Fall 2020 at St. Celestine School

IMPORTANT ITEMS TO SHARE FROM THE PRINCIPAL AS OF AUGUST 5, 2020


There are a number of items that I have to share, all of them designed to help support you during this very important time. There are 3 very important items I have to share.

1.- Parent meetings: Please remember that there will be Google Meets set for grade bands of students, starting August 7 and running through August 14. You will receive an email with an invitation, This is an opportunity to ask any questions you have as we prepare to start the year. These meetings are optional and are being offered to support you during this time. Teachers may also be participating in this meeting, as well.

2.- I am sharing the following article from Carol Morrone MSW who works with Mobile Therapy Centers. It addresses the return to school and emotions you and your child(ren) may be feeling right now.

Returning to School During a Pandemic - As we prepare our children for a new school year in 2020, we are all facing unprecedented challenges that continue to impact our daily lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of our children may be returning to in-person learning, some may be continuing with remote lessons, and many will most likely be experiencing a hybrid version of both in-person and online lessons. Parents have an important responsibility in helping to prepare their children for this new school year, while keeping them safe and alleviating fears of the new normal related to education.

In the spring, schools were mandated to shut down as the virus spread and fear increased. Since then, we have learned more about Covid-19 and how to keep our families safe. Businesses have begun to re-open while everyone continues to adjust to the new normal. As we make plans for the upcoming school year, let us keep this progress in mind as we prepare our children. While we still don’t know how long restrictions will last, or if we may even experience a rollback on reopening due to a new surge of Covid-19, we know much more now than we did 6 months ago when the first case was reported in the United States. Let us focus on the positive, and the steps we can take to keep our children safe and to alleviate their fears as we approach the new school year.

One of the first steps you can take as a parent is to contact your child’s school to learn what plans are being implemented for both learning and for safety. Talk with your child about how returning to school this year will be both the same in some ways and different in others. Acknowledge your child’s fears as they arise, and their disappointments. Social activities and even personal interactions with peers will definitely be limited. For children, school is a central core to their lives, and any change can be scary. Continue to reassure your child that these changes are necessary for their safety, while also encouraging their input into creative ways to face these challenges. You want your child to be appropriately cautious while avoiding fear. As masks continue to be a necessary requirement, engage your child in picking out special masks for back to school. Masks have become a notable fashion accessory and can be just as exciting as picking out new clothes. By engaging your child in this process, you are helping them become compliant with the requirement. If you have become more relaxed with precautions such as disinfecting surfaces and hand-washing at home, now is the time to renew your vigilance and set the example for your children.

Of equal importance is for parents to help their child focus on what is still the same this school year. Parents need to start getting their children on a regular schedule. Often summertime means more fluid bedtimes and relaxed rules. As we get our children prepared to return to a school environment, we need to start adding back more structure. If you have allowed later bedtimes, start gradually working back to an earlier schedule. Even 5 minutes earlier each day will make the transition easier than if you wait until the end of summer. If your child is a late morning sleeper, move wake up times earlier in increments as well. Whether school will be in-person or remote, or both, be sure each child has a designated spot for homework and supplies. Talk about schedules. Be sure to incorporate relaxation and family time into remote learning and working. As an increasing number of our homes are also our office and school, we need to remember that first and foremost we are family, and our homes need to reflect that safe haven for our children.

Finally, adults need to keep talking with children, answering their questions simply. Use age-appropriate words and explanations. As adults, we more fully understand the nuances and impact the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have on our lives, but there is no need for us to overly burden our children. The primary job of a parent is to keep your child safe, which includes knowing what information to share. Reach out to other parents for support and ideas. Your children will grow and move on from this crisis and are often much more resilient than adults. Let us keep positive and informed and remember to also take time to relax as a family, and to be an advocate for your child. There is no more important job than the job of a parent.

To help all SCS parents, regardless of whether or not they are selecting face-to-face learning or a long-term e-learning option, St. Celestine School has scheduled a virtual parent event with Carol Morrone on August 18 at 6:30 pm. An invitation link will be shared with you prior to the event. This event is optional, as well. The staff and I want to support all of our families with as many resources as we can.

