Staying Connected – Dec 17
With the New Year comes more ways to engage with your fellow Marauders in class and on-campus
The angel of Lord said to them, “Do not be afraid; for, behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
As the last day of our Fall Semester arrives, we have been reflecting on the experience of the second quarter in hybrid learning and thoughtfully reviewing the responses from our survey of Jesuit households. Below you will find Jesuit High School Sacramento’s plans for our return to campus in the second semester. The core of our academic programming will remain the same – but additional options have been added. Our aggressive mitigation plan and screening program have minimized the need for students and employees to quarantine by identifying infectious students and employees prior to them participating in in-person learning or co-curricular activities. This experience also gives us confidence we can safely expand our programming.
We were not surprised that most families responded in our survey that they desired increased access to campus for their son(s). We also learned that our families are satisfied with the workload and pace of classes, feel supported by the faculty, and hope for more energy and student life on campus. Our goal for the Spring Semester is to build upon what we have learned and to enhance the Jesuit experience while maintaining the highest standards of safety when we return in January.
The sections below describe the adjustments to our program that allow for greater access to campus and to school resources while maintaining the structure of the academic program and our health and safety practices.
Return to Campus in January and Additional Screening
January 4 – 8 First Week Back
We will begin the first week of the second semester (January 4 – 8, 2021) in full Distance Learning. This allows teachers to begin classes and meet all of their new students in the same format and provides for focused attention for everyone; moreover, it is simpler than the hybrid, dual-delivery model when doing the class orientation. This will also allow for a consistent, smooth start to the semester for our students as they focus on their academics, which may have new syllabi and expectations. The Distance Learning schedule can be found in the Bell Schedule under the All Distance Learning tab.
Second, with the likelihood of holiday gatherings contributing to the spread of COVID in the region, Jesuit wants to ensure we maintain our high standards of virus mitigation established during the last three months. As such, we are adding additional screening measures for COVID prevention upon our return in January; having the first week of classes be remote will allow time to do universal testing to establish a baseline of our Jesuit population prior to their in-person on-campus return.
January 6 Jesuit COVID-19 Testing
On Wednesday, January 6, Jesuit will provide an enhanced all-day, drive-thru PCR testing for all faculty, staff and students. This is a molecular COVID test and is considered the “gold standard” for confirmatory results. These PCR tests are now done with the same swabbing technique currently used during the weekly screening and is no longer the more invasive nasal sampling. Samples will be sent to an off-site laboratory and results will be provided by Saturday, January 9. A sign-up form will be sent out over break to schedule our employees and students for their drive-thru time. We will also send additional information on how results will be provided. Testing will be done in our Jesuit parking lot.
The PCR test will be mandatory for anyone who will be returning to campus from January 11-January 22. Students who miss the January 6 PCR testing will need to remain on distance learning for two additional weeks and may then begin their in-person learning on January 25 after completing their standard Monday and/or Thursday COVID screening process.
January 11 Orientations for students who have yet to return to campus
We are aware of several families who chose not to return to campus in the Fall semester and are now ready to return. We will hold our return-to-campus orientation for those students on the morning of January 11. Please contact Meghan Blees (Meghan.Blees@Jesuithighschool.org) and she can work with you on confirming that you have completed all the necessary paperwork.
The Immunify app that we have been using for uploading screening results, noting possible exposures or symptoms, and scanning into classrooms or activities, has been purchased by another company and is no longer available for our free use. While this application was a helpful tool, we are confident that our experience in weekly screening combined with the broader Safe Return Plan will allow us to manage this process using other tools at our disposal. You may delete the app at any time as it will no longer be supported by the developer.
Our plan is to use PowerSchool, our Student Information System, to note a student’s screening status, which makes that information available for teachers when taking attendance. We have found that using our already existing system will provide a more efficient and functional process with more control by school personnel. PowerSchool is a highly secure and trusted system and will not require that Jesuit adopt and learn another new program. Details on this will be communicated prior to our return.
January 11 In-person Learning Begins with same Academic Bell Schedule (Mon/Tues & Thurs/Fri)
Students will return to in-person classes on campus on the week of January 11. Students wishing to continue with distance learning may do so in the same fashion as before break. Our students, faculty and staff have adapted and are doing well with the current class schedule. We will not be changing the structure of the Academic Bell Schedule; the core of the academic bell schedule remains unchanged.
Increased Student Access to Campus
Beginning January 11, students may attend in-person classes on all four academic instruction days (Mon/Tues & Thurs/Fri) if they choose. As we reviewed actual numbers and trends of students attending classes on-campus and fine-tuned social and physical distancing that complimented the COVID screening, we determined this four-day option was safely attainable.
The Red and Gold cohorts that limited student access to campus to a particular set of days have been eliminated (although we may use the Red and Gold designations for other programming needs). We will instead allow students to choose to be on campus on either or both of the Red and Gold cycles if they participate in the screening session for that cycle – which means students that would like to access campus on both Red days(M/T) and Gold days (Th/F) will need to complete COVID screening both on Monday and on Thursday. To clarify, a Monday antigen screening clears a student through Wednesday, a Thursday antigen screening clears a student through Saturday. This screening schedule aids us in contact tracing should the virus become present on campus or a close-contact occurs.
You will also notice in the bell schedule that we have added more specific programming to Wednesdays and Saturdays that falls within the screening windows.
Our experience with screening, virus mitigation, contact tracing, and quarantining have led us to conclude that these new opportunities for students are safe and feasible. The screening program and all of our other existing mitigation protocols will help keep our campus safe and open for students, faculty, and staff while providing additional support, enrichment and activities for our Marauders.
Wednesday Student Support Day
The Wednesday Student Support Day has proven to be a helpful element of the plan, and we see from our survey feedback that the workload, screen time, and class pace are more sustainable and healthy than they were in our first quarter. We will continue to offer this Student Support Day with a new schedule.
In response to our desire to provide greater student engagement in school life and access to campus resources, the Wednesday schedule has more structure and defined on-campus offerings. Office hours are valuable to many of our students, while others prefer different engagements. Wednesdays are now designed to meet a variety of student needs while not interrupting the office hours for students who are benefitting from that time. More details and options on ways that students can increase their engagement in activities on their Wednesday Support Days will be shared shortly.
To add more structure and best account for the actual Office Hours being used by students and faculty, we looked at times during the week when students had other flexible opportunities to reach out for one-on-one teacher support. A very visible opportunity was the extra time available on mornings for students after their screening, or before class on non-screening days. This morning time would be better used for office hours, allowing students to schedule with their teachers as they see fit. This movement of Office Hours to mornings then allows Wednesdays to host more concrete programming for academic enrichment. Teachers are, of course, allowed to offer office hours outside that scheduled time, but would be expected to have at least one hour on a morning for students to access help, either on Zoom or on campus.
One element that is still fluid is the winter weather’s impact on our student lunch periods. Due to the physical distancing requirement of our Safe Return Plan, finding enough space for students to eat outside without masks can be difficult during inclement weather. We are expanding our outdoor eating areas, but they may become insufficient if there is too much wind and rain. Jesuit is prepared to announce All-School Distance Learning Days (similar to a Snow Day in other climates) if we feel we are unable to host an on-campus school day due to inclement weather.
Epicurean, our food-service provider, will have additional changes and options in the second semester; more details will be provided as we near the start of on-campus classes.