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Update on Preparations for the 2020-2021 School Year (7/13/20)

Dear Comets,

We hope all of you are doing well and that you are enjoying the summer. Thank you so much for making our 2020 Graduation and 2020 Golf Tournament so very wonderful and successful. The support witnessed for SCC was absolutely amazing!

St. Charles Catholic High School is committed to providing an excellent educational and spiritual education to our students as we reconvene this fall.

In the face of the Covid – 19 Pandemic, St. Charles Catholic High School is enlisting the support and advice of Ochsner and the Office of Catholic Schools, and we want to update you on our plans for the start of the 2020-21 school year. SCC remains committed to the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. We will continue to take the steps needed to keep our school community safe through proactive and precautionary measures while providing an excellent Catholic high school education.

Join us as we continue to pray for those who have been impacted by Covid - 19. John 1:5 opens his gospel by writing: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” There are many beacons of light in darkness. Jesus’ love is one. In the midst of everything happening around us, let’s always remember that there is a light in the darkness; that the darkness will not overcome us. May we serve as leaders and examples for others in our community. Please continue with your prayers, your love, your support and your kindness in a world that is in much need of all of those.

Our administration and staff are continuing to work in preparation for the 2020-21 school year. Our summer office hours resumed today. We are open from 9 am to 2 pm Monday through Thursday. Please call, email, or stop by if there is anything you need.

We look forward to a wonderful 2020-21 school year. We will continue to update you as information is available and plans are made certain. We remain in close contact with the Office of Catholic Schools, and we continue to review information daily from the Governor, the Louisiana Department of Health, the Louisiana Department of Education, and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. In fact, we met today with the School Food and Nutrition Services of New Orleans to refine our ‘Grab and Go’ lunch protocol. In addition, our plumber was here today to measure for the installation of our water bottle fill-station dispensers. Our official school reopening plan is due to the Archdiocese on July 17. Once approved, we will share with all of you. Thank you for your understanding of the fluidity of the situation and know that we will update all families as information is available and our plan is finalized.

As previously announced, we plan to have our students return to campus on Wednesday, August 12 with a modified student retreat day, then a modified book day, followed with our first day of in-person classes in as traditional a setting as possible.We will be implementing social distancing guidelines and daily sanitation requirements.

Because the health and safety of our SCC family must remain our highest priority when you return to school in August, campus life is going to be a little different than what we’re used to. However, the unrivaled spirit that makes SCC such a special place will be ever present. Full tuition will be required for SY20-21. In fact, many of our precautions that we are putting into place are at a high expense, and we are basing our budget on the number of students registered.

Please note the following back to school notes as we continue to work on our detailed plan:

Sanitation Protocols - Throughout the summer, all campus facilities, classrooms, offices, athletic facilities, etc. are being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. We have instituted a continuous schedule of cleaning protocols of all high contact surfaces (desktops, door handles, rest room sinks, light switches, computer keyboards) before, during, and after school. Daily sanitation protocols will continue on an ongoing basis throughout the school year. Sanitizer dispensers/stations are located in the foyer, hallways, and Commons.

Face Masks – Everyone (students and staff) will wear facemasks upon arrival to school, during transition times, in the hallways, and in public spaces outside of classrooms. In certain cases (where a fellow student or teacher may be immunocompromised), students may be required to wear facemasks during class. Any person on campus may use a mask at any time anywhere whether required in that location or not. Acceptable masks are those with our school logo, solid school colors (including blue, gold, black and/or white), or the surgical/disposable masks. We don’t want to make this too difficult for our families.

Temperature Checks – Temperatures will be checked. Students, faculty, and staff with a temperature above 100.4 will not be permitted to attend school until fever-free for at least 72 hours. For students who are not permitted to attend classes, video lessons and course assignments will be delivered via Google Classroom. All visitors to campus must have a temperature check as they enter a building.

School Arrival - Upon arrival on campus each morning, students will be required to report directly to their first period class. We are unable to have large groups in the Commons before school at this time. A ‘Grab and Go’ breakfast will be available for purchase in the cafeteria each morning - students will be able purchase their breakfast in the cafeteria.

Hallways and Lockers -- Building exits and entrances will be designated as one-way only (except in the case of emergencies). We will install directional signage to help remind everyone of the proper flow patterns to limit exposure during class transitions. Lockers will not be available for use this year unless some medical need exists. In this case, a location will be designated that does not hinder traffic flow between classes. There will be no desks or furniture in the hallways to allow for maximum space.

