September 18, 2020
Happy Friday! I hope everyone has had a good week. This weekend we celebrate Catechetical Sunday. Each year the church celebrates Catechetical Sunday recognizing those dedicated to serve as catechists. It is an opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. It is an opportunity for all of us to rededicate ourselves to this mission as a community of faith. Every Catholic school teacher is a “catechist” by word and example. I would like to take a minute to publicly thank my teachers for all of their hard work and dedication. I am so proud of everyone, and I am amazed at what they are accomplishing with both in-person learners and those students at home. This was our first full week, and I think everyone (including students) will sleep well tonight.
While covering Second Grade for a brief break today, I told them they looked sleepy. One student said, “This week seemed like 10 weeks put together.” I asked if it was a good 10 weeks. His response, was, “Yes, real good; just really long.” I would have to agree! We had a faculty meeting this week and shared our successes, and there are so many to announce. From completing online virtual tests with students in and out of school to mastering the concept of 6ft. distancing, we are busy learning and growing together. I must admit that teaching gym to every class is appearing to be a challenge for me. I am going to look for a physical education teacher for two days a week to come in while Mrs. Orensky continues to heal and possibly prepare for another foot surgery. Before I post this job, I want to mention it to this group. We have several teachers in our school family. If any certified teacher is interested in coming in to teach 2 days a week, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have changed the gym schedule around to try to spread it out a bit. It is simply not practical for me to devote two entire days to gym. Please note the following gym days for your child/children. This new schedule will begin on Monday. Middle School gym remains the same. I thank Mrs. Angelo for helping me with this and agreeing to teach Kindergarten through Second Grade. I will teach Third through Eighth Grades until we can find a substitute. Preschool will have gym/playtime with their teachers.
Tuesdays: Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Grade Gym
Wednesdays: Seventh Grade Gym
Fridays: Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, and Fourth Grade Gym
DPH COVID Response: We received a complimentary follow-up call from the Department of Public Health. That does not happen every day! Our liaison told Mrs. Russell that she was very impressed that we took their “recommendation” seriously and that we actually quarantined a class. This was not a mandate. However, when we started this school year I made a promise to families that we would not only adhere to all mandates and requirements (everyone must follow) but that we would honor all suggestions and even recommendations from DOE (Department of Education), DPH (Department of Public Health), and CDOW (Catholic Diocese of Wilmington). With that in mind, Mrs. Russell, Mr. Shields, and I met last Friday and discussed our plans. We knew that quarantining was not necessary, but we understood it would reinforce our commitment to best practices. I was pleased that Mrs. Russell received that call. In a recent separate communication with a representative from the Department of Public Health, I invited them to come observe us at any time. They said they were happy to have an ally and it was a pleasure speaking with a school that was honest, transparent, and open to their visit. Sadly, that has not been their overall school experience. The representative was also impressed to hear we had quarantined an entire class based solely on their suggestion. I did clarify one rule with them. Children and teachers are able to remove their masks when outside and safely distanced. Although Delaware is requiring masks in public, students and teachers are permitted mask breaks outside. They are also permitted mask breaks in the classroom since our desks are 6 ft. apart. Masks may be removed for snack and for eating lunch, as long as students remain seated.
The class that was asked to do remote learning for two weeks is able to return next Wednesday, September 23rd, two weeks following potential exposure. No further cases have been reported. No students or teachers developed symptoms because that child adhered to safe distancing and masking protocol and the family was honest and proactive in their response to the potential risk from home. This return date is earlier than we originally stated, based on guidelines from DPH. We look forward to welcoming them back on September 23rd!
Reminders to stay home: Continue to monitor your child every morning. If they do not look like they feel well, please keep them home. Students who test positive may never run a fever, so fever alone is not your only indicator. Thank you to all of our parents who have made arrangements to keep children home for cold and allergy symptoms and have a COVID test prior to their return. A runny nose may be a child’s only COVID symptom. Call your doctor and follow their advice regarding coughs, scratchy throats, headaches, and even minor cold and allergy symptoms. Parents have been initiating COVID testing, and we greatly appreciate that. We have the technology and capability to instantly transition a child from in-person learning to remote learning. We are here to help. Please keep our school nurse informed. I asked Mrs. Russell to resend the screening letter again today. Everyone in this building does a screening prior to coming into work, even though we are continuing to be tested every month. We are already into our second round of staff COVID testing. We are hopeful that things will continue to run smoothly. I do ask for your help in keeping your social circles tight.
Renaissance STAR Testing. Our benchmark testing will begin on Monday, September 28th and run throughout that week. Testing typically takes place in the morning, so please be sure your children arrive to school promptly, after a good night sleep and breakfast. For those of you who are new to us, STAR Testing takes place three times per year and is a half hour computer-based test in the areas of Math and Reading. Students take a Math test one day and Reading on a different day. We will not be testing remote learners the week of Sept. 28th. We will test them once they return to the building.
Thank you to our Assistant Superintendent, Carol Ripken:
Today, Ms. Ripken came out to do a school visit to review my diocesan administrator goals for the year. It was a unique visit. Prior to COVID, we would hug when she entered the building. Typically she is able to go into classrooms, sit down, observe and interact with teachers, and engage with students. Today, she filled out a COVID Screening. I took her temperature, and she met with me in my office, safely distanced 6ft. and wearing her mask. After our meeting, she walked around and simply poked her head into classrooms to say hello to our students and thank our teachers for their excellent work. We appreciate her visit and thank her for her time. She gave me some excellent ideas for STAR Testing that I look forward to sharing with my staff.
School Photo Purchasing will CLOSE this Monday, September 21st.
If you do not log in by Monday, you will not be able to purchase school photos. All ordering will be done online. If you have any questions, contact Tina at email@example.com or 893-5905. See attached link.
This was supposed to be short and sweet. Oops! I will wrap it up. Keep up the great work. Tell your students they are doing a fantastic job. Continue to have patience with yourself. Stay safe and be well. Have a wonderful weekend!
Mrs. White J
“Catechists are people who keep the memory of God alive. They keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others.” – Pope Francis