July 9 email from Principal Sepich – “SPSL Return to School Overview”

July 9, 2020

Hello SPSL Families,

I hope you all continue to have a wonderful summer and that you and your families are healthy and safe. Per my most recent communication to families on July 1st (link) , our faculty and staff have been working diligently all summer on our plans for reopening school in the fall. In this planning, we received guidance from state health and education officials and the local county health department officials. As we continue to plan and prepare for school next year, these agencies should and will be the final source for SPSL to consider when determining what level of operation our school will follow in order to have a safe and successful school year.

The main purpose of this email is to let you know that SPSL is currently preparing for an in-person academic school year, with Kindergarten – 8th grade classes starting on Thursday, August 20, 2020 with an 8:15 am start time and a Noon dismissal. Friday, August 21st we would follow the same beginning and end of day schedule for Kindergarten – 8th grade students. Should local circumstances change, the school has prepared other calendars for consideration and would communicate to families any changes needed. All students, including Pre-K, will begin the normal, all day school schedule on Monday, August 24th. Please note that school doors open at 8:00 am and the first bell rings at 8:10 am. Dismissal is at 3:25 pm for grades Kindergarten through 7th grade and 3:30 pm for 8th grade students. You can find our 2020/21 school calendar linked here.

Our Logistics and Planning Committee has reviewed, discussed and planned on many different scenarios and options at this point and has been putting together procedures that align with local health departments and CDC recommendations. Additionally, our decision communicated above is also with the support of Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Department of Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt, and Omaha Catholic Schools Superintendent Vickie Kauffold.

Our current plan, as it stands now, for reopening school is deemed “Green Status”. This status denotes that all students are attending our school, 5 days a week, in-person with social distancing practices that align with local health departments and CDC recommendations.

As we know, with COVID-19, things can change rapidly and we need to be able to adapt and be flexible with our planning. If we are advised to move to reduced capacity in the school building, we have a “Yellow Status” or hybrid model plan, with a limited number of students allowed in each classroom. More details will be communicated soon on that hybrid model plan, if or when we may have to go to that plan. This scenario as is currently being planned for, would have a blend of learning that is remote and in-person, with alternating days for 50% attendance capacity and based on two groups broken up alphabetically to keep families together. Lastly, if need be, we also have a “Red Status” that would require full remote or distance learning.

More details on both the hybrid model and distance learning will be communicated in more depth and detail when we share our “SPSL 2020/21 Return to School Planning Guide” in the coming days. Families can expect that guide to include more detailed explanations on a multitude of specific practices and considerations related to, including, but not limited to:

In the meantime between now and us sharing that more comprehensive guide, we do want to communicate with you a few items of importance so you and your families begin to prepare for the start of school:

1.All students, faculty and staff will wear masks upon entry to the building and during most of the school day, especially when social distancing of 6 feet or less cannot be maintained or when traveling throughout the building.

a. Per the recommendation of the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA), students should have at least 2 cloth masks per day to to be worn especially when social distancing is difficult

b. Masks are not required for children with asthma or for students unable to remove covering without assistance

c. Cloth masks need to be washed daily at home with laundry detergent and replaced if student sneezes or coughs while at school

d. Masks can be removed for eating and drinking

e. Masks can be removed for recess and P.E. in non-contact environments

f. Masks can be removed during classroom scheduled “mask breaks”

2.The current recommendation as of now is that all schools avoid large group gatherings such as Open House, Curriculum Nights, Back to School Nights, parent-teacher conferences, all-school liturgies, all-school assemblies, school dances, development or advancement events, etc.

a. Local health measures and orders limit the size of group gatherings and require 6 feet social distancing. We believe these requirements will be in place when school opens in the fall.

3.In making the decision to provide in-person instruction for all students five days a week, we will not be providing online or distance learning simultaneously for students/families who choose to stay home at this time.

a. At SPSL, we fully support any family who makes the decision to keep their children at home during the pandemic. This decision was not easy and was made with a heavy heart, as I am certain that some families want to stay connected to the school community with distance learning while we are providing in-person instruction. That being said, through thorough conversations with our teachers, in evaluating our available resources, and in being highly sensitive to the mental, emotional, and physical strain this would put on our teachers given an already stressful time in education, it was not feasible for us to have this option at this time.

There is a lot that has gone into our planning and there is plenty more work to be done, so thank you for your continued compassion, patience and support for all of us in our preparations. Your prayers are also greatly appreciated. We are looking forward to seeing all of our students to start the year as we have missed you all so much. Please note that we will continue to try our best to abide by our SPSL Core Tenets for Returning to School 2020/21 and in keeping in the spirit of our SPSL 2020/21 School Theme & Guiding Scripture. Please also know that this current climate related to COVID-19 is changing rapidly and it is very possible that new plans may have to be made or adapted between now and the start of the school year. Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts as we join together to make this a great school year through Christ, “to love and learn with compassion, patience and hope.”

God bless,

Cory Sepich, Principal