Pacelli Schools to begin instruction on Aug. 25
By Kris Leonhardt
STEVENS POINT – The Pacelli Catholic School System will begin classes on Aug. 25, with plans to start instruction in a more traditional manner.
“We are following our normal school calendar. So, Aug. 25 is our first day back in school,” said Pacelli Catholic School President Cindy Weber.
Grades K-3 will start out every other day for the first week, to get the younger students acclimated to change. Weber said that the temporary schedule will make it possible to give them special attention.
“Our grade schools will start back with only four days that week, they will start back every other day,” she said. “So, we have smaller groups that first week to really spend some time going over cleaning protocols and practice with their mask wearing, and really working on keeping the groups as tight and separate from each other as much as possible; just getting our youngest kids comfortable with what the new routine is going forward for the new year.”
Weber explained that on the opposite day that first week, the younger primary students will likely receive packets to work, but the teachers will focus on the half group that they have in front of them each day.
“The first couple of days, we are definitely going to be spending a lot of time coaching them and supporting them on what our different expectations are going to be,” Weber said. “They are going to be in their desks a lot more; a lot of really focusing on social distancing, even in the classrooms.
“Our whole goal is going to be face-to-face as much as possible. We know that there are going to be times that we may have someone with a positive case that we have to shut down by either a classroom or a school building; hopefully not the whole system, but if the community as a whole has a big outbreak. We are constantly going to be working with public health to determine what the safety measures are that we need to take, and we are definitely going to be following what their recommendations are.”
Weber said that the school system will allow for what each family is most comfortable with, “Our families have 100 percent the option to be remote by the day, by the week, by the month, by the semester, the school year.
“We were hoping to keep our remote students on the exact same page, interacting with our face-to-face students; so, that we don’t lose any educational integrity throughout the year.
If students do not feel well, Weber said that they will be highly encouraged to stay home.
“We want to create as safe an environment as possible, but we also know the value that social interaction and that face-to-face interaction with the students and the teachers,” she explained. “So, we are trying to do this balancing act – safety as much as possible, but yet still look at the mental health and well being of our students – and how do we help them work through all of these challenges.
Weber said that virtual instruction will include remote log-ins to the classrooms, where students will be expected to take part in discussion and situations where they are able to work independently.
“The teacher will have full control, when there is interaction back and forth,” Weber explained.
But she adds that nothing can be set as a concrete plan and that options are needed.
“It is a continually moving target, because who knows where we will be when school opens,” she said.
The first week students will receive instructions on remote learning, so they are prepared in the event there is a full shutdown.
“We are fortunate that we have a computer device for every one of our students,” Weber adding that heavy emphasis will be placed on precautionary measures.
“We are going to do everything we can to practice social distancing and hygiene,” she said. “But, it is going to take an effort on everyone to keep things as safe as possible.”
With the largest size class at 50 students, Weber said the smaller numbers will help.
“That’s our advantage of being a smaller system is the fact that we don’t have huge numbers in a lot of our classes, so we can socially distance in our classrooms,” she said. “We can do those things.”