School UPDATE: Thursday, Sept. 24,  FULLY IN-PERSON OCT. 5

St. Mary's Families,

Prayer. Everything we do at St. Mary's begins with prayer. Please pray with us:

THE MEMORARE
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.
Amen.

Updates.
- 5 DAYS PER WEEK IN-PERSON. Starting Monday OCTOBER 5TH (the week after next week) we will return to 5 days per week of in-person instruction.
- SAFETY. Based on current guidelines from County Health and the Centers for Disease Control, and after consultation with our teachers and the medical professionals in our school community who are working COVID-19 issues, we strongly believe we can safely return to 5 days per week of in-person instruction.
  -- The most current guidelines for student distancing are to maintain 3-6 feet of separation "when feasible." If that separation is not feasible, students should be in masks. Per state mandate, we are in masks all the time. At three feet of separation, local health officials say we can safely return to full in-person instruction.
  -- The decision was also influenced by our latest parent survey results that showed our parents strongly want us to return to five days per week of in-person instruction as soon as possible.
  -- We've observed other private high schools and the private K-8 schools here in Colorado Springs that have already returned to five days per week of in-person instruction. All of those schools have seen good results so far.
- 100% REMOTE AVAILABLE. All that said, for those families that already chose 100% remote instruction, that option WILL REMAIN. For any family that would prefer to move to 100% remote instruction, we will SUPPORT YOU in that decision.
  -- The means for supporting those families is that all of our courses will offer "synchronous" instruction no later than Monday, October 5. Synchronous means the students who are online will be logged into the class during the normal class meeting time. Those students who are in 100% remote instruction mode will follow the same bell schedule as the students who are physically in the classroom. Many of our classes are already in this synchronous mode. We will be 100% synchronous no later than October 5.

What's Next?  
- COMMUNICATION. There are details that need to be communicated in the next 10 days.  
  -- 100% Remote? We need to hear from those families who are considering 100% remote instruction. Please communicate with me (Deacon Rob - rrysavy@smhscs.org) and/or our principal (Mr. B - mbiondini@smhscs.org) and let us know if you are planning to move to 100% remote. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND LATER. If you go 100% remote, you can come back into full in-person later if you wish.
  -- Combining hybrids. We will also need to ensure that when we combine the two hybrid groups we can maintain that minimum of 3 feet of recommended separation. That COVID-19 minimum separation is also very close to the fire code limitations for classrooms. THIS *MIGHT* IMPACT SOME STUDENT SCHEDULES.
  -- Adjusting schedules. If we have to adjust a schedule, students will have the same classes, with the same teachers, and they will be in the school five days per week; but we may need to move a student into a different class period. We made a handful of similar changes a few weeks ago and I communicated that POORLY (and I heard about that from you individually and in the survey as well).
  -- Monday, Sept 28. This coming Monday, Sept 28, we will begin talking to the students and parents whose schedules *might* change. That's one week before the schedule changes would need to go into effect.  If we change a student's schedule, it is ONLY to support getting the ENTIRE school back to five days per week of in-person instruction.

How You Can Help.
- NOT FEELING WELL? If a student is not feeling well (has a persistent cough, a sore throat, a persistent headache, fever), STAY HOME. Starting October 5, if a student needs to stay home because of those types of symptoms, that student will be able to login in to ALL their classes at the regularly scheduled time.
- VOLUNTEERS. Stay tuned for volunteer requests. One area we may need help in is if a teacher has to teach from home, we will need an adult in their classroom with the students. Those requirements are generally filled by staff, but we want to be ready in the event we need additional adults to support a teacher who is online with in-person supervision in the physical classroom. Those adults will have to be background checked and approved by the principal, dean and teacher.

Parents, Students, how are you doing?   
- PARENT SURVEY RESULTS. The numbers who responded to the survey were down. For our previous survey, roughly 75% of our families responded. For this most recent survey, it was just over 40%. Below is a comparison of the satisfied and very satisfied results from August 31 as compared to September 21. 
  -- Overall: 66% (was 82%)
  -- Administration Communications: 87% (was 93%)
  -- Teacher Communications: 64% (was 70%)
  -- Health & Safety Considerations: 89% (was 89%)
  -- Quality of Instruction: 74% (was 74%)
  -- Student Engagement from Home: 51% (was 66%)
- WE HAVE WORK TO DO.
  -- Perhaps obviously, the poor survey results in student engagement from home, as previously said, was considered in the decision to return to five days per week of in-person instruction.
  -- We will work on reversing the negative communication trend as that is an area of concern. We will probably NOT return to daily e-mails as we did last spring, but we will check-in with you at least weekly. Mr. Biondini, Mrs. Jacques and I have received requests to have a video parent meeting like we did before school started. We are also working hard on keeping the school website up to date.
- KEEP TALKING. Parents, returning to school 5 days in-person doesn't make the world any less weird. Stay connected with your children. I've heard a lot of great feedback about family Rosaries, game nights, movie nights, hikes, etc. Keep talking. Ask how your kids are doing. Don't accept "fine" as permission to end the conversation.

Reminders.
- MASS RETURNS! Yesterday, Fr. Roeseler and Fr. Dygert concelebrated Mass in the gym for Group A. Today we had have Mass for Group B. It was great to have Mass in the school again.
- ALL SCHOOL MASS. Speaking of Mass. Next Friday, Oct. 2, we will have an all-school Mass at The Grace Center at 9 am. Please plan to arrive no later than 8:45 am. A class kickball tournament will follow.
 - HEALTH SCREENING SURVEY. Thank you for your support in completing the health screening survey each morning!  

Accolades.
- BOYS GOLF. Regional CHAMPIONS!!! Next up, the state tournament on Oct. 5.

COVID-19 coronavirus.  
www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html  
https://covid19.colorado.gov/  
https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/ 

Daily Mass readings and Saints of the Day
www.usccb.org/bible/books-of-the-bible/index.cfm 
www.franciscanmedia.org/sod-calendar 

Respectfully,
Deacon Rob Rysavy
President
St. Mary's High School