July 31, 2020
Weekly Update School Year 2020-21
The front office has been very busy answering phones, giving tours, registering, and unenrolling students. I have to admit that I turned to Mrs. Murphy and asked for assurance that next summer would not be like this! As I start all of my letters to you, I ask for your patience, I will communicate information as soon as I have it confirmed for you. I ask for your understanding, when things have to change from day to day as we try to navigate changing directions and information. Below are some points that I wrote down in my notes for this week, many are the result of questions from parents, or discussions with my support team as we look at what is feasible within our school building and with our current staffing. I just want to say that our team of teachers, and support staff here at St. Gilbert are very creative, and willing to do whatever is necessary to make reopening happen safely for your children. Many parents have reached out to offer their support as well, in a myriad of ways. Today I want to specifically thank the Prickett family for making picnic tables for us to use in our “outside classroom!”
1. Wednesday Mass: We are a Catholic School and our faith is at the root of all we do. We will be live streaming the 8:00 mass as we start the school year, and students will watch this on their devices. We will move to attending mass in person as the year progresses, but it will most likely be a rotation schedule that would begin with the older children first. Anyone who does not wish to attend mass once we do start to attend in person will watch the live stream in a supervised area.
2. Cafeteria Use: We have decided to not attempt a rotation schedule for using the cafeteria. We were trying to do this so that we could get our teachers a much needed break away from the children at least 2-3 times a week. The logistics just became too difficult. Students will be eating in their classrooms, or outside according to a schedule, and compliant weather. We need to maintain 6 ft. of distance between the students when masks are off, and due too this could really only fit about 3 students per lunch table...we do not have enough tables to accommodate this spacing.
3. Lunch Boxes/Bags: Reusable lunch boxes/bags can now be used. Students can bring thermos items, etc. As long as they are the only ones touching the containers we can maintain safety. Please do not pack lunches with items that your children cannot open on their own. I am asking for your help with this, because their teacher will have to wear gloves, and/or change gloves multiple times helping students open food containers. PPE equipment is expensive and should be used only for necessary health related instances.
4. Snacks: Students will have a snack, and the guidelines for that have always been that it should be; healthy, not messy, and they should be independent in opening the bag/container. If your child attends aftercare please send a snack for that as well. Aftercare will not be able to provide food or drink items until Covid is over.
5. Water Bottles: We are asking that students only use refillable water bottles. They will be able to remove their masks to quickly (10 sec) take a drink of water. We have (3) water bottle filling stations throughout the school, and no drinking spigots will be available for use.
6. Aftercare: We are opening our aftercare program this school year, and it will follow the same protocols as the school in terms of masks, social distancing, and cohort groupings.
7. Buses: I am pleased to announce that Woodland School District will be busing our students this school year. I am waiting to hear back from Grayslake District as to their decision about busing. As soon as I hear I will inform you.
8. Towels/Blankets: Due to our plans to use the outdoor areas for classes, lunches, and extra recess times, I am allowing the students to bring a beach towel, or a small one person size blanket for sitting on when outside. These will be sent home at the end of each week for washing.
9. Spiritwear: Don’t forget to order your Spirit wear! August 9th is the last day you can place orders. https://saintgilbert2020.itemorder.com
10. Live Streaming: We just received confirmation that we will be able to live stream segments of teaching in our classrooms for those students who select eLearning. There will be more information coming in the next week in regards to how this will look, and the safety measures we will employ. This is very good news for our teachers, because they can teach a mini-lesson to both the in-person students and the eLearners at home synchronously. This type of learning will help teachers be able to provide live lessons and lesson follow ups with both groups of students.
11. Types of Instruction:
A. Live Streaming within the classroom of physical students-The school teacher will transmit live video and audio of a classroom over the internet.
B. Live Streaming Synchronous without classroom of physical students - The school teacher will transmit live video and audio lessons, meetings or check-ins with individuals or a group of remote students without other students (in-person) present.
C. Asynchronous -The school teacher records videos and audio or provides published content and lessons that include teacher recordings, Khan Academy or other reputable sources of curriculum and instruction.
We are committed to offering the following two options for our St. Gilbert students for the 2020-21 school year; Full (5) day in-person instruction, or in-house eLearning. Please make your formal selection for Trimester #1 using this link, by Tuesday, August 4th: https://forms.gle/SkAtt6eaKU58WRz69
Continued blessings on all of you, and your families!
