Friday Message 1/15

Greetings from school ... here are some quick notes about moving forward ---
>> A reminder that prior to the holiday break, the Diocese released and we emailed home a revised calendar for the second semester (see attached.) We begin on-campus this Monday, January 18th at the regular time (8:20 a.m.) 
     The decision to move our observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday to Wednesday (Jan 20th) was made in the same way the decision was made to move our Presidents' Day observance to Wednesday (Feb 10th) - both holidays being shifted in an attempt to minimize weekend travel, possible exposure to and unintentional spread of the virus.
     We most definitely will pay tribute to Dr. King as well as praying a diocesan-wide Prayer for Unity. 
>> Throughout the first semester, our COVID prevention efforts seemed to be effective - thank goodness, thank God! While we were in session, only two students tested positive who could be traced back to other students - and both of those had shared extracurricular activities. We were blessed not to have a single student contract the virus from sitting in our classrooms or walking in our hallways. Please know our plan is to continue with the same safety measures, hassles though they are.
>> We also plan to use the same "At-Home Learner" guidelines we implemented last semester. At-Home Learning will be for students who: (a) must isolate; (b) must quarantine; or (c) choose to be at-home learners for the entire third quarter.
     We know students wake up with all sorts of unexpected ailments - not COVID by any means, they just wake up feeling lousy. Rather than jumping on-line, we want them to just get to be sick. They can get caught up when they get back. We've discovered that making the effort to be an at-home learner while you're feeling lousy has proven to be an ineffective mix. Any questions about At-Home Learning, please reach out to Mrs. Swenson.
>> Thanks to everyone who has tackled the Accreditation Survey we recently emailed; please do so when you can. The available window closes Friday evening, January 22nd. 
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We're thinking positive thoughts - we need you to think positive thoughts - but we're also planning for a possible "everyone has to go home" stint. The numbers have been scary.
Nobody wants that. The last four days have proven to be light years better than last Spring when we were diving into remote learning for the first time. But it's still not like having everybody in the classroom. Not in any way!
I came across a report that attempted to quantify how much learning was lost last Spring. Given this fall, a nationwide assessment, all 50 states, some 5,00,000 results tabulated (grades K-8). Reading took a hit, Math was worse. Students in Catholic and Independent schools suffered too but less so. It wasn't the end of the educational world as some had predicted, but students didn't perform as well as they had the years before when life was "normal." 
Though the assessment didn't target high school students, I can't imagine teenagers were immune. So we really, really, really want to be in the building. I'll say the obvious - it's what works best!  We've been "at-home learners" for just four days this semester and we can see the difference. 
So thank you for everything you do to keep your family and all the other Notre Dame families safe.
I find myself often quoting the phrase, "It takes a village ..." Well, this village did it well. Thank you.
George Valadie