We want to update you on our progress as it relates to the remote learning journey on which we are about to embark. Although we have been incorporating more and more technology in our instruction over the years, we are, at the same time, entering uncharted waters to a large extent. There will no doubt be bumps in the road along the way, but we are confident that a collegial spirit will allow us to be successful in our endeavors. We ask you to give the gift of assuming good will in a difficult situation.
We are doing our best to honor the requests of the various government officials to practice social distancing (#StayHome). For that reason, you will find that the Antonian campus is generally closed, so that potential exposure to our employees can remain minimized. We have changed our telephone greeting to indicate that employees may still be reached via email, a directory of which can be found on the Antonian website at
by selecting the tab "About" and clicking on the link "Faculty Directory."
Practicing social distancing does not mean that our employees are not working. The administration and staff had a very enjoyable and productive series of video conferences on Monday, March 16th using the readily available platform as a Google school, Google Hangouts Meet. At one point, we had as many as sixty-five faculty and staff members attending an organized and effective virtual meeting. Some key points that we shared with the teachers and think you should know are 1) to keep it simple (choose activities and approaches that are manageable); 2) do your very best (don't expect complete perfection from the get go); and 3) be honest and transparent--with students, administration, and each other.
General Instructional Approach
Prior to this circumstance, we would perpetually remind students that too much screen time is not a good thing. So, when faced with the idea that much of their learning would potentially take place through screen time, we had to reflect on this. Add to the equation that families with multiple children in the house may have to divide time with technological resources equitably, we resolved that we would not require direct video conferencing for every class period of the day. Instead, we have advised our teachers that the expectation is that they would disseminate a minimum of 45 minutes of instructional activity per class per day, but that they would, at a minimum, conduct one regular class period per week via video conferencing. Our continued planning in this direction requires the information solicited in the student survey, about which you should have received a separate email Tuesday morning, March 17th.
The vast majority of our teachers already communicate with students through Google Classroom. We have asked teachers that this be our primary means of sending and receiving work to and from students through this time of remote learning. Our technology staff will be assisting the very few teachers who have not utilized Google Classroom up to this point to incorporate use of it. Teachers will still utilize email to communicate as well.
We asked teachers to reiterate to students the need for as much communication as possible. If there is any reason that a student cannot complete a task, whether for technology reasons or otherwise, or cannot "attend" a video conference, the student needs to communicate this to the teacher with as much advance notice as possible. In a traditional learning environment, teachers have the opportunity to quickly have a face-to-face conversation about any missing assignments; now, teachers will not have that luxury.
Participation and Attendance
Teachers will begin to reach out to students, if they haven't already done so. We have asked that they keep parents in the loop as much as possible. We have for many years talked about our "partnership with parents," and given that you will now physically see your child(ren) more than we will, we need your support and assistance in establishing an educational environment in your home. Please discuss often with your child when their minimum once a week video conference is scheduled so that you can help ensure they "attend" and participate. Teachers will be monitoring attendance in these video conferences.
We will ask teachers to address with students the need for them to be appropriately dressed during video conferences. There will no doubt be a challenge for some students to approach remote learning with a sense of structure, but given that students will be visible on video conferencing, they should dress modestly, mimicking at a minimum what they would be permitted to wear on a spirit dress day.
Access to Student Belongings on Campus
We recognize that students need access to their belongings on campus, whether that be the items in their lockers or even medications they may have stored in the front office. We are working out a plan to allow this controlled access in a way that will minimize contact with others to the extent possible.
One of the questions in today's student survey asks whether the student has access to a suitable device to participate in the remote learning process. We have been able to accelerate a shipment of additional Chromebooks that can be checked out to students for their use. Our Director of Technology, Kurt Nowak, will review the results of the survey to gauge need and we will communicate with families the time when they should come to obtain a device. This will likely be at the same time as controlled access to student belongings. More information to come.
In the message to students that was sent today (Tuesday morning), our Director of Counseling Services, Dr. Andrea Gonzalez, and her colleague, Ms. Emily Daniels, provided information regarding access to the services they offer at Antonian. We will be sending a separate, more detailed message to parents within the next day or so.
Dates and Events
There are a number of future events about which we know students have concerns. We will maintain a communication channel with you and also with them separately about such things, but we ask your help to have them put a "pause" on some of those concerns. Everything that happens from here forward is on a day to day status. We have not cancelled prom or graduation, but we really cannot speak to the likelihood of these events taking place as we intended them prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Other things such as AP exams, scheduling placement for the 2020-2021 school year, service hour requirements, and more will be addressed in future correspondences as information becomes available.
As a Catholic high school under the direct auspices of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, we move forward with much guidance and consultation of the Department of Catholic Schools (DCS), and beyond that, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops Education Department (TCCB ED). Altogether, we monitor actions of state and local government officials.
Other Helpful News
Spectrum Internet Service
We received a message via Hope for the Future regarding access to the Internet. Spectrum Cable will provide students access to the Internet during the school shut down for free. Call 1.844.488.8398 for more information.
Flynn O'Hara Uniforms
In response to the situation surrounding the outbreak of COVID19, the staff of Flynn O'Hara, our uniform provider, have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend its retail store operations for two weeks, effective March 16, 2020. It will also be shutting down operations at our distribution center and asking corporate employees to work from home the week of March 16. In the meantime, its online store will remain open. The staff ask customers for their patience as delivery times will be delayed. Its customer service team will remain available remotely through social media channels, via email at email@example.com, or by phone at 800.441.4122.
Look for Upcoming Messages
- News from the Director of Counseling Services related to access to Antonian services
- News regarding controlled access to student belongings and Chromebook pick up
- News from the Director of Christian Service regarding impact on service hour requirements