May 5, 2020

Dear Parents and Students,

I hope this update finds each of you doing well. The beautiful weather this past weekend was a great reminder that brighter days are indeed ahead. In the meantime, our school community continues to work hard and also keeps all affected by the virus and those working on the frontlines in our thoughts and prayers.

This morning the governor announced that schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year. Honestly, this is no surprise. As previously announced, the final day of classes for seniors will be May 15. The final day for online classes for underclassmen will be Friday, May 29. Underclassmen will still take a final exam, but not in a traditional exam format. Teachers will be providing information to students in the very near future regarding these summative final assessments that will likely be project-based. In order to provide students with time to complete this work, June 1, 2 and 3 will be work days for students with teachers available for consultation during scheduled "office hours". Students will present their "finals" to their teacher and classmates during exam periods on June 4, 5, 8 & 9. Further details will be announced shortly.

Notre Dame will still observe the four day Memorial Day weekend as originally scheduled, May 22 to 25.

My heart continues to go out to the Class of 2020. The seniors should be enjoying the final weeks of high school together as a class. With schools closed into June, it is now safe to say that Baccalaureate and Graduation are postponed. My plan remains to still hold these events in June, July, or early August. I am aware that some area schools have set dates for these gatherings, but I prefer to wait a bit longer for the medical experts and government officials to provide some guidance about larger gatherings over the summer months. Setting a date today might result in us needing to reschedule ... but I do hope to have specific dates for seniors and their parents in the next two weeks. We will also make a final determination regarding the exact amount of each student's graduation/activity fee. I recently held a Zoom session with senior class officers to get some ideas and feedback, and there is a committee of staff members working to ensure we properly honor each of our 104 soon-to-be-graduates.

With social distancing requirements, we are unfortunately forced to cancel the Prom scheduled for the end of May.

As we look to the final weeks of the school year, we are starting to plan for the upcoming school year. With this virus not disappearing between now and late August, I am confident in saying that much like life as we know it has changed, so too will the world of education. In preparation, we have formed a series of task forces to ensure an effective plan is in place for the time when we all return back to the building (and a contingency plan if we can not). These five groups will be looking at the complete picture including the school's academic program, community wellness, the student experience, communications, and financial viability. As these committees come together, there is a likelihood that input from parents will be needed. If you are interested in serving on a committee, please click here to indicate your willingness. As the committees begin their work, I will share a list of parent volunteers who can provide additional perspectives.

As schools will now be closed through June, my concern about the social and emotional needs of all of our students remains. I encourage parents to check in with your child if you haven't recently - as the stress and anxiety for many remains very high. As a reminder from my recent email, resources continue to be available from Notre Dame:

  • Guidance counselors and our social worker are available for conversation with individual students. Students or parents can contact counselors via email to arrange a time to connect or visit during posted office hours (on Guidance's Google Classroom page).
  • Mrs. Seperack - lseperack@notredame.org
  • Ms. Tiftikidis - mtiftikidis@notredame.org
  • Mr. Mones - wmones@notredame.org
  • Ms. McGowan - smcgowan@notredame.org
  • Ms. McGowan, our social worker, can offer a group environment for students to come together to discuss their thoughts and issues about the struggles associated with shelter at home and distance learning.
  • Google Meet sessions have expanded from two days to three to promote more face-to-face contact and interaction between students and teachers.
  • Teachers have been asked to check-in with students on a regular basis during Google Meet sessions.
  • We continue our outreach to students and parents when academic or emotional concerns are raised.
  • Our Chaplain, Deacon John, is available for spiritual conversations. Any members of our community can reach out via email to arrange a time to speak with Deacon John.
  • On Thursday evening at 7:00 pm, all are invited to join the community in prayer. Deacon John will lead evening prayer. To receive a Zoom invitation to join this online prayer group, please click here.
  • Please continue to add your prayer intentions to our prayer list. Click here to submit prayer intentions.
  • Teachers have posted office hours for students to receive extra help and/or to check in.
  • I will be hosting another evening of Kahoot trivia for our students this week.
  • Our Always a Lancer campaign will continue to focus on spreading positivity and the ND spirit into our local communities.

As always, thank you for your tremendous patience and support over the past two months. We will continue to get through this together. Please know that I remain extremely appreciative for our very special community. I will get everyone additional updates in the coming days. In the meantime, be well and stay safe.

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