Summer greetings to all of you! I hope that you have been able to enjoy many outdoor activities with your families. As we prepare for the beginning of the school year, I have important news to share with you about the Fall’s schedule and your options for learning at Priory this year. Please be sure to check the links embedded within this letter that will provide critical information for the Fall.
I’d like to begin by offering a Prayer to Saint Benedict. Now more than ever, we need to support each other spiritually and emotionally. Regardless of the challenges ahead, I remind myself that I must be grateful for all my blessings, including you, our families.
You may now order textbooks for the academic year. Click on this link to begin.
Class schedules will be available by mid-August. You may log into MyPriory now to check your courses for next year. Please contact me with any questions or concerns.
First Two Days
On Thursday, Aug. 27 and Friday, Aug. 28, school will start promptly at 8 a.m. for all students. For Forms II-VI, regular classes will be held. Form I students will spend the first two days of school with activities that will introduce them to Priory, its schedule, and its customs; they will have a separate orientation schedule with an early dismissal at 3 p.m. on both days. In addition, all students will participate in the annual summer reading discussions on Friday.
I want to thank once again our faculty and staff for making last Spring’s distance learning program as successful as possible. I also want to thank returning parents for partnering with us to ensure we understood our students’ needs. Although there were a few bumps in the road, we weathered them well as a community and have learned how to improve our offerings for remote and hybrid learning this year.
This year, we will offer every student the option of learning on campus through hybrid learning or remotely via Zoom. Our faculty are preparing lessons for students in the classroom or online, especially since it might be necessary for all students to transition to distance learning if the local health department requires it. As we announced earlier this month, we are also requiring each student to have a computer. Those students who choose or need to learn remotely will be able to join the classroom via their personal computer and our in-class conferencing devices, which are being installed in 24 learning environments on campus.
Remote Access Rooms
In order to be able to accommodate all of our students on campus while observing the 6-foot social distancing directives, your son may be assigned to a remote access room for some of his classes on certain days of the week. In these cases, some students will be asked to participate in the lesson in a remote access room while the remainder of the class stays in the main classroom with the teacher. While in the remote access room, your son would be under the supervision of a faculty member and participate in the lesson via Zoom and the classroom’s conferencing equipment. If your son is assigned to a remote access room on the first class meeting, he would then be placed in the main classroom for the second class meeting — in other words, alternating between the main classroom and the remote access one. In most cases, these paired rooms are placed side by side so that the faculty member can easily visit both learning areas.
One of the many challenges during distance learning last spring was having a unified set of expectations for all classes. A group of faculty have assisted me in creating learning guidelines for teachers and students to promote the best possible learning experience for everyone. Here is a link to those expectations. All faculty will be expected to use MyPriory as the platform to post assignments and grades; they will have the option to use either MyPriory or Google Classroom to post their course descriptions, learning tools, and announcements. Limiting the teaching and learning to these platforms should make a transition to distance learning easier for students.
Our daily schedule will move to a 7-day rotation with 5 classes per day and a 1.5 hour lunch block. School will begin each day with class at 8 a.m., with the exception of Thursday when classes will begin at 8:55 a.m. During the lunch block, students on campus will also have weekly mass (two Forms at a time), Tutoria, and Advisory activities. Due to COVID-19 protocols limiting student access to gym showers, classes will end each day at 3 p.m. for all students, who will then proceed to athletics. Students in Forms I and II will be dismissed at 4:30 p.m; Forms III-VI no later than 5:30 p.m.
In order to be prepared for a return to distance learning, all students will need to empty their lockers and take everything home at the end of each day. Faculty members have been preparing their classes so that your son’s learning can move seamlessly from in-person instruction to distance learning. Most of your son’s work will be submitted digitally.
Each classroom space will be outfitted with a device that will allow students who are not physically present to participate in classroom instruction by Zoom. This will include students who are in an overflow room and those who are learning remotely.
Since school buildings will only be accessible to students, faculty, and staff during the academic year, we have decided to close our Campus Store. You will be able to purchase spirit wear and other Priory goods online through pop-up stores. When school starts, teachers will post a list of required materials that you and your sons can obtain from outside sources.
Return to Campus
Parents, it is our hope that your son will come to campus for his learning experience next year. However, in light of recent guidelines from the St. Louis County Executive and the Department of Health, we want to provide every student with the option of learning remotely as well. We ask that you go to this link to state your preference for your son by Aug. 15.
Safety/COVID 19/Daily Operations
This letter addresses issues related to classroom learning. During the week of Aug. 10, Father Cuthbert will share information with you related to the safety protocols and the day-to-day operation of the school.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you very soon.
Peace to you,
Assistant Head of School for Intellectual Formation