ELLICOTT CITY, MD — In the hopes of helping its students feel less afraid and worried during these challenging times, one Ellicott City school has encouraged its families to engage in virtual activities that have a positive impact on students and front line workers.
Folakemi Awe, spokesperson for St. John's Parish Day School, told Patch that the sudden change in people's way of life due to the coronavirus has been "overwhelming" for families.
"But our families are adapting well to the new learning environment and being apart. One of the most important attributes of our school is the family atmosphere and spirit of community, which we are maintaining at this time of social distancing. To help us stay connected, we hold community building activities such as Virtual Spirit Week, Appreciation Week, Celebrate the Arts Week and virtual assemblies all to maintain and encourage school spirit and positivity," Awe told Patch.
Families also are maintaining connections with one another to help their kids cope.
"For example, some families are having Zoom lunch and recess, game time, etc. with their classmates. Additionally, our chaplain continues to be a resource for families to receive words of encouragement, counseling, virtual chapels and prayers," said Awe.
As soon as schools were closed, leaders with St. John's Parish Day School sent home learning packets and materials designed to be a continuation of classroom lessons, along with learning tools.
"This ensured our students got off to a strong academic start for distance learning. As students started to regularly see their classmates and teachers via Zoom, completing assignments and establishing new routines, they have adapted well to our online learning program," said Awe. "We understand that this transition is challenging for all and we did not want to overwhelm parents with too much, too soon. So we decided to roll out parts of our multi-faceted distance learning program over the course of two weeks to allow time for families to get acquainted. At the completion of our first month, we surveyed parents for feedback and learned that while a few are still adjusting, most are managing and learning how to work sustainably. We appreciate the parents' commitment, flexibility and partnership to navigate this new learning environment. We have received very positive feedback from parents on our distance learning program.
Of course, the district also is making sure students know how much they're missed and are encouraged to express gratitude to those who are helping save lives.
"We had a drive-thru to distribute learning materials, Easter treats and thank you cards that students can use to show appreciation for first responders. Encouraging the spirit of gratitude in the children especially towards essential workers who tirelessly offer themselves in ensuring our safety as a community," Awe told Patch.