Dear St. Paul Parents,
I hope you are all doing well and staying safe and healthy in these uncertain times. It feels like such a long time ago that we said goodbye to the children for Spring Break, and with this dramatic shift in what the learning environment will look like, I am confident that the St. Paul community of staff, students, and parents will work collaboratively and successfully for the continued education of your children moving forward.
As you know, the BC provincial government has suspended all in-class instruction for K-12 students indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are unprecedented times, and I know that students and families are anxiously waiting to hear what will happen as Spring Break comes to an end. The BC Ministry of Education, the Federation of Independent Schools and the CISVA have been working diligently over the past couple of weeks to create a framework for what schooling will look like as we move forward without in-class instruction in our schools. I wanted to give you an update on the next steps for St. Paul School.
What will next week look like?
On Monday morning at 9:00 am, I will be meeting via teleconference with the CISVA Superintendent’s Office and all other CISVA principals to review and discuss the framework for the “continuation of learning” during the pandemic. In the afternoon of that same day, and equipped with information that I have received during my administrators’ meeting that morning, I will then meet with the entire St. Paul staff (also via teleconference) to begin the process of creating an implementation plan of this framework at St. Paul School. As you can imagine, we are all navigating this process together and it will be an adjustment period for staff, students, and parents alike.
What I am most grateful for is the utmost confidence I have in our teaching and support staff to develop and deliver a rigorous and comprehensive program to your children. When putting this program together (in addition to this being the first time we are developing at-home K-7 learning strategies) other challenges we need to consider with the development and implementation of at-home learning include:
- Varying ability of students to work independently based on age and grade
- Requirement for varied strategies and learning activities for each age/grade (e.g. Kindergartener versus Grade 7 student)
- Varying situations and ability of each family to support at-home learning, including workloads, health, level of stress and anxiety, etc.
- Availability of adults or older siblings at home capable of assisting with at-home learning
- Availability of devices for online learning and the ability of students to use them effectively
What will learning look like at home?
Learning for your child will be delivered in a variety of ways. We recognize that the methods used will need to be age appropriate and our teachers are working to ensure this for our students.
It will take time to work this out and we ask for your patience and understanding as we work through the logistics of how this will occur. The goal is not to replace the classroom experience, but to provide the best possible learning under these circumstances.
Our plan for the continuity of learning will evolve in the coming days and weeks and will not always be smooth. Rest assured, we are not expecting parents and caregivers to home-school or teach the curriculum for hours each day. We do not want learning to become a source of stress and conflict in the home and recognize that striking the right balance will take some time. Ultimately, it will be up to parents to determine when and how much work can be accomplished each day. This is an opportunity for all of us to work together to support our students. As we adapt to at-home learning, please ensure that expectations are manageable and not compounding the stress and anxiety of each child and your family.
Our current goal is for teachers to contact parents early next week to introduce first steps. We will use Monday and Tuesday to collaboratively plan and create the learning framework.
Will this impact First Communion and Confirmation dates?
Students in Grades Two and Seven will continue preparation for receiving the Sacraments. Formal celebrations will be postponed until further notice from the Archbishop’s office. Schools will communicate with pastors to determine how preparation will continue.
As already mentioned in a previous communication, tuition fees will not be suspended. Tuition fees form a large part of the funding for all our Catholic schools and are required to support ongoing teaching and learning during this pandemic. Staff are expected to continue working in support of your children’s learning and so our expenses as a school are not reducing.
While we wish we could dispense with tuition for the balance of the year, we cannot do this without incurring a huge deficit. This deficit would then need to be reconciled next year by our same families. That being said, we understand that these are unprecedented times and some families are facing serious financial hardship including being laid off from work. If this has happened to your family and you are unable to meet your tuition commitment, we ask you to do the same as you would if this happened during a more typical time. If your financial circumstances have changed significantly as a result of COVID 19 and you are unable to pay your tuition, please contact Msgr. Luterbach at the parish office. As always, this will remain confidential. We are here to help. We do not want anyone to withdraw from the school should they be unable to pay tuition.
Along with the email that was sent today came an attachment with FAQs from the Ministry of Education. Please refer to it for other questions you may have, and if no immediate answers have already been given, they have yet to be decided and communicated. More information will come next week.
Yes, these are challenging times, but I am full of hope and faith that our St. Paul community will answer the call to support our children to the best of our abilities. I have no doubt that with His guidance, we can do all things through Christ.
Yours in faith,