April 14, 2020 Update
There are promising signs that our state is making noticeable steps in flattening the curve. Staying at home, social distancing, washing our hands, wearing masks are all contributing to this welcomed news. While schools are ordered to remain closed, there is more planning about how we return to life after the pandemic. I will keep you posted about any plans in this regard as I hear it officially.
We did pretty well in getting everyone to take their books and personal belongings with them as school closed. It was good to be able to loan iPads and Chromebooks to anyone who needed them. As we move into our next eight weeks of school, I want to circle back on these two topics. If you need anything from school (books, notes, art supplies), and if you need a device now, please write to me. We can’t allow anyone in the building, but I can bag what you need, and you can drive by and retrieve it. If this gets more complicated because of numbers, I will set up a schedule, but for now, just let me know what you need and we can arrange for it.
Refunds, Rescheduled, and Regrets (Oh My!)
Volunteer commitment hours for the year are all accounted for. If you have already done your volunteer hours, thank you. For those who were planning on volunteering for the auction, Hedgefest, field trips, overnight camps, or field day, thank you. You all make the school run. Everyone will have their hours counted with no buy-outs expected.
Refunds & Re-Scheduling
Bonnie Viafore is working on all activities that have fees that we can’t postpone into next year. We are working with Camp Seymour, Mount Rainier Institute, and our DC trip vendor to determine how we can put those spring and summer events into next year. We will be asking for your input about rescheduling these types of events for next year as we discuss this internally as well.
I want you to know that all of our employees are being paid during this time. We have applied for the Paycheck Protection Plan as part of the CARES Act. We haven’t heard whether we have been approved or for what amount, but I think it important for you to know that we are doing what we can to be fiscally responsible. With that said, if you feel like you need to be refunded for activities or even tuition, please reach out to me. You have all been so generous in supporting Saint Pats and now is the time for us to make sure we are being faithful to you. Teaching is going on, learning is happening, but we know it isn’t the same as prior to the pandemic. If you want to talk to me about your thoughts and needs, please don’t hesitate for a second to reach out to me.
Class of 2020
The most emotional decisions will be about 8th-grade events and graduation. There are clearly some activities that won’t occur and will be refunded, but we also want to create different and meaningful ways to celebrate our graduating 8th graders. I don’t want to regret not celebrating and honoring the accomplishments of our Class of 2020.
Our Phase 2 and street cut-out projects are being discussed regularly. There are many questions to consider: Are the projects essential; is it an opportune time for construction; will materials be available at reasonable costs; how do we get the 2nd floor vacated when we can’t get into the building? I stay awake at night wondering, What are the optics of us proceeding with a loan when we will be faced with a possible cash flow issue, families needing more financial assistance to remain with us, donors feeling more cautious about pledges? The School Commission, the Parish Finance Council, and school leadership are considering our next steps. The Commission meets tonight, April 14th to discuss and determine our building needs and timeline. I would appreciate you saying a prayer for wisdom for us about 6:30 P.M. this evening.
I hope the break this past week was refreshing for your kids. I hope it was the same for you. I appreciated getting away from the computer even for just half a day. My walks and bike rides were pure joy.
Be safe, be well,
April 7, 2020 Update
Dear Parents and Kids,
The Governor announced last night that schools in Washington State will be closed for the rest of this term.
I almost hoped I would wake up this morning and not have to write this letter. But I know, avoidance isn’t a strength in leadership, and it isn’t a quality that engenders much confidence at a time like this. As much uncertainty as I have in how this pandemic will persist, I have a great deal of certainty that we as St. Pats will continue to be stronger together.
Last night’s announcement was not a surprise, and we are poised to make distance learning an even better experience than it was in the first three weeks. We have the imagination to think differently about what teaching and learning look like for the rest of the school year. We have the creativity to dream about new ways to celebrate important events, to pray together, to be with each other, to smile. We have a faith that transforms darkness into light, despair into hope, even death into life. We have each other, and right now, that’s enough for me.
All of us at the school will be looking closely at what activities, routines, websites, and communications have proven to be the most effective. We are discussing by Divisions what hasn’t worked well, who is not regularly engaged, what technologies are most useful, and what are the critical learnings that we need to focus on in the next nine weeks. We have wonderful and highly effective teachers who care. Distance learning doesn’t change that, even though it changes how we teach. The announcement to close school requires all of us to recommit to teaching our kids in different ways. We can and will.
The financial pressures and daycare issues are getting more real. We must stay connected with your needs. Please reach out so that our community leans in. If you need anything, including the chance to talk, just ask. I will be sending out more ways to take care of our emotional needs as we move deeper into this pandemic. If you have articles that you think would be helpful for our community, please send them to me.
