The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), among other global health organizations, are closely monitoring an outbreak caused by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (called COVID-19) that was first identified in Wuhan City, China. COVID-19 cases have been detected in more than 60 countries worldwide, including the United States.
This page has been set up by La Salle College High School as a repository for information and expectations regarding the continuity of teaching and learning in the event of school closure. We will continue to post updates on this page as information becomes available from the school administration.
- School Communications
- Parents & Caregivers
- Alumni & Past Parents
- College Counseling
- June 26 - Athletics Return to Play Action Plan
- May 11 - Alumni Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2020
- May 3 - Rest of Year Academic Calendar
- April 19, 2020 - A Letter From the Principal
- April 16, 2020 - Letter to the Class of 2020
- April 8, 2020 - Tuition Payment Policy Changes
- April 2, 2020 - Brother James Podcast
- March 29, 2020 - Letter from Principal O'Toole
- March 23, 2020 - Closure Extended through April 6, 2020
- March 22, 2020 - Letter from Principal O'Toole
- March 12, 2020 - La Salle's Response to Today's Events
- March 11, 2020 - Schedule Change Letter to Parents and Guardians
- March 11, 2020 - Letter to Parents and Guardians
- March 6, 2020 - Letter to Class of 2024 Parents
- March 3, 2020 - Letter to Parents and Guardians
La Salle recognizes that knowledge regarding Covid -19 is constantly changing as new information becomes available. These recommendations will be adjusted, as needed, as this new information becomes available to reduce the risk to our student-athletes, parents, staff, and spectators.
"I don't want to live like that, but I don't wanna die."
Vampire Weekend, "Harmony Hall"
Dear Men of the Class of 2020:
Happy Anniversary! Of what, you may well ask. Well, March 11th was our first day of closure, you may recall, that famous single day of reorientation between regular classes on Wednesday and our first day of Blackboard Classroom instruction. We've been at this for two months, now, with barely two weeks left. Two months of "turn your cameras on, I want to see you," two months of Quizlet, two months of the same wrinkled hoodies thrown over your head at 7:53, two months without shaving (more apparent in some cases than others), two months of 20 minute lunches scrounged from whatever's around, two months without the variety Mamadou, Perry, and G set out for us each day, two months denied the good orderly direction imposed on our baser impulses in the McShain Library each day (It's no accident the acronym spells g-o-d.).
Looking back, I assume almost all of us have reason to share in the above sentiment voiced by Ezra Koenig and his pals (I bet you wouldn't have guessed I knew anything about alternative music. Well, I dabble.). This is truly no way to live, even living with an end perhaps in sight but not yet in reach. We want only to wake from this nightmare and rage like Macbeth, "Birx and Fauci, Wolf and Pence: Be gone from my vision forever hence!" (I dabble in iambic pentameter too.)
But we do wake up, and every day is the same. Missing our friends, our teammates, competition, casual conversations, piles of wings, and inside jokes, it's an achievement just to turn a face that's anything more than sullen and taciturn to the few people we encounter for real each day. Oh, yeah, wait, there is something different going on, the A.P. examinations. Now many of you get to spend two weeks seeing if the hundreds of hours of classwork and homework pay off based on a single 45 minute question pulled out of the blue in the humanities, two in math and science (Now, I looked at the Physics II sample, and that's not one question; it's like eleven questions, just with a number 1 typed before them all.).
It was in a Kairos talk by Andrew Knowles of the Class of 2014 that I first heard the expression, "God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers." He must have esteemed you strong indeed to permit you to confront all the challenges, uncertainties, and frustrations of these past 60 days. That's more by half than Jesus had to spend in the desert. But as a group and as individuals you have done so with resilience and creativity. When I look at your LSCHS2020Colleges Instagram page, I find the excitement you evidence and the affirmation you provide regarding each other's chosen futures encouraging and heartwarming (I have also started to work the word Aye into casual conversation more, leading the Brothers to conclude I'm now dabbling in piracy.).
The time will fast be upon us to celebrate the grit and resilience you have shown throughout this difficult experience against the background of four great years. As you're no doubt aware, you would have graduated on Saturday 30 May 2020, with the Baccalaureate Mass a few days prior. While it wouldn't yet be law-abiding or safe to gather on that date, La Salle wants to recognize your successful completion of our academic requirements. At 10:00 that morning, we will be live streaming an Alumni Association Induction Ceremony from the Grotto (unless it's raining). At that ceremony, you will hear the names of the classmates completing this La Salle experience with you, listen to remarks from the President of our Alumni Association, Mr. Christopher Meagher, '89, and enjoy a classmate's speech. I will be especially proud to read the formula of graduation on the date which accords with that on your diplomas , allowing you to begin undergraduate study online at any point you wish this summer (Yeah, right. More Blackbored, precisely what you need.).
