No Distance is Too Great for Learning at Catholic Schools!
Registration fees for the 2020-2021 have posted in FACTS, so you should have seen that charge on your most recent statement. If you paid by check, those payments are being deposited this week. Tuition for April will be due after April 1st, so please expect to see that charge, as well.
Each morning at 7:30 am, all of the principals have a call with the Office of Catholic Schools from the Archdiocese so that I can hear what other schools are doing and get updates. This has been extremely helpful to have a support network of up to 73 other principals since every school is doing it just a little differently. We talk about distance learning, health and safety of our students, and overall policies and procedures around this new learning.
One of the policy challenges is attendance. The teachers and I have agreed that students need to login to either Seesaw or Teams at some time between 8 am and 12 noon to be marked “present” for that day. Attendance is also tracked through participation and submission of assignments, but we need to know each day that students are ready to work. Every family’s circumstance is different, so if this doesn’t work for you please make an arrangement directly with your child’s teacher now. It may affect our ability to receive the waiver (to end school on June 19th) from Washington State, so don’t wait until after this time is over to share your situation. Thank you.
As a private school, we may be eligible to receive federal relief money because of the effects of school closures and the coronavirus. It takes less than a minute to submit your request to a senator. Follow this link to show your support: http://action.capenet.org/ctas/equitable-services-non-public-schools-in-cares-act
As you know, Governor Inslee further restricted movement and public gatherings on Monday evening for the citizens of Washington State. Based on those restrictions here is what we are doing to ensure that teachers adhere to health protocols for the health and safety of all who will need to access the school building.
- Staff who are vulnerable or ill should NOT enter the building for any reason.
- When arriving at school, teachers should wash hands upon entering the school and/or classroom.
- Staff members should go directly to their classroom and maintaining a minimum of at least 6 feet away from each other.
- Staff should attempt to limit movement within the building to reduce exposure and additional cleaning.
- No visitors are allowed to enter the building.
- Staff must wipe down their space: desk, equipment used, and doorknobs upon leaving.
As was stated last week after the governor closed schools, all school staff should be exploring work- from-home options. Based on the governor’s order, it is permissible to “carry out minimum basic operations (as defined in Section 3(d) of this Order) for a non-essential business.” In keeping with the expectations set by the Archdiocese, schools can have a staff member visit the office weekly to handle mail, pay bills, payroll, etc., especially if these functions cannot be performed remotely.
This new order requires us to halt any non-essential construction projects. This includes installation of the new fence and gates for the traffic loop. (This was scheduled to happen next week.) We are also waiting to order materials for the new playground until we know what the summer will look like. The only construction that may continue are projects that improve public health or impact the safety of a structure.
As Holy Week approaches, Deacon Eric Paige and the Office of Catholic Schools are working together to provide resources for families to assist them in experiencing Palm Sunday and the Sacred Triduum. These resources are forthcoming and will be posted and shared with our community next week.
Tuesday, March 17th (Watch Mr. Anderson’s video here for the same following information.)
- Do parents have to stick to the schedule that is listed in the Distance Learning Plan? Is attendance taken? Parentsare feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information coming from teachers. Today, teachers agreed that they will give parents more than what they will need, but it’s up to the parent to decide what the schedule will look like for that day. Attendance won’t be taken daily, but participation grades will be given for being a part of a group chat or viewing the recording of the group chat and then commenting on it (in Microsoft Teams/ZOOM). For Seesaw, posts will be evidence of participation.
- Could parents just have one email in the morning that lists all the activities that day, not something that lays out the whole week or too many posts throughout the day? Teachers for grades PS-5 will do their best to email a daily “task” list to students and parents so that it is all in one place and can be used to plan for the day.
- Is there a chance for parents to pick up materials? In order to limit exposure, we would like to deliver items to families in their cars without them coming into the school. On Friday, March 20th, the school will have items for pick up between 10 am and 1 pm (or by appointment if those times don’t work). Your child(ren)’s teacher(s) will let you know by Thursday if you will need to pick up materials. Please wait in your car, and the teacher in the traffic loop will radio to the library for your items to be brought to your car. Keep the six-foot social distance, please, and do not get out to socialize with other families. (Note: We will likely do this every Friday.)
- Will specialists will provide their assignments to homeroom teachers for grades K-5. Instead of more emails and posts from multiple teachers, everything will be communicated through your child’s homeroom teacher by email, OneNote, or Seesaw (depending on the teacher).
Monday, March 16th
- Regarding the coronavirus case we were waiting to hear about, there was not an official test given because the person was not a first responder/health care professional and did not go to the ER. However, here is what we would like parents to know: An Assumption School staff member contracted a flu-like illness including headache, fever, sore throat, cough and severe fatigue. A medical evaluation was recommended by health care professionals and was completed with recommendations for supportive care. No testing for COVID-19 was done as the staff member did not meet current testing criteria. The absence of testing did not rule out the possibility of COVID-19 and advisement was made for isolation until symptoms resolve. At this time, any contact with this staff member has been longer than 72 hours and therefore, parents and staff members should monitor themselves for symptoms like fever and dry cough.
