Excitement filled the halls at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School (OLS) as students kicked off the 2020-2021 school year eager to learn and prepared for the new health protocols the school established based on the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the American Association of Pediatrics, and state and local recommendations.
“This year, more than ever, the sense of enthusiasm and joy can be felt throughout the building, as it came back to life with our students,” said OLS Principal Mary Jane Dorn. “We prepared all summer to put our new safety protocols and guidelines in place and have diligently educated our staff and student families to keep everyone as safe as possible,” she said.
In light of the pandemic, over the summer months, a parent portal was established to inform families about important information related to the upcoming school year. The site will continue to be used to post updates and important information in the coming weeks and months. “OLS School is focusing on the three pillars set forth by the Diocese of Birmingham Catholic Schools Office: prevention, protection, and preparedness,” said Mrs. Dorn. “The health and safety of our students and staff members remain our top priority.”
Currently, the parent portal includes useful links, a variety of resources, a detailed handbook, and a video created by the school’s faculty and staff that demonstrates safety reminders for the students. Some of the new protocols established this school year to minimize the possible exposure of COVID 19 include: morning carpool health screenings, assigned entrances for teachers and each grade, safe hygiene classroom procedures, directional signage in the hallways, social distancing classroom furniture, no mixing of classes and other grade levels, lunch eaten in the classroom with privacy folders as partitions while facial coverings are removed, and sanitizing classrooms during the day. In addition, classes take frequent “mask breaks” outside and enjoy social distancing recess as well. Volunteers are also not permitted inside the building at this time.
As needed, the OLS CASE (Continuation of Academic and Spiritual Education) Learning document for virtual learning is in place. If a student or a class requires quarantine, or if the school has to resort to virtual instruction at any given time, this style of learning will go into effect. “We believe readiness for sudden shifts in learning formats will be a hallmark of this school year.”
The school is also holding their weekly school liturgies. Two classes each week are assigned to participate in Mass held in the church while social distancing. In addition, another designated class attends a separate Mass in the church parish hall. The remainder of the student body participates in the Liturgy by watching the live-streamed Mass in their classrooms. Parents are also invited to virtually join in the weekly celebration at home.
“Overall, we will be updating our procedures as we determine more efficient and safer ways to operate,” says Mrs. Dorn. “Together we can help to keep each other healthy and happy!” Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School fosters the religious, academic, and social development of every child, recognizing that knowledge enlightened by faith and realized through service is at the heart of Catholic education. To learn more about Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School, click here. †