Returning to School During a Pandemic
As you may be well aware, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will be open in a few weeks for full-time, in-person learning. While elementary schools will be open, parents also have the option to continue distance education virtually. Those staying home and learning virtually, however, must be dressed in their uniform and ready to go at the same time as their classmates are at school.
The Office For Catholic Education has worked tirelessly this summer designing and implementing this plan to safely reopen schools, and prepare for any situation that could arise.
Andrew McLaughlin discussed the school closure in March and how it further guided the reopening plan with Gina Christian on Inside CatholicPhilly.com, stating:
“When we shut down last year, originally we were looking at for two weeks, but we used to meet weekly with our principals and we would get feedback from our parents. We surveyed them a couple of times, and learned what they felt was working and not working.
One of the things that we learned was, they wanted that day to look as much like a regular school day as possible, so it wasn’t enough … Initially, we might have just sent out a couple of lessons and did a couple of instructions on the video. By the end of it, we had people attending the whole school day. They would log on for religion class, do an activity, then log back on for math class, do an activity, log on for English language arts and do a writing activity, do a reading activity. It kind of morphed as we got into this.
So that’s what we’re looking to do this year as well. We expect the children to get in their uniforms. We want them to approach this as if it’s school. We have standards for behavior for when they’re virtually attending class, and we have systems for them to exchange information between the teacher and home.”
Listen here to hear more details and find more information on a Catholic elementary school in your neighborhood!
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia formed a "Catholic Schools Onward" Committee this Spring to address the opening of schools in September. Together with the Office of Catholic Education for Elementary Schools, they worked into the Summer and have issued a multi-topic series of guidance and procedures for schools to follow. Each elementary school has had to tailor the general recommendations to suit their unique and local needs.
Led by Principal Sister Helen Thomas, IHM, an in-house group of Good Shepherd Catholic School teachers and staff has adjusted and enhanced the supplied recommendations, and the resulting documents are on the GSC Website: https://www.gscregional.org/gsc-onward.html.
Please note that everything is subject to change and that GSC school officials will need to update and revise certain procedures as situations, new research, new guidelines, and new rules and orders develop.
Here is a list of the topics covered:
Introduction & Philosophy
General Principles for the Buildings
Entering the Building | Daily Monitoring of Health | Lunch | Recess
Travel Within the Building | Library | Physical Education | St. Raphael Room
Classroom Setup | Classroom Materials
Virtual Learning – Cohort | Virtual Learning – Individual
CARES / Early Childhood / Pre-K
Playbook: Guidance for Dealing with Cases or Suspected Cases of COVID-19
Student Mental Health & Whole Health
Mental and Whole Health | Student Awareness
After School Activities
The Summer Reading and Stationery Lists are posted on the GSC Website for all returning and new students who will be in kindergarten through eighth grade in September. They are available to download, view and print as .pdf files when you click on the graphic below.
An important message from GSC Principal Sister Helen Thomas:
As we prepare for Back to School, I want to share this information about uniforms. Several parents have said they are hesitant to purchase uniforms until we are sure we are definitely "in school."
Gym uniforms may be worn every day during September. Students will also have the option of wearing the Spring/Summer uniforms. We will reevaluate this practice at the end of September and decide if we need to extend the wearing of gym uniforms in October.
— Sister Helen
P.S. In case you already purchased uniforms for this coming year ... you are able to return uniforms to Flynn O'Hara – if unworn and tags are attached – for up to one year after the date of purchase. Thank you!
At Good Shepherd Catholic School, Mrs. Jenna Clewell teaches 7th grade and Mrs. Patricia Blackwell teaches 8th grade. While our 7th grade class is currently set to return for 8th grade in the Fall, we parted with our 8th grade class in a way we never have before: at home. Fortunately, we were able to celebrate their graduation on June 10th while socially distanced and a limited number of guests. Best of luck this September in high school! We will miss you all dearly and hope you return to visit when possible!
Both Mrs. Clewell and Mrs. Blackwell conducted their daily lessons via Zoom. For a fun project, Mrs. Clewell and her students did a scavenger hunt together (while at home) to find things around the house that they thought essential for quarantine.
Mrs. Blackwell and her 8th grade class were scheduled to visit New York City for the traditional class field trip. They were still able to visit, albeit virtually, watching video clips of places they planned to visit and photos of past trips.
The annual Spaghetti Dinner could not be held in person, but moms of the 7th grade students arranged to bring the dinner to each 8th grade student's home!
Like our 6th grade class, the 7th and 8th grade students also reported on current events twice each month.
Despite the swift need to move to remote teaching and remote learning, our teachers and students at Good Shepherd made the continued effort each day to smooth out the transition. After only a few days, we all had a new groove and made it work, and made it fun (despite the circumstances). We look forward to seeing all of our students in September, and wish the best for our students beginning high school!