Just to be clear, this isn't all you're getting; of course, we will still look for ways you can come together, hopefully on campus, to celebrate this milestone properly and receive your diplomas. We may have to be creative regarding numbers and locations, but we're brainstorming and discussing possible formats every week. Keep praying; keep hopeful; keep close to one another!
I know you may have expected me to end this letter with some inspirational quote from de La Salle, grounded in Pauline and Berullian spirituality (huh?). Not today. Let me conclude with a few lines from something I listen to when the burden of the past few months seems a bit unwieldy. It may be from 15 years ago, but I think you've heard it. Still stuck dabbling in that alternative genre, I get an occasional pump up from "Float On," perhaps the only truly upbeat song Modest Mouse ever produced. Hear the words of its refrain as a promise from God to the Class of 2020:
Alright already, we'll all float on.
Alright already, we'll all float on OK.
Don't worry, we'll all float on.
Even if things get heavy, we'll all float on.
Alright already, we'll all float on alright.
Don't you worry, we'll all float on.
We'll all float on.
and trust that the current will soon bring us together to celebrate your four years at the alma mater we all love.
Brother James L. Butler, FSC
La Salle College High School
Dear Parents and Students:
It really is an oldie but goodie, isn't it?
It's a song that our soon-to-be newest golden Explorers, the Class of 1970, will remember well. That's the year that Joe Cocker blasted it into the hearts of teenagers and friends as the Class of '70 entered their senior year at La Salle. Every time they heard those first three chords (G, D, A), I know they all started imitating Joe. And that's a good thought to hold, too, for this coming week and beyond, for the Class of 2020 all the way down to the Classes of '21, '22, and '23.
We've gotten the academic routine of alternating block days down pat, like practice chords on a guitar -- even with some stragglers rushing out of bed in the morning to get over to their desks and laptops. As teachers, we are figuring out the best, most insightful and creative ways to assess what students know and what they can do with what they know--online. Our skilled and talented faculty are dedicated to the success of their students. Rather like ensemble playing or teamwork.
For some reminders about our community philosophy and practical details, students especially should read tonight's letter from our Dean of Student Life, Mr. Cirelli.
Teamwork undergirds our academic program. But teamwork stretches more broadly than our instructional program. It holds in place our community service, our athletics, and our activities. Put it all together and you have our formula for educating minds and touching hearts.
This coming week, we return to our 2+1+2 schedule, with Wednesday as an Office Hours Day for students to meet with faculty as they need and to catch up on work. This Wednesday, classes will end at 2:00 PM to provide another slight break in the digital action. And it will be Spirit Week!
But there is more this Wednesday. Homeroom returns and with it, Community Time. You know, That's What Friends Are For time. Under the inspiring lead of our Director of Student Activities, Mrs. Marie Stott, and enabled by our remarkable IT team led by Mr. Braden Bonner '07, we have been able to find a space online for our extra-curricular activities to meet.
Here's the drill. On Wednesday, students are expected in Homeroom at 10:15. They will find Homeroom on their Blackboard schedule as a newly added class. Community Time begins right after at 10:35. Students in activities will see their activity added to their roster of classes. 5th Period begins at 11:10 that day, right after Community Time. See the Schedule posted on the COVID19 page for fuller details.
Finally, lest folks think I only know song references from decades ago, let me point to one that speaks to our community and beyond during these challenging days: Bruno Mars time, You Can Count on Me.
Thank you all for your continuing patience, dedication, and support. It makes a big difference for our young men. We are counting on them. They're counting on each other.
Michael A. O'Toole '68
Dear Members of the Class of 2020 and Senior Parents:
As I am sure you can imagine, the past five weeks haven't exactly been downtime for those of us trying to direct La Salle College High School. In the month and a bit that have passed since we entered this period of closure on 12 March 2020, suspending in person classes and activities, we have been engaged in planning of all sorts, beginning with the launch of cyber school through the Blackboard Learning Management System. These rhythms of the instructional day have doubtless become familiar and something of a given by now.
I realize throughout this whole transition many of you have been preoccupied with questions regarding the treasured rituals that end senior year at La Salle. These concerns doubtless became more pointed and urgent once the Governor of Pennsylvania announced that students would not return to traditional classes this academic year. "And what happens to the celebrations that ordinarily mark this transition?" This question is on so many minds.
