We began this school year much as we ended the last: with remote learning! While we started this school year on August 19th remotely, we made quite a few changes and improvements from our spring sojourn into the remote world. At that time, we stated that the two primary goals for us at St. Francis School were keeping the learning process on track and continuing to foster community, because we prioritize those as a school every day. Beginning the year remotely, though, presented a different challenge on that front. Rather than having had three-quarters of the year under our belts and simply endeavoring to keep going, we had to set the tone for the year and welcome new students while unable to be in person with one another. Luckily, we had the summer to plan for this possibility and all the knowledge gleaned from the spring to inform us.
Highlights of our remote learning schedule:
- We begin each day with Morning Meeting or Advisee Groups. At Morning Meeting, we all connect through a Google Meet (part of the G Suite for Education). We begin with the moment of silence and close with the poem that are both hallmarks of every in-person Morning Meeting at St. Francis. Advisee Groups of approximately 10 students, with one or two faculty or staff members, connect to build community and discuss various topics.
- Classes meet every day. Students connect with their classmates and teachers in synchronous, live classes. Teachers are able to explain concepts and students can ask questions; there’s even class discussion and small-group work. As much as possible, it’s actual class, just through computers. Even our art and music classes are meeting! The classes are each 45 minutes long, and we average four classes per day.
- There are designated “office hours” four days per week, during which students can log into a Google Meet with a teacher to ask specific questions. This allows for students to get individual or small-group help and have access to their teachers that is structured and already set up for them. We explained it to them as just a virtual substitute for the way they would otherwise stop in to see a teacher for help during a free period or at lunch.
- Four days per week, we have a built-in Group/Club Meeting time where students can join in activities. We held a virtual activity fair the first week of school for students to sign up and we post the links to the virtual meetings in a Google Classroom so they are accessible to all.
Other ways in which we are caring for students and building community during this time:
- Students’ mental health is key, so in addition to creating a structure through which students have school days that are as normal as possible, our Counselors set up one-on-one sessions or small group meetings through Google Meet whenever needed.
- Our College Counselor continues to work with our students in one-on-one Google Meet sessions and also provides advice on how to explore colleges remotely. Recently, through the National Association for College Admission Counseling, more than 600 colleges and universities were accessible online via virtualcollegefairs.org to offer live and interactive sessions for students to drop in and ask questions.
- Our Athletic Department offers optional stretch sessions, encouraging students to get up from their computers.
- Fall sports started in July in accordance with KHSAA guidance over the summer; and the soccer, field hockey, and volleyball teams start the season the week of September 21st. Having this physical and social outlet has been key for members of those teams.
- The Learning Center uses virtual sessions to continue providing tutoring and academic support to students on its regular schedule.
- We are finding ways to bring students together in person safely, such as an AP Biology field trip to Cherokee Park to learn about aquatic ecology and an outdoor socially-distanced movie night for our senior class on our Goshen Campus.
Every day, remote or in person, we strive to make every student’s experience of St. Francis as full as possible. We are looking forward to welcoming students back to campus on Tuesday, September 29th.
You can find more about our remote learning during COVID-19 here.