Mrs. Melissa Gregory and Mrs. Alexis Wilson teach 5th and 6th students, respectively, at Good Shepherd Catholic School. Among the challenges faced, ensuring each student had the adequate tools to learn online and finding the right tools to teach were the two biggest obstacles. Both teachers, after a short adjustment period, successfully shifted to a remote, digital teaching method in the last few months of the school year.
Mrs. Gregory taught video lessons to our 5th grade class twice each day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, to help supplement the remote assignments. She also met regularly with small groups and individuals to provide additional support as needed and to bridge the gap of the normal one-on-one instruction that would take place in the typical classroom setting.
The 5th grade students each chose an explorer from their textbook for a research project. Each student wrote a history on their explorer of choice, with a focus on their journey (and means of transport, like a ship) and the place they discovered or explored. They then created a log written in the explorer’s voice to chronicle their expedition. Each student presented their findings during the class video sessions.
In 6th grade, Mrs. Wilson met with her students over Zoom for their lessons each day. She also used Discovery Education, EdPuzzle, Prodigy, IXL, and Google Classroom. For the students’ Social Studies class, they submitted an assignment on current events twice a month to stay updated on our current daily lives. The 6th grade students each were also assigned a service project of reading bedtime stories to younger siblings, relatives and friends, all done virtually.
No matter our age, everyone likes a bedtime story!
Tales from 1st and 2nd Grades
Our 1st and 2nd graders at Good Shepherd Catholic School have stayed busy with various projects at home as assigned by their teachers. Ms. Sabrina Escaliera teaches 1st grade, and Mrs. Erin Durkin teaches 2nd grade.
The common thread through each grade is lessons via Zoom. Ms. Escaliera also used Flip Grid, in which both students and their parents could participate in the lesson. Mrs. Durkin also used HMH Math and ELA materials via Think Central that provided students with further interactive demonstrations and games to help them better learn their math lessons. Think Central also allows students access to audiobooks of their textbooks, decodable readers and vocabulary books as additional resources.
Both teachers found projects would be a great way to learn at home for their students. For those unfamiliar with the “Flat Stanley Project,” the concept features a paper cutout of the titular character from the book Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. The idea promotes learning about different people and places. Our 1st graders were given a spin on this with a cutout of their teacher, Ms. Escaleira.
Mrs. Durkin utilized at home projects across an array of topics to help students learn different concepts. While learning about ecosystems, students researched endangered animals and presented their findings. Students were given a budget of $100 to plan a budget to feed a family of four for a week to learn the value of a dollar and economics. Each student was asked to interview an adult in their lives to learn about changes in transportation, technology and clothing over time, and created a Venn diagram to compare their experiences with their interviewee.
Our 1st and 2nd graders certainly stayed busy between March and June. We are excited to see new and returning students in September!
3rd and 4th Grades at Home
Ms. Rachel Dillinger and Sister Teresa Cecilia, Good Shepherd’s 3rd and 4th grade teachers, respectively, found ways to make the transition from in person instruction to distance education easier. Most of the difficulty in this transition arose from just how unexpected the need became and finding the right tools to carry it out.
Both grades used Zoom for daily lessons, as well as other online resources, like EdPuzzle, Think Central and Discovery Education that kept students engaged in what they were learning. Additionally, these resources allowed each student’s family to also become engaged with what their children went over each day in “class.”
Ms. Dillinger kept daily lessons as normal as possible. One of the everyday activities the 3rd grade students participated in at school was reading aloud to each other, which they continued via Zoom while at home. Students also did various science projects at home, Earth Day activities and even a virtual field trip to the Zoo. While their previously scheduled field trip was cancelled due to the pandemic, Ms. Dillinger, decked out in zookeeper attire, led her students through a virtual tour thanks to both the Philadelphia and San Diego Zoo’s live webcams. Through the virtual tour, students completed a worksheet about the animals they “met” during this virtual field trip.
Sister Teresa mentioned Science was among the favorite subjects for her students. Using common household and outdoor items, students explored their very immediate world to explore their senses. These activities included building bird nests and taste and hearing experiments with family members.
Sister Teresa also assigned her students to write a thank you card for someone that makes a difference within their community, like their mailman, local grocery store workers, nurses and more!
Remember to thank all the essential workers and people in your own community who help make our current world seem more normal!
Good Shepherd Catholic Regional School
835 North Hills Avenue
Ardsley, PA 19038
215-886-4782 (Main Office)
215-884-1591 (Business Office)
215-887-9241 (Business Office Fax)
215-886-0126 (Advancement Office)