By Mark Evans
Other than two short periods in November and the mid-February snow storms, Valle Catholic Schools have done something not many schools have managed to do this school year.
They have offered five days a week of live education since school opened on August 20.
High school principal Greg Miller said that students have been very happy to stay in the classroom, rather than going virtual.
“One of the surprising things about the first semester was the number of students who were devastated when they had to enter a quarantine period due to close-contact,” Miller said. “Students did not like the Spring Lockdown period of 2020. They prefer to be here, with friends, faculty, and coaches that care.”
The school lockdowns that took part in many states have kept millions of students out of live educational settings. Grades have plummeted at many schools and problems like depression, attempted suicide and nutrition issues have come to the forefront.
Valle Catholic has not only had live classes all school year, but has managed to have a reasonably normal extracurricular calendar for students, including, sports, Homecoming and other activities.
“While I’ve watched the data and news stories come in about suicides among isolated teens who were deprived of classroom instruction, social support networks, and entire sports’ seasons, I’ve increasingly felt we made the right decision in offering on-site instruction,” Miller said. “Tragically, teen rates of depression and anxiety are up nationally, but they seem not to have spiked in schools that delivered consistent in-person instruction. Our students are in a much better mental and emotional space than those at many other schools.”
END OF YEAR SHOULD BE SAME
Miller said that the use of virtual instruction days during the winter storms should allow the school year to wrap up on schedule.
“During the snowstorms we took four traditional ‘snow days,’” he said. “When the second week of snow began we switched to providing virtual instruction via combinations of Virtual Meets (Zoom/Google Meet) and videos and other assignments delivered via Google Classroom. Because of our brief virtual instruction and regular, five day a week instruction, there is no present need to modify the length of our school year.”
ATTENTION PAIDTO CLEANLINESS
Like all schools offering live instruction, the Valle staff has strived to make sure things are extra clean in the buildings, to prevent the spread of disease.
“We’ve had a few extra part-time workers assist in additional cleaning during the pandemic, and individual staff have often initiated extra cleaning procedures in their instructional spaces,” Miller said. He said no “additional COVID safety precautions” would need to be put in place, though.