For the past five years, Lourdes has understood the important part a Learning Management System (LMS) played in preparing students for college. According to Lourdes Principal, Catherine Merryman, “Our blended learning philosophy has pointed us in a direction that demanded we provide our students with state-of-the-art technological resources which includes a one to one student Chromebook program & LMS. When schools shut down in March 2020 due to COVID, this academic and instructional plan put us ahead of the curve in transitioning to online learning in a matter of days.”
It is through tools such as Canvas Learning Management, GoGuardian, Loom, PlayPosit, and Labster that teachers have the ability to keep track of student progress. Lourdes teachers have been using these tools for years, which allowed them to quickly and smoothly move their classes online.
Happy about returning, John Herles from the Lourdes Science Department comments, “It’s great to be back in the classroom for live instruction. We have been implementing online resources over the last several years that will make in-person and remote instruction seamless and effective. Having an online learning platform like Canvas, and a virtual lab program like Labster enables our lessons to continue to be dynamic and engaging while still meeting safety standards.”
Priscilla Gateson, a Lourdes Mathematics teacher agrees stating, “I am excited to be back to help build relationships with students as well as having a sense of normalcy back in my life. I feel as though OLL has set teachers and students up for success by providing us with all the technology we need to handle live streaming and remote learning. I am looking forward to expanding my teaching styles and technology knowledge.”
The intention to reopen the school this fall was the forefront in the minds of the Lourdes administration with planning that began as early as April. From the sanitizing of the building and renovation of certain areas to upgrading necessary technology for synchronous teaching and learning, adding signage for promoting all precautions as they relate to the standards set by CDC, DOH, and NYSED the focus since last Spring was to be prepared to follow the guidelines and continue to offer our community-academic excellence, rigor, and enrichment. This all took place throughout the spring and summer. The school submitted its reopening plan to NY State on July 30th.
When Governor Cuomo announced on August 7th that schools could open according to their approved plans Lourdes moved forward with their synchronous instructional model that offers a choice of fully remote or hybrid which consists of two cohorts of students attending in-person instruction on alternating days.
Lourdes Director of Technology, Matthias Johnson installed widescreen TVs in classrooms to replace smart boards and projectors. “These allow for increased viewing of presentations as we maximize the space for desks in each classroom, states Johnson. “All students are issued Chromebooks for use whether in-school or remote learning.”
“In addition, our faculty will be teaching in a paperless environment,” comments Meghan Vilardo, Assistant Principal. “Many of our faculty were included in the preparation of our reopening plan and have received the necessary resources and training they needed to move forward in this unprecedented time.”
Approximately half of the student body will be in the building each day. Families had the option to choose remote or in-school instruction for their students and as of right now only 13% of the student body has chosen to attend remotely. Regardless of their choice, all faculty will be live streaming their classes and students will be required to attend each class whether remote or in the classroom. Through the use of GoGuardian, synchronous learning will be possible each and every day.
Lourdes faculty member Lauren Katz of the English Department is excited about returning to the school building, remarking, “As a faculty, we are thrilled to have the ability to see our students face-to-face so we can facilitate authentic learning experiences whether they are in class or at home. After the countless hours of dedication and work by the administration, faculty, and staff during the summer, we are now able to welcome our students in our building and create a sense of normalcy for them. With all of our new technology platforms and devices, we will be able to provide an even better learning experience for our students. Seeing our new freshman class in the building today inspired hope that, as a community, our perseverance and faith will see us through this difficult time as we build a better future.”
Her colleague, John Maggi from the Lourdes Social Studies Department reiterates Katz’s remarks, stating, “I am looking forward to reconnecting with students while also collaborating with the rest of the faculty, administration, and support staff to exceed learners’ academic, personal, and spiritual goals. I anticipate live streaming and remote learning to be an important part of the toolbox for success. These student-centered approaches aim to enhance knowledge and foster growth. Our Lady of Lourdes High School is providing educators, students, and families with the resources to be successful today, tomorrow and for decades to come.”
In this time that many colleges are struggling to remain open, Lourdes is optimistic. “We are confident that we have taken the necessary steps to provide a safe learning environment for our students, faculty, and staff,” states Catherine Merryman. “We have been and will continue to be in constant communication with our families throughout this process. We hosted two Town Hall Meetings for families that outlined our plans and expectations asking them to partner with us in maintaining safety for all students. We are ready to work with all agencies to comply with the standards set by NYSDED and CDC.”
Orientations for students will continue through September 11 and full-time instruction for all students begins on Monday, September 14.