3.- Lastly, there has been quite a bit of interest in the long-term e-learning option originally mentioned as being provided through the Archdiocese of Chicago. If your family is interested in this option, please complete this survey by Monday, August 10, so that planning can be completed.

Long Term / Trimester E-Learning Interest Survey - CLICK HERE

Quite a number of families expressed reservations about a third party, who is not directly involved with our students offering the instruction. With that in mind, the following model for the 2020-2021 has been designed using SCS teachers and will be implemented starting this Fall.

ST. CELESTINE SCHOOL - 2020-2021 TWO TRACK MODEL FOR THE RETURN TO SCHOOL


The SCS Two Track Plan allows for closer implementation of SCS curriculum, greater coordination efforts within the community, the inclusion of teachers from SCS, and improved flexibility should the school need to shift from one track to another. We are working within our community and supporting each other in this model.

Face to Face Track:

  • A physical return to St. Celestine School following the cohort model developed by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
  • Begins August 20 (Last names A-L) or August 21 (Last names M-Z).
  • An ability to move to short term e-learning, coordinated by the Homeroom Teacher, should the child need to be away from the classroom for any reason.
  • Adherence to the Archdiocesan Priority Standards during instruction.

Long Term E-learning Track:

  • Available for PreK-8.
  • Organized using St. Celestine School teachers and staff according to grade-bands, with consultation by the Homeroom Teachers to ensure coordinated instruction between tracks: Grade Band: PreK to First Grade - Grade Band: Second Grade to Fourth Grade - Grade Band: Fifth Grade to Eighth Grade
  • This track will begin Monday, August 31. This will allow teachers and staff the opportunity to plan and prepare lessons aligned for both Face-to-Face Instruction and Long Term e-learning.
  • Coordination of e-learning lessons with those lessons being taught in the Face-to-Face Track. The concept and content being taught will be the same. There may be differences in how the lesson will be taught, given the differences in the two types of instruction.
  • Face-to-Face lessons will not be live-streamed.
  • Adherence to the Archdiocesan Priority Standards during instruction.
  • Core classes taught: Religion, Reading, English, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
  • The use of Google Meets, videos, iReady, and platforms designed to coordinate instruction and share communication around instruction.
  • Parent and student support will be provided by St. Celestine Staff.
  • Chromebook loaner devices will be available through the school on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  • The ability to return seamlessly to face-to-face instruction at the end of the first trimester will be provided.

Thank you for your commitment to St. Celestine School as we plan for the Fall. Please reach out to me at sklich@stcelestineschool.org if you have any additional questions. You are in my prayers and the prayers of the staff.

Sincerely,

Sheila M. Klich - Principal

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)


In an effort to provide support and information during this time, we have created this FAQ document. Please look at this webpage for regular updates and new information as it becomes available.

CLICK HERE to print the FAQs posted below (PDF)

If you have not already read through the documents sent from the Archdiocese, I highly recommend you read them. They are very detailed and answer many questions. These are the documents that are guiding our work at SCS:

CLICK HERE for the Archdiocese Reopening Plan

Please watch this video created by St. Celestine School staff. It describes the plan and process for entrance to the building in terms for the students. Teachers will be watching the video with students, as well. Please note that SCS is committed to informing parents and students of changes to procedures as needed.

HEALTH AND SAFETY QUESTIONS


What type of thermometer is being used for morning temperature checks? How will temperatures be taken?

We will be using a touchless infrared thermometer to take students' temperatures. Students will have their temperatures checked at the door and will receive a “ticket” to give to their teachers once they get to the classroom. This lets the teacher know they have had their temperature checked. If the child does not present a ticket, teachers have thermometers in the classroom and will use them to take the child’s temperature. Teachers may check temperatures throughout the day as needed.

Will children be allowed to wear shields instead of masks?

No, in compliance with the directives from the Illinois State Board of Education, all students must wear a face mask. This was not a local decision.

Will teachers be allowed to wear face shields instead of masks?