Classroom Seating -- Student desks in classrooms will be spaced in such a way as to maximize the distance between students. All desks will face in the same direction. All unnecessary furniture that takes up space in rooms will be consolidated or removed in order to provide maximum use of the floor space for student seating.

Water Bottles -- We are working to replace the traditional drinking fountains (bubblers) throughout the campus with water bottle fill-station type dispensers. We are in the process of requesting quotes now. Those that will not be replaced before the start of school will be put out of service until they can be replaced. Students should bring a labeled clear refillable water bottle to school every day to use for personal hydration.

Student Life Activities – Our traditional student life activities including retreats, new student orientation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, campus ministry, and other spiritual student gatherings will continue to be a part of our students’ school experience to the extent possible operating within CDC guidelines. Our new Retreat Team met today to plan retreats that include social distancing, outside activities and small group activities. As I explained to them today, we need to innovative and creative in building our community of faith.

Mass - Our mission at SCC is focused on excelling in our spiritual lives and service to others. We will continue to celebrate our school-wide Mass each month. At the start of school, our co-chaplains will celebrate Mass in our school chapel located in the heart of campus, and Mass will be live-streamed to each classroom. Students and faculty will participate in Mass from the classrooms, and Holy Communion will be distributed to each classroom during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. When the weather turns cooler, we plan to move our monthly schoolwide Mass to the stadium for all students, guests, parents, and alumni.

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities - Our athletic teams and extracurricular activities will operate under the social distancing and sanitation protocols as recommended by the LHSAA.

Food Service - We have ordered an outdoor serving cart with water, juice and milk in order to reduce the number of students in the Commons. Students who bring their lunch will report outside to our new picnic area. We are still working on the details for lunch, but it may be anywhere between students social distancing in the Commons during their scheduled lunch period to certain grade levels being assigned to eat in the gym once per week. “Grab and Go” and other prepared meal options will be available. There will be no condiment cart – individual packets of condiments will be made available. In addition, a workable hand washing station has been upgraded in the Commons. We will make the final decisions regarding lunches at least one week before the first day of school.

Class Sizes – We are working to maintain small class sizes and follow the suggested guidelines of the CDC. We are also working on creating a blended learning plan should the need arise to create classes of 10-15 students in a space. This blended learning plan for our students, if required to implement due to reducing class size, would allow students to attend school in-person two days a week to create classes of 10-15 students in a space. The off-campus days will require students to attend all online classes digitally.

Distance Learning - In the event we are required to close school temporarily again in the future, we are fully equipped to provide an outstanding Catholic education virtually. Our faculty continue to work exceptionally well with the Google Learning Platform, and we are equipped to provide the highest quality of virtual instruction if necessary. As mentioned before, our plan is to return to as traditional a setting as possible. Full tuition will be required during distance learning. This summer the teachers are updating training and knowledge on online instruction, Google Classroom and Google Suite for Education features as well as several other educational technology platforms to aid in-person and virtual education, and best practices in curriculum and instruction for distance learning. Should we need to revert to distance learning, our teachers will be prepared to move seamlessly from in person, to online, and then back to in person instruction.

Training -- Faculty professional development will be devoted to training all teachers and staff on the protocols of proper sanitation and hygiene with our Ochsner partner. Orientation time and Comet Lunch Crunch time will be used to train students in safety procedures and proper hygiene. We will place educational signage throughout the campus to remind everyone of the necessity of proper hygiene, facemask use, and social distancing.

We appreciate your support of SCC. We are surging ahead — even though we don’t know exactly what lies ahead. I read this recently and it sums up how I feel at the moment: It’s like we are building a bridge while walking on it.

We will continue to update you as more information becomes available. Meanwhile, I extend my deepest appreciation to our administrative team and teachers who are working so diligently to prepare for the fall.

Thank you to our teachers, students, and parents for your continued adaptability and flexibility as we navigate these unusual circumstances. We will practice proper safety measures and do what we must to care for the wellbeing of everyone. The health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff have been and will continue to be the overriding priority in our planning and reopening of SCC.

Let us all approach the coming school year with the virtues of kindness, integrity, resilience, and conscientiousness. Be assured of my prayers for you and your family during this time.

In closing, please know that it is because of the tireless efforts of our students, faculty, and staff - combined with the support of our parents, families, and stakeholders - that we remain the spiritual and educational leader of the River Parishes.

Go Comets!

Courtney Millet