- Microsoft Teams- We are told that this may not be working for some students. Our IT department has adjusted those permissions in the admin settings, but they take up to 24 hours to take effect. We hope that all students will be able to access Teams by tomorrow morning. Please keep the teachers posted. (Note: This has been resolved!)
- Children and families are inclined to meet in small groups while school is out. We have been advised to let all families know that is our collective responsibility to lessen the spread of this virus and it is your responsibility to limit interaction with others. Please heed the advice of professionals and refrain from meeting for playdates or in groups with other families until further notice.
- Many parents are feeling overwhelmed with the instructions from teachers and number of emails today and this past weekend. Please know that we understand every situation is different. It’s our job to give you everything you need at this time, but we recognize that you will only do what is reasonable for your family with so many other responsibilities. Please communicate with teachers and share what is reasonable so that they can know your unique situation.
- The Distance Learning Plan was attached to today’s email and includes a possible schedule for families as well as “mission” ideas for students in their tech-free afternoon time.
What will the curriculum look like? What are expectations for parents?
We are putting together a Distance Learning Plan that will lay out the expectations for teachers, parents, and students including how hours of the day should be spent, how to access the learning, and what assessment will look like. This should be ready by Tuesday, March 17th. Keep in mind that to have these “distance” days count in our instructional minutes for the year, there has to be required time on instruction at home and we will be taking attendance.
What is the method of communication between teachers and parents/students?
Currently, teachers will communicate with parents and students the way they have been all year through email, teacher webpages, OneNote and OneDrive, Seesaw, etc. Until otherwise told, please go to those forms of communication the first part of every morning and see the lessons and schedule for that day.
How can we encourage prayer and help our children grow in their faith during this time with the suspension of public Masses for the Catholic church?
We are people of faith and a Catholic school first and foremost. We will maintain our morning prayer for staff at 8 am and we ask families to also start their day in prayer with any of the prayers your children know (Our Father, Hail Mary, Guardian Angel, etc.) and their intentions. Remember, they also know these in Spanish… If you want to participate in the Mass, you can follow the stream of daily and weekend Masses at Fr. Moore’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/catholicjeffreyhmoore).
What technology will be used?
Some of the things the teachers have learned and will consider using are: Khan Academy, ZOOM meetings, YouTube/Vimeo, Seesaw, and Microsoft Teams. Devices are available for checkout from the school as needed. Devices are available for checkout from the school as needed. Additionally, if you need a mobile hotspot please let us know as soon as possible so that we can arrange for that. Comcast offers free wifi hotspots for customers in businesses and public locations. https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/business/article241188606.html
Remember to reinforce expectations for tech use at home. Set up parent permissions on your iPhone with Family Sharing and turn on restrictions on YouTube. Children should be using the device in a common space so that you can see the screen. It is good to have tech-free time at home. Once their schoolwork is done, encourage puzzles, books, artwork, and music. Use the time to be creative and get outside!
How will attendance be taken?
Children should maintain a “school” routine starting on Monday which includes beginning each day at 8 am, having a space in the house dedicated to their schoolwork, regular exercise, and time for music, art, and Spanish (all to be communicated early next week). Please take a picture of that space and email it to the teacher- a smiling child in the photo would be wonderful!
What do parents do who need to work full-time? Are there other arrangements? What is available for child care?
The school cannot organize it, but parents are encouraged to reach out to others in their class to either help support learning for others or to request help from others. Room Parents or other designees may be the best resource for this. Remember that families in which both parents work are going to really struggle with this model for the next six weeks. Anything we can do to support our community of learners is appreciated. The health department recommends gatherings of no more than ten people. Children are the least susceptible, but spread it most easily. If you gather in homes, be sure to wipe down surfaces before and after, and still encourage children to keep the six-foot social distance.
You can sign up for activities at the Sportsplex starting on Monday.
What about other school activities and meetings?
Track & Field has been canceled for this season since the practices wouldn’t begin until April 27th. We are waiting on the D.C. trip for eighth graders and Portland for 7th graders, but will let you know when a decision has been made. All meetings and after-school activities are also canceled while school is closed, but we hope to do some meetings through ZOOM with parents and committees. Teachers and staff will email you directly if meetings will still take place over the next few weeks.
Will we still have to pay tuition?
Some parents are concerned about paying tuition and paying for childcare over the next six weeks while managing to “teach” their children at home. Please know that our teachers and staff will continue to work full-time and will do everything they can to make Assumption an example of excellent distance learning. The burden should not fall on parents any more than it has to be. The school’s costs remain mostly the same, but if paying tuition creates an additional hardship for your family, we will make more tuition assistance available on an individual basis.