Beckman Catholic released the school’s Return to Learn plan to parents last week. And while the school is planning for a hybrid model that offers in-person instruction to students to the greatest extent possible, principal Marcel Kielkucki warned patrons that plans could change.
“The situation with the virus continues to evolve and change, as will our learning in the fall. This plan is based on the information we have at this time.”
The hybrid model will consist of in-person instruction, as well as online instruction that will be used in two situations. “If we have individuals who have to quarantine because of a positive case or had close contact to a positive case, we would have some options for those students to be able to do school work from home,” Kielkucki explained. “We are also looking at the concept of exploring options for families not quite ready yet to have students return to in-person learning, at least for the first month of school.”
Kielkucki said those not yet ready to return could be allowed to learn from home through a request with school officials.
The school will work with public health officials to determine how best to utilize social distancing in the building.
“Based on what we are getting now for guidance, we are looking at things where in particular we can have six feet of separation to the greatest extent possible. When we can’t do those things, what can we do to have as much as possible?” Kielkucki said. He added that discussions will be ongoing with the Iowa Department of Education and Dubuque County Public Health.
“Today we have this information, but three weeks from now we could have different information that tells us we can do something else. That’s where the challenge is. We are working on these things as we are getting more information and new interpretations.”
He said school officials will discuss masks and face coverings with public health officials about recommendations. “Right now, we are feeling like it is our expectation that students wear them.”
In the letter to parents, Kielkucki said the school would provide two face masks to every student and staff member. In addition, the letter stated “Lessons and instructions will be provided to students on the appropriate use of face coverings, as well as the prevention of stigmas associated with use or non-use of face coverings.”
When Beckman Catholic suspended classes in the spring, school officials opted for the required learning option for students. Should schools across the state be forced to offer online learning this year, required learning will be the only option available. Kielkucki said their past experience with required learning will benefit students and staff if they are required to do that again.
“We learned a lot from that situation,” Kielkucki said. “As part of our return to learn plan we surveyed our staff, our students and our parents about what worked and what didn’t. We have taken some of those ideas to look at in case we have to go that route.”
The survey also showed a desire by all groups to be more connected through social media. “Instead of just having learning where students put in their own time,” Kielkucki explained, “students would have opportunities where the expectation is to be on with their classmates and teachers doing some work.”
Kielkucki said regardless of the school’s plan to deliver instruction, the Catholic mission of the school will remain a focal point. “As we work through these things, we are keeping in mind that we are a Catholic school. How do we keep being a Catholic school, how will we continue to embed our faith in the things we do? That’s an important part of who we are.”
Kielkucki stressed that as things change, school officials will get information to parents as quickly as possible, adding, “We want to be deliberate so we are making good decisions based on the information we are receiving.”
In the letter to parents, Kielkucki asked parents to remain positive. “We understand that each decision we make will not make everyone happy, but please remain positive around your children. Their attitude about school will directly correlate with yours.”