Along with the rest of our nation (and world), Bishop Stang High School has moved online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the students, administration, teachers, staff, and families that usually create “Spartan Village” on Slocum Road are keeping the school community alive by other means during this period of social distancing.
On St. Patrick’s Day, Tuesday, March 17, after a weekend of extensive planning, training, and preparation, online school began. Bridget Bourque, English Teacher and Technology Integration Coordinator, helped to prepare teachers to utilize Zoom.us as the teleconference platform to deliver online instruction: “While the thought of moving online seemed daunting at first, our faculty and staff and students have been truly amazing at stepping out of their everyday classrooms and into the world of online learning. In the spirit of true community, our faculty members have assisted and encouraged one another in order to further Stang’s mission to provide the highest quality Catholic education even during these unprecedented times.”
The “school day” lasts from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and the schedule follows the regular rotation of classes the school normally uses. Five classes of 45 minutes in length meet each day with plenty of break time. Attendance is taken each period, instruction ensues, assessments are taken and teachers stay online after the school day ends if students need additional help. Both parents and teachers have appreciated the structure and ability to stay connected that this model brings. Bishop Stang parent, Sandy Thomas, commented, “As we now navigate the uncertainties that accompany the COVID19 pandemic, it is very encouraging to see how prepared and responsive Bishop Stang has been in the continued education of our children.”
Bishop Stang High School was uniquely prepared to meet this challenge. All students follow the “Bring Your Own Device” policy and all teachers receive a school-issued laptop. Additionally, teachers have drawn on years of experience with technology integration and blended learning to develop strategies for engaging their students. All teachers and students utilize Google Classroom on a daily basis.
While working from home, Bishop Stang continues to make educating the whole person a priority. All members of the community are encouraged to maintain a “wellness inventory” that includes the spiritual, physical, intellectual, intellectual, emotional, social and creative dimensions of each person’s life. School Counselors are available to students throughout the school day for academic counseling, to assist with the college search and selection process and for social-emotional support. President/Principal, Peter Shaughnessy stated: “We are fully committed to continuing the Bishop Stang educational experience for our students during this time. In addition to online learning, the health and well-being of our students is paramount and we are working hard to keep our school culture and sense of community alive and strong.”
There are myriad examples of school culture and community being kept alive during this challenging time. Organized by Campus Ministry, the school community continues to pray together, services opportunities are being explored and co-curricular clubs and organizations have begun their own online meetings and activities. The school’s choir conducted an online performance and several online mini-concerts are being planned. The inaugural concert on St. Patrick’s Day featured Bishop Stang’s very own history teacher and Irish musician, Tom Kennedy, on Facebook Live!
Furthermore, the school’s administrative offices continue to be fully operational. The admissions, business, advancement offices are fully operational although off-site. While this new experience evolves, constant feedback is sought in order to constructively assess the online program, adjust and improve.