March 30, 2020
As we settle in for yet another week of “this,” I have mixed emotions. While I am pleased with the response from the Christian Brothers School community to our current reality, I am saddened to report the passing of Mr. Jules’s mom on Sunday from Coronavrius. Mr. Jules is one of our custodians on the City Park campus. This loss makes the crisis that much more personal for our school family and gives us perspective. As students participate in lessons, teachers deliver creative instruction, and parents provide outstanding support in ways very different from the norm, we are reminded that the meaningful relationships we share must continue to be the priority. Know that along with Mr. Prat and Mr. Neider, I am committed to this priority. Please reach out to any of us if you feel that there is a disproportionate focus on academics vs. simple humanity during these challenging times.
Proper administrative practice and a common feature of the CBS experience is to generate feedback for the purpose of improvement. By now, you are already aware that we seek to evaluate all that we do at CBS in order to be a better school with better programs each passing school year. This Coronavirus experience is no different. Thus, each campus principal will include in his parent email this week links to surveys for parents and for middle school students about the CBS at-home learning program. Your responses will generate the data we need to determine what to keep and what to change in the at-home learning program. In advance, thank you for your survey responses.
Based on feedback already received, I take the opportunity to remind parents and students that the launching point for instruction for all grade levels, on both campuses, for all teachers, regardless of subject matter is Announcements in CANVAS. From there, a teacher may direct one to alternate locations within CANVAS or even alternate platforms. But for the sake of consistency and ease of instruction, the first place to look for direction should be Announcements in CANVAS. Please reach out to the teacher or principal if this is not happening for a particular class.
A hallmark of the CBS experience is meaningful relationships. We are working hard to preserve those relationships from a distance. However, we are faced with some additional challenges from the Safe Environment office of the Archdiocese of New Orleans that are making our ability to sustain community a bit more difficult. Namely, the following parameters are now required for the delivery of LIVE, ONLINE VIDEO contact: 1) a permission slip is to be completed (easy enough … your teacher can provide that) and 2) the presence of another adult on the video conference who is unrelated to the teacher and has completed the safe environment training with the archdiocese (not so easy). In addition, the ability for any private conversations during the live, video conference must be disabled. The video conference must also be recorded. Having said that, CBS will do what it can to support and encourage a teacher who wishes to continue to offer live video conferences. Note that these additional parameters still make it possible for teachers to pre-record and post videos or to conduct live chats in CANVAS (as these live chats are automatically recorded). Please let me or your campus principal know if your child is not receiving some form of active instruction from his/her teacher. Though these extra parameters are somewhat of a pain, I understand that they are in place to protect young people and teachers. Alternatively, I strongly encourage families and friends to remain connected via live, video conferencing conducted independently of Christian Brothers School. Stay close to your fellow CBS family members!
As a larger Lasallian Catholic family, we also do what we can to connect with one another. The City Park campus faculty meets remotely every Friday morning, and the Canal Street campus faculty meets remotely every Monday morning. The Office of Catholic Schools hosts a weekly online conference with the principals of the archdiocese. The District Education Office for the San Francisco – New Orleans Province of the Christian Brothers also hosts a weekly video conference for the presidents and principals of its Lasallian schools. In this way, we are apprised of the latest information and best practices. But it also feeds our fundamental human need to remain connected to our colleagues. During discussions of best practices, it was affirming to hear from those who have been delivering online instruction for many years. Specifically, they state that a reasonable amount of instructional time per day, flexibility for student consumption of the lesson, a variety of delivery methods by the teacher, the focus on process rather than grades, and routine accessibility to teachers for community (via email, live interaction, and/or by recorded video) are EXACTLY what has made the CBS at-home learning program on point thus far.
Although many of our teachers have been outstanding in the way they have individually maintained Catholic identity with their students, we will soon discuss means by which we can do the same as a school community. I welcome any ideas you have. Please respond accordingly in the surveys coming from the campus principals this week.
Be reminded that there is no longer access to either campus without an appointment made with the campus principal or me. Administrators will continue to report daily but are limited to the office areas. Teachers have been asked to conduct all of their work from home. The front office staff will work two days per week for the purpose of maintaining the essential business of the school. The maintenance staff will work three days per week to sustain the needs of the physical plant. Disinfecting and cleaning of the offices will be daily. Disinfecting and cleaning of the rest of the campus will continue – but not every day. For this reason, we do not want anyone roaming the campuses. In fact, the gates to the yards will be locked going forward. Again, please contact the campus principal or me if you need emergency access to one of the campuses.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the website for some pictures and video or our students engaged in at-home learning, I encourage you to do so. It will bring a smile to your face. One of my favorite videos is of two of our students saying their daily prayers along with their teacher. Following their lead, I ask you to join me in prayer for Mr. Jules and for those who are sick (indeed we have been asked to pray for some CBS family members who are sick, are in the hospital, are worried, are struggling). I also pray for the healthy, that they stay that way. Lastly, I pray for a contagious positive spirit. Peace.
Live Jesus In Our Hearts,