Being home for so long felt like an extended summer vacation, minus the vacation part. Early March of 2020, who would have anticipated that this would be the last time the students and staff of Elizabeth Seton High School would be on campus together? The onset of Covid-19, as it did in other parts of the world, abruptly ended in-person school days, and it forced the staff and students of Seton to immediately transition to virtual learning. A temporary plan was put into place by the administration to help everyone successfully get to the end of the school year, but nobody knew what to expect for the future.
The month of May finally came, and summer could begin. However, for some staff members at Seton this only meant the beginning of the onslaught of rigorous planing for an uncertain 2020-2021 school year.
During the summer of 2020, Elizabeth Seton High School continued to study the delivery model of education for students in school year 20-21. Committees were formed to study the following topics:
- Scheduling and Programming
- Campus Ministry
- Physical Space and Health
Additionally, meetings were held with the Heads of Schools in our Catholic Secondary Association of Schools to consider metrics of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, risks to students and staff, physical requirements of safe entry and appropriate protocol, decisions of each county and the advice of the county health leaders. A survey was also sent to staff and parents requesting their input on which route, hybrid, in-person, or virtual, was the safest for their family. In true Seton fashion, the academic team had prepared with a model for each and was ready to put the right one into motion once the decision was made. After careful review of all of this information, the Board of Directors joined most of the other schools in our association with the decision to open school with Distance Learning and the commitment to re-assessment on October 1st.
The first few months of school have certainly been challenging. Students and staff are working harder than ever as we struggle to find our balance in Distance Learning. The isolation is a painful reality for all of us, only to be consoled by the safety we have enjoyed and the minimal risks we have had to manage. Nevertheless, the Seton staff is going above and beyond to help the students and to help each other work through any issues and frustrations that may arise. As much as possible, the Seton community has tried to instill some sense of normalcy into their school year. School clubs have moved to virtual meetings, sports teams are meeting in smaller groups to maintain their skills, and any events that can be in-person are taking place. Movie nights at Seton, although limited to a max of 50 people, are a highlight for the girls.
Academically, the staff strives to makes sure that the students are in a position to be successful during their virtual learning. Many teachers spend extended hours tutoring, some students have even received staff members as mentors. Every one of them is committed to making sure that no student is left behind.
Currently, Seton is in the process of re-assessment. Metrics, risk factors, transmission rates, and safety measures are being considered as are current educational delivery models, the effects of social and emotional isolation, family realities, and the possibility of outbreaks and re-closures. The staff completed an update survey on October 12 and families will complete an updated survey by October 19. The Board of Directors will again review all data and render a decision and, if necessary, an updated timeline and decision for the remainder of the school year. Please keep our entire school community in prayer as we continue to what is best for our students.