KAPA‘A — Monday was the first day back from spring break for St. Catherine School second grader Kaylee Fujii, and in celebration, she took a few extra turns on her bicycle at the school’s turnaround.
“They love school,” said Douglas Fujii, Kaylee’s dad who watched the second grader tool around the turnaround loop while watching Taylor Fujii, a preschool (PK4) student. “They are excited to be back.”
St. Catherine School principal David Adams smiled.
“It’s good that everything in this school is spread out,” he said. “They can come in for their educational packets, and do a few extra laps to enjoy the fresh air.”
The school opened to a different world, one of distance learning due to concerns around COVID-19.
Superintendent Dr. Mike Rockers of the Catholic Schools Hawai‘i sent notices informing schools and parents of the postponement of ‘in person’ classes through at least April 10, triggering staff and teachers into action, preparing for the distance learning.
“I have a great sense of pride in working with such a talented staff,” Adams said. “Their vision, flexibility, and passion about student success comes shining through during this global issue. Going forward, the biggest challenge we have will be keeping the personal connection with our learning community as centuries of research always indicate great teaching comes from the nature of the relationship between the student and the teacher.”
Two days before spring break started, on March 12, St. Catherine was ready with distance learning.
“We held two assemblies with our students to calm them, but keep them informed,” Adams said. “We were already prepared to offer distance education for our learning community, and in fact, some teachers, on the last day before break, did send home some work packages with students — just in case.”
With the implementation of the mayor’s Stay at Home Program, St. Catherine School moved to full off-campus education until the mandate ends.
Pickup of student assignments and Chrome Books in compliance with the social distancing guidelines took place at Coyle Hall where each grade level had its own table set up containing that class’s students.
“Each teacher brings their own set of talents, skills, and expertise as an educator,” Adams said. “The delivery of education in the off-campus education program will vary widely as does the teaching style of each of our talented staff. It is essential to stress the importance of education and while teaching delivery may differ, the learning of the curricula outcomes is vital for student growth.”
Adams said this is important work.
“Students will be responsible for the work assigned during this time,” Adams said. “This work will be used to formulate assessments and marks in the classes. Students not doing their assigned work risk non-completion status for their current grade level that could result in summer school remediation.”
A staff that is in compliance with social distancing guidelines will be available at the school during the week days.
Also on the calendar of the spring semester, the annual St. Catherine School Carnival scheduled for May 1 and 2 has been postponed until some time in the fall. All tickets sold will be honored at the rescheduled event.
“Based on my humble observations, the great people of Kaua‘i are definitely up for the obstacles that COVID-19 will bring to the Garden Island,” Adams said. “There are numerous examples of the people here stepping up again and again to overcome even the most difficult circumstances. And we will, again.”