Despite the challenges and uncertainty, we hope and pray that our Catholic school community will experience the grace of God through the risen Jesus!
We thank everyone for partnering with us as we confront the effects of COVID-19 together. During this time, our Catholic school leaders and teachers have done an amazing job providing our students a robust virtual education program, and they will continue to do so until there is resolution of the pandemic. While it is important to focus on academics, it is even more important to lean on our Catholic community and faith so that we are even stronger after the passing of this crisis.
CSO guidelines for school administrators
Recommendations for the balance of the 2019-20 academic year
Extended School Closure from the Catholic Schools Office, Diocese of Fall River
All schools will continue with their original remote learning plan through April 3, 2020 as per previous communications to their school families in order to maintain consistency.
• All schools will observe the following no school dates:
– Good Friday, April 10th
– April Vacation, April 20-24th
All schools will maintain their scheduled last day of school as set forth in their school calendars. No school will be required to add any school days at the end of their school year due to mandatory closures.
Please note that the following is a set of recommendations and suggestions for schools to implement as needed to provide for the unique needs of each individual school.
• Option to reduce remote learning one day a week. It is recommended that each school could choose one day in the school week when teachers will not provide direct teaching so that they can use that day as a planning day. This should provide some stress relief for both teachers and students, giving each a break during the school week so that weekends can be fully enjoyed by families and teachers. Teachers could suggest fun activities like pleasure reading, playing games, doing puzzles, going outside for play if appropriate on this fifth day during the school week. Another alternative could be to schedule special area teachers to present activities on the fifth day, freeing up the regular classroom teachers.
• Time limits regarding hours that teachers will respond to an email concern or request. It is highly recommended that time limits be adhered to for teacher-parent correspondence. Schools are free to determine the best time restrictions for their own school communities. Any emails received on a weekend should be answered on a limited basis or on the next scheduled school day. Administrators will support teachers in adhering to these time restrictions for email access in order to help maintain a healthy frame of mind by making sure these restrictions are communicated to and adhered by all families.
• Marking periods–Second trimester was scheduled to have been completed around March 13th which was the last day our schools were in session. Schools may make the decision to send out report cards as usual for the second trimester work completed or include the work being completed now with the second trimester work so that students will receive a final grade at the end of the school year. Schools should include grading for the remote learning activities and assignments that are being completed during this mandatory school closing period.
• MAP Assessments scheduled for May 26-June 12–If school closure is extended to this late in the school year, we will make a decision about these assessments by early May.
• Students engaging in remote learning–We recommend that every effort be made to reach those students that are not engaging in the remote learning being offered by the school to determine if there is a need that should be addressed. Calls and communication to parents will be documented by the school in these cases and can include language that indicates the student could be in jeopardy of failure or retention if non-engagement continues.
• Instruction time suggestions–Schools can create the most ideal daily and weekly schedule for educator-directed teaching that is balanced with student self-directing learning that works for the school. Every school has unique needs and availability in regards to scheduling instruction time with students.
• Use of free resources–Schools are mindful that all online learning platforms that are being used during this time must meet confidentiality and student privacy standards.
CSO response to DESE recommendations
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has released their most recent Remote Learning Recommendations for the public schools as of March 26, 2020. This guidance is a “set of recommendations and does not constitute a requirement for any district or school.” DESE encourages districts and schools to “modify… customize our recommendations for individual districts and schools”.
Despite DESE’s recommendation that academic content should “focus on reinforcing skills already taught this year and applying and deepening those skills”, our diocese strongly feels that in addition to reinforcing prior learned skills, our students deserve to receive instruction and practice of new academic content and skills in order to continue their grade level academic growth.
Additionally, despite DESE’s recommendation that “teachers should provide feedback on student work completed at home” and “that academic content be graded as credit/no credit”, our diocese strongly feels that our schools, administration and teachers have an obligation to provide more detailed grading of the work that students are completing at home during this difficult time. Therefore, diocesan schools will continue to assess and grade student work in the most appropriate way possible to provide students and parents with feedback on how well they are understanding the content as well as provide teachers with the necessary information to inform their decisions about moving forward with the academic content.
DESE’s Remote Learning Recommendations for Public Schools released on 3-26-20
• Support students to engage in meaningful and productive learning for approximately half the length of a regular school day.
• This learning is recommended to take place via a combination of educator-directed learning and student self-directed learning.
• Remote learning can encompass a wide variety of learning opportunities.
• Examples of remote learning tools include large-group video or audio conference calls, 1:1 phone or video calls, email, work packets, projects, reading lists, online learning platforms, and other resources to effectively engage with students.
• Schools should ensure all online learning platforms meet confidentiality and student privacy standards.
• Components of a remote learning schedule:
– Opportunity to meet with one or more educators multiple times per week.
– Access to multiple hours per day of academic content directed by educators.
– Time each day for physical activity.
– Additional daily time for enrichment activities like the arts.
– Plan time away from the screen for the students.
• WGBH and WGBY have partnered with PBS to offer online resources for schools. DESE has compiled a list of educational resources for students, families, and educators.
Letter from Stephen A. Perla
April 21, 2020 update
Statement from Stephen A. Perla
Superintendent of Schools
Diocese of Fall River
In response to Governor Charlie Baker’s announcement, all Diocese of Fall River elementary, middle and high schools will be closed for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year.
All closed Catholic schools have been urged to make their best effort to carry out the academic mission of the school via various methods. Because this situation continues to be fluid, we will provide updates as necessary.
Any questions should be directed to the leadership of your individual Catholic school or the Catholic Schools Office at (508) 687-7301.
The following schools are closed for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year:
All Saints Catholic School – New Bedford
Bishop Connolly High School – Fall River
Bishop Feehan High School – Attleboro
Bishop Stang High School – North Dartmouth
Coyle and Cassidy High School and Middle School – Taunton
Espirito Santo – Fall River
Holy Family Holy Name – New Bedford
Holy Name School, Fall River
Holy Trinity School, Fall River
Our Lady of Lourdes School, Taunton
St. Francis Xavier – Acushnet
St. James St. John – New Bedford
St. John Paul II / St. Francis Xavier Prep / St. Margaret Primary – Hyannis and Buzzards Bay
St. John the Evangelist – Attleboro
St. Joseph School – Fairhaven
St. Mary Catholic School – Mansfield
St. Mary Sacred Heart – North Attleboro
St. Michael School – Fall River
St. Pius X – Yarmouth
St. Stanislaus School – Fall River
Petition to Governor Baker for funding for private schools
Private School Support in CARES Act
The CARES Act provides each governor with a discretionary “Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund” to provide financial assistance to local education agencies, institutions of higher education, and education-related entities that have been greatly impacted by COVID-19.
Join us as we respectfully ask Governor Baker to consider allocating a portion of the funds provided to him through the Fund for relief to private schools across the state. Read the letter and fill out the form by clicking the link below.