April 7, 2020

Dear Parents and Students,

These are indeed challenging times. It seems like the realities of life find a way to become even more stressful as one day turns to the next. It is my sincere hope that all of you are well and safe. To those who continue to work to support the rest of us - from health care workers to law enforcement to store employees and certainly many, many others - I thank you!

As we embark upon Holy Week, I promise to keep everyone in our community in my prayers and humbly ask that you do the same. I miss seeing our students and look forward to a time, hopefully soon, when we can all safely return back to our Notre Dame home.

I've said it before and it is worth repeating: thank you so very much for your patience and cooperation as we, literally overnight, shifted from traditional to virtual learning. Due to the commitment of our amazing teachers, students, and parents, we largely did so without issue. While some districts just launched their online programs in recent days, we have three full weeks under our belt! I am so proud and grateful to be able to share that, as of this past Friday, we have a 95.2% daily work completion/attendance rate. That is truly incredible!

During last week's online faculty meeting, I asked teachers to begin to outline a plan to deliver curriculum and instruction into May, and possibly June. While the governor's order to keep schools closed only extends to April 20, quite honestly, I do not see how schools will reopen anytime soon. I am sure updated guidance will be forthcoming but, in the meantime, staff will prepare to ensure that we are ready to continue to offer our students quality and meaningful instruction.

This April break is an opportunity for everyone to recharge. I know, personally, even though I was working at home these past several weeks, between the stress of the overall situation, coordinating logistics, and working much longer than our typical 7-3 "work day", I found these past three weeks exhausting. I have no doubt this was the case for many of us. I am hopeful that we will all return from the break rejuvenated with renewed motivation and energy.

On my to-do list over the coming week is to consider a few minor tweaks to how ND delivers online learning. In launching our program, we obviously mirrored our existing plan for at-home-learning on snow days, and our teachers initially planned for a two week block of instruction. The likely reality of a much longer scenario is upon us, and my goal will be to maximize learning potential, while striking an appropriate balance for all. I will get you an update next week.

Also, the College Board has very recently provided significant updates regarding AP testing scheduled for mid-May. I will get students and parents the details as soon as I can digest the information.

As our Always a Lancer campaign reminds us, we are all in this together. I have every faith that working collaboratively and using the strength and resources of our Notre Dame community will allow us to emerge from this time stronger than ever. In the meantime, please keep all of those affected by COVID-19 in your thoughts and prayers.

Have a blessed Holy Week and Happy Easter.

Christopher Cipriano
Notre Dame High School | Fairfield, CT 06825 | 203-372-6521| notredame.org