I was looking through some old shirts so that my wife could make us masks, and I found a Dr. Seuss hat that was stuffed in a box. It made me think of his wisdom and his humanity: “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Let’s make every moment count during this sad, and at times frightening, time. Let’s continue to focus on those things that we value the most. Keep each other close even if remotely. We know this moment of history requires the best from us. That’s the memory we are making together.
March 30, 2020 Update
from Principal Chris Gavin
Wow, what a week! I received a message from Seesaw summarizing each of our classes that are using that platform. Just to give you a sense of what our kids and teachers are producing, we are over 3,000 new posts for the week with an average of 30 posts per student. These numbers tell part of the story, it is the quality of the work and the responses that really capture the spirit of this new enterprise. From Google Hangout to morning prayer, I am so pleased by the depth and breadth of our remote learning from PreK through 8th grade.
Along these same lines, we saw our first system overload when SeeSaw went down this morning. Now that many of our public schools will be initiating distance learning and using many of the same platforms and apps that we are currently using, there may be times when we are just slow or down. We will adjust as this unfolds.
Gene Lao, our IT Director, has set up a Help Desk for teachers and parents who are having any technical problems or have questions. He will roll that out today with his ideas of how it can assist us all. It is in a blog format with the hope that many people will look at it and offer assistance.
Q & A
There are many questions about upcoming school activities and whether we will postpone them or have them in a different way. Examples include Stations of the Cross, a traditionally beautiful reenactment performed by our 8th graders; Grandparents Day; May Crowning, etc. Other questions or concerns continue to arise. So, each Friday I have asked our staff to pull together questions from all our sources and to give them to me so I can include them in a Q & A section for our Blarney Stone on Mondays. You can write to me directly or to Christy Johnson with questions that you think would be helpful for our larger community. I will answer this as best I can.
Gratitude & Prayers
Thank you for your prayers for my cousin Ken who is out of the hospital and back in his Jesuit community in Brooklyn. Thank you for those who have volunteered to help deliver food to our home-bound seniors. That list is still being formulated and I will contact you when your help is needed.
This past weekend we heard the Gospel of John, chapter 11, verse 35. The reading we heard on Sunday contains the shortest verse in the entire Bible, “Jesus wept.” Jesus was deeply saddened by the death of His friend Lazarus, and the awful grief of Lazarus’s two sisters, Martha and Mary. Sometimes, I need to be reminded of Jesus’ humanity. He wept, felt pity, and suffered. I need to remember His humanity so that I call on Him knowing He suffers with us. Our anxiety, doubt, and pain are His too. Jesus cried out to Lazarus who was buried in the tomb to “Come forth,” to be with Jesus and his sisters. I believe He says this same thing to us, in our need whatever that need is. Continue to pray for all in our community, our world community who need to hear Jesus’ call to be with him.
School Closed | March 13, 2020
School Closed | March 13 – April 24, 2020
March 13, 2020
Governor Inslee has mandated that all schools be closed starting Monday, March 16, 2020. For us, this means we will not have classes after today. Your children should have come home today with materials for the long time we will be out of class. The Governor has said schools will be closed through April 24, 2020
We anticipated this possibility and teachers were ready to have today be the last day before a long break. We have prepared the students for this temporary cessation of classes and introduced distance learning. For many of our students, this was a confusing day as they waited for the news of the closure. For some, it was closer “to a dream come true!” For all, it will be a big change. We are ready to help them be ready for the next six weeks.
Specific distance learning materials will be sent to them, and you, as we ease into this new reality. Teaching and learning will be very different for all of us and our desire is to not overload them but to continue to engage them in learning. Details about how we will teach/learn at each grade level will be given to you as soon as we complete them on Friday. Please look for Distance Learning guidelines and materials for your child(ren) no later than Tuesday of next week.
I am aware of the tremendous difficulty that this school closure will be for all of you. Everything I read about kids needing routines and some sense of normalcy will be tossed unless we are purposeful. Usual bedtimes and getting up times (within an hour) are important. Homestudy will be about 2 hours. Let them explore things of interest. Read. Unless public health officials say otherwise, let them get outside. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. We need to support each other. Our souls need each other.
I expect the first week will fly by, the second week will be harder. I worry about social isolation. I will ask you occasionally how your kids are doing to see how we can help. Keep a diary as this will be part of our history that your kids’ kids will want to know about. I will keep you informed through my riveting COVID-19 updates!
St. Patrick, pray for us and for those who most need God’s healing love.
peace and be healthy,