Sunday, July 26, 2020

Siena Catholic Schools aims for in-person lessons, will offer virtual option

From The Journal

Caitlin Sievers

RACINE — While plans aren’t yet set in stone, Siena Catholic Schools of Racine is aiming to give parents the option of in-person or virtual learning this fall.

“Kids learn best when they’re together, in community, in schools, with teachers,” said Brenda White, president of Siena Catholic Schools. “That’s always going to be our goal. But we have to be able to create the conditions for that to happen safely.”

Siena has a planning team with more than 35 members, including staff, administrators, teachers, board members and community members working on its back-to-school approach and is set to bring kids back in person “if at all possible.” The team is striving to make a recommendation for a fall plan to Siena’s board by the end of July.

Siena, which runs five Catholic K-8 schools and St. Catherine’s High school, is working to be responsive to changes in conditions and guidelines, and is monitoring the plans of private and public schools in the area.

If Siena resumes in-person lessons, it will require students and staff to wear masks when they cannot socially distance. There will be exceptions for the systems youngest students and those with special needs. Like most, if not all, area school systems and districts Siena has surveyed students, families and staff for their thoughts on returning to school.

“The No. 1 concern from kids is being behind academically,” White said. “That was very powerful to see that our kids are worried about being behind and they’re worried about falling further behind.”

White said that Siena is striving to stay true to its mission, and its belief is that face-to-face education is the best for students academically, spiritually, social and emotionally.

“As educators we’re called to help these kids develop into the person that God created them to be and how do we do that in a way that’s safe, keeps everybody safe and protects the well-being of our adults and our students,” White said. White said the Siena team is focused on, “How do we create the conditions for them to learn safely in the school and what do we do when circumstances may prevent us from doing that?”


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