March 23, 2020
One week into our new reality and the CBS community seems to be managing well – for the most part. I know it has been tough at times. Nobody asked for this; but, both CBS families and employees are embracing the challenge by giving it their all. For that, I cannot say thank you enough. As I have indicated many times over, we are grateful for the partnership we enjoy with our families. I hope you are feeling the same about us during these troubling days.
Although most families are figuring out how to make at-home learning work, I acknowledge that this is not the case for all. Indeed, we have been receiving numerous emails over the last week. It is gratifying that so many are pleased with the at-home learning plan. It also makes sense that some are struggling. When we devised the plan, we recognized that some families and students would face struggles and that other families would not. We knew that it might be hard for families who cannot offer parental support to students during the day. We recognized that some families may face connectivity issues. And, we realized that many parents would be uncomfortable with the whole scenario. Thus, the design of the at-home learning program was always to be flexible (so that students can consume the information at the time of day that works best for their family), manageable (so that students don’t become overwhelmed by the amount of material delivered in any one day), supportive (so that teachers are accessible via live contact and email at numerous times throughout the week), and accommodating (so that families can work directly with teachers, administrators and counselors to address unforeseen, unique issues that arise).
Of great importance to me over my 35-year career as an educator has been and is that the students and families I have served would come to know me as being FAIR. That continues to be true in extraordinary times such as these. Therefore I ask parents and students who are worried about grades and the like to take comfort in knowing that Christian Brothers School will be fair to every student as we process the grades acquired during the at-home learning period. Both Mr. Neider and Mr. Prat share my philosophy on this matter. We will provide more specific information as the length of our time apart and other uncertainties become clearer. Until then, please simply focus on the process: making sure that the students participate in the instruction, do the best that they can on assessments, and connect with their teachers on a regular basis. We have asked teachers to reach out to parents of those students for whom there is little to no evidence of participation in the at-home learning program. This is not for the purpose of consequence. Rather, it is in the interest of our partnership and in keeping parents informed. Again, please reach out to your child’s teacher, principal, and/or counselor if you find yourself in need of support.
The faculty and administration have been in constant communication over the past week. The City Park faculty met on Friday morning, and the Canal Street faculty met this morning. According to the governor’s stay-at-home proclamation, educators delivering at-home learning are considered providers of essential services. Thus we continue to call weekly faculty meetings though most teachers participate remotely. Those who choose to report to campus practice social distancing. During these meetings, administrators reiterated the parameters of the at-home learning plan. In addition, the principals shared with the teachers some of the feedback and concerns parents have communicated to them. There was also an opportunity to discuss best practices. Tonight, the board of trustees will meet remotely for an update on the management of the CBS at-home learning program and other school business, particularly as it relates to the mandated closure. The trustees will also entertain conversation around the impact that these unusual times are having on the school – both today and for the future.
Because of the stay-at-home proclamation, Christian Brothers School will soon be changing its business hours. Beginning Monday, March 30, the campuses will be closed to parents and teachers unless an appointment to access the campus is made with one of the campus principals or me. Administrators will continue to report from 9:00-11:00 during the week. The office staff and the maintenance staff will report only to address the essential operations of the school. During the upcoming week, parents and teachers will be allowed to access campus on a limited basis only to collect any remaining materials still needed for the at-home learning plan. If you need to access campus, please do so between 9:00 and 11:00 this week.
Christian Brothers School is fortunate to have many benefactors. Some of those very generous benefactors could be struggling with the compromised economy. Now, our school community has a chance to help those who have been so good to us for so long. As you consider where you do business over the next few days and weeks, please think about calling on some of our CBS friends. Thank you for that. For convenience, we will post on our website a list of businesses who are providing essential services and are connected to the CBS community. If you would like to add your business to that list (or know anyone who would), please email Mr. Joubert at email@example.com. The list will consist of only those businesses which request to be on it.
Lastly, we have been receiving some really cool pictures of students engaged in at-home learning. If you are so inclined to share some of your pictures with us, we would greatly appreciate it. Please send them to Mr. Joubert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although the school office hours will soon be reduced even further, please reach out to us by email if you need us. We will continue to check it regularly. You also have the option of leaving a message on the school answering machine; but, it will only be checked periodically and not as often as email. In closing, we have been made aware of some members of the CBS family who are sick. During prayer at the start of my math class, one of my math students often asks that we remember anyone who may need a prayer. Following his lead, let’s pray for those who are sick and for anyone who may find themselves in need of our prayers. Meanwhile, I hope you are finding productive ways to spend your time while you are “staying at home.” Until next week, hang in there!