Here we are, at the end of June already. Had it been any other summer season, I am certain that most of you would be either packing up for vacations, or returning from early summer vacations. Planning for August trips, booking overnight stays at theme parks, attending summer intramural sporting events…how many of us will even look to do any of those things this summer? While you know from my blog a few weeks ago that I have been heading out here and there- it is with extreme caution and usually followed up by a period of staying home. Nobody can be too careful and even now, months from when this pandemic began, there is no such thing, in my mind at least, as too safe.
I am sure many of you tuned in to hear Governor Murphy on Friday, as he released the NJ Guidelines for a return to school in the fall. I was saddened by the fact that he only saw fit to mention private and parochial schools once during his briefing. What I heard him say was what I had predicted all along- the districts will set up a plan that best ensures the health and safety of the students, that adheres to all requirements for social distancing in the guidelines, and that ensures that the faculty and staff take precautions and stay safe as well. Our Governor is trusting those who run school districts in New Jersey to make decisions for the students under their care. As he has done in other instances since COVID-19 began rampaging our state- he’s letting the experts weigh in and make decisions.
And what of us in private education? Well, we will certainly look to the model that the district sets up; however what works for the public high schools in Jersey City may or may not be what works best for Saint Dominic Academy. As a private school, we will look to both district guidelines as well as to our own experts- our administration, teachers, parents, board members, and students themselves–because we want to ensure that, while we fully adhere to the guidelines, we offer a plan that we feel is the most beneficial, most successful and of course, the safest for the students entrusted to us. I can assure you that, as we always are, Saint Dominic Academy has been extremely proactive in planning and in evaluating the best way to safely return in September.
Our Remote Advisory Committee has been working for over a month; attending webinars, researching different models of learning, and meeting weekly with administrators via Zoom. All of our teachers will be attending Professional Development training for remote learning methods, should we need to implement them. Different department members have also been sent to training and workshops and we have more scheduled in the coming weeks. We have, just last week, surveyed our parents, asking them their thoughts about the feasibility of returning to school, of their comfort level in social distancing, after school sports and activities, et al. I thank all the parents who took the time to respond- especially those who provided written feedback in the comments section. Prior to surveying the parents, we had our students complete surveys on virtual learning for every class they took during 2019-2020 and our teachers completed surveys as well. We have had calls with consultants about social distance measures including, but of course not limited to, face shields, glass barriers in labs, temperature scans…the list is endless.
Do I, at this moment, at the end of June have a a final plan that I can put into your hands? No- not as yet. However, I want to reassure you that we have not one, but several draft models mapped out- each one looking at different ways to ensure that your daughter gets the full Saint Dominic Academy experience; academic, athletic, and social- to the very best of our ability, while still making the health and safety of your daughters, your families, and our faculty and staff a number one priority.
We will have our plan to you in the coming weeks…and if any parent wishes to talk one on one with a member of the administration to discuss concerns or fears about what the fall of 2020 will look like, please just reach out and we will schedule a call to talk.
We’re not out of the woods yet…but we are, as we have been since 1878- a family, a sisterhood, and we will do everything in our power to meet your needs, exceed your expectations, and keep your children safe. I offer my continued daily prayers to all of our families- may God keep us safe, keep us healthy, and be with us as we continue to experience losses, great and small, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As always, I ask you to join me in prayer for the lives lost- may they rest in peace.