FALL RIVER – The Diocese of Fall River was prepared for the decision by Governor Charlie Baker to put the 2020 school year on hold and took action immediately.
“I’ve had parents say that the transition was seamless,” said Principal of St. Pius X School, Anne Dailey.
“What they mean is that right away we made sure that the communication and connection with the families were open, there was no break at all. We left school on a Friday and picked up on Monday and continued with what we were doing.”
The Diocese’s snow day preparation has helped with the transition to remote learning according to President of St. John Paul II High School and St. Francis Xavier Prep School, Chris Keavy.
“We have a snow day protocol that we’ve been operating under for the last couple of years which was a very small version of what we have now been doing for a very long period of time,” said Keavy.
“Our students and faculty had experience with remote learning for snow day scenarios in the past, obviously this has been a very long snow day if you look at it that way.”
Keavy added that it was important for the Diocese to act quickly when the governor’s decision came down.
He said that the Diocese has been acting with two goals in mind as remote learning continues.
“First is to provide real structure to the students staying at home, and the families really appreciate that,” said Keavy.
“Our students have been in class remotely starting at 8 a.m. and yet at the same time not everybody can access that structure exactly the same way so we have to build in some forgiveness and some understanding as well, we don’t want to sacrifice one for the other.”
Teachers throughout Diocese schools have been able to adjust and hold students accountable.
“New learning has continued,” said Keavy.
All 22 schools in the Diocese were able to upgrade their Wi-Fi capabilities in preparation for the implementation of personalized learning.
The schools have been able to retain their Catholic identity, with prayer services, adoration, and saying the rosary through remote means.
The schools have also been able to live stream Masses.
Officials from the Diocese said that while they are unsure of what the future holds in terms of returning to in-person learning, the remain prepared for whatever is next.
“When you look at 2021, nobody knows what the guidance will be. Safety is our first concern and we are going to keep our families and students safe,” said Keavy.
“We are working on implementing safety measures because that is of utmost importance and to make sure that families are comfortable sending their children back to school should that be the case,” added Sandi Duxbury, Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Partnerships for the Catholic School Alliance.
The Diocese is currently developing three models for the 2020-2021 school year.
The first model is the traditional, in person model that represents how school was before the pandemic hit.
The second model is a rebuilt “from the ground up” remote model.
“Over the summer our faculty and staff will be rebuilding a better remote model,” said Keavy.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done so far but we are going to take the summer and improve a fully remote model.”
The third model is the hybrid model, which deals with partial in-person learning and partial remote learning.
“Students coming in smaller groups for part days, observing safety protocols and some social distancing,” Keavy said.
For more information on the Fall River Diocese and the Catholic School Alliance, click here.