It has never been my custom to promise things to students and families I cannot deliver. I believe that rushing to publish specific calendar revisions with little assurance that events will happen as scheduled creates a cycle of hope and disappointment that is ultimately unhelpful. Now, though, we have come to the point where commencement exercises according to the calendar created last summer seem entirely unlikely, all but impossible. Though the remainder of the instructional year will conclude as scheduled in late May, the time to present and explain possible alternatives for celebrating our seniors is here.
The best we can realistically do at this point is ask you to save some dates when we would hope to celebrate the Class of 2020 together if we can do so. We are earmarking three alternative weeks (Tuesday to Saturday) throughout the summer. During the first of these weeks that proves realistic from logistical and public health standpoints, we hope to host daily events such as the Senior Prom, the Senior Mother-Son Dinner, the Baccalaureate Mass, the Awards Assembly and Senior NHS Induction, graduation practice and barbeque. The week would culminate with the graduation exercises. These possible weeks are:
- 23-27 June
- 14-18 July
- 4-8 August
We intend to publish a specific schedule for those events only when we know we may host gatherings on such a scale. We have not, of course, forgotten about the production of A Chorus Line. We anticipate performances going on either the week before or the week after commencement activities take place.
Obviously, these dates, while giving us the flexibility to pivot based on official directions, may not work well for every graduate. We do regret being in this situation which may particularly affect students going into the service or entering a service academy. We hope that the family of any graduate who cannot attend the scheduled commencement will inform us and work with us so that we can recognize him in a smaller setting before he leaves. Other summer programs at colleges, if they will even be held in the traditional residential format, will likely be flexible in allowing students to return home for several of these milestone events.
Even after reading the previous paragraphs, I understand that students and parents alike may have a lot of questions you'd still like to ask, a lot of "what if's" to raise. We all know colleges that are planning virtual graduations, universities which have postponed 2020's commencement until the end of the fall semester or even until May 2021. We at La Salle would only be forced into such alternatives if we had no other choice. The same would apply to the potential necessary splitting of the class for events, if large gatherings are restricted.
As much as I am striving for a tone of hopeful realism in this letter to encourage our seniors and their families, I realize much is still uncertain. So, let's focus on what's not in doubt. The first given is that God is present with us here and now, even if we're not calling this to mind at least eight times a day. The second concerns the people we have come to care deeply about through sharing life at La Salle over three and three-quarters years. They may not be in the classroom with us as students, standing on the sidelines or sitting in an auditorium as fellow supportive parents, but they are not out of our lives.
Perhaps we must learn to value perspective especially right now, work to maintain it, whatever the challenges. I'm thinking at this moment of a short but pivotal line from Tennyson's "Ulysses," a dramatic monologue I am sure most of you have encountered along the way. The speaker of that poem, the aging king otherwise known as Odysseus, observes reflectively, "though much is taken, much abides." Yes, exactly. Time and experiences have been taken from the Class of 2020 in a fashion hardly anyone alive can remember. Yet bitterness is not the only recourse. Much abides. What remains are the incredible relationships, formed in classrooms and the Glaser Center, within athletic teams, on the stage, and through activities. No public health emergency, no elected official, no economic crisis can take these relationships away from you. They will only end should you fail to nurture them. Don't give up and say good-bye now. Spend each day before that eventual graduation deepening those friendships and steeling that loyalty which make the difference between high school buddies and brothers for life. It seems you won't compete for any PCL hubcaps or Cavalcade of Jazz accolades this spring. But it's not such things that matter most. No, it's the relationships making any such achievements worth pursuing and celebrating which define the spirit of a La Salle man and the heart of an Explorer.
God bless your families and keep you safe until we meet again.
Brother James L. Butler, FSC
La Salle College High School
I am writing to keep you updated on new developments in our response to the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). We understand that these rapidly changing circumstances may be creating challenges for the families in our community. With that in mind, recent changes have been made to La Salle’s tuition payment policy for the upcoming academic year. In partnership with Higher Education Services (HES), we will offer both payment methods—semester invoices and monthly installments—as described in the attached 2020-21 Tuition Policy, with extended terms. If you are not able to meet the terms of the semester plan, please enroll in the monthly payment plan.
The 10-month HES plan, which has an April 15, 2020 payment due date now qualifies for an initial payment start date of July 15, 2020 (Plans can begin April, May, June, or July.) . The final January 15, 2021 payment date now also qualifies for an extension through March 15th, 2021 (Plans can end January, February, or March). If you have already started a plan and need to modify, contact HES and request a change.
