UPDATED – March 25, 2020, 10:45AM

OC Catholic Schools Superintendent Dr. Erin Barisano’s message during the second week of online schooling. from Diocese of Orange on Vimeo.

UPDATED – March 24, 2020, 9:20AM

Dear Catholic School Parents,

As we begin Week Two of our distance learning program, I want to share a few thoughts with you. First, I am so grateful for our dedicated principals and teachers who have worked tirelessly to prepare for distance learning.  I admire their faith-filled commitment, dedication, and initiative that they have shown in preparing for this endeavor. To ensure that our teachers have the support they need, we are partnering with Loyola Marymount University for focused professional development in the area of distance learning.  This professional development will be ongoing so that our teachers have access to the tools they need.

In my communication dated March 13, I stated students would return to campus on April 20, 2020.  While we have not made any decisions to extend this date, we recognize that the situation is fluid and we are committed to ensuring that our students, teachers, and family are safe. We will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC and OC Health Agency as we make decisions about returning to campus.

Finally, although things may look different for all of us for a while, we are confident that together we can continue our mission of faith formation and academic excellence through distance learning. As such, we need your commitment to continue paying tuition.  The quality of education remains the same and the level of individualized learning has increased for our students.  With your partnership, we will continue to educate our students and lead them closer to Christ so that they may transform the world.

Thank you for being an important part of our Catholic school community.  We are grateful to be sharing this journey with you.

In mission,

Erin C.O. Barisano, Ed. D.

Superintendent of Schools

Diocese of Orange

Download letter:  DoO Parents_03 24 2020

UPDATED – March 22, 2020, 3:45pm

A Message to Parents from Dr. Erin Barisano, Superintendent of Schools from Diocese of Orange on Vimeo.

UPDATED – March 13, 2020, 1:58PM

From Dr. Erin C. O. Barisano, Superintendent of Catholic Schools

March 13, 2020

Dear Diocese of Orange families,

As a follow up to my previous letter, I want to reiterate that the public’s health and safety are paramount to the Diocese of Orange and all of our community and educational partners. While there have been no confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses within any of our schools, we want to ensure that we are acting with prudence and diligence for the best interest of our students, teachers, and families.

After careful consideration and in light of the fluid nature of this pandemic, the Diocese of Orange elementary schools will close their school buildings and cancel classes and student-related activities from March 16 April 17, 2020. We plan to re-open schools on April 20, 2020 following the Easter Break. This closure includes any planned school events such as fundraisers, community events as well as field trips. This closure means that school buildings will not be open to children, parents, or community members during this time. Course content will be delivered utilizing the Diocesan distance learning protocol which has been distributed to all schools.

I understand this is an evolving health concern, and guidance is changing daily. This complex decision involved close collaboration and coordination with the Orange County Health Agency and Bishop Kevin Vann. I also ask that you please inform your school principal if your child receives a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.

I understand this may cause a hardship for many families. We made this decision out of maximum consideration for the health and safety of our children and school community members.

As we proceed, we are aware that there continues to be many concerns around COVID-19 and want to ensure families that we are working closely with OC Health Agency for updates and guidance. For the latest information on COVID-19, families are encouraged to visit the OC Health Agency web page dedicated to COVID-19 (http://www.ochealthinfo.com/) and the DoO Parents_03 24 2020CDC homepage.

As a community of faith, let us hold one another in prayer during this challenging time.  Please pray especially for the sick, health care providers, public health officials, and all community leaders during the weeks to come.

For updates regarding this closure, please visit our OC Catholic Schools website at https://occatholicschools.org//.

In mission,

Erin C.O. Barisano, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Diocese of Orange

Download letter:  COVID OC school closure EB_CORRECTED

UPDATED – March 13, 2020, 1:52PM

From Santa Margarita Catholic High School

March 13, 2020

Dear SMCHS Community,

In the best interest of the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and local communities, and in collaboration with Bishop Kevin Vann and Diocese of Orange Superintendent Dr. Erin Barisano, SMCHS will shift our instructional efforts to our online one-to-one tablet PC program. The transition to online classes will begin Wednesday, March 18, with a plan to resume in-person classes on Monday, April 20, at the earliest.

Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17, will be student holidays with virtual instruction beginning on Wednesday, March 18, for all students. Spring break will still take place Holy Thursday, April 9, through Sunday, April 19.

All class content will be delivered remotely for students via the school’s one-to-one tablet PC program. Students will utilize the same programs they have been using through much of their instructional experience here at SMCHS, such as Microsoft Teams, OneNote and our Learning Portal.  Beginning March 18, students will access these same programs at home on their tablets to attend virtual classes. Teachers will be reaching out to students with course-specific plans for instruction in the coming days. Many thanks to our extraordinary teachers for being on the frontlines, leading and reassuring our students while doing something totally unprecedented with love, grace and professionalism.

Students should anticipate an average workload of 4-5 hours per week, per class. Workloads will include, but are not limited to:

  • Attending virtual class meetings
  • Watching/listening/reading/participating/practicing
  • Connecting with peers in subject specific discussion boards and documents
  • Homework
  • Projects
  • Reports

AP and IB courses may assign additional work, projects and/or practice tests as needed.

