Updates in a stream format from the Reopen Task Force
From: Joseph Whitmore
Date: Wed, Jul 17, 2020
Subject: Important Update to Saint Raphael Catholic School Reopen Plans
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I would like to thank all of the parents who have reached out to me over the past 72 hours to share their support, appreciation, and understanding. I truly am grateful for the compassion, patience, and trust that is being graciously shared during this time. I remain proud of the Saint Raphael Catholic School community and I look forward to the upcoming school year, knowing that we will navigate this together as a stronger community.
I would like to address some major updates that have come to light since the release of the reopen handbook.
1. Please join me and other school leaders on Wednesday, July 22th at 8:00am for a virtual Coffee with the Principal. The information for the Zoom session was in the email sent to parents on July 17.
2. As our plans continue to develop, we have determined that we are able to safely maintain social distancing and welcome our K-5 Guardian students in the building every day, every week. We will be able to adjust our learning spaces and staffing to maintain the high academic expectations that we are proud of at SRCS. In addition to adding a third section to the fourth grade, we will be adding a third section to second and fifth grade. This is due, in large part, to a higher enrollment in those grades. In K, first, and third grades, we can maintain a safe distance of 6' in the current classroom space full-time. Keep in mind we are accounting for students who have chosen to participate in full Distance Learning. More information will be available at the virtual Coffee with the Principal.
3. For the parents who have chosen to enroll their students in Distance Learning, be assured that your students will be taught by our Saint Raphael educators, with a greater awareness of the need for teacher instruction. Having learned from the Spring 2020 Distance Learning Initiative, we are going to be able to offer live-streaming opportunities for students who are participating. Additionally, these live-streams will be recorded to be accessed on demand from home. Please keep in mind that by choosing this you are committing to ensuring that academic integrity at home that you would find here at school.
4. I would like to introduce to you all some new faces to the Saint Raphael Catholic School community. Mrs. Erin Lutskus will be joining as the Guidance Counselor, through a partnership with Catholic Charities. Ms. Elizabeth Schill will be joining us as the third 4th Grade Teacher. Mr. Bruce McCuskey will be joining us as the Middle School Latin Teacher. The school is still accepting applications for Teaching Assistant positions, Middle School Science, and Middle School Resource. Additionally, we are adjusting our staffing to create space for a School Nurse.
I look forward to connecting with you all on a deeper level during the upcoming Coffee with the Principal.
Joseph Whitmore, M.Ed.
Saint Raphael Catholic School
From: Joseph Whitmore
Date: Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 12:00 PM
Subject: Saint Raphael Catholic School Reopen Handbook
To Our Saint Raphael Catholic School Families,
Thank you for your patience as we continue to develop plans for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. The Schools Reopen Task Force remains committed to ensuring that the return to campus in August minimizes risk and allows for our community to be present together in some capacity.
While we can all agree that learning core materials and content is one of the most important functions of a school, we also have the opportunity to foster, nurture, and support social and emotional relationships in our community. In the Spring of 2020 when we began our Distance Learning Initiative, our community responded with fortitude, compassion, and patience to our core mission at Saint Raphael Catholic School. From a wide variety of feedback, I gathered that, overall, the Distance Learning Initiative was a success, but the missing link was the social component. We strongly believe that providing a well-rounded educational experience that includes opportunities for academic, spiritual, social, and emotional growth is best done on campus. While the upcoming school year may look and feel differently, we want to ensure that we value the trust that you have given us to form and foster disciples of Christ.
Click here to access the Reopen Handbook and plans for the fall. The handbook was developed using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), Re-opening Considerations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and insights from health professionals in our school community. As we have all seen over the past few months, these plans remain in draft mode. We will move forward with reopening with the same traits that we exhibited in the Spring of 2020 when we were presented with the challenge of responding to Distance Learning; namely, fortitude, compassion, and patience. Be assured that we will continue to stay abreast to the most up-to-date guidelines and adapt as needed.
Let us remember our role as we prepare for the fall. We are all expected to model Christ-like behaviors to our students. I encourage you to begin talking about the school year with your student(s) now so that there is an appropriate transition to the school year. Be assured that orientation and training opportunities will be provided to all families prior to the start of the school year. More details about these opportunities will be released in the coming weeks.
Saint Raphael Catholic School Reopen Task Force
As a follow up to Wednesday's email, I would like to share a more detailed timeline for how the reopen plans are coming along. While we are all aware that dates may fluctuate, I hope that you find this information helpful.
- Monday, July 6: Triangle Principal's Meeting with Catholic Schools Office
- Week of July 6: Review reopen plans with Parish Leadership
- Week of July 13: Finalize plans
- July 15: Share reopen plans to the broader school community
Thank you all for your continued patience!
Joseph Whitmore, M.Ed.
Although we were anticipating Governor Cooper’s announcement today regarding which plan schools will be operating under when we reopen in August, unfortunately this decision has been postponed. In his press conference, we heard Governor Cooper say that his highest priority is for students to return to the classroom. Our community can help make this happen by following the 3 Ws- wear a cloth face covering, wait 6 feet apart, and wash your hands. Additionally, Dr. Cohen referenced the American Academy of Pediatrics document that is linked below.
It is still our goal to have a plan for the fall to our community by July 15th. Please keep in mind that this date may be modified based on when Governor Cooper communicates an update. We will continue to meet regularly with the Schools Reopen Team, Parish Leadership Team, and Principals/Directors within the Diocese of Raleigh.
Please be assured that as we plan we continue to focus on our mission, which is to provide a safe and nurturing environment that educates each unique child of God spiritually, academically, physically, and emotionally. We feel that this is best achieved on campus. Our goal is to return in the fall, with a strong focus on minimizing health risks. While we know that next year will look and feel different, we also recognize that being physically present together, with safety measures in place, will allow for both students and faculty to develop positive relationships, which is paramount to learning and development.
As previously shared, these are the two main resources that school leaders are using to develop plans.
Thank you for your patience. Please continue to pray for our school leaders as we plan for the fall.
Joseph Whitmore, M.Ed.
Re-open Focus Areas
Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit