A Toast of Praise Dominican faculty and personnel who ensures that our community provides an educational environment that is healthy and safe during a pandemic!
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Elementary & Secondary Education
St. Mary’s Dominican High School
New Orleans, Louisiana
Kim Roberts, Parent account
Education in the Time of Corona
We are now many, many months into a pandemic that has kept us in our houses and our children physically away from their schools. For me, the struggle has been real at times. I am not a teacher, do not want to teach – especially my own child. But, since my daughter is in high school, I really have not had to actually “teach” anything, I’ve been more of a parole officer checking in on her assignments and making sure she is doing the work. I do not know how these teachers went from regular classroom teaching one day and the next being forced to change their entire lesson plans to fit virtual learning. They are fully aware, and I’m sure worried, that not every student is going to thrive in this environment and that it won’t be ideal for anyone, but what choice was there. While the end of last school year is all but a blur, the new school year for my 10th grade daughter attending St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans has been way better than expected. Not going to lie, I was a bit apprehensive about the hybrid model that the school rolled out – only because it was new and different. But once I understood the concept it was easy. Dominican assured us that their main and only concern was for the girl’s health and safety and that while adhering to state and parish guidelines they were going to provide the education we expect from this institution. In August, my daughter started her sophomore year going to school every other day, twice one week and three times the next. The students were divided alphabetically so that there were a minimal number of students in a class at a time. My daughter said she had on average 7 to 10 girls in her class at a time, all socially distanced. Masks have been non-negotiable, every girl was provided a school mask, with their class color, before school started. The only time the masks come off is lunch time which is now eaten in homeroom instead of in the cafeteria or outside. In between classes, the teachers are tasked with disinfecting and cleaning all the desks and surfaces in the classroom before the next group comes in. What I really appreciate is that when my daughter is on a “home learning” day she is able to participate fully in her classes – real time. When the students are at home it is a regular school day, they have to check in before the first bell and be present on their computer for each class. I can hear the teachers asking my daughter questions and her reading passages. She has not missed one beat of this school year. As we move into the various pandemic stages denoted by the government, Dominican has been slowly bringing the girls back to campus for in person classes. First the 8th graders have been in person since day one, then came the seniors at the end of September followed a week later by the juniors, then the sophomores in October and the freshman will be back by the end of October. Parents and other visitors have not been allowed on campus in an effort to minimize exposure. I am so proud and grateful for the efforts of Dominican and pleased with how my daughter has progressed this year. A Toast of Praise to teachers everywhere for their dedication to their students during this pandemic.