Families of St. Mary Magdalen,
This has been an unprecedented week for a number of reasons. First, I want to acknowledge the many challenging situations we are all dealing with in terms of childcare and maintaining school/ work/ life balance. It is a real testament to the resiliency of our school community and teachers that we are able to continue with the important mission of educating our students. We appreciate the kind, positive comments we receive back from our families regarding remote learning offerings that we’ve embarked upon this week. I also want you to know, as we move through this process together, we are open to feedback. Things may not work perfectly the first time. We want to ensure the program continuously improves to make this an exceptional learning opportunity for our students.
At this time, I also want to state how impressed I have been with our teaching staff during this time of rapid change. They are cohesive, energetic, and have been open to new approaches to teaching and learning. I have been impressed with the conversations I have overheard as teachers have been planning and preparing to embark on this journey and, by our students’ responses to this new learning opportunity. Teachers have shared repeatedly they were surprised by how engaged and focused their students have been as they have participated in remote learning this week.
SMM will continue to support our families during this time. We welcome your suggestions and ask you to share your thoughts for improvement with our process. I know for many of you the reality of the coronavirus has imposed difficult new realities and we want to work with you to help better the lives of our students.
I also want to address attendance. We are checking attendance daily, primarily to see who is accessing the learning remotely, so that we can reach out to families and ensure they are receiving the support they need to connect with the content. It also helps us see which students may be in need of additional support. We are not taking attendance, at this time, in a way that will be used against the students and we would like to help encourage students to be active and engage in their classes on a daily basis.
I also want to address grading. Currently, grades are being assigned as a way to provide feedback about performance for students and families. The State Board is currently working on new rules pertaining to private schools in remote education. At this time, we are still determining how grades provided during this period of remote learning may affect the third trimester report card and want to ensure that grades do not provide additional levels of stress for families, please view them as a feedback tool. We are in regular consultation with the Office of Catholic Schools and the governing bodies of the educational system in Washington State which oversee private and public schools and will continue to update our practice as new guidance becomes available.
We encourage students to actively participate in their classes and acknowledge there are challenges for families during this time. We want you to know that we will actively work with you if you find yourself in a difficult situation. Please reach out to your teachers if you are having trouble in your classes or difficulty with accessing assignments. Please let us know what we can do to improve our process and make it easier for you to engage in remote learning.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our students and their families. Together we will overcome this challenge. We certainly appreciate your support and look forward to serving you in the future.
St. Mary Magdalen School