Message from the Regional Director
Dear Families and Friends,
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We have missed seeing you each day this past spring and summer. I want to start by thanking you for your support and patience as we continue to work through the complexities of bringing our students and staff back this fall. The last several months have forced us to adjust everything we do in our lives and have affected our ability to count on the normal routines we both need and enjoy, including summer programs, travel, and even returning to school.
We are deeply committed to ensuring the loving nurturing Catholic School environment will continue. We will not relent on our commitment to academic excellence in a loving and caring environment. We know that all students flourish in our Academy when they interact with their teachers and students. Live instruction is the best option for most students. Social emotional learning and mental well-being are a priority from the moment they return.
The spring emergency closure of school, and the abrupt and challenging transition to remote learning, emphasized the fact that nothing can replace having our students in front of our teachers and staff. We share the goal expressed by the Catholic Schools Office and the Massachusetts Department of Education of bringing our students back to in-person learning this fall; however, I know that we all share the common goal of returning safely. The health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff is our top priority and serves as the lens for all of our planning.
Our reopening planning process began internally during the month of June, and accelerated once the school year ended with the release of DESE’s “Initial Fall Reopening Guidance” on June 25, 2020 (http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/return-to-school/) and we have reviewed subsequent documents from DESE. With the support of the Board of Trustees, we formed a COVID school opening committee with a broad representation including a Board member, member of the Campaign for Catholic Schools, administrators, content area directors, guidance, nursing, teachers, and parents.
Thank you to our families for filling out our survey. We received responses from 49% of our families. This data was so helpful for our planning for the future. With your input in the parent’s surveys, following the guidelines of DESE, EEC and CDC, we have an active reentry plan. This plan is fluid and will adjust throughout the year. At SJP2CA, we want the very best for our students and their school experience, and we want everyone to be comfortable and safe in this journey. Survey results are attached.
We are committed to opening schools for 5 days a week and ensuring that as many students using social distancing can safely be in our buildings under the direct supervision of a teacher.
In order to meet this goal, we have established these guidelines:
- All children must wear masks entering and leaving our buildings. Each child in grade 2-8 must wear a mask at all times. For 2.9 to Grade 1 students, mask wearing is optional. (recommendation of the DESE)
- Each child will be distanced 3-6 feet from another child (compliance with DESE and CDC).
- Each child will be provided a Lightweight Portable Student Sneeze Guard Desk Divider for the school year.
- All students will need 3 cloth masks for the school year which must be washed regularly.
- All students will stay in their classrooms for instruction.
- Lunch will be eaten and provided in each classroom.
- New guidelines have been created for gym, music, art, recess, dismissal and entry to school with guidance from DESE and the CDC.
All families will have the choice of in person learning or virtual learning. We have updated our infrastructure to support virtual and remote learning. All classrooms will be outfitted with technology to stream the lessons and activities live each day. If a child is sick or quarantined this will allow the child to continue to participate and learn. If we need to shift to remote learning at any time, we will be able to do so swiftly and without disruption to learning. As we did in the spring, we will provide Chromebooks for any child who may need technology. We would ask you to please email your Campus Principal by August letting them know if you will choose live or remote learning for the fall.
With parent, teacher and staff feedback, we will streamline the platforms used by our teachers and staff. SeeSaw will be used in 2.9 to grade 3 as their remote learning platform. Grades 4-8 will use Google classroom. All teachers will have professional Zoom licenses which will allow for small groups for learning, tutoring and coaching. We also hope it will make virtual learning smoother.
Title I students will continue to receive tutoring services in person or remotely.
Our teachers have participated in professional development in June to improve their skills with virtual and remote learning. Professional development will continue throughout the school year.
The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are being prioritized with enhanced cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing protocols, temperature checks and symptom screening. Our nurses are prepared to support our children and families through this pandemic. All supplies have been ordered and have arrived. We have set up a comfort and care room at each campus for those who show signs of illness waiting to be picked up by their parents. Students may not come to school with a temperature at or above 100. We will take our students and staff’s temperature as they enter the buildings.
Our custodial company will continue to clean daily and nightly with added efforts around high traffic areas. Teachers will clean desks, chairs and other pieces of furniture each day. Many soft toys, rugs and other school supplies that may hold the virus have been taken out of the classrooms.
Plexiglass has been installed in each main office. Hand sanitizer, gloves and masks will be in each classroom.
Before and After School Programs will not be available until a later date.
Many of our routines and protocols have been adjusted to ensure safety and social distancing. Our campuses will have staggered times for drop offs and pickups. All Principals will have detailed plans applicable for their community and building.
These plans may change if our state or city sees a spike in COVID cases. We will certainly listen to the recommendations of the Mayor of Boston and Governor Baker. We have the capacity at this point to pivot to complete online learning if necessary. We cannot predict the future but with everyone’s diligence around social distancing, hand washing, disinfecting, wearing masks etc, we will lessen the spread of the virus. SJPIICA will make changes to our current plan immediately to provide all children, families and staff with a safe learning experience.
The last academic year showed us the importance of communication. At SJP2CA we believe that is key in all we do. We will continue to communicate the changes as we begin the new journey together and welcome your feedback and input. It is crucial for an open partnership between home and school for the overall achievement of the children.
Like many of you, I have been watching around the world and our country as states and school districts release their plans and we have studied many of them. It will be a new normal and no one plan, strategy, guideline or executive order will return us to what was. We do know however, that as we emerge, strengthened by our faith in Christ and accompanying each other on this journey, we will be stronger and deeply committed to leading our students to a path to success!
Known, loved and called to excellence