Mrs. Kristine Buckley
July 27, 2020
Education Options Explained
Thank you for your responses to the survey exploring educational options. First and foremost, I want to say that there is a large percentage of you that support in person education, and as this is the priority for the Archdiocese of Chicago, we are pleased to support those desires with the opening of our school on August 19th for in person learning. We recognize that some families might have students who have medical issues/and or family members who live in the household who have pre-existing conditions that would make them more vulnerable, and are looking for an eLearning option.
The Archdiocese has contracted with Catapult Learning to provide an external eLearning option for the subjects of mathematics, english language arts, science, and social studies. If this option is chosen, the teachers for the core subjects will be Catapult teachers, not staff from St. Gilbert. The student would be assigned a homeroom teacher, would receive religious instruction, and have a weekly check in from a St. Gilbert teacher.. Under this option the student is enrolled at St. Gilbert and the family pays tuition to the school. This option is selected by trimesters.
The survey clearly showed that our families that need eLearning want the teachers of St. Gilbert for their students. We have decided that we will try to make this work, by developing an in-house plan. This plan will require parent support for follow through, as the students will be assigned everything that their classmates are working on in the school setting. There will be some recorded lessons/lectures for viewing under this option. We have explored live recordings but the legal aspects of this are still being worked out, and as of this writing it is not allowed for the age groups we serve. We are creating a schedule that will allow for our teachers to check in with their eLearners, in addition to teaching their in-person students. Learning across both types will have its basis in the digital world; online textbooks, use of Learning Management Systems such as SeeSaw (Prek-2) and Google Classroom (3-8) to assign/grade work, and virtual collaboration among students. Students are enrolled at St. Gilbert and the family pays tuition to the school. This option is selected by trimesters.
It is only due to the dedication and love our teachers have for your students that the above option can even be offered. Please consider your situation carefully, and only choose this option if you are sincerely compromised. I will also be instituting office hours for teachers to ensure that they are not teaching all day, and helping eLearners late into the evening. Office hours will be 7:30-3:30. Teachers will respond to a question or concern during their check-ins with students, and will respond to parent emails within 24-48 hours as it pertains to their eLearners and/or live students.
We will be sending out a google form in early August for you to make your formal choice for Trimester #1.
July 23, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians & Students,
It is my plan to provide information and interesting tidbits on Thursdays for our current and new families. Please realize that it is July, and in the world of Covid-19, information and situations can change daily, sometimes multiple times per day. As I write this our reopening teams for Health & Safety, and Academics are meeting to formalize our school specific plans. These plans will then be sent to our Regional Director for approval. As we were planning, there were some things that came to light that we wanted you to know as you are out shopping or thinking about what school reopening will look like.
● Thank you to all who have filled out the survey sent last night. I will be closing this survey Friday evening 7/24/20. Data collected will be used by the Academic Reopening Team as we examine an eLearning option that will work best for our school. The Archdiocese is committed to the in person reopening of all Archdiocese Elementary schools, that is our focus. The Hybrid Model is not being considered, and that is why it was not an option on the survey.
● We want to utilize our lunchroom as much as we can. Due to social distancing and gathering restrictions (50 people) that are in place we will not be able to get all students into the lunchroom every day, they will be on a schedule for 2-3 times per week. They will have assigned seating six feet apart, roughly six students to a table staying with their cohort group. To make this work we cannot bring lunch boxes back and forth into the cafeteria, so we are proposing that you send your child with their usual lunch box along with a paper/plastic bag. When they get ready to go to lunch, they will remove their items from their lunchbox and place them into this disposable bag. This allows lunches to be kept cold, and it keeps anyone else from having to touch their lunchbox. All food and eating utensils should be disposable, and as easy to open as possible to limit the number of people that have to touch any of the items. We must do this to certify that students and staff are not carrying germs back to the cohort classroom. Milk will be delivered to the table already opened to limit monitors having to change gloves every time they help a student to open milk containers.
● Students in grades K-8 can utilize a refillable water bottle for use in the classroom. Our water fountains will only be able to be used to fill water bottles, drinking spigots will be taped off. Preschool has a cooler where water will be provided to students in disposable cups.
● There will continue to be milk for purchase, but if students opt out, individualized drinks such as juice boxes, small plastic water bottles, etc. should be packed in lunches. Refillable water bottles will not be allowed to be carried into the lunchroom.
