While the extent of this spring’s school closing is unprecedented, students at Most Blessed Sacrament School in Berlin, Md., were familiar with completing work from home thanks to some advance planning. Five years ago, the school, in conjunction with the diocesan Catholic Schools Office, implemented “Blizzard Bags,” a program designed to continue learning for weather-related closures.
Amanda Evans, director of admissions and advancement at Most Blessed Sacrament, said although current circumstances are much different than a two-day snowstorm, having a plan in place proved helpful.
“With the news that a closing was very likely to happen, our principal, Kathy Manns, instructed teachers to have two weeks of current and meaningful schoolwork prepared to distribute to our students in all grades,” she said.
The school has been using Zoom and Microsoft Calls to connect electronically with students. Students of all ages were afforded the opportunity to take a device home if they needed one to do their work.
“Our goal is to make everyone’s e-learning experience as streamlined as possible,” Evans said.
School officials are concerned with the emotional well-being of their students and their families, as well as the academics. Teachers and the guidance counselor have been checking in with families on a regular basis.
Manns has been airing morning announcements and prayers through Facebook Live each day at 9 as a way to keep the school on schedule as much as possible. Evans said those efforts have helped keep the school community connected.
Most Blessed Sacrament also has used social media to reach its families. The school has held a spirit week, and it has featured a teacher of the day. Manns shares a bedtime story to engage the younger students during Tuesday Tales, and she prays the rosary weekly.
“I am humbled by the devotion to Catholic education, the dedication to instruction and the compassion as to what is truly taking place around us that our teachers have shown,” Manns said. “Most Blessed Sacrament has not missed a beat educating the mind, strengthening the body and nurturing the soul of our students.”