Please note that these changes are not reflected in the recent HES mailing. To modify the terms of an existing plan please visit this page and submit your request in the Contact Us form. For more information regarding payment methods please contact HES at 1-800-422-0010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To apply for a HES pledge please visit this link.
On behalf of the Business Office, thank you for your continued partnership during this time. We are committed to sustaining our mission even in the face of this unexpected global health crisis and we are confident that we can count on every member of the La Salle community to work alongside us. If you foresee any challenges in meeting the upcoming tuition deadlines please contact me directly.
Please visit our dedicated COVID-19 page for more information as it emerges.
Mark Gibbons, ’92
Chief Financial Officer
La Salle College High School
OFFICE OF THE PRINCIPAL
Good afternoon, Parents/Guardians and Students:
Happy Sunday from La Salle
Given two days of rain and near-rain, I hope you were able to take advantage of zoom sessions with distant family members, Mass on line, and perhaps even some of the smaller musical performances online which will be referenced below this weekend.
First, the news. This week, we will shift the academic schedule a bit to change the pace and to give our teachers and students the opportunity for more informal academic interaction online. In addition, we will be calling every student in the school over the next ten days.
Schedule Change for April 1
On Wednesday, April 1 (no fooling), we will return to our customary nine-period schedule for one day. Wednesday, April 1 will not be a teaching day. Instead, during periods 1 through 9, all teachers will be in their Blackboard Collaborate spaces ready to talk with students and help with individual academic matters. If a student wishes to speak with a teacher that day, he needs to log in and join the Collaborate session at the beginning of the period so that the teacher can gauge the numbers of students asking for assistance. The schedule holds for any time a class meets on the A through F cycle during that period. We encourage all students who feel they need this extra help to take advantage of this opportunity. Schedule Link: Wed 4/1
Wednesday, April 2 will return us to our current "new normal." It will be an X-Even A Day of 70-minute periods and begin our next cycle of classes.
The Brother Linus Program
Next, another set of small actions. Our academic program propels our students to choose their paths and to excel at the next level of education. But our community values anchor us. Putting those values into action, over the next ten days, we will launch the Brother Linus Program during which we will contact every student at La Salle through his household telephone for a quick chat. La Salle Counselors, campus ministers, and teachers will work the phone during this time period. So, when your household receives a call from La Salle, don't panic! There's nothing wrong and your son is not in trouble! The call will be friendly, caring, and brief. Look forward to it. The program is named in honor of Brother Linus Finn, FSC, typing teacher at La Salle, who made it his habit to call students on their birthdays—even after they had graduated!
Small Actions that Make a Difference
Perhaps you have noticed when the weather is nicer and we can take walks in the parks near our homes, more people than ever these days wave or say hello, breaking down some of the 6-8 feet social distances. Small actions that inspire large benefits.
This past week, thanks to Mr. Robert Johnson and WEXP, our talented music teachers, and Mr. Butt for small but powerful contributions to our mission. Here are two small musical pieces. Listen to Isaac Singer and Luke Opielski on keyboards and saxophone this past week. And, in a different vein, the "Bach Quarantine Suite" from students at the Peabody Institute.
St. La Salle's life was a series of small steps that led to powerful consequences. Whether in washing hands, waving hands, or putting hands to music, it's a good series to follow.
Live Jesus in our Hearts—Forever!
Michael A. O'Toole '68
Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Staff:
As most of you will have seen, Governor Wolf has this afternoon issued orders extending the closing of schools. The tentative earliest date schools may reopen is now set for Monday 6 April 2020. As all of us have come to appreciate, this date is a guarantee written in water. Depending on the progress of the disease and the success of containment and suppression activities, this date will be subject to further extension if need be.
Obviously, all events contained in the school calendar for those additional two weeks are postponed and will be re-scheduled if possible. Cyber school will continue throughout this time period according to the rotation that has been established. The re-registration process continues for the Classes of 2021-23, and the onboarding of the Class of 2024 is also ongoing.
But, at present, uppermost in my mind are the members of the Class of 2020. While the rest of us must cope more or less well with curtailed mobility, working from home, and restricted social interactions, you seniors are seeing a period which has for years been heralded to you as “some of the best days of your lives” snatched away a week at a time. It hurts me to watch this, and I am sure it hurts you more to experience it. I can see one good thing I hope may come from this, apart from many more of us staying healthy. Let me explain it by analogy. Parents are supposed to love all their children equally, and generally they do, despite what it may feel like at times. When they don’t, I have observed, the child they love most is the child they almost lost, whether due to accident or illness. I hope, and actually I predict, that, as the next 60 or so years go forward, the Class of 2020 will be pointed to as one of La Salle’s closest knit. With so much at risk these days, they have come to know more than most classes how to value the brotherhood as an ideal and treasure their friends as a vital and irreplacable presence in their lives.