● We have decided to relax the uniform requirements for the portion of the year where we are dealing with mask mandates, and are social distancing in cohort groups. If you prefer to wear uniform items you may certainly do so. From Aug-early Oct; gym/sports shorts may be worn, khaki or navy school shorts/skirts, along with spirit wear shirts, gym shirts, or solid color blue or white shirts. Once it starts to cool off; Mid-Oct-March Khaki/Navy school uniform type pants, along with spirit wear shirts, gym shirts, or solid color blue or white shirts, and any SGS sweatshirt without a hood may be worn. The locker rooms will not be used, and students will not be changing clothes on gym days. We do plan to hold the Used Uniform Sale (TBD), so if you prefer your child to wear the school uniform feel free to pick one up and help support the FSA. The Dennis Company store is closed to in person shopping, but available online. https://www.dennisuniform.com/
● To keep our front office staff safe we will be limiting access to the inside of the school building. We will have a “drop box” outside for items students have forgotten. If you are dropping off a late child/or a child is returning from an appointment, please call the office and pull up near the office doors, and one of our staff will come to your car to check the student’s temperature, mask, and do the health survey. Parents will not be allowed to accompany their child into the building for any reason. In cases of emergency or early pick up, school staff will bring the student to the dismissal door where the parent will be waiting. We ask for your understanding in this area, as some of our front office staff are the most vulnerable.
● We will be limiting volunteers that enter the building, but the recess volunteer requirement will still be in place. We will be increasing the number of volunteers for outdoor recess to six, plus our monitor. Cohort groups must remain separated at recess, masks can be removed if students maintain their six foot radius of social distance. Masks will be placed in brown paper bags labeled with the student’s name while students are out at recess, and while eating. These bags will need to be provided by the parent/guardian. Every day students should arrive at school with two masks, and their labeled paper storage bag. We will be increasing the times we are outside where we are able to be without masks; classes will be held outside, and extra recesses will be scheduled. We are lucky we have so much space on our grounds, and we intend to use it. A lovely family is making us some new picnic tables, and we will be purchasing some tents to make this an extension of our school space.
● We are asking that you send your student with two masks. If a student forgets a mask, loses their mask, or breaks their mask, they will be provided with a mask from the school supply. We have masks available for purchase through the School Spirit Shop; http://saintgilbert2020.itemorder.com/ Masks can be scarf or face style, imagery or wording must be appropriate for the school environment or they will be replaced with a standard medical grade mask. I am asking that masks be washed after a full day of wearing, so please have ample supply and a wash schedule.
● If you are purchasing your own school supplies I have been informed that antibacterial wipes are hard to locate. We understand this, and ask that you just keep an eye out for them as the school year goes on....we have plenty to start the year off, but often request refills on some items as they get used up. There are some supplies that will be needed for art due to the conversion to “Art on a Cart” and students not sharing art supplies. Please see the list below from Mrs. Tillich; items in red were missing from supply lists and need to be added to art supplies that you are purchasing.
● USED UNIFORMS: Please drop off any used uniforms at the school office. There will be a bin outside the office door next week, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 3pm. If this time does not work for you please email FSA at; email@example.com and we will try and set up a time for you to drop off used uniforms. The used uniform sale date is TBA. Look for the date in the next newsletter.
● SPIRIT-WEAR IS BACK: http://saintgilbert2020.itemorder.com/
Don't miss your chance to buy your SGS spirit wear. The first and third Friday of each month is SGS Spirit Wear Day so be ready to show off your school spirit.
The spirit wear store is NOW open through August 9th. There is an option for home delivery otherwise, items will be distributed the first week of school.
Any questions please contact FSA at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this is not too much to take in all at once....please know that many loving, caring teachers and staff are planning for your arrival in a safe manner. Things will look different, but you will still be with classmates learning and growing together! Our faith, and Jesus as our guide will bring us safely through this challenge to the other side.
Wishing you blessings as you enjoy the summer, and prepare for school days!
July 16, 2020
Addendum to eCourse information:
We are still in the planning stages as are most school districts, and as such, changes are still being made and will continue through these challenging times. I was informed today after sending out my informational letter that the contract with the third party vendor to provide the eCourse option will include all core subjects of; math, english, reading, science, and social studies. This contract is still in the negotiation process on the Archdiocese end, and I will have more information on this next week. I plan to also put a St. Gilbert touch on this, as we will be continuing religion classes for any students enrolled, no matter if they are taking this eCourse option for a period of time. If you are enrolled at St. Gilbert, you are paying tuition, just selecting this option. All students will have a place in a homeroom that they can return to if they so desire, after their agreed upon time frame ends (i.e. trimester). They will be included in virtual mass, religion classes, and will have a once weekly check-in on how they are doing with their assigned homeroom teacher. I know this option is new and confusing, but it was added in response to principals voicing concerns that teachers cannot do both; teach all day, and run an eLearning class at night. I commend the Archdiocese for hearing both the concerns of teachers and parents in making this one of our options for education next school year.
