March 23, 2020

Dear Parents and Friends of St. Michael's School,

As we all embrace this new reality of social distancing and shelter-in-place, I thoughtfully suggest that we consider this hiatus a gift of time – a time to slow down, a time to relax and refresh, and a time to enjoy our children and families.

Most of us, no doubt, are Type A personalities – we are planners, producers, and workaholics. We are realistically worried about getting seriously ill, concerned about how we will be able to remain financially solvent, and extremely disappointed and saddened about future events and celebrations that have been postponed or even canceled. Type A personalities look to the future to prepare for the present, and right now, we can’t. This is causing us great stress and anxiety, and it is affecting our health in other ways – coronavirus aside.

“Living in the Present Moment” has been the topic of numerous books and YouTube videos over the past several years; there are even apps available to assist with mindfulness and meditation that help us focus on the present. Our faith, too, encourages us to focus on the present, and not dwell (in both senses of the word: neither live nor focus excessively) in the past or in the future.

So, what does that look like? How does it work? Here are a few ideas that might help:

  • Think about the future (or the past) in small doses; stay in the present moment for a vast majority of your time
  • Set daily, realistic goals
  • Don’t be overcritical of your performance – do your best, and focus on your accomplishments
  • Write daily in a journal about the positive and joyful events of the day
  • Focus on your breath – deep breathing several times a day is cleansing and helps reduce anxiety
  • Exercise – either inside or outside every day

We don’t know what the future holds – likely, it will not turn out as we had planned just a few weeks ago. But rather than dwell on the fear of the unknown, we can control what today will look like. We might as well make the best of it and enjoy it - we have today for today only.
A few other announcements:

  • I have heard from several parents who are doctors and nurses, who are on the front lines of this pandemic. They have encouraged me to reiterate the importance of staying home and avoiding playdates and in-person meetings. They emphasize the Governor’s call to stay home, except to get groceries, medications, or gas. They are seeing the impact of this pandemic every day and they are pleading with the SMS family to continue to make the right decision to stay home.

  • If anyone has any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that they can donate to UCSD Health, you can email Robbie Jacob with UC San Diego Logistics at to request pick-up from their location. You should note supply type, quantity and location in the email, and also create an inventory of items provided and track costs if appropriate to enable reimbursements.

The following information, regarding Distance Learning at SMS was included in last Friday’s Messenger:

Distance Learning 2.0 -- Updates from Mrs. Mock
Dear Parents,
First, I would like to thank all of you who have sent positive and supportive emails over the past week. Your words of appreciation and gratitude are very heartening and encouraging. I’m sure you concur that our teachers have been the true heroes in this unique situation. They have been able to provide continued academic instruction and support from the first day of closure, and they continue to seek new and improved ways to present material. I understand this is not the case in many public school districts, where the majority of students have not yet had an opportunity to access learning.
·        Teachers will be required to take “attendance” so that these days are counted as instructional days. This can be done through posted assignments, Zoom videos, or by students checking in through email, on Class Dojo or Google Classroom
·        We have received some excellent feedback from some of you on how you are managing Distance Learning, and we most definitely will be making some improvements in the days and weeks ahead. With respect to the amount of work that is being assigned, some of you have responded that the workload is “just right,” while others are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work being assigned. Teachers will be surveying the students and parents to get a feel for the pacing. 
·        We also realize that it takes time to decipher the teacher’s plans in some cases, and this adds to the total time. To that end, some teachers are beginning to differentiate between required work and optional work. Please adhere to the guidelines sent out earlier in the week: 20 minutes per subject for K-2, 30 minutes per subject for 3-5, and 45 minutes per subject for 6-8. We certainly don’t want anyone working more than 4-5 hours per day. 
·        We understand the importance of teachers needing to have face-time with students, and some have already initiated Zoom meetings, YouTube videos, and the ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard app to present lessons. In the days and weeks ahead, others will begin to utilize this technology as well. Please know that everyone is doing their very best at this time and there will be a bit of a learning curve.
·        We also realize that you are getting inundated with many emails from many teachers, especially if you have multiple children. We are working on trying to consolidate these emails, when possible. Teachers will still send out daily emails but if parents would like to opt out, and just check Class Dojo, FACTS SIS (aka RenWeb), or have students access Google Classroom, please let your teacher know.
·        Another suggestion, that we will implement next week, is to post lessons and work the night before, rather than at 8:00 AM. This may be a better option for you, since you can help your child schedule a day in advance. We will begin this on Sunday evening for Monday’s lessons.
·        Yesterday we sent you information to download our new phone app. Please check the app store for St. Michael’s School Poway. This is a free app that will allow you to access your child’s lessons and grades, Messenger, and general announcements by logging on through your FACTS SIS account. Our You tube videos and a bible quote for the day will be available as well. As with all new things, there may be a few glitches in the rollout, so let Mr. Cazares know if you are experiencing any issues ( ).
Again, I thank the overwhelming number of parents who have expressed their appreciation and offered constructive criticism. Because this is a stressful time for everyone, we are especially grateful for the positive and helpful tone of your messages. Keep the feedback coming. We definitely want to improve our practice, and by working together, we will be able to weather this temporary storm.
#speaklife #kindnessmatters
In Mission,