Let me reemphasize Mr. O’Toole’s earlier promise. We at La Salle are available to members of the community in need. People react to stress differently, and reaching out to homeroom teachers, counselors, campus ministers, or Kairos leaders are all excellent ideas if you need to talk. I also hope that many of us will absorb this disappointing news and take a “light one candle” approach. Just text or snap someone who wouldn’t be expecting to hear from you. Ask how they’re doing; share a joke, an internet meme or GIF. Simply tell them you were thinking of them. In a time when it’s difficult to “choose your path,” the best choice is to try to light someone else’s.
Brother James L. Butler, FSC
La Salle College High School
Dear Parents and Students:
I hope that you all were able to relax and re-charge during the Spring break for the weeks ahead.
We're back in classes this week. We will resume tomorrow morning with X-Odd A Day classes at 7:55 AM, so students will have roughly half of their classes, but for 70-minute periods. This new cycle will conclude this Wednesday, and then start again. Please also check La Salle's COVID19 page for complete information on changes in school life and events.
The schedule for course registration for the 2020-2021 school year has also changed. Here is the direct link.
Here are some specific words of advice and reminder:
- Decorum in class. We expect our students' gentlemanly behavior to continue in a digital environment. Be present online on time. Prepare and participate.
- Homework/Independent Work outside of class. You have approximately half your usual work load each day. Plan appropriately. This more intense alternate day schedule should allow for a deeper dive into your work and then a break for each class.
- Establish a routine. Work as you must. Exercise as you must—Look for Mr. Butt's online guides for workouts this week.
- Academic trouble? Stress? Anxiety? That's the new normal for all of us. Reach out to your teachers and grade level counselors. If you feel overwhelmed by how school and the world have shifted, reach out to your counselors or, if needed, to Mr. Martin Jackson, our Director of Counseling (email is best at the start: email@example.com)
- General concerns? Reach out to me or to other administrators. IF we can't solve, we can send you in the right direction,
A couple of personal notes. For a decade, I have gotten the response, "How cool" when I told folks my daughter and family lived in Austin, TX. Now, that distance is more of a worry than a coolness. On a happier note, my son's return to our house to conclude his law school classes online gives us all some closer high-quality family time. I'm sure many families have the same dual feelings right now.
Last, I would encourage students and families to establish a good prayer routine during this time—whatever makes sense to you. My own prayer life relies on longer, more intensive periods. When I was facing major surgery on January 8, for example, I awoke much earlier than my scheduled 4:45 departure for Penn Medicine and prayed and meditated with the chants of the Taizé community in France, available on Spotify, Pandora, or, of course, on YouTube.
Whether you pray long or pray short, please do stay in touch with your spiritual life, with your community at La Salle, with your own feelings, and with the feelings of others around you. Realistically, speaking, the revised school schedule itself is not all that difficult to navigate. Surrounding factors will prove a challenge, but, with good support from school and family, we will all make it through these times.
Live Jesus in our Hearts----Forever!
Michael A. O'Toole '68
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Good Evening. I fully appreciate the way the past several days have bombarded us with information, some of which changes before we even digest it. So, I will do my level best to communicate what La Salle needs you to know with simplicity, knowing that many of the topics will require further consideration over the next two weeks:
1. Cyber School: begins tomorrow Friday 13 March 2020 for one day. It recommences after the break on Monday 23 March 2020 and continues through Friday 27 March 2020 at a minimum. Remember, that there is a four-day cycle for cyber school, so the calendar looks like this:
Friday 13 March XA Even
Monday 23 March XA Odd
Tuesday 24 March XB Even
Wednesday 25 March XB Odd
Thursday 26 March XA Even
Friday 27 March XA Odd
It’s perfectly fine to note that you don’t have to understand this, your kid does, and just move on from here.
2. Kairos 37-134: will not take place as scheduled. We may be able to reschedule it in April, but any new dates will not necessarily work for each student who has signed up for the March retreat. If we are able to have the final Kairos retreat, it will be optional for the students who previously signed up. The requirement to make a senior retreat in order to graduate is suspended for the Class of 2020.
3. Extracurricular Activities: According to the governor’s orders, extracurricular activities are not to take place during the two-week recess from school. There will be no sports practices or games nor will student activities like robotics, mock trial or Model UN meet in groups to prepare or complete. Play practice and band rehearsals will not take place.
