School UPDATE: Thursday, March 19

St. Mary's Families,  

I pray you are well on this Solemnity of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church.  

Distance Learning Day 4.  Forward we go.  

- We're taking care of those distance learning "bumps in the road" I've previously referenced.  I may have shared with you previously, but it bears repeating to ensure we all keep exercising a healthy dose of patience.  Last Thursday morning, the broad education community was expecting to move to distance learning, possibly as early as the week after spring break.  A few hours later on that same Thursday, the education community went from implementing a distance learning plan in a couple of weeks to implementing it IMMEDIATELY.

- If we had the expected several more weeks to prepare for distance learning implementation, the roll out would have likely been a little smoother and a lot more standardized.  Instead, we went to our teachers and said, "Not two weeks from now, do it tomorrow."  And all our teachers said, "Okay."  

- As it is, based on last night's executive order from the governor, we are now going to be in distance learning mode until AT LEAST April 17.  We had hoped to be back by March 30, but we weren't assuming we would.

- Do you want to read something uplifting?  A group of students, without any prompting from administration, built and pushed out a distance learning survey last night.  Less than 24 hours later, 55 percent of the student body has completed the survey. We've read their responses and there is some good data there.

- We had already planned to take some time over spring break to work on a more standardized distance learning experience, and now, less than five days after we rolled it out, we have some helpful feedback from students, parents, and teachers.  Thank you, we were (and are) listening, please continue to be patient with us!  

COVID-19 coronavirus.  Same as yesterday.  There have been no significant changes communicated by the CDC in a few days.  So, keep following the CDC guidelines for limited the spread of the virus, those guidelines seem to be working.  CDC link is here:    

What's Next?  As more and more institutions close, cancel activities, and limit human interaction; we are more than ever FAITHFULLY committed to delivering KNOWLEDGE to our COMMUNITY (there are those three words again:  Faith, Knowledge, Community...)  As challenges come up we're working through them.  For example, how do we do science labs without a lab?  Well, our Science Department is tackling that.  

Campus Safety.  Since we now have some extended time before we return to in-person instruction, we might adjust our campus shut down.  For now, we are still not allowing non-staff in the building.   

How you can help.  Since you asked...

- We heard today that Bingo halls need to stay closed until April 17.  Bingo is an important source of revenue for our school, so continue to sell your raffle tickets!  And if you need more raffle tickets, let us know.  

- Keep an eye on each other.  These are difficult times and ours is a "love your neighbor" Faith.  

- And if YOU need help, make sure you speak up.  None of us can read minds.  We might not know you need our support if you don't reach out to us.

- Watch your mailbox next week for your Annual Fund letter.  Please read that letter and consider our request to renew or increase your giving to the school.

- Our Gala, scheduled for April 18, will now be VIRTUAL.  Like everything else we've responded to, our staff has been planning for the potential need to pivot to an online event.  Stay tuned for details after spring break.  If you already purchased tickets or generously sponsored the event, we will be in touch.  And hey!  Since it will be a virtual event, those amazing grandmas and grandpas who live out of state, those generous aunts and uncles, those great neighbors, etc., will all be able to participate from the comfort of their homes.  

How are your students doing?  CHECK IN WITH YOUR STUDENTS!  The news that on-campus activities are suspended until April 17 is not good news for our children.  Sure, they may like a snow day here and there, but to be away from their friends (and yes, their teachers) for this extended period of time is not fair and it's not good.  Talk to them.  Make sure they are doing their homework.  Don't let them hide in their rooms.  I know we're doing distance learning, but don't let them hide in the internet.  Get outside.  Play a game.  Build a puzzle.  TALK!  This is an OPPORTUNITY for our families to spend some time together, take advantage of it.  

Prayer.  Perspective.  Life has always been challenging.  There was a man who lived many years ago who was betrothed to a young woman.  Then he found out she was pregnant and the Baby wasn't his.  That was a death-by-stoning offense in his time, but he stood by her.  When it came time for her to give birth, he couldn't find a decent place for her to deliver, and she ended up having the Infant in a stable.  A short while later he heard the leader of his country wanted to kill the Child, so he fled to a distant country for safety.  Can you imagine?  You're smart so you know that man was St. Joseph.  We honor him today, March 19, and today, more than any other day, we would be wise to look to his example.  And we would be wise to consider asking the woman he protected for her intercessions as we pray:  

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.

Rob Rysavy
St. Mary's High School