As we have communicated throughout the summer in the Rocket Report, we know that all of the stakeholders in our community have been eager to know in what capacity we would begin learning in the 2020-2021 school year, and we have been working tirelessly to develop our plan. The uncertainty that accompanies this pandemic has been one of the most difficult aspects to navigate over the last several months. When the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, began her order with two sisters over two hundred years ago, she embarked on what has been described as “an enterprise she could never have imagined.” As we move into a year that a few short months ago we could not have imagined, perhaps more than ever the words of Catherine McAuley ring true:
No work of charity can be more productive of good to society than the careful instruction of women.
After a great deal of reflection, research, and communication with students, faculty, staff, and parents, we have been carefully crafting our plan for how we will begin the instruction of our young women in the upcoming school year.
As we noted earlier this summer, we are fortunate and confident to know that our school community can transition seamlessly between the three models that we have previously shared: our traditional schedule, a hybrid model of instruction, and full virtual instruction. After careful consideration, at this time, we have decided to open our school year utilizing the hybrid model accompanied with a stair-stepped approach to the beginning of the school year. Of course, we are committed to continuing to monitor the Covid-19 situation and know that this opening plan could change at any moment pending changes with the ongoing pandemic and directives from the governor or archdiocese.
Our hybrid model of instruction will provide both in-person and virtual instruction to all students. This model allows opportunities for in-person learning while practicing safe physical distancing throughout the day as well as a choice for parents and students by allowing families to opt for students to learn exclusively in a virtual setting from home if needed or preferred. Students will be divided into two groups who will be scheduled so that half of the student body attends school in person while the other half of the student body attends classes virtually from home at the same time utilizing Microsoft Teams. Assigned groupings will rotate attendance in-person and virtual learning on a set schedule throughout each week. In addition to meeting the academic needs of our students, this hybrid model will be designed to also meet the emotional, spiritual, whole-person needs of our students through intentional and creative planning for the activities and experiences that are a hallmark of an Assumption High School value-based education. Specific details of this schedule and rotations will be provided prior to August 1 when we release our detailed and complete start of the school year plan. After this release, we will provide an opportunity for question and answer.
Along with the implementation of this hybrid model, we are also updating our start of the year calendar in order to accommodate a stair-stepped approach to the beginning of the school year. This revised schedule provides an extended and phased start of the school year which allows for:
- extended professional development for teachers to fully prepare students in a hybrid and/or virtual model
- time for teacher teams to work together and plan
- a stair-step approach to students entering the building with virtual and in-person orientations to train and practice new health/safety protocols as well as providing time for relationship building between students and teachers
- extended orientation time for freshmen and transfers
- a stair-step approach to starting student instruction via a hybrid model
- continued monitoring of the Covid-19 status and ability to make adjustments as necessary.
For your calendaring purposes, below is an overview of our revised start of the school year dates with the school year beginning on Monday, August 17:
- August 6-7: Faculty/Staff Retreat & Meetings
- August 10-14: Professional Development for Faculty/Staff & Team Meeting and Planning
- August 17-21: Student Orientation (both in-person & virtual)
- August 24-28: Continued Student Orientation and Onboarding to the Hybrid Model and Learning
- Aug 31-Sept 4: Full Hybrid Implementation
Again, additional details about the student schedule for the weeks of August 17 and August 24 will be provided prior to August 1.
As noted above this plan provides the benefits of allowing students the opportunity to learn in person with peers and teachers if desired and implements the best practices for health and safety outlined by the Kentucky Department of Education. But perhaps most importantly, it allows students and families along with our faculty and staff to take good care of the Assumption community by providing an equitable learning scenario for learners at home and at school. This is key in a time when to do so demands that we all strictly follow the health and safety protocols that we outlined last week that are also linked here. COVID-19 HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICIES. This includes adhering to the state’s travel advisory to work to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state. The advisory notes that those traveling to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas should quarantine for 14 days after returning to Kentucky. Note that students traveling to any of these states after Monday, August 3 will not be able to attend the first week of school in-person.
These are the health and safety policies that we promise to enforce for the safety of your daughters. In return, we must have the commitment of you and your daughter to abide by the health and safety protocols outlined by the commonwealth of Kentucky before and after school begins and to follow Assumption’s polices in order to protect our faculty and staff. As you know our faculty and staff are our most valuable asset to ensure high quality instruction and care for your daughter’s educational experience. We must safeguard them. That is why we need to state clearly that strict adherence to these policies by you and your daughter is non-negotiable in order for her to learn in-person this year.
The successful experience of virtual learning at Assumption that we experienced last spring which confirmed that our faculty and students have the resilience and skills necessary to navigate uncharted territory gives us great confidence that we can also meet the high expectations needed to begin the year in a hybrid model of learning. Additionally, we affirmed that no matter what the future holds, the community of Assumption can seamlessly move between our three models as needed based on unfolding circumstances over the next several months. As Catherine McAuley also noted:
A community in which…universal charity reigns is capable of surmounting all difficulties.
Together, we will surmount the difficulties that we face today through patience, positivity, perseverance, and, most importantly, prayer.
We look forward to sharing the full details of our plan with you next week. There are not enough words to express our gratitude for your support, your trust, and your partnership throughout these last months, and we will depend upon you for the same as we move forward in hope together.
Mary Lang Martha Tedesco