and asynchronous way, in pre-determined times and at their own availability to see assignments, submit classwork, ask the teachers questions, collaborate with their classmates, do research, and be assessed for their learning. Other than Moodle, ACS Athens educators utilize Google Apps for Education, KhanAcademy, Screencastify, VoiceThread, etc.
David Nelson, the Academy Principal stated: "When everyone else in Athens stopped learning, we started ... in a different way!”
Finally, as our First Grade teachers, including Ms. Birbil, Ms. Mente and Ms. Ferentinos, said to their students before the first online day of school: "We want to make sure that your day is productive and that your “school time” is well spent! We also want to make sure that you're staying healthy – mind, body and soul! So keep your hands clean, your body nutritiously fed and your soul energized with the things you love to do during your free time.”