Updates


UPDATED 2 JUNE 2020, 4:30pm

2 June 2020

 

Dear OC Catholic School Families,

I pray that this message finds you and your families safe and in good health.

As stated in my previous letter, we are planning to return to school at our traditional time in August. While we do not know what public health guidelines will be then, our plan is to return to in-person instruction at all of our school campuses. Our priority is to ensure that our students, teachers, and staff can confidently return to a safe and healthy campus that is conducive to teaching, learning, and faith formation. To that end, we are developing re-opening plans that reflect the results of the Diocesan Parent Survey and that also adhere to the health standards and physical distancing protocols we anticipate being recommended by the California Department of Education and the Orange County Health Agency. As soon as we receive guidance from state and county health experts, we will be in a position to finalize our plans. Based on what I have seen so far, our public authorities are taking a practical approach to our response to COVID-19 as they formulate their guidelines.

We understand that families want to know as soon as possible what next year will look like. Your school is working hard to prepare flexible plans that include the following options:

  • Full-time return to school with social distancing measures in place
  • Hybrid model with a smaller number of students attending alternate days/times
  • Continued distance learning model for families who desire this alternative
  • Schools will share more detailed information about their plans in the next few weeks.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all parents who completed our Diocesan Parent Survey. We received a tremendous response from you! Please know that your feedback will assist us in identifying priorities for our Catholic school families and this will shape our plans moving forward. The Department of Catholic Schools team and the Principal Task Force will compile and analyze the data from our parent survey. A final report of our survey findings will be sent to you soon, along with information on what to expect as we re-open our Catholic schools.

As this most extraordinary school year comes to a close, we’ve witnessed equally extraordinary commitment on the part of our Catholic schools and Catholic school families to ensure the continuation of faith and learning for our children despite a societal shutdown. To our students, parents, teachers, principals, and pastors, thank you for being “Church” when Church has mattered most.

We promise to keep you informed as these plans evolve.

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us as we journey together towards Christ!

In mission,

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

Download letter here:  DoO Parents_06 02 2020

UPDATED 12 MAY 2020, 4:30 PM

12 May 2020

Dear Catholic School Families,

Thank you for your patience and partnership as we navigate these extraordinary times.

Last week, Governor Newsom announced that California would begin to transition to the second stage of our roadmap for recovery by allowing lower-risk businesses to reopen. Schools and child care facilities are included in stage two. Looking ahead, we are making plans to re-open our Catholic school campuses to resume school in August. Though we cannot determine what the public health conditions will look like for schools in August, our goal is to return to in-class instruction. A task force of diocesan and school leaders is in the process of developing planning assumptions and recommendations for reopening campuses. Implementation of these guidelines will include a variety of health and safety precautions.  It is highly likely that social-distancing requirements will necessitate the need to limit the number of students on campus at one time.  If this is the case, we will create a hybrid model of education to blend classroom instruction and distance learning as an alternative to campus closures.  We feel confident that we can work within these guidelines, but we must work with our principals, pastors, and school board members to determine a realistic plan for each school site.  The summer will allow us time to further our plans and put the necessary measures in place.

As we work through this process, there are numerous variables to analyze at each site and we are being very thoughtful as we address new concerns as they present themselves. While our goal is to have all of our teachers and students return to our campuses in August, we continue to be mindful of those members of our school communities who are considered high-risk and will develop alternate plans for them. We also acknowledge that we should anticipate the possibility of a resumption of distance learning if the Stay-at-Home order is reinstated. We will be prepared for both scenarios.

The past eight weeks have taught us that we are at our best when we work together toward a common goal.  For our Catholic schools, our common goal is to educate our children in a community of faith. I continue to be inspired by the strength and resilience of our school and parish communities as evidenced throughout this crisis.  I am in awe of our teachers and principals who lead with love, even on the hardest of days.  I am grateful for our partnership with our parents who will always be the primary educators of their children. Thank you for being an important part of our Catholic school community.  We are grateful to be sharing this journey with you.

