Quincy's parochial elementary schools help students keep learning

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 25, 2020 12:10 am Updated: Mar. 25, 2020 12:18 am

QUINCY — Blessed Sacrament Principal Christie Dickens-Bliven's Tuesday started out with a different perspective.

In a Facebook Live morning meeting, designed to offer some sense of normal routine for students, "I started out upside down," she said. "It's a big learning curve for all of us."

Soon right side up, Dickens-Bliven offered the day's challenge to students -- to learn how to set the table properly and, if possible, learn to tie a necktie.

Challenges dating back to last week included making a fort out of a card table and chairs and taking a virtual field trip as a chance to "use their imagination, get creative and engage in imaginative play," Dickens-Bliven said.

"We're helping them to recognize learning doesn't just have to be in the walls of the school. We'll be guides on the side as they embrace new ways of learning."

While schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Quincy's parochial elementary schools are taking steps to connect with students and help them keep learning.

Parents stopped by the Catholic elementary schools Wednesday to pick up learning packets, and in some cases, iPads or Chromebooks.

"We want to continue their education and get back to a normal routine," St. Peter Principal Cindy Venvertloh said. "It's enrichment activities just to keep their minds active and learning. It won't be anything at this time that's graded."

If the school closure continues beyond April 7, the schools will continue the process of "education at a distance," Venvertloh said.

St. Peter's is not a one-to-one school, with one computer per student for all grades, but sent home iPads for students in first- through eighth-grades. "We don't have enough for kindergarten," Venvertloh said.

Blessed Sacrament surveyed parents to check on internet access at home, devices available for students and if large families needed more devices.

"We were able to compile a list of our families who need to check out a Chromebook," Dickens-Bliven said. "Our plan at the onset is going to be a blended approach with some teachers sending home packets also with online components. Some teachers are going to utilize YouTube and post videos of themselves teaching different concepts."

St. James Lutheran School staff prepared learning packets for students, which families picked up on Saturday to use this week.

"In their bags were their textbooks. Teachers went through and wrote out the assignments students should be working on for the next six days," Principal Nathan Landskroener said.

Landskroener met with staff on Tuesday to discuss how to connect with families, and continue to provide educational materials, moving forward.

"A lot of it just has to do with trying to keep somewhat of a routine for students, some kind of normalcy in this crisis that we're going through," Landskroener said.

"We definitely don't want learning to stop. We want to encourage parents to also find other ways that kids can learn, not just the academic work being sent home, but the more practical ideas. Maybe how to follow a recipe or to play dice games. Many games that you can play with dice help students work with their numbers."