St. Luke Parents & Guardians:
As you know, Governor Pritzker announced on Tuesday that the Illinois stay at home order has been extended through April 30, 2020. When we announced on Friday, March 13 that school would be closing, we had no idea that it would be for this length of time. We are hoping and praying that we will be able to return to school at the beginning of May 2020.
This is a difficult and stressful time for all of us. We are all challenged to find alternatives to something as fundamental as our ways of life, and how we make a living. Of course, we are all concerned about our children, and it is beyond our comprehension in many ways that our children are denied access to our school because of this pandemic.
The primary concern for all of us is the health and safety of our St. Luke School community. Upon the closing of school on March 13, Dave Hodge, the Maintenance Director for the parish and school, immediately began the process of having the school building thoroughly cleaned. The building was basically “quarantined” and no one was allowed to enter the building.
Our first week of being closed (3/16 – 3/20) was spent scrambling to put together and deliver our e-learning and alternative learning plans to our children. Initially I thought we were fortunate at St. Luke School because the following week (3/23 – 3/30) was spring break for us. While I am sure most plans made for break went to the wayside, at least we were not in session. I was hoping that after two weeks of being out of school, that would be enough to get us through this crisis, and we would have the OK to return to school this Monday, March 30. Well, that didn’t happen.
Governor Pritzker issued a stay at home directive that set April 7 as the initial end date to the order. Understanding the challenges for teachers to do remote teaching, the State of Illinois and the Archdiocese of Chicago allowed access to school building by staff members, subject to very specific safeguards. Last Saturday, March 28, several teachers spent the morning collecting materials for the upcoming week’s worth of lessons. The building was once again cleaned and quarantined.
As you know, things move and change very quickly with respect to this virus and the precautions we all have been asked to implement to check the spread of it. It has been decided that, for the safety of all, lessons will be delivered via e-learning resources and strategies only. There will be no exchange of materials between families & students and teachers.
E-learning is not a new concept, but it was never intended to deliver lessons for an extended length of time, especially to grade school children. We are; however, being asked to do just that. I know our teachers are working hard to plan and deliver electronic lessons for our children. I also know that this can cause challenges and hardships for our families at home. I would ask that you keep the following in mind as we work through this together:
- While we are not physically in school together, all school days that e-learning is used while we are close are considered instructional days by the State of Illinois and the Archdiocese of Chicago. Your children are required to participate in e-learning lessons, activities, and assigned work.
- We understand that e-learning is not the same as in-class instruction. Also, e-learning is not meant for you to be the teacher, nor is it intended to be home schooling. I have asked teachers to schedule lessons and subjects as closely to what they would be doing in the classrooms. Teachers need to share their time with your children, especially in the middle school grades. There will be glitches and conflicts at our end and your end. I have asked our teachers to please keep communication open and frequent, and I would ask parents to do the same. We know we have a minimum of one more month of doing this, so we need to work together.
- If for any reason your children are unable to complete assignments or participate in lessons, please let your teacher know immediately. We understand that this is a lot for families to manage, and we are more than willing to help you find solutions and alternatives as needed for your children to continue the educational process.
- We are very aware of the emotional and psychological effect that COVID-19 has on everyone, especially children. Please communicate with your teachers to let them know if you observe any adverse effects of this situation on your children. The teachers will work with you to find strategies to minimize stress and concern.
So, our calendar for April is shot. I want to make you aware of some dates in the calendar for the month of April:
- F, 4/3 – Living Stations of the Cross: is postponed. It is our intent to reschedule this once we have a firm return to school date.
- F, 4/10 – Good Friday: This will still be a day off. No e-learning will be conducted.
- M, 4/13 – Easter Monday: This will still be a day off. No e-learning will be conducted.
- T, 4/21 – F, 4/24 – Aspire Testing: The Archdiocese of Chicago has canceled all Aspire testing for the remainder of the school year.
- Sa, 4/25 – First Communion: is postponed. We will reschedule this once we have a return to school date.
There are two additions to the April calendar:
- M, 4/6 & M, 4/20 – Faculty Planning Days: We need to set aside these days so that teachers have the opportunity to plan lessons using e-learning. On these days, e-learning lessons will not take place. This is also a good opportunity for the children to take a break from screen time.
As we make our way through April, I will continue to communicate with you via the Thursday bulletin, and other times as necessary. As we get closer to May, regardless of whether we are back at school or not, we will talk about the May calendar.
I cannot fully express to you my thanks and appreciation for how you and your children have adapted and risen to the challenge of these times. I know it is not without a great deal effort, work, and understanding that you have done this. Also, I am very proud of our faculty & staff who have had to cope with a great deal of adversity this school year, and now having to find new and creative ways to keep our children engaged and learning. We have a wonderful school community. Thank you all.
The best part of being a principal is that I get to visit the classrooms and see our dedicated teachers and our children learning. Whether it is a three year old preschool child or a 14 year old 8
grade student, they are all anxious to tell me what they are learning, and they are proud of what they are learning. This is my sixth week as principal of St. Luke School, yet I only had the opportunity to be with our faculty, staff, and children for three weeks. I feel cheated! I miss your children very much, and I look forward to when we are all back at school and things “get back to normal.”
You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers, and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and your children during the closing.