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‘Learning shift’

KEKAHA — “We’re doing it.”

Those words from St. Theresa School Principal Wendy Castillo described the first week of school that started March 30 amidst the mire of rules, regulations and mandates attributed to COVID-19.

Students from some Hawai‘i Catholic schools returned to virtual classrooms and distance learning in order to be safe and help prevent the spread of the virus.

Castillo’s words came in an email describing the first week back at school at St. Theresa in Kekaha.

“Phase I is rolling out nicely. We are implementing Google Classroom for each of our grades, preschool through grade 8. The teachers are creating instructional videos, follow-along instructions, and are offering a variety of methods of turning in work. All of our enrolled learners are participating.”

Over at St. Catherine School in Kapa‘a, the second of two Catholic schools on Kaua‘i, Principal David Adams reported similar success.

“Our first day, Monday, saw 88 educational packages picked up,” Adams said in an email detailing the first week of school ater an extended spring break at St. Catherine.

“This is in addition to the 23 packages that were given out last week, and after the first four hours, we were close to a 70% distribution rate.”

Tuesday, the first day of instruction, Adams said the middle-school grades were close to a 96% attendance rate, a demonstration that “speaks highly of the dedication of our students and amazing staff.”

“We are blessed to have 161 students enrolled in St. Catherine from pre-K3 to grade eight,” Adams said. “As of 11 a.m., Friday, we have seen 87% student assignment packages picked up at Coyle Hall. We currently have Coyle Hall open under social-distancing guidelines from 7:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for pickup and dropoff of student work.”

Castillo said some of the problems they encountered with technical issues like passwords, connectivity and device capabilities had to be overcome to prepare for phase 2 of St. Theresa distance learning that will improve the school’s assessment methods, provide set teacher Zoom hours each day, improve the structure of classrooms and increase the rigor of assignments.

“We’re resolving each issue and moving forward to phase 2 of St. Theresa School distance learning that starts (Monday) April 13,” Castillo said. “We are holding our second learning-supply-pack pickup and delivery on (Thursday) April 9 for all STS learners. On that date, we are also offering a book exchange from our school library — everyone needs to keep reading.”

“I am beyond proud of our team of teachers,” Castillo said.

“They have pulled together to create classrooms that provide relevant, standards-driven lessons that will keep our learners academically on track. They are providing videos and group Zoom meetings to keep classes connected, and to keep our identity as a school strong during this time of isolation.

“I am also so very grateful for our community of parents. They are sticking with us, providing feedback and being instrumental in making this learning shift a success. There are many positive lessons to be learned, and I believe our school will be better because of this experience.”

Adams echoed his gratefulness and appreciation for his St. Catherine School ‘ohana.

“Mahalo nui loa to the awesome parents and family members who have supported the learning of our students,” he said.

“We understand that Zoom, Facebook, and Google Meet — just a few examples of platforms we are currently using — allows for interaction with our dedicated teachers, but it takes effort at home to make education successful. Further mahalo to our talented staff for the implementation of the Off Campus Education program in extremely short timellines despite the challenges we all face in our world today.”

“Kaua‘i strong — we will get through these tough times,” Adams said. “Drew Cohick, the middle-school teacher, and I, plus anyone else who wishes to join, are invited to grow beards until our students can safely return to regular classes.

“Fears of looking like a Sasquatch might be in my future. As a coach, I always shared with my teams: tough times don’t last, but tough people do. The good people of Kaua‘i will get through this.”
Source: The Garden Island

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