Mrs. Kristine Buckley
Saint Gilbert School Principal
July 16, 2020
Click here to view Mrs. Buckley's welcome message to families: https://youtu.be/Jq8zHQNQfZg
I hope everyone continues to be well, and is enjoying the lovely warm weather we are having this summer. Our staff has been very busy working on making the school building shine; by painting rooms, waxing floors, cleaning and organizing classrooms, ordering new materials, taking summer classes, and thinking about what will be needed so that we can welcome the students back to our building in a new and safe way.
There are some changes to the physical building that we embarked upon so that we could utilize the newer portions of our building more efficiently. What was the Junior High wing now houses 4th-8th grades. These rooms all have air conditioning, sinks, they are larger, many with built in storage and individual student lockers. A new combined STEM Lab is located on the lower level. The floor was redone and this area will be used for Science Lab (4-8) as well as STEM class for grades PreK-8. The 1st-3rd grades are now located in the hallway that begins to the right of the Main Office. These rooms are large with built in storage and sinks. The prek-kindergarten has been moved close to the Main Office, along with the Early Childhood STEM Lab (Prek-1), the library, and specials of music and art. The Religious Education Program has a new home in what was our first grade and preschool hallway.
Last week the Archdiocese of Chicago put forth a detailed plan for reopening schools. Plan Summary I hope you had a chance to read through the information that was sent, and look at the frequently asked questions & answers. Parent FAQ The next step for principals was to form two teams of individuals to work on the Health/Safety aspects of opening schools, and the Academic/Programming planning. The members of these teams will be required to watch webinars for certification, which occur this week and next. Once all team members have attended the webinars, we will work through a checklist to develop a personalized plan for our physical space, and school academic areas. I was very grateful for the many responses that I received from parents willing to help with the opening plans, however when I received guidance from OCS it was very specific with suggestions for choices for these teams. I do plan to utilize all my volunteers in some capacity once we have our plan designed, so stay tuned.
The Health & Safety portion will focus on; arrival procedures, traffic patterns, door usage, cohort gathering, temperature screenings, mask checks, health questions, hand-sanitizing, social distancing through the building as well as within classrooms, emotional health and adjustment of students to the new aspects of school, lunch and recess procedures, as well as specific plans for how to handle student or teacher illness and possible quarantine requirements. The plan is to keep your children and our staff safe and well. Much of this will be ongoing education on ways to accomplish that, and how to be diligent about safe eating, safe learning, and safe behaviors around others. We have been placing orders for necessary cleaning products, hand-sanitizer, and other needed PPE so that we are adequately prepared. We will be asking you to provide 2 masks for your children to bring to school, along with a paper bag with their name to store them in when eating, or out at recess. Very soon we will be opening the Spirit Wear Store and there will be school logo masks available for purchase.
The Academic Team consists of Lead teachers across the various grades, as well as our Director of Technology. This team will be making decisions regarding platforms for communicating assignments, directions, and work, ensuring all students and parents have the necessary technological tools to continue learning digitally in the classroom, or the home environment. Teachers will be mapping the curriculum using the priority standards from the Archdiocese of Chicago, planning manageable units if pivoting from school to home becomes necessary. As was stated in the plan, we are following a cohort model wherever this is possible. This means students will be staying in classrooms with their homeroom teacher, limiting contact with other cohorts, social distancing as much as possible in their classrooms, and maintaining their own school supplies without shared materials. Specials such as music and art, will be “on a cart” and come to the classrooms. Traditional library use will not take place during the time of Covid-19, students can request books that will be delivered to their classrooms. Students will travel to gym and STEM class, but we will be looking at rotating materials, spacing classes apart for cleaning of surfaces, and possibly requiring personal gym “kits”. Once the Academic Team formulates the plan, I will be in touch with additional school supplies that might be required.
