From the Principal
I hope this newsletter finds all of you safe and healthy. I know these last couple of weeks have been challenging and we are all looking forward to a break and some good news. Although I cannot provide any good news at this time, I can assure you that we will be having spring break at its normal time April 9 through April 17. I am sure many of you saw the letter from the superintendent, Mr. Mark Longe, detailing that we will be continuing with the online learning until May 1. I am hoping that is a firm date, but there are many factors and circumstances that will influence the Bishop’s decision of whether we return at that time. The primary factor that will determine our return date is how the virus will spread. I encourage everyone to continue to take the social distancing seriously in order to deter the growth of this pandemic, and to continue with good hygiene of washing hands, keeping our hands away from our face, and maintaining 6’ from others. Here is a link to some additional information on the spread of the coronavirus.
I would like to thank all the parents and students who took time to complete the survey regarding the online learning that we have been plunged into. For the most part, parents and students were optimistic and grateful for the response of the school; however, we do acknowledge that we have room for growth and improvement. Some major themes that occurred in the responses include: 1) More opportunities for direct instruction; 2) More opportunities to connect with teachers; 3) More communication from administration; 4) Provide more opportunities for social and spiritual connection.
Even before the survey was sent, teachers and administration discussed ideas of how to connect more with the students and to provide some direct instruction. I asked all teachers to have at least one classroom Google meeting per week and to have a HomeBase connection per week. I have dropped in on a few of those Google meetings, and it was so great to see the students and their smiling faces (I miss the students so much). Teachers reported that students want additional HomeBase and classroom meetings and we will endeavor to provide a more consistent and frequent opportunities.
In order to provide some direct instruction, several teachers have begun to employ a software called Playposit. This software allows teachers to upload videos, imbed questions into the video to check for understanding, and determine who has watched the video. Any video can be used, but math teachers who are using it, have recorded their lessons for students. This allows us to keep progressing the curriculum and allow students to rewatch the videos for review of concepts. We will continue to search for ways to deliver meaningful, online, direct instruction for students.
In response to more communication, I have started a Google Classroom and YouTube channel to push out information. Unfortunately, only students may join Google Classroom; however, they can add parents and guardians who will receive a summary of the classroom (anyone can subscribe to the YouTube channel). Summaries can be sent daily, weekly, or monthly based on the parents’ discretion. I have been posting assignments (fun things to do that aren’t graded), links to my videos, and announcements. Students may join the classroom by using the code 4ra3654.
The last major theme of the survey responses, providing opportunities for more spiritual and social interactions, will be more difficult to provide. I do encourage students and parents to subscribe to Fr. Tilley’s YouTube channel, Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church, Draper, Utah. He has been posting daily and weekend Masses, as well as a nightly check in with parishioners and SJB/JD students. I will provide additional opportunities for spiritual engagement in my Google Classroom.
I recognize that online learning is not ideal for everyone. Some students are struggling and others are thriving. Some are taking six to seven hours to complete their work and others are done in an hour or two. It is nearly impossible to create an individualized plan for 324 students in a regular school environment, and I am certain that it will not occur while we are doing distance learning. Nonetheless, I applaud the efforts of my teachers and staff who have worked diligently to provide a high quality product for our students and to keep students engaged in the learning process.
Thank you again for taking the time to do the survey. I will continue to pray for those who have been physically affected by this pandemic, and for all of us whose lives have been disrupted. I know that we will return as a stronger community and more tolerant, patient, and understanding of our neighbors and loved ones.
Third quarter report cards are viewable in the parent and student PowerSchool portal. Paper copies will not be sent home at this time. Also, we are working on implementing online course requests for the 2020-2021 school year. You can expect to see this process happen following Easter break.
Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy, and remember that we are in this together!
Mr. Patrick Reeder