The coming school year
Hello, All My Friends in Christ!
Our parish commissions have spent innumerable hours developing, with your input, a pastoral plan that builds up our current community, expands our efforts to evangelize, and engages us in becoming a center of mercy and charity. At this time in our history, we are facing a difficult challenge. It is clear though that wherever we focus our resources, investing in the health, safety, and education of our children and youth must be a priority. They need our help now, and their future, and ours, will be determined by our actions.
Here is the situation: The pandemic’s effect on the education of our children has been enormous. Our commitment to educating the youth of our community is clear, but we are all very concerned with keeping our community healthy. School of the Osage is reworking the weekly schedule to allow for one virtual learning day each week. By introducing some flexibility and reinforcing distance learning, the district officials hope to be better prepared to meet the continued challenge of keeping everyone safe while keeping school in session. That means that students would stay at home on Mondays and do e-lessons.
This is not an ideal solution but it is a good strategic decision to build resilience and flexibility into the calendar. We do have to keep our children and families healthy, and we have all had to make sacrifices because of this pandemic. However, children of any age need appropriate supervision and interaction from adults to keep them safe, engaged in meaningful activities, and feel loved. The coming school year is going to put a strain on the child-care resources of our community. The school district will provide some type of child-care on those days, but it certainly won’t replace in-class instruction.
What can our church do? We don’t know how this will all work out in the coming year, but we do know that our families will need help. We see this as an important opportunity to assist in keeping our students safe, lowering family stress and anxiety, and provide a safe environment for students to learn. Msgr. Mak and I have been discussing what kind of response we can offer to these unprecedented times.
Jesus asks us to serve and love our neighbors and I cannot think of a more appropriate way to live our faith than to explore the possibility of assisting in the care and supervision of school students during these virtual learning days! There are over eighty families in our parish with school aged children. There are many other families in our community who also need assistance in managing that virtual learning day. We need to help them and we need your help to do it.
Assessing need We are very much in the planning stage of our response, and as time goes on, we will have more information from the school district on particular needs. Our first step is this communication to you and to all our parishioners. We need to know who would welcome our assistance in meeting this new educational model.
- Are you concerned about providing appropriate care for your students on these days?
- Would you like some assistance in helping your students meet their educational objectives on these virtual learning days?
- Are you interested in working together with other families to meet this challenge, especially in reinforcing our common bond in Christ Our Lord.
Providing services The strength of this program would come from peer ministry; that is, families helping each other. By sharing the resources of time, talent and treasure, we can make the burden less for all. But we will be inviting every parishioner to engage in this crucial ministry
- Appropriate snacks and food service will have to be taken into consideration.
- Managing the use of our facilities to provide for thirty, forty or even more children in grades k-5.
- Organizing activities and study time.
- Identifying how middle school children could benefit and assist with this program.
- Keeping children to healthy and safe.
- Putting charity and faith into practice
Better Together Bishop McKnight’s pastoral vision begins with this statement, that we are all better together working to build the kingdom. This theme has two facets: we do better work together and the outcome is better for all.
- At least four catechists for 7:30 am – 5:30 pm on Mondays only. We can work in shifts if we have enough. Pick a friend to work with and make it fun!
- Two parent to help with preparation and intake prior to each session.
- 1 or 2 people working all day to keep surfaces clean and sanitized. Again, with enough volunteers we can manage this in shifts.
- At least four high school students to monitor and tutor younger students. More are certainly welcome!
- Identifying adult mentors to provide one-on-one tutoring in specific subjects.
- Spanish speaking young people would be very much appreciated.
- Catechist and student teams will be developed for consistent day-to-day instruction, fun and safety.
- A+ Students, Scouts, NHS members, etc., could record volunteer hours.
- We would manage enrollment to ensure that we can provide appropriate social distancing at all times. The daily schedule and facility use will be optimized to maintain social distancing and best hygiene practices.
- Safety guidelines will be applied, and a parent orientation will be required. All students and personnel will be checked for fever each day.
The school district is holding a meeting soon for organizations who want to help in this effort, and I will have more details later. However, I need to start building our team so we are ready when school starts!
I sincerely ask you to pray about your contribution, and for success in this effort in assisting our families. How better can we console the Sacred Heart of Jesus than by caring for His little ones?
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 417-846-3134, or contact Msgr Mak at 365-2241. God bless all of you and I look forward to putting this together with your help! Thanks so very much.
[UPDATE 7-14-2020] I want to thank Vicki for our work together in putting out this invitation for our parish to start thinking ahead to prepare for the coming school year. I want to make it clear that we fully support the school district’s forward thinking plan for a virtual learning day. Our education officials have the competency, creativity, and the experience to make wise decisions for the good of everyone. The pandemic is unlike anything we have experienced and all of us need to be flexible for our children’s welfare. We are simply pledging our support for whatever the school year brings and we want to be there for the children, the families, their teachers, and district staff to do whatever we can to help. —Msgr. Makarewicz