I ask for your patience as we work through these training webinars, specific school plans, and prepare for opening our school on August 19th. As we have experienced, the virus keeps us on our toes, and things may need to change quickly. I am grateful that the Archdiocese of Chicago has embarked upon a journey to bring students together in the physical school building, they did the work to research and formulate a reopening plan, that I am confident we can bring to fruition in our building in a safe manner. I am expecting to receive some official materials to pass on to parents next week in regards to the semester choice for e-Learning, which will be referred to as; eCourses. Please understand that these eCourses will be provided by an outside vendor decided upon by OCS, our teachers will not be teaching this component. It would be impossible for them to teach in-person classes as well as manage eCourses. This option is being offered to families that might have vulnerable people living in their households, or as an option for parents who do not feel comfortable sending their children to physical school. It will require a commitment to continue with the course for a semester. The focus of the courses will be the core subjects of English Language Arts and Mathematics. For students receiving in school learning if the need arises to transition to eLearning due to positive cases in a classroom, a number of classrooms with positive cases that could result in a school closure, or a mandate from the Governor for all schools to shut down for a period of time, our teachers will be ready to teach entirely online and continue with the curriculum as mapped out by units.
We are excited and eager to see all our families and students again! We are still enrolling for this school year, so please refer friends and colleagues who are looking for a high quality Catholic education for their children. Check the website, stgilbertschool.org for more information, or to reread a communication from the Archdiocese or myself. I know there is a lot to digest and think about. Try to enjoy the lazy days of summer, take a nature walk, read a book, enjoy a fire, watch an outdoor movie, go on a boat ride. I am available to answer any questions, and hopefully alleviate fears. We have a wonderful community at Saint Gilbert, and we will all get through this together with the help of God and each other. Thank you to everyone who participated in the 5K Walk/Run to benefit our newly formed Rebel Rescue Fund. If you wish to make a donation, the fund will be open all year. You can find donation details on the webpage. This fund helps families receive some financial assistance in order to choose Catholic education at St. Gilbert.
My warmest wishes for a safe, happy, and relaxing summertime,
June 29, 2020
Dear St. Gilbert Families,
Last week the Illinois State Board of Education published their reopening guidelines for the school year 2020-21. These general guidelines, as well as CDC guidelines are being considered by the Office of Catholic Schools as they work on their specific plans for the in-person opening of all Catholic schools. The specific OCS plan should be ready within 1-2 weeks. Here at St. Gilbert we have already begun thinking about what alterations we will need to implement for our school building. I will be asking teachers and parents to sit on planning committees as we look forward to welcoming the students back into the physical building in August.
The school team’s creative wheels have already been turning as we looked at the general guidelines, such as; temperature checks as students enter the school building, visual reminders for social distancing, masks for bus rides, as well as entering and leaving school (we have arranged for our Spirit Store to make school personalized masks for student purchase) hand sanitizer stations, frequent reminders/breaks for handwashing, plexiglass barriers for areas where the public is more likely to come in contact with school personnel, daily cleaning of touchpoints within the school building, scheduled deep room cleanings, reorganization of individual student supplies, and spacing of students within the classroom. Underlying all of these thoughts and plans is our desire to ensure the safety of our students, while also giving parents reassurance that we care about making our school space be a place where we welcome students in as safe a manner as possible, so that they can receive a stellar Catholic education.
It is my plan to keep in contact with all the school families throughout the summer as more details and specifics become available from the Archdiocese of Chicago. If you are interested in working with our teachers, and myself on a “physical space brainstorming team”, please email me your interest and contact information; email@example.com.
Even though we know this school year will look different, we are very excited at the prospect of seeing our students in person again. It was clear that even though we did a fantastic job transitioning to e-Learning, that there really is no replacement for that one-to-one teaching connection within the classroom. This being said,please consider participating in our Rebel Rescue Fundraiser for tuition assistance; Rebel Rescue 5K Virtual Walk/Run. This fundraiser is happening now through July 12th. You can register by following the Give Central link: https://www.givecentral.org/location/378/event/25907, through postings we have put out on Facebook and Instagram, and lastly through letters of communication from myself explaining our goal, and the increased need we are seeing as families look to re-enroll, or enroll for the first time at St. Gilbert. Please open your heart to help a fellow family in need. The effects of Covid-19 are far-reaching, and in some cases financially devastating for families. We want to ensure that choosing Catholic school is a possibility for all, and we can only do this with your selflessness and generosity.
Stay safe & well!
Mrs. Kristine Buckley
St. Gilbert School Principal