Dear SAP School Families,
Good afternoon! I hope you are all staying safe and enjoying your summer. Our school summer office hours are M-F 8am-12 noon. Today marks the last day of the fiscal year for the 2019-2020 School Year. We did it!
As we now look forward and prepare and plan for the fall trimester, I want to thank you all for your kind understanding and support during these unprecedented times. Reopening school in the fall will be like never before. We have received guidance from the Department of Catholic Schools and the CDC, and we are doing our best to reopen safely. Safety is always paramount for us, so that is always at the forefront of our minds as we follow guidelines and still make sure everyone on campus is safe, and that everyone receives a high-quality education. The situation is fluid and is changing daily. We are doing our best to plan but sometimes it feels like we are trying to hit a moving target.
Until we get a vaccine, we will be living in challenging and unpredictable times, but we must stay flexible and stay the course together. We are committed to doing what it takes to find the best solutions for the greatest good. Some parents have asked to return to school in-person in the fall, while others feel safer at home. Other teachers, staff, and families have expressed legitimate concerns about being exposed, because they themselves or someone they live with are high-risk or immunocompromised. As we plan for an uncertain future, we do our best to be informed and stay on top of all developments. Again, we appreciate your flexibility and understanding as we plan for mulitiple scenarios. And we don’t have all the answers, but with God’s Divine Providence, we will all prevail.
As you may have heard, LAUSD had announced to have all public schools go online 100% in the Fall, starting in August. Our first day of school is set for August 19. We are hoping to open with some in-person instruction. Note that the public school budget has been cut about 10% next year, and this includes charter school and home schooling funding. FYI, it takes about $12,000 a year to educate a child in the public school system. Our tuition per child is just under $5,000 (tuition and fees). Somehow our amazing Catholic school teachers manage to provide more, for less than half of that cost each year. St. Anthony of Padua School runs solely on tuition and fees, and we are able to keep costs down for families by also applying for grants and receiving generous donations.
I’m so happy to say that this week, we were given a HUGE and generous donation of desks and chairs, along with curriculum materials from a neighboring school. However, the sad part is, that these items were from St. Anthony School in El Segundo. The Catholic school recently announced to its parents and students that they would be closing down indefinitely. This was such difficult news to take, and the families are now looking to our school as an option for their children. Please keep the parish and school in your prayers. We are opening our doors to these families during this trying time. We are thankful that we are a self-sufficient, sustainable school, and that we will remain open next year. Praise God!
All that said, we are planning for multiple scenarios upon our return. Every Catholic school’s reopening will look different, depending on their local community and needs. Our classroom setups will also look different, depending on the number of students in each class, their family situations, their work schedules, and the teachers’ unique situation. Keep in mind we are doing our best to accommodate families (especially those with multiple children), but not all schedules and classroom set ups will look the same because of the unique needs of each class differ. Effective communication with you and our faculty and staff will be key next year, in ensuring a safe and quality education for your child Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
We had a faculty meeting this past week, and we discussed our possible fall schedule. We talked about offering a TENTATIVE Monday-Thursday in-person schedule (times and staggered schedules TBD), then Friday would be all online learning and teacher office hours for students to get extra assistance, as needed. Students will likely have core subjects in-person Monday-Thursday (in a schedule that may mirror the online schedule from last trimester), with Music, PE, and Art online on Fridays. Our new faculty meeting days would be on Fridays at 9am, instead of Wed at 1:30pm. Fridays will also be the time for students to catch up on work and assignments and to ask teachers for help during their regular office hours. Teachers are working daily from 7:30-4, with a 30-minute lunch break. We are still working out the details for scheduling and staggered schedules. We need your input to finalize schedules.
In order to plan for these various scenarios, our teachers are working overtime and even during their summer break to prepare for reopening. We have never before had to plan for concurrent in-person classes and online learning. I am so grateful that all our teachers are returning next year, and I am proud of them for rethinking high-quality education, given these unusual circumstances.
Please note that the teachers are off for “summer vacation” the entire month of July , and they will return on August 1. This break is well-deserved.
You will be hearing from teachers to set up Zoom parent meetings to prepare for the fall. They will also be sending out proposed schedules to get your feedback. Ultimately, teachers will make the final decision on schedules, so please be sure to communicate directly with them re: your questions and concerns are so they can do their best to accommodate and plan accordingly.