Only Early Childhood teachers and aides, speech therapists, social workers, and inclusion teachers are allowed to wear face shields for short periods of time when students may need to see their mouths, such as during phonics or speech instruction. Beyond that period of time, teachers will be wearing masks. All other teachers and staff members will have to wear a mask.

What type of mask should my child wear?

Students may wear masks with decorations and characters. They may not wear masks with references to violence, inappropriate words or references to particular political viewpoints. Masks should not distract from the learning taking place in the classroom. Gaiters and bandanas may not be worn.

For additional details and specific information, refer to the flyer that will be included in the Organization Day folder.

Is there a timeframe provided of when masks could be eliminated?

The Mask requirement will only be removed when the Illinois State Board of Education and the Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Catholic Schools deems it safe for students to remove masks.

I noticed in the Archdiocese plan that if kids are outside and social distancing, masks can be removed? Will that be able to happen at SCS?

We are identifying spaces outside and creating a schedule where classes (weather permitting) can take place outside. Students will have to remain 6 feet apart during these times. Recess has been added to every student’s day, including those in the upper grades. PE will often take place outside. We have worked with the Pastoral Center to identify and block off 1/3 of the parking lot for use for the entire day. In addition, teachers will take students outside for classes and lunches, as time and weather permit. SCS Shamrocks will be painted on the sidewalk outside the school to help remind the school community where and how to distance outside. Once outside, students will place their masks in paper bags labeled with their names.

Will families have to quarantine if they take a trip?

Yes, families who travel internationally or to states with significant COVID-19 outbreaks (as determined by the CDC) must remain home for at least two weeks following their arrival home. SCS will provide short term e-learning during the time of quarantine. This quarantine extends to school staff if they travel, too.

Will children be allowed to bring/use water bottles instead of using the water fountain?

Yes. Clear water bottles will be filled via the fillable drinking fountain. The remaining water fountains have been shut off.

Will I still be allowed to volunteer?

Volunteers will be significantly limited at SCS this year, and we will be diligent in limiting the risk of outside exposure. Teachers will be supervising lunch and recess. We will need room parents to help run virtual events for families and students, but presence inside the building will be significantly limited. When creating the plan for the 2020/21 school year, mandatory volunteer hours had been added to the plan. Those mandatory hours are on “hold” for now.

What if I need to come to the school?

Should a parent need to come to the school, they will enter through the main office and follow social distancing markers on the floor. All extra furniture and items have been removed from the office to limit loitering and distraction. Anyone allowed past the office and into the school will have a temperature check and will need to sign in.

Will Hot Lunch still be offered?

YES! We will still offer hot lunch. Tables will be set in the hallways and students, while maintaining social distancing, will get their lunches from tables. Some classrooms will be divided to create maximum space during lunch. Teachers will be encouraged to have students eat outside when the weather permits.

How will the bathroom be handled?

No more than 3 students will be in the bathroom at any one time. Teachers will create a schedule for bathroom usage. Bathrooms will be disinfected regularly throughout the day. Students will receive hand sanitizer before and after use of the bathroom and as is the case any time they enter or leave the classroom.

How are cleaning procedures being handled?

Teachers have received disinfecting cleaner for use throughout the day. The cleaning company used by the school will use a stronger cleaning compound than in the past. The building will be professionally sanitized through a fogging method at the end of every week. The school has invested $6000 in cleaning supplies.

What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

The Archdiocese and Department of Public Health will be notified. The room will receive the highest level of sanitizing and disinfecting. Families in the particular class of the individual will be notified. Privacy laws about who the individual is will be maintained. If a 2 week quarantine is deemed necessary the class will be quarantined and short term e-learning instruction will take place.

CATHOLIC IDENTITY/ACADEMIC/EXTRA-CURRICULAR QUESTIONS


Will students go to Mass in person or watch Mass virtually?

While we will not be able to gather for all school Masses, we are creating a schedule where students will have Mass streamed to the classrooms. We are encouraging both Fr. Paul and Fr. Brendan to visit when they are able.

Will Before Care and After Care Programs be offered?

Yes! We are using different spaces for the programs to create more space between classrooms. Students will enter through the Main Office and have their temperatures checked there. Parents must wait in the Main Office or just outside until the child is ok’d for entry. Before Care will be in the lunchroom, since it is larger. Students will sit at tables designated for their homerooms.