4. Chorus Line: Without opportunities to practice and with the run of our musical spanning the end of the government-mandated recess, the safest thing to say now is that we anticipate the musical will be postponed. We appreciate the amount of work that has gone into it thus far and are committed to giving these students the opportunity to amaze us as they do every year, if at all possible, even if it may not be according to the planned schedule.
5. Office Closure: It is fair to expect that most of our employees will be working from home for the next two weeks. Email is by far the best means of communication. Leaving voicemails is unlikely to get as speedy a response. Keep in mind that Monday 16 March is the official spring holiday for 12 month employees.
6. Grandparents’ Day: Will not be held on Wednesday 8 April 2020. Even though this occasion is outside the time of closure, this event brings together a group of high-risk individuals whose paths wouldn’t ordinarily cross with those of 1,080 teenagers. We will look at the fall calendar to see if we can have the first ever Sophomore Grandparents’ Day for the Class of 2023! Please communicate our regrets to your parents. We look forward to seeing them when things settle down.
7. Medical Emergency: The Commonwealth has now taken some rather severe steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic. These steps may slow the progress of the disease down. But that could mean it will be with us longer, even if we are ultimately better able to cope with it. The balance between the right to privacy and responsibility to the community can be a difficult one to strike at a time when some people’s reactions are so extreme and panicked. Any information your family chooses to share over the weeks to come with Mrs. Ciccimaro (firstname.lastname@example.org) or an administrator you feel comfortable with will help us understand and manage the situation at La Salle better.
8. The Power of Prayer: One of the cornerstones of Lasallian spirituality is that we don’t turn to a magical God who should appear instantly as we conjure him; rather, we live in the presence of a God whom we acknowledge to be always with us, discovered easily in the people we cherish all the more at a time like this. As your family settles in for what will probably be a quieter couple of weeks than you have had since the last epic snowfall, I hope you will have the opportunity to find God in them. Since the last prayer of the day traditionally asks the intercession of the Blessed Mother, let me share one that I find particularly compelling at this time, the Sub Tuum Praesidium, the Church’s oldest prayer to her. I hope you may find consolation in praying it for our world, for those in most dire need, and for our school community:
We turn to you for protection,
Holy Mother of God.
Listen to our prayers
and help us in our needs.
Save us from every danger,
glorious and blessed Virgin.
Brother James L. Butler, FSC
La Salle College High School
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I bet you wish you heard from your kids as regularly as you hear from me these days! Truth be told, those of you who will be welcoming your college students home over the next few days probably won’t be regretting that distance once those dorm and fraternity house habits of life get transplanted into your family rooms for a period of three weeks to three months.
All attempts at a jovial opening aside, I am sorry to be writing you with some developments regarding COVID-19 and our school. A parent informed us today that (s)he has been diagnosed by his/her physician with the coronavirus and quarantined. The family is in voluntary quarantine with some symptoms among them.
This infection directly touches La Salle College High School. The remainder of this letter will deal with the changes to our schedule going forward into spring break. Tomorrow, Thursday 12 March 2020 will be an organizational day for faculty to transition to online instruction. “Cyber School” (whatever you want to call it) will begin on Friday 13 March 2020 (an auspicious date if ever there was one). The precise format and academic expectations will be communicated separately and shortly by Mr. O’Toole and Mr. Whitney. Having this single day of online classes before break will be a great chance for us to get the bugs out should we be required to continue or resume this mode of instruction at some point after the scheduled break ends.
Cleaners will begin the “deep cleaning” and disinfecting you have read about in other institutions tomorrow. This process will take several days to complete. During these days, the campus is closed to faculty, coaches, staff, and students. No practices will be held on campus these days, and access to the locker room, weight room, and pool are denied to staff and students. I will send another email to inform all when practices and related activities may resume.
The Flyers Cup is an off-campus tournament sponsored by an outside group. Those games will go on unless cancelled by the organization. It is for parents, not for the school, to decide whether individual student fans may attend, unless the Flyers follow the lead of the NCAA and ban most attendees or postpone the game.
Regrettably, the other administrators and I believe we are at the point where spring break athletic trips pose an unacceptable risk. We have no idea if any student athletes may have been exposed to the coronavirus within the context of our community or elsewhere. We simply cannot take the risk of one or more students becoming ill on the road and confined while away from parents and home. I know and understand how disappointing this news will be to the players and their coaches, and I regret that I truly have no responsible alternative other than to deliver it now.