Do note that the guidance we received was clear that 3 hours of daily instruction, whether in person or online constitutes a minimum day of instruction. Homeschooling parents know that primary grades typically get 1-2 hours of instruction a day, while middle school students get 2-3 hours of instruction, and high school students get 3-4 hours of instruction daily (these are the recommended times for the age groups). During distance learning last trimester, our school schedules reflected this, and some teachers will likely mirror their schedules from last trimester even in person to minimize contact with others and still provide quality learning for those who choose to keep their children at home for 100% online learning due to safety concerns and health issues. Students are not recommended to have more than 3 hours of onscreen time a day for grades K-8, if you choose the distance learning option. The good news is that we are offering options for all families next year, but we want you to decide on what’s best for your family, in respect to your individual situations and needs. If you are high risk or live with high-risk family members, we encourage you not to send your child back to in-person classes.
Please be on the lookout from emails and direct communication from your children’s teachers in the next week or so or the first week of August and respond accordingly. We need your partnership now more than ever, as it does take a village to raise a child!
Some of you may have heard that other schools and universities are planning to go to 100% distance learning during after the Thanksgiving holiday through Christmas. Since some families and college students are traveling a lot back and forth during the holidays, this would be wise to not have in-person contact after Thanksgiving to minimize the spread of the disease. We are still planning our school calendar and what it will look like next year. I wanted to give you enough information to start planning ahead so you will know what you can expect.
If there is another spike in COVID cases (as we have seen this week in the state of California with more lockdowns and closures,) we have to be prepared at any given time to return to distance learning during the 2020-2021 SY. Everyone is going through this, so it’s nice to know we are not alone. This is why we are trying as much as possible to plan for and stick to a distance learning schedule and then add in-person accommodations, in the event that we have to return to 100% distance learning.
For our handbook, we have made updates to our regular Parent Student Handbook, but we are also adding an addendum (a COVID handbook, if you will), that will take into account policies that will change, due to the pandemic like extended absences, etc.
Re: safety protocol, I think it’s important that parents are aware of the restrictions that students will have if they return to school in the Fall. All schools are asked to limit classrooms to small class sizes. The recommendation is to have 10-15 students in a classroom at a time Some schools are able to keep students about 4 ft apart (which follows recommended guidelines, but in this case, students will need face masks and barriers around their desks) to be in compliance. Some schools were able to fit up to 27 students safely in one classroom, after all furniture was taken out. All students will have to bring their items and supplies daily and take them home daily to disinfect them All face masks should be washed daily. Students may opt to wear face shields in lieu of face masks, as it can be hard to breathe to wear these masks all day. We do not want students to wear the masks for extended amounts of time, so we are allowing parents to pick students up early if they so choose, and have the ability to do so.
All staff should wear face masks/face shields all day, as well as any visitors on campus. We were asked not to have too many outside visitors or parent volunteers on campus, unless we have regular volunteers who get checked every day coming on campus regularly (no revolving schedules with new parents on campus every day). We will not be having anymore in person morning assemblies or all-school Masses for the time being. These assemblies will have to take place in classrooms (like a rainy day schedule using the PA system), and the masses may be with smaller cohorts or online on Fridays. Field trips are temporarily suspended.
Upon arrival (carline drop-off), we may have to ask each visitor who comes on campus health questions at a checkpoint daily and take temperatures with a no-contact thermometer. If a person has a temperature of 100 or above, they will be sent home immediately. Some schools are doing this temperature check daily in a drive through carline. If a child gets sick at school, they will be asked to stay in a holding room (not the office) until parents can come pick them up. If anyone test positive for COVID, they will have to notify the school immediately and remain quarantined for up to 2 weeks. We will keep all info confidential, but our school will have to follow specific guidelines in that scenario. The school is looking into getting more hand sanitizers, hand washing stations, and will disinfect bathrooms and surfaces several times a day (including light switches and doorknobs or shared items). Parents are asked to teach students about safety protocol like keeping masks/shields on and how to clean up their areas and take home all items at the end of each day to prevent the spread of germs. All these logistics are in the planning stages now, and will have to be ironed out with each teacher for each class, but it’s something for every parent to consider if you send your child back to school in-person.