After Care will be held in the gym, the lunchroom and the Annex. Parents will come to the Main Office to pick up children. The PA will be used to let teachers know to send children to the office. While in the larger After Care spaces, students will sit at tables assigned to their homerooms. Additional staff is being paid to help run after care with these new conditions.

Will athletics be offered?

That has not been determined at this time.

What is a cohort?

Cohorts are defined as homerooms.

When will classes be assigned?

Students will be assigned to their teachers and homerooms after those families interested in long- term e-learning option offered by the Archdiocese have been identified and routed to that option. The existing homeroom lists will be reviewed and a balanced list of equal numbers of students will be created. This allows for optimal social distancing and the reservation of seats for students in long term e-learning for when they are ready to return. The classroom assignment process is taking longer than usual because of this approach to create the healthiest and safest environment possible.

For this year, twins will be assigned to the same homeroom.

How will Specials and classes be provided to students who change rooms throughout the day?

Cohorts are not going to move from classroom to classroom. Teachers will be coming to the students’ rooms instead. Schedules, especially those for the upper grades, have been adjusted to more of a block schedule model so as much time is given to instruction in the core areas as possible.

Where will PE take place?

Weather permitting, PE will take place outside!

Will SCS definitely be back to 5 full days of instruction, or is there an option for SCS to choose a hybrid of in-person and remote learning, allowing students to attend in shifts?

No, the Archdiocese of Chicago has planned for a return to 5 full days of instruction. Families who wish to enroll in the Archdiocese Remote Learning Program will be enrolled through SCS. Concern over students being placed in daycare or other childcare situations and bringing in germs from other groups guided the Archdiocese away from the hybrid model. SCS will work with families through any concerns they have about sending children to school. Short term e-learning is being developed for children who are out of school for a short amount of time (a few days or weeks).

Will there be short term e-learning if a child is out of school for any reason?

Short term e-learning is being developed using many of the suggestions made in the survey from June. Students will practice with platforms while in school, should there be any reason e-learning needs to occur for them. Parents will receive information directing them on what platforms are being used and how to access different applications. This will make that part easier for everyone. A process for help on different aspects of technology, as well as a plan for regular communication with families is being developed, so that the school is with you every step of the way.

At present, live streaming of lessons is being explored. We are waiting for directives from the Archdiocese about if and how this can be done.

The Reopening Plan for the Archdiocese mentions a remote learning option if I choose to keep my child home. What are the details?

REMOTE LEARNING OPTION


Families who wish to continue to be enrolled at SCS and the Office of Catholic School Remote Learning Program should complete the survey below.

Long Term / Trimester E-Learning Interest Survey - CLICK HERE

At the moment, details available are as follows:

  • The cost of the program is SCS tuition.
  • Chromebook loaners are available, if a child does not have one.
  • The curriculum will be aligned to Archdiocesan standards and benchmarks but may NOT mirror the SCS curriculum specifically. However, SCS does use these benchmarks and priority standards in planning our curriculum.
  • It is important to note that those who elect Remote Learning may not start on SCS's start date.
  • Students will be assigned a classroom and homeroom teacher for when they return.
  • Families will continue to receive emails from SCS and will be considered part of the SCS community. They will be invited to school virtual events. Families will be able to rejoin the SCS community at the end of the Remote Learning marking period. They will have a spot in the face-to-face classroom.

Given the ever-shifting nature of this pandemic, information will change at every level. Archdiocesan expectations will be followed and further information will come as it is available. Should something change, that will be communicated as well. Part of this shift may include a move to e-learning if mandated by the state and the Archdiocese. With the additional professional development and attention to resources, this shift will include many suggestions from parents, staff, the Archdiocese, and current research.

The staff at St. Celestine School is working morning, noon and night to create the safest, healthiest return possible. Please contact the Principal, Sheila Klich at sklich@stcelestineschool.org if you have any questions or need clarification on any of the above information.

Sincerely and With Gratitude and Blessings,

Sheila M. Klich - Principal - St. Celestine School