Due to the Coronavirus, the parish and regional elementary schools and Diocesan high schools are closed until at least April 1. With that said, educators from the schools spent much time planning in anticipation of an extended closure.
The Catholic schools of Long Island have utilized many strategies to provide for continuity of learning and maintain “routines” as much as possible. Schools such as Our Lady Queen of Apostles in Center Moriches are gathering via tools like Google Meet and Zoom for morning and afternoon prayer and announcements. Dr. Kathleen Walsh, Superintendent of Schools, even joined one of their meetings! Holy Trinity Diocesan High School has started a prayer chain. Every day at 3 PM, the school community will pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School is streaming daily Masses. Principals from schools such as St. Agnes Cathedral, St. Edward the Confessor, and St. Aidan, are posting daily messages for their students. Principal Deacon John Hogan of St. Peter of Alcantara is communicating with students and parents through his family grams. Principal Sarah Griffin of St. Mary Elementary School has created Tea Time, a bi-weekly vlog (video blog), featuring pictures, videos, and interviews with members of the school community.
The Catholic schools of Long Island have had G-Suite for Education accounts since 2013. These tools have greatly aided in providing for learning from home. Teachers are posting and collecting assignments and conducting discussions with students via Google Classroom. Many are providing instruction live through Google Meet. Principals are communicating and collaborating through Google Classroom. Teachers in schools such as Maria Regina are conducting live meetings daily with parents and students. Parents who work in public school are commenting on how well-prepared our schools were for this situation. Students’ regular use of Google’s educational tools in their classrooms has helped make the transition seamless. Other tools include curriculum websites and applications, instructional videos, such as those on Khan Academy, and virtual field trips. Teachers from St. Patrick School in Huntington are utilizing Screencastify to create instructional videos for students.
Many schools are sharing images of their students learning from home on social media. Schools have increased their posts to remain connected to their communities. Messages are being shared. A teacher from Our Lady of Lourdes in Malverne is posting a daily video of herself reading a story for her students. Parents are sharing photos of their students learning from home. Some students are still putting on their uniforms!
While we hope and pray that our school communities will soon be back in the classroom, we are grateful for our administrators and teachers’ hard work and readiness to maintain for educational continuity.
“This is a true testimony to the great dedication of Catholic school administrators and teachers as they work through uncharted territory,” said Dr. Walsh. “One of our strengths comes from our ability to continue to pray together and keep our faith strong.”
Pictured above: Dr. Kathleen Walsh, Superintendent, joins students from Our Lady Queen of Apostles Regional School in Center Moriches for Morning Prayer via Google Meet.