Learning continues during virus outbreak

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As schools around the state have closed due to COVID-19, St  Paul Catholic High School is making sure their students are still getting an education by introducing them to distance learning, reported a press release from the local parochial school.

On Wednesday, March 18, students began their school day at 7:57 a.m., logging in to receive live instruction from their A period teacher, while at the same time having meaningful discussions with their classmates. At 12:17 p.m. they logged off to enjoy a 20-minute lunch at home, and then logged back on to start G period, continuing until the end of school day at 2:12 p.m.

“What a difference a week makes. St. Paul students were in the halls and classrooms last Thursday and today the school building was eerily empty,” said Melissa Lindquist, St. Paul High School marketing and communications associate, in a press release. “During this coronavirus crisis, St. Paul administration has taken steps in these unprecedented times to continue with their mission of educating young minds, hearts and spirits, albeit in an unconventional way. When the Archdiocese of Hartford made the announcement last week, that in-person classes would be suspended until at least March 31, the school adopted a virtual, distance learning plan.”

The students are using the website, Zoom.com, where students and faculty are able to interact with each other remotely, said the release. “While we would never be able to achieve a perfect match in the virtual environment, our students and teachers are going where St. Paul Catholic High School has never gone before. They are joining live sessions so that class discussions/instruction can continue across all classes and academic disciplines. Students and teachers see and hear each other, and students can raise their hand virtually to be called on,” said James Cooper, dean of academic life, in a press release. Elizabeth Kelly, St. Paul teacher said in the press release, “I am so grateful that teaching active and engaged online lessons are totally possible. I am pleased to see my students showing up and participating in class. It makes this entire situation more acceptable and proves that real learning can still take place remotely. It has been more challenging but it is rewarding. I am happy to still be able to live out my vocation as a teacher.”

“I am incredibly proud and inspired by the enthusiastic response of our faculty in creating a meaningful and supportive distance learning plan in order to meet our student’s educational needs.” said Cary Dupont, president, in a press release. He continued, “No doubt, this will be a transition for everyone. One that will require patience, flexibility, understanding from all … and certainly commitment and personal motivation from our students.”

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Lisa and Dave Millerick have three children at St. Paul, now online learning at home. Lisa Millerick said in a press release, “St. Paul gathered together to keep our school a true community. Hearing the laughter and engagement over virtual classrooms has brought a smile to our faces throughout the day. The faculty and administration’s dedication to their students is truly inspiring and will help us all to really remember what matters in times like this.”

Their daughter Sami, a sophomore, said in three press release, “It’s really great to be able to see all of my classmates and friends, even if it’s not in person.”

“I have been able to learn and focus extremely well, and it’s working better than I expected,” said her brother, Chris, a junior, in the press release.

The eldest daughter Natalie, said, according to the press release, “As a senior, this has been really hard and it all came so suddenly. Through it all, the teachers and staff have been very supportive. I appreciate how much effort they are putting in to give us a ‘normal’ school life.”

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jamila Young, email her at News@BristolObserver.com.