While I do expect we will be open for practices and extracurriculars early next week, what the future holds regarding a return to a fully normal routine and the duration of that normalcy is impossible to discern at this time. All I can promise you is that we will keep on top of things and keep in communication with you. Please pray for the family in our community I know to be dealing with COVID-19 and for all those who are suffering from this virus or with anxiety at this demanding and uncertain time.
We all remember a couple of months ago when Mr. O’Toole gave us a free page from the “Thirty Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary” series when he taught us how to use the word vagaries in the context of a snow day announcement. Allow me to add another word to the vocab list: schadenfreude. Perhaps that’s the best word to describe how I feel imagining your sons’ reactions when they learn they will have a free day tomorrow but a class day on Friday before beginning Spring Break!
I will miss them—and you—and look forward to having everyone back at La Salle in God’s time…but hopefully very soon.
Brother James L. Butler, FSC
La Salle College High School
11 March 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I am writing to you with an update regarding La Salle’s response to the evolving public health issue with COVID-19. This is a fast-moving situation where decisions made with the best possible current plans can quickly be superseded in light of new developments. What follows will explain our present response to situations of immediate importance:
Travel for Athletic or Extracurricular Competitions: La Salle has not enacted a domestic travel ban at present. Students are currently free to participate in significant state-wide tournaments and championship events where their previous success has earned them a spot. Likewise, Spring Break trips have not been curtailed for teams or organizations hoping for early-season bonding and skill building. This understanding itself can be superseded by an organizing committee’s decision to eliminate or postpone the competition, host groups withdrawing their hospitality, government bans enacted on gatherings of a certain size, or La Salle’s decision, based on conditions we are confronting, that the participation of our individual competitors or groups of competitors will put other participants or event spectators at risk. La Salle’s decision in such matters is not subject to appeal. Likewise, competitors and their parents may decide unilaterally that they or their son(s) will not participate in such travel competitions or exhibitions due to current public health dangers. Underclassmen will not be penalized in their subsequent years of participation in these activities for any good faith prudential decisions they and their parents make at this juncture.
Spring Break Travel: La Salle College High School will be in recess from the end of the school day on Friday 13 March through the start of homeroom on Monday 23 March. No classes will meet during this time, whether live or virtual. We realize that many families may have booked trips of various kinds during this week. We do not feel we have the license to restrict our families’ recreational travel during this period, particularly within the United States. Nor do we wish to engage in practices which would require our families to damage their relationship to the school by engaging in intentional deception regarding their whereabouts over break. So, we simply advise that we consider travel to countries with a current Level 3 State Department Travel Warning incompatible with the immediate resumption of a student’s attendance and participation at La Salle on 23 March 2020. Likewise, we all see that domestic risks appear to be highest in the metropolitan areas surrounding Seattle, New York City, and San Francisco at present, though this may change. Our simple request for those who travel is this: please inform the Nurse’s office (email@example.com) if our student or a family member is self-quarantining by the end of break based on suspicion of infection. We want to support your family and provide for the general welfare of all 1,080 of our young men. If any need to alter the date of our return to classes becomes clear during spring break, we will notify you by email and on the website (not via social media platforms). Do not expect to be notified if everything continues according to the school’s announced calendar.
Transition to Virtual School: When the confirmed illness of (a) student(s), staff member(s), or the instructions of competent authority require, La Salle will move to conducting a virtual school day hosted on the Blackboard learning management system. Our teachers have been preparing for this eventuality, and a memo from the Academic Affairs Office will clarify procedures should we take this step. I do not expect the transition to be flawless, but I do think we can achieve instructional encounters and progress of reasonable quality for the length of time this approach is required.
Kairos 37-134: The final Kairos for the Class of 2020 and the first for the Class of 2021 is scheduled when we return from spring break, beginning on Tuesday 24 March and concluding on Friday 27 March. La Salle values the Kairos experience but is keenly aware that the communal living context of the retreat may not be ideal from a transmission prevention standpoint. We will continue to monitor this situation and inform parents and students through a general announcement of any decision to postpone Kairos 37-134 by email during break. If you do not wish your son to participate in this Kairos regardless of our decision, please inform Mr. Clark in the Mission and Ministry office via email: firstname.lastname@example.org . No decisions have been made regarding summer service, but a hard look at the viability of certain trips, particularly overseas ones, will follow the Kairos decision.
In conclusion, let me reemphasize that this is how we will communicate with you throughout the remainder of this public health dilemma. You will receive an email from Mr. O’Toole or me, reinforced by a subsequent posting on the website. We will not announce administrative decisions on Twitter or Facebook. Please give credence to what you see in writing, not to rumors or student chatter. Clearly, a certain amount of tension is produced for all by the considerable number of aspects of school life requiring scrutiny at this time. Yet much gratitude is also engendered here when we observe the dedication of so many people around the school who remain working hard to deliver this transformative La Salle education, by the time-proven customary methods if possible, by innovative alternative means if necessary.