In a recent reflection by Pope Francis, he reminds us: “We are not alone, the Lord goes before us on our journey, and removes the stones that paralyze us.” This is the hope that no one can take from us, the pope says. May we continue to be filled with the hope of the Risen Lord as we carefully plan and courageously dream for the future of our Catholic schools.

I will continue to communicate with you as we move through our decision-making process and to keep you informed as our plans are finalized.

In mission,

 

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

Download letter here:  DoO Parents_05 12 2020

UPDATED 8 MAY 2020, 8:37AM

Dr. Barisano’s Message to Teachers – May 8, 2020 from Diocese of Orange on Vimeo.

UPDATED – APRIL 30, 2020, 9:00AM

April 30, 2020

 

Dear Catholic School Parents,

I pray that this note finds you healthy and well as we continue our stay-at-home order.  While these days seem to melt into one another, please know that our schools continue to work harder than ever as we continue distance learning.  Our Department of Catholic Schools team worked diligently over Easter break to ensure that our teachers and principals have access to the right tools so your children’s learning experiences are meaningful, relevant, and grounded in our Catholic faith.  Whether we are gathered together in a virtual classroom or participating in a streaming mass, the past six weeks have proven that our Catholic schools continue to be committed to academic excellence, faith formation, and service.

Two days ago Governor Newsom announced that the 2020-2021 school year may start as early as July or August to make up for learning lost this spring.  As I have previously communicated, Catholic schools were able to pivot quickly and adapt to distance learning almost overnight. The level of thoughtful preparation and professional support has made it possible to keep our students on track for promotion to the next grade level without experiencing a loss in learning. Thus, our schools will adhere to a traditional school calendar and begin the school year as scheduled in late August or September. Additionally, as members of the California Association of Private School Organizations, we have been reassured that no formal consideration of protocols for the reopening of campuses has been launched at the state level, and that the views and concerns of the private school community will definitely be sought.

As we look to returning to campuses in August, there are still many uncertainties surrounding us.  Please know that we are discussing contingency plans with our principals and collaborating with other dioceses throughout California.  We are in constant contact with the Orange County Department of Education and Orange County Health Care Agency, but even then, it is difficult to plan for an unknown future.  The health and safety of our students and teachers continue to guide our decision-making, and we are exercising both creativity and caution as we vision our return to our school campuses.  Social distancing, disinfecting protocols, hand washing, and technology are at the heart of our conversations as we draft plans to bring our students back to campus.  Rest assured that you will hear from my office as well as from your school principal as plans unfold.

Pope Francis tells us, “Hope opens new horizons, making us capable of dreaming what is not even imaginable.” As people of faith, may we be filled with the hope of the Risen Lord as we carefully plan and courageously dream for the future of our Catholic schools.

In mission,

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

Download letter:  DoO Parents_04 30 2020

UPDATED – APRIL 14, 2020, 3:00PM

Weekly Message from Dr. Erin Barisano, Superintendent of Orange Catholic Schools – April 14, 2020 from Diocese of Orange on Vimeo.

UPDATED – April 9, 2020, 9:20AM

A message to Catholic school educators from Auxiliary Bishop Nguyen from Diocese of Orange on Vimeo.

UPDATED – April 7, 2020, 9:00AM

April 7, 2020

 

Dear Catholic School Parents,

Blessings to you during this Holy Week.

As we recall Christ’s passion and prepare for the Easter Triduum, we find ourselves in a unique time in history. Instead of looking ahead to the joy of the resurrection, we are faced with burdens of uncertainty and the pain of loss. It is times like these that we rely on our faith more than ever.