All students should check into their teacher’s portal or Microsoft Teams at the start of each period for attendance. Students are not required to be online Saturday and Sunday; however, students will be expected to check Microsoft Teams, the Learning Portal and their SMCHS email multiple times daily.

In preparation for this transition all students are required to bring all their school materials, tablets, chargers and any pertinent instructional material home at the conclusion of school on Friday, March 13. In addition, the following tips are provided for the student home educational experience:

  • At home, families are asked, if possible, to set up a consistent “classroom space” where students can log in and attend class online. We strongly encourage families to find a space where distractions may be minimized and nothing deemed inappropriate according to our school’s parent-student handbook.
  • To maximize the virtual classroom experience, all are encouraged to utilize headphones while attending online classes.

We recognize that this temporary school closure will create new considerations for our families to navigate and you may have many questions. Communication with academic instructions for students and details regarding technology support services will be sent out on Monday. In addition, SMCHS will update you regularly via email and on the SMCHS COVID-19 reference page.

As we navigate through this unprecedented time together, there will be challenges. However, we are prayerful that compassion, support and perseverance will guide us through this situation together.

Thank you for your continued partnership in keeping our SMCHS family and the surrounding community safe.



Andrew Sulick ’91


UPDATED – March 13, 2020

From Mater Dei High School

Dear Parents and Students,

Good morning and I hope you and your family are well.

As I said in my letter yesterday, we at MDHS are making decisions regarding school remaining open or voluntarily closing as other schools have done. While we continue to follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control, the CA and OC Health Departments’ guidelines, it is in collaboration with Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Orange and Dr. Erin Barisano, Superintendent of Catholic Schools that the President, Fr. Steve Sallot and the entire MD Administrative Team have made the following decision: Mater Dei High School will close to all students effective as of end of school today March 13 through Friday, April 17.

Effective March 16 and 17 all teachers will be on campus to refine and put final details to an Online Education Program for all students.

Effective March 18 , Online Learning will begin for all students at their homes or at a place of parents choosing. We ask both parents and students to log in to CANVAS by 9:15am Wednesday morning to be introduced to the Online Learning Program and expectations.

Effective March 13, all athletic games and practices are postponed until further notice. Please check the Master Calendar section of the MD website for updates. All school events through the end of March are cancelled or postponed. (See Master Calendar for updates)

Please note: No cases of Coronavirus have been diagnosed for any staff member or student at Mater Dei High School

As of today, school offices will continue to be open; students will continue to take Easter Break as per the MD Master Calendar, April 9-17. We will continue to update parents through our Monarch News and the MD website as this “New Normal” develops or changes.

May Our Blessed Mother, Mary Mater Dei, continue to watch over our MD community throughout this period of “New Normal.”


Frances Clare



UPDATED – March 12, 2020

Dear Catholic School Parents:

May God’s blessings be with you during this Lenten season. Because of the spread of COVID-19 in our state and following the recommendations of the California Department of Public Health, we may need to take the necessary step of temporarily closing a school or schools and implement distance learning. I am writing to tell you about the circumstances under which we would close a school, and the steps we will take to ensure continuity of learning for students while they are home using technology.

Circumstances Under Which We Would Close a School
Our policy for the temporary closure of a school follows the recommendations of the California Department of Public Health from their document “School Guidance on Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19” dated March 7, 2020. In the section “Scenario III: Measures to be taken if one student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and exposed others at the school,” the document reads:

“If one student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and exposed others at the school, CDPH recommends that school administrators implement the following steps:

  • In consultation with the local public health department, the appropriate school official may consider if school closure is warranted and length of time based on the risk level within the specific community as determined by the local public health officer.
  • In consultation with the local public health department, school officials may determine readmission criteria after the school closures.”

In short, if a student, teacher, or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, I will contact the health department and move to initiate a two-week closure of the campus, effective immediately.

In a subsequent section entitled “Scenario IV,” the same document provides for the closure of more than one school in a region. I would make such a decision in consultation with the appropriate public authorities and Bishop Kevin Vann.

Preparation for Distance Learning

To keep our students engaged, learning, and in community with each other during a trying time, we are preparing all of our schools to support distance learning for all students. Our teachers and principals are creating and preparing plans for remote instruction. We have provided our principals with a vast amount of resources related to distance learning. On Friday, March 13th my team and I will meet with principals to discuss the resources and plan for a potential school closure. Your individual school principal and I will communicate with you about next steps should we have to close your school.

In terms of distance learning, the intent is not to replace the experience a student would have in his or her classroom, but to support them with continued learning while away from campus. The lesson plans and activities the teacher has organized will help them to progress to the end of the year goals. If a school does need to suspend on-campus instruction, teachers and principals will be available during the time of school closure to help answer any questions you may have regarding the assignments.

Please know that we will work together with the appropriate public health officials to return students to school as quickly and as safely as possible in the event of a closure. We know that the uncertainty of potential school closures is stressful for all involved, but we remain focused on the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff, and all of their families.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

In mission,

Erin C.O. Barisano, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Diocese of Orange

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