Students will have staggered arrival and departure times to limit large groups congregating and we will have to stagger lunch and recess times. The hall will not be used as a cafeteria. Students will have snack and lunch in their classrooms. All classes will have to stay with their groups the whole day and not intermingle with other groups. There will be no more shared items (like sports equipment, electronic devices, school supplies, or hard copies of library books) so each student must come prepared with their own supplies, books, and electronic devices. We were advised to keep cohorts together to lessen and minimize contact. K-2 will be using Seesaw primarily, and grades 3-8 will use Google Classroom as a main platform.
For K-5, the students stay with their teacher all day, as they are self-contained classes. For grades K-3, teachers may opt to have an AM and PM schedule (one morning and one afternoon session). We are thinking of putting our 4th graders in the Hall next year since it’s a bigger space for one class to fit everyone in at once (they have 34 students). 5th grade can all fit in their homeroom, as the class is fairly small: about 17 students.
Ideally, we will not have too much contact between others, and too many people on campus at any given time is not recommended, to make sure social distancing guidelines are followed as best as possible.
For Jr. High, the teachers are also planning for: Monday-Thursday in-person classes, with Friday online classes (Music, PE, Art, office hours, intervention, tutoring, extra help). They will basically duplicate what they did in 3rd trimester as much as possible, but will allow for tutoring and study hall. We are all still in the planning stages, as it doesn’t seem feasible to split up the entire jr high into morning and afternoon groups. For grades 6-8, the students will stay with their class, and the teachers will rotate. They will likely offer mandatory Zoom sessions 3 hours a week for each teacher (9 hours total mandatory Zooms), as was offered in the 3rd trimester last year. All the other hours will be available to all students during office hours for tutoring, study hall, or interventions. This mandatory 3 hours a week per teacher worked well and they also offered extra optional Zoom sessions to parents. Overall, this schedule proved to be successful.
As always, we will need parents to help us hold students accountable. It is the parents’ responsibility to make sure students are doing their work and projects and asking for help as needed. Communication is extremely important, especially during this time.
Since we are still practicing social distancing and taking measures for safety, I know that there seems to be a lot of restrictions. If you are able to keep your child at home where it’s safer, please let us know. When it comes to in-person schooling, daycare and after school activities, we want to limit those activities as much as possible in the fall to prevent the spread of any virus or disease.
After school activities that can be online so far for the fall are Spanish and Folklorico. We will suspend choir and theater for now (until further notice), and are awaiting word about how we will continue athletics through CYO. Practices may be allowed, but not games with an audience. We have not yet heard back from STEM, LIFT Enrichment, and martial arts, as they were primarily operating in-person and we don’t know if they will be ready to resume classes now.
For hot lunch, Happy Lunch is ready to continue working with our families next year. Gabriel Rivas can offer pre-packaged daily lunches that will be given to your child if you order them through the school.
For after-school extended daycare, we will send out a survey asking which families absolutely need daycare and will be willing to pay monthly. We can only take a certain amount of students for daycare, so those who absolutely need daycare will be given preference. Hourly drop offs will be limited, if not accepted, depending on daycare personnel and number of students needing daycare. We do not want different groups mingling together and causing any cross-contamination. Keeping students in their cohorts will help us with contact tracing and limit the spread of disease.
Mrs. Lourdes Islas will be taking over Brenda Moreno’s role as Daycare Coordinator next year. Mrs. Pattie Padilla has agreed to be on staff next year to help with daycare as well. We welcome her to our staff, as she graduated her daughter Anjolie last year from our 8th grade class! If you are interested in daycare next year, please email me re: what activities you would like offered. We have a vendor (Got Game) willing to offer online activities for after school activities and daycare. In order for us to plan ahead effectively, we need your feedback.
We want to give families options, but also give you the facts, so you know what we are working with. Even though some families may be nervous about sending their child to school in-person, our teachers will be committed to still offering the same quality of education online.
Last trimester during distance learning, many children realized that they needed to work on organization skills. This will be very important for the fall as well. Regardless of what fall looks like, we are ready for different scenarios. Our hope is that we find a vaccine to the coronavirus soon, but in the meantime, we have to take all precautions necessary to stay safe.
If you are following the news there have been more closures in the state of CA, so we all have to be flexible and ready for stay at home orders, if there is another spike or a second wave of those infected.
Any questions or concerns, please email me at email@example.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for working in partnership with us. St. Anthony of Padua, Pray for Us.