Easter has always brought me immense joy, not only because of the Resurrection of our Lord, but because I love to host Easter dinner for my family and friends. I enjoy preparing food to share and games to play.  Even though my children are 12 and 15 years old, we still enjoy our annual Easter egg hunt with cousins and friends. This year, our Easter celebration will look very different.  I will miss my family and friends and the joy we share being together. I know that all of you are grappling with a similar sense of loss.

I know the past few weeks have looked different than any of us ever planned.  Instead of field trips, open houses and spring sports, we have been navigating distance learning with our children. I am so grateful to our principals and teachers who continue to make our children’s learning and faith formation a priority.  I am grateful to the thousands of parents who companion us on this journey because of their commitment to Catholic education. I am grateful to our beautiful students who have risen to the challenge and continue to be engaged and on task. Throughout this crisis, our Catholic schools have been a bright light shining as a testament of faith, excellence, and community.

While we would love to return to our beautiful school campuses in May, we expect campuses to remain closed through the remainder of the school year. The health and safety of our students and teachers are of paramount importance.  If, however, our public health officers deem it safe to return sooner we will adjust as needed. As we implement distance learning for the remainder of the school year, know that we are committed to ensuring that your children continue to achieve academically and grow in their faith.

While we do not know what the future holds, may we find comfort in knowing that we do not walk alone.  Like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, may we open our hearts to Christ in our midst and celebrate the risen Lord!

In mission,

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

Download letter:  DoO Parents_04 07 2020

UPDATED – April 1, 2020, 4:45M

April 1, 2020

Dear Catholic School Parents,

May the grace and peace of our Lord be with you during this extraordinary time.

This has been a trying time for all of us as we confront COVID-19.  The rapidly evolving news stories surrounding this pandemic have undoubtedly caused you great concern.  As we continue to practice social distancing and implement distance learning, we remember that although we are separated across our diocese, we are bound by our faith.

In accordance with the President’s updated guidelines, school campuses will remain closed through the end of April.  Yesterday, the California superintendent for public education recommended that public schools should prepare for distance learning for the remainder of the year.  While we are still hopeful that we might return to campus on May 4th, much will depend on orders from our government and public health officials.  Our timeline going forward will be informed by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, the Orange County Department of Education, and the Orange County Health Care Agency.

We continue to feel confident that our students are receiving a strong academic program delivered by highly qualified teachers. Our teachers are committed to ensuring that our children are meeting grade level academic standards and will be well prepared for the next grade level.  Although we do not gather on our school campuses daily, we continue to build community and communion through daily prayer and faith-filled communications.

Please know that the safety and well-being of your children remains our top priority.  We will continue to share updates with you as this situation evolves.

Pope Saint John Paul II reminds us to “Be not afraid.”

“Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”

May we take comfort in the love of Our God and allow Him to guide us and protect us during these uncertain times.

As we enter into Holy Week, please know you and your children are in my daily prayers. May Christ continue to bless you and your family and guide us as we move into the unknown.

In mission,

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

The letter dated April 1, 2020 is from Dr. Erin Barisano, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. As an addendum to this letter, Dr. Barisano has added this message:

Dear Parents,

After sending my letter dated April 1, 2020, Governor Newsom announced that closing California schools for the remainder of the academic year “is the right thing to do.” While this is not a mandate to close schools, it is likely that public schools across the state will remain closed.  As people of faith, we remain hopeful that our students will be able to return to campus before the end of the school year.  We will continue to make final decisions and announcements regarding campus closures in a timely manner as guided by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, the Orange County Department of Education, and the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Download letter:  DoO Parents_04 01 2020

UPDATED – April 1, 2020, 1:20PM

Superintendent of Catholic Schools Dr. Erin Barisano’s Week 3 message to parents and teachers. April 1, 2020 from Diocese of Orange on Vimeo.

 

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.

 

Sincerely,

Andrew Sulick ’91

President

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.”

Sincerely,

Frances Clare

Principal

DOWNLOAD FULL LETTER:  MDHS UPDATE_Coronavirus 3.13.2020

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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