Posted: September 16, 2020.
With September upon us, Act One wishes to keep all those interested in its programs updated on current operations and the school's plans for the upcoming Fall Term.
The topics below represent the five most common subject areas that we have been asked about over the past few weeks.
Please be advised that Act One is postponing the start date of all its classes this Fall by two weeks.
Over the past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to talk with a large number of students’ families about the restart of regular school. While feelings and opinions were varied, a common theme for the majority has been stress and nervousness regarding the confusion, uncertainties and variations in all the restart plans. There was also a very significant level of anxiety over how things are going to play out over the next little while.
In speaking with Act One’s instructors, our main desire is that our classes make a positive contribution to the lives, learning and experiences of all the students and their families who come here. In the present unsettled atmosphere, it was clear to us that while many were looking forward to coming back, they were also dealing with a wide range of stresses, demands and emotional concerns related to the regular school restart, among other things. The consensus of Act One’s teaching staff was that at such a sensitive time, we did not want to contribute directly or indirectly to parents’ current burdens. We also wanted to give all families the time they need to get comfortable with the new regular school “routine”. Once this was established, we felt that Act One and its programs will be in a much stronger position to make a positive addition to our students’ Fall season activities and experiences.
In this light, we made the decision to postpone the start of our classes by two weeks. It is our hope and expectation that this delay will provide the necessary time for everyone to find their own place of comfort with the Fall regular school environment and let all students start our classes from a position of confidence and enthusiasm.
This means that the start dates for our classes change to the following:
Vocal lessons in the Vocal Program are scheduled independently of regular class operations and are therefore not affected by the above. These will be handled on a case by case basis with Michelle Morrow, the vocal instructor.
From a class format perspective, the two-week delay does not compromise our programs in any way. All our classes have opportunities over the school year for us to make up the class time and there is no impact on any of the school performance events, etc.
On behalf of myself and my teaching staff we wish everyone the best with their children’s’ school restart experiences over the next week or so and we eagerly look forward to seeing everyone in two weeks.
One of the most common questions I have received from families is regarding Act One’s position on in-person vs on-line classes for this year. It is Act One’s intention to offer all its 2020/21 classes using an in-person, on-site format.
Based on our experience this past May to July, with our resumption of many of last year's classes, the benefits and drawbacks of the on-line format for drama instruction have become quite clear to us.
On-line instruction can be effective for drama in specific situations, but only once a student has been provided with sufficient in-person experience to establish a foundation of knowledge and understanding. It is quite limited in its ability (and totally inadequate from our perspective) for introducing students to the world of drama and many of its key building blocks. It is only once a student has established these that they likely will benefit from any on-line options.
Act One’s approach for 2020/21 is to focus all our efforts and attention on establishing and maintaining effective pandemic safety protocols, that enable our students to comfortably and safely learn drama in person, over the coming year. Act One's COVID-19 protocols for 2020/21 are available on the school website.
In the worst case scenario, where pandemic events force a second lockdown, it is our hope that, should this be required, by that point our in-person instruction has provided all our students with the necessary foundations to permit them to still benefit from any interim transition to the on-line format again.
Act One and its staff is confident in this approach due to our experience with the successful summer restart and completion of 12 of last year's classes.
This is a quick reminder to all students who were able to take part in one of the classes that were able to resume in the summer. Please remember that each student is entitled to one show disc from their year end performance. There is no charge for this.
All the school needs is an e-mail indicating whether the student would prefer Blu-ray or DVD format. It usually takes 24 hrs to turn around requests.
Students wishing additional copies are welcome to request them. They are $7 per Blu-ray and $6 per DVD, to cover the materials required in their production.
For those with credit due or balances owing from the 2019/20 school year, here is an update on the resolution process.
Refund Requests: For those students who cannot continue this year and were entitled to and requested a refund, please be advised that I am working my way through the requests. This is being done in balance with all the other demands on my time to ensure the smooth and safe class registration and restart process, as well as general school operations. I expect to have all received requests addressed by sometime next week.
Credit Balances: For those students whose accounts from last year have credit balances, please be reminded that if the student is planning to continue this year, this credit can be applied to 2020/21 fees at a rate equal to 110% of the credit.
Balance Owed Payments: For those students who can’t return and have balances owed from last year, if you have submitted a payment by cheque or e-transfer, please note I will not be processing these until I have finished with all received refund requests, As mentioned above, I anticipate starting to process these sometime next week.
Outstanding Balances Owed: For those students who have not yet contacted the school, please be reminded that if planning to continue in 2020/21, these balances can be spread out over the upcoming year, if that is most convenient. For those students who cannot continue, please contact the school so we can establish a payment schedule to settle up the account.
Act One can accept late registrations up until Thanksgiving week. Here is an update on our classes as of September 15th.
As part of our protocols to protect our 2020/21 students, we have reduced the maximum class sizes for most of our classes. The main objective of this was to ensure we had maximum flexibility with respect to providing physical distancing capabilities that greatly exceed the minimum required 6 feet.
A secondary consequence of this has been that some classes that otherwise might still have significant space remaining, are now close to being full.
For those still considering Fall 2020/21 classes, here is the status of classes close to being full (as of Sept 15):
WE hope the above information helps answer many of the common questions we have had over the past couple of weeks and keeps everyone updated with respect to Act One's current and planned future actions, as this Fall term unfolds.
If anyone has any questions regarding this update or any other topic, please feel free to contact the school.