updated March 24, 2020
St. Edmund’s Academy is pleased to offer all students a remote learning plan while our school is closed due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Our team of faculty and administrators created SEA@Home – an online remote learning plan which affords students the least amount of disruption in their daily instruction while ensuring natural opportunities for our teachers to connect with them each day.
To learn more about our remote learning days, visit the Hub for SEA@Home
updated March 13, 2020
At 9:30 this morning, I stood in front of the St. Edmund’s Academy faculty and thanked them for their creativity, ingenuity, optimism, compassion, and determination. From teacher prerecorded bedtime stories to faculty monitored small group instruction through Zoom, our faculty is preparing not simply to navigate this public health crisis effectively, but to offer continuity and a fantastic educational program for children.
As inspired as I felt by their early work, the empty hallways and classrooms just outside the library left me unsettled. Silence in those spaces means activity in other spaces. I imagined your disrupted morning routines and your challenges to find suitable childcare. I envisioned the challenges you may experience related to supporting your child’s “Remote Learning Days” and their unfilled need for socialization.
After thanking our faculty, I reminded them of the challenges that you face. As parents themselves, many of them feel those struggles with you. We strive in this moment to make every aspect of this challenging experience as enriching as it can be for your children and as simple as it can be for you. READ DR. BARNETT'S FULL MESSAGE
updated March 12, 2020
Throughout the past month, I have studied the risk COVID-19 poses to our school community, our neighborhood, and our world. With each recent passing day, the warnings have intensified. Not an alarmist by nature, I have observed with some wariness the increasing alarm. Until this week.
Now having consulted with medical experts, community leaders, trustees, and colleagues from top schools across the country, I am convinced that we have a responsibility to act proactively to protect our families and our broader community from this virus’s spread.
Our profoundly interpersonal work makes any decision to disrupt school regrettable. Our best work happens as a community and in person. We learn and grow together from our classrooms to the cafeteria, from our playing fields to the chapel. Through all those spaces, St. Edmund’s Academy’s Core Values guide our way.
Those same Core Values inform our decisions through these unprecedentedly uncertain times. Respect for the needs and feelings of others, our first Core Value, requires us to take seriously the science indicating that a period of “Remote Learning Days” allowing for proactive social distancing may be the most powerful nonpharmaceutical intervention that we can deploy.
Well over four hundred people pass through St. Edmund’s Academy each day. With a school in our neighborhood closing today due to possible exposure to COVID-19, it has become clear to me that the time to take a real leadership role in the effort to limit spread of this disease is right now.
Effective immediately, the last St. Edmund’s Academy event prior to Spring Break will be the performance of “Frozen Junior” tonight at the school’s auditorium. School will be closed tomorrow, Friday, March 13. School will remain closed until April 1, 2020, when St. Edmund’s Academy will begin “Remote Learning Days.” At the present time, we plan to conduct “Remote Learning Days” for the full two weeks following Spring Break with an objective to return to the school building by April 14, 2020. Additionally, all Spring at SEA childcare is cancelled for the week of March 16 - 20.
Starting tomorrow and continuing on March 30 and 31, the St. Edmund’s Academy faculty and administrative team will convert our distinctive classes, assessments, and teaching strategies to virtual forms so that all students may study and learn remotely from home, thereby assuring the quality of teaching and learning until this health crisis has passed.
Within the days to follow, all St. Edmund’s Academy families will receive a comprehensive guide to “Remote Learning Days” organized by division and class. Through rigorous professional development over the past several years, St. Edmund’s Academy has prepared to do this work well. While no distance learning experience can fully replace the uniquely human St. Edmund’s Academy program, our teachers and administrators are prepared to engage children and support their continued learning in truly interactive ways.
We will spend the first week of Spring Break preparing instructions so that you or your child’s caregiver can support your child’s learning. We will make this experience as simple as possible with clear pathways to resources, classroom learning hubs, schedule and linked Zoom meetings, and procedures for turning in work. All of this will be prepared with each student’s developmental needs in mind.
To be clear—St. Edmund’s Academy is not closing in the two weeks following Spring Break. Students will not have school tomorrow because of the local risk of COVID-19’s spread. They will not have school on March 30 and 31 so that the faculty can fully prepare to deliver the St. Edmund’s Academy program remotely. Then, school will begin in earnest on April 1.
We strongly encourage families to not extend vacations. Remote Learning Days should happen from your home in Pittsburgh so that should the risk subside, we may resume school in person together.
Guided by our Respect for the needs and feelings of others, all of us at St. Edmund’s Academy understood that we can and must do our part to stop community spread of the virus. In order to do so, we must collectively commit to social distancing. When Remote Learning Days begin, families should not use the time to plan play groups or other gatherings of students outside of school. The health benefits of our time away from school will be compromised if social gatherings take place in school’s absence.
Additionally, as families consider their Spring Break plans we strongly encourage everyone to follow the CDC’s travel recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html
Travelling internationally or domestically has increased risk for bringing the virus back to our community. Individuals and families must assess this risk specifically, and consider the question posed by the CDC: “Do you have a plan for taking time off from work or school, in case you get exposed to, or are sick with, COVID-19? If you have close contact with someone with COVID-19 during travel, you may be asked to stay home to self-monitor and avoid contact with others for up to 14 days after travel. If you become sick with COVID-19, you may be unable to go to work or school until you’re considered noninfectious. You will be asked to avoid contact with others (including being in public places) during this period of infectiousness.”
It is our hope that this question encourages families to adjust their travel plans in the best interest of public health.
It is clear that the City of Pittsburgh, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the United States will face increased pressure to treat people stricken with COVID-19. Our leadership today will help slow the virus’s spread, relieve pressure on public health and hospitals, and preserve the health and lives of community members.
As our response to this unprecedented crisis evolves, St. Edmund’s Academy will need your parenting skills, patience, and support more than ever. Together, as a community committed to High standards in all endeavors, we can respond to this crisis with responsibility, creativity, understanding, and compassion. We will reach the other side of this crisis and when we do we will stand together knowing we lived by our Core Values. Until we get there, we will bring all our creative and compassionate energy to bear in support of your family and education of your children.
I will be in touch soon with more details for the opening of “Remote Learning Days” starting on April 1, 2020.
Chad Barnett, PhD
updated March 11, 2020