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COVID-19 Update and School Info. 3-19-20

Dear​ ​St. ​Mary Families,

I​ ​want to express my sincere gratitude for your amazing partnership during this unprecedented time.  I know that the last few weeks have been filled with uncertainty and left us with questions that can’t be answered​ yet​.  I do know that we can find security and​ ​solace in our faith and in one another.  I have already witnessed the incredible ways our school community has come together to support one another.  Your messages of encouragement and support to our ​faculty and ​staff mean so much.​

Included in this email is (more) general information to help you and your family manage during the school closure, as well as ​​an outline ​of what our academic, financial, and religious expectations will be (for the time-being) during our school closure period​.

Early Learning:

Our​ ​ELC will ​remain open for the foreseeable future.

As many of you are already aware, Governor Inslee’s proclamation from Friday of last week stated:

“Nothing in this order shall be construed as precluding a public school district, charter school, or private schools from using their school facilities to provide childcare, nutrition programs, and other social services necessary to preserve and maintain life, health, property or the public peace.”

After consultation with officials from the Diocese of Spokane, other principals from the diocese, our administrative leadership team, and Fr. Lewis, St. Mary Catholic School will continue to offer Early Learning programming during the school closure. 

In an effort to serve the vulnerable, first responders, and those families with children in our Pre-K 3-4 and Kindergarten (ages 3-5), St. Mary will offer services consistent with its current Pre-K 3-4 programming, as well as Educare services between the hours of 7am-6pm daily for Pre-K 3-4 and Kindergarten students only.  Hours are subject to change depending on numbers.  We will stay open as long as it’s economically feasible.  The Admin Team and I will re-evaluate on Friday, March 20th, and communicate any changes to you posthaste.

 

What a gift it is that we can help the families of young children in this way!  I’m especially happy about making time for our hourly employees to work in this capacity.   Of course, we will employ ample staffing and strictly adhere to federal, state, and local health and safety regulations and social distancing protocols. 

Academic Focus/Expectations​:​

Our​ ​desire during this school closure is for our students to maintain their learning and

focus on their well-being--in mind, body, and spirit. Teachers ​have provid​ed resources and materials for students to ​use at home along with technological tools and strategies for our new Digital Learning Days model. These resources and materials will vary depending on grade level and provide an opportunity for students to remain active with their learning.  Please watch for emails from teachers with ongoing updates and additional information.  Attached you will find the Digital Learning Days (DLD) document I sent out last week as well as our new St. Mary Distance Learning Contingency Plan which will provide you with more information about expectations for teachers, students, and parents during the school closure.

ELC/K-8​ ​Tuition Payments​:​

I realize that this unforeseen situation with the Coronavirus has put many families in financial crisis due to schools and businesses being closed.  After discussion with parish leadership and our administrative team, we would like to inform you that we are​ ​committed to paying our staff during the school closure period--to the extent that we are able. We are currently looking at our school and parish financial reserves to plan for the impact this situation will have on our school.  In the meantime, as a gesture of good faith, your ACH payment will not be activated for April 1st and April 15th;  furthermore, Pre-School Tuition payments will not be billed unless your student/s are physically present in class.  It is imperative that we come to an agreement as soon as possible should you need to make a change.   Please communicate with Sharon Greany or me as soon as possible about how you would like to proceed financially.

In​ ​regards to your future tuition payments, we believe first and foremost your responsibility is to take care of your family during this time.  We ask you to prayerfully discern what you can afford to pay for tuition in April and the coming months, and we understand that it will look different​ ​for each family.  You are wonderful partners in educating your child, and we want to walk alongside you during this difficult time. 

Mass and Faith Formation:

St. Mary will be live streaming our masses in light of the Bishop’s closure of churches on Tuesday.  Anyone can access this live stream by visiting stmaryspokane.org/live at any of our regularly scheduled mass times.  Our school mass will continue on Tuesdays at 8:15 am; please invite your sons and daughters to celebrate mass with us remotely from home at this time. 

Father Lewis will continue to offer faith formation to students during the closure.  He plans to record his weekly lessons and upload them to Google for teachers to send out to students for viewing.  Please make time in your school schedules with your student/s for their spiritual well-being (and yours)--which is especially vital during this uncertain and difficult time.

Together​, we will get through this​! ​ Certainly, the power of “Holy Spirit moments” has already warmed our hearts and shown us God’s strength, grace, and courage. ​ ​Our St. ​Mary community is made up of ​compassionate people committed to serving one another.  Our selfless service to and compassion​ ​for one another will be a source of strength and comfort in the days and weeks to come. 

We​ ​will keep our St. ​Mary families, our nation, and our world in our prayers and eagerly await our ability to be together again, God willing, on April 27th.

In​ ​Christ's Peace,

Ben Walker​

Principal,

St. Mary Catholic School