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September 2, 2020

By Mary Ann Margrey
Principal, Augustinian Academy

CARTHAGE – While It has taken many questionnaires to staff, parents and students, countless hours of reading guidance from the Department of Health, Center for Disease Control, and New York State Education Department, Augustinian Academy in Carthage has shared a reopening plan that works to provide a healthy and safe learning environment. Having served on the Carthage Central Reopening Task Force, Principal Ann Margrey was able to see the additional challenges public schools had to consider. The greatest difficulty was transportation. Once this was decided, Augustinian Academy was able to move forward with its school plan.

The week of August 17, the school hosted three parent meetings to give parents opportunities to address any questions or concerns. A follow-up parent letter was emailed to all families highlighting the key points of the meeting. We will be offering an Open House for families the week of August 31. Families will be able to sign up for a 30-minute time to drop off school supplies and tour the building to see the safety protocols we have put into place.

We are aware that the best possible learning environment for the students is in-person instruction. With that in mind, along with the guidance provided, Augustinian Academy will be opening on September 8 with all students in session full-time. Pre-K four students will begin on September 10, and Pre-K three students will begin on September 14.

Parents are willing to transport their children on days busing is not available. As a result, we have increased the hours for the Before & After School Care Program to provide parents with some flexibility with their schedules.
Pre-Kindergarten classes have been limited to 10 students; grades Kindergarten through four are limited to 15 students; and grades five through eight are limited to 12 students. Unfortunately, Augustinian Academy had to put some students on a waiting list.

School will look a little different while the school wears face masks, conducts online health screenings, performs daily temperature checks, practices social distancing, and limits whole-school activities. Limiting the visitors and whole school activities will be the most challenging. The school has always encouraged families to be involved in events and to come for lunch with their children. Augustinian’s older students have provided opportunities for the younger students to gather and share time together. School administration, faculty and staff are hopeful that by following the guidance, students will be able to return to these activities. Th e school is also planning ways to become creative with how to connect without physically being together.

A group of staff members formed a professional learning community and spent a large portion of their summer working on a remote learning plan. The teachers have gathered to participate in training using Google Classroom. Should there be a need to return to remote learning, the students will use Google Classroom. Once school resumes, the school will offer training sessions for parents.

While there are still many unknowns, we are excited to meet with students face-to-face. The school will rely on the learnings from previous social-emotional learning training to help everyone ease back into school, and work to establish positive and healthy relationships. The Augustinian Academy community is hopeful that while school will not open in the traditional ways, the school can provide a positive experience for everyone.

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