Since our county has been in the high transmission range for COVID-19, Dr. Abdelmalek has recommended for schools to return to virtual learning. Of course, this is very disappointing news to hear as our school community has been extremely successful in our return to on-campus learning over the past month. One of the main keys to our success has been our commitment to following the health and safety guidance from our state and county. Through working closely with the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department, we have been able to maintain a safe environment for our students and school community. As an archdiocesan school, we are to follow the recommendations of our county health department and the governor’s decision tree, both of which direct us to return to virtual learning.
So, here is our path forward. The timing of this transition aligns perfectly with our last day of the first trimester and right before Thanksgiving week. Because of this, there will be no school the week of Thanksgiving. This will allow teachers and families to prepare for the transition back to virtual learning. Here are the changes to our calendar:
· Friday, November 20th: Now a full school day and not a half day. This is the last day of the trimester and our last day of on-campus learning for now.
· Monday, November 23rd-Wednesday, November 25th: Now no school days to create a week-long Thanksgiving break and to allow teachers and families to prepare for the transition.
· Monday, November 30th-Friday-December 18th: We will return from Thanksgiving break and dive back into virtual learning for the three weeks before Christmas break.
Virtual learning will follow the same very effective structure established in September that resulted in high levels of learning and student engagement. It features live teaching and synchronous learning through Zoom, teachers will teach from their classrooms, and they will be available during the independent practice time to answer student questions.
We are committed to returning to on-campus learning just as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. We have shown that, from logistics to safety to curriculum, we can transition efficiently and effectively from one mode of education to another. As of now, Dr. Abdelmalek is recommending this return to virtual learning until January of 2021. We will continue to watch the new COVID-19 numbers and remain hopeful that a decrease in new cases will dictate that we can indeed return in January.
We also remain committed to offering Spartan Camp for our students whose parents are working outside of the home. A new session with new cohorts will form and start on Monday, November 30th. Students in camp will be following their virtual learning schedules as our camp staff members (instructional aides and extended care) will supervise and monitor our students in the completion of their work. All required school procedures will be followed for the use of masks, social distancing, and student safety. Before and after care will still be offered for students attending Spartan Camp.
The wonderful blessing and success of having students back on our campus has shown us that, when it is deemed safe to do so, we can swiftly transition to welcoming students back to on-campus learning. Please pray for our school community and for an end to this pandemic.