Brother James L. Butler, FSC
La Salle College High School
Dear Parents and Guardians of the Class of 2024,
Welcome to La Salle! I am writing to inform you of a decision we have taken regarding the Welcome Mass and Orientation for our new freshmen and their families that has been scheduled for this coming Sunday 8 March 2020.
In the current environment it seems prudent to postpone this event until another future date, the precise date still undetermined. The rationale for this decision has to do with the fact that La Salle will be drawing from over 90 elementary and middle schools in your son's class. Students from all five counties will be joining us next year, and over 900 people in total would be involved with this Sunday's gathering. Bringing this variety of people together at this time raises the possibility that some could possibly be exposed to COVID-19 in a way they might not be when going about the rest of their ordinary routines.
Let me be clear: La Salle does not have diagnosed cases of the coronavirus among our faculty and student body as I write this letter on Friday morning. We are only exercising caution regarding an event that is designed to bring people together in a large assembly whose paths might never cross otherwise at this time of heightened concern. We are simply controlling what we can control, as the saying goes.
You will be receiving information to help you prepare for your son's first days at La Salle via electronic transmission by the middle of next week. Please read these documents carefully. Please also continue to pray for those whose families are affected by this virus at this time.
I look forward to welcoming you to La Salle in person in the months to come.
Brother James L. Butler, FSC
La Salle College High School
Dear Parents and Guardians,
When I was a sophomore, my high school science department acquired a piece of equipment that was for the time cutting-edge and novel, a computer. We students were first introduced to it by being given a primitive simulation based on an epidemic. We had a population, a budget, and various opportunities to spend that money on vaccinations of healthy people, medical treatment for the ill in hospitals, quarantine facilities, relocation, etc…. After we made our choices and set the parameters, the computer made a slow calculation and somehow produced data regarding how many healthy adults and children remained in our "community" at the end of the regimen of responses we had chosen.
Little could I have imagined at the time that 45 years later so much broadcast and online media attention would be consumed by similar concerns and projections. Back then, my motivation was simply a competitive spirit determined to get the best results. In 2020, I write sharing with so many of you a concern about the impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) will have on our global community and local La Salle family.
I would not presume to present materials regarding this virus and the possible pandemic for you to study. Nearly every member of our community has the internet research skills to gather desired information from the CDC or WHO, and many have far greater medical or public health experience to evaluate such presentations than I possess. I will focus in what remains of this email on our school's response to this developing health situation.
La Salle has established a leadership committee to coordinate our response on various levels. This coming week, we will review with the faculty procedures, media, and applications to ensure the continuity of instruction online in the event of school closures. We will be prepared to sustain the education of your sons by these methods should we be required to suspend classes by appropriate authorities. We have purchased and installed additional dispensers for hand sanitizer throughout the building and reviewed our disinfection protocols with the cleaning company. Decisions regarding large gatherings and any student trips off-campus will be made according to the best information available by the deadline required for both a judicious and economical change of plans, the possible provision of alternatives, and the clear communication of what seems to be required to those involved. It is not impossible that we will err on the side of prudence, but that is the side where we'd wish history to record the error.
At this time, we would request two things of our parents and guardians. First, please read carefully any communication regarding this situation coming out from school offices in the weeks to come. Second, please err on the side of prudence as well when deciding whether your son is too sick to come to school. I am certainly aware of the dread with which many La Salle boys face a possible pile of make-up work after an illness. I have also read some disturbing things regarding possible transmission of the coronavirus by those experiencing mild symptoms. The students might well rather come to school and "tough it out"; for the moment, that choice may not be in anyone's best interest.
I was an assistant principal of fairly recent vintage in Jersey City, NJ on the 11th of September, 2001. As that dark morning unfolded, one priority became clear: get the students safely home while the system of transportation was still operating. Other decisions could wait for more complete information to be forthcoming. Facing a possible public health situation of undetermined breadth and severity nearly two decades later, the same simple protocol seems relevant. Accomplish the most time-critical objectives for which you have sufficient information to make a decision first. As we continue into this period of considerable uncertainty, La Salle relies on four things: the dedication and resourcefulness of our faculty and leadership team, the support and understanding of our parents, the cooperation and flexibility of our students, and the Providence of a God who has never abandoned us and could never abandon us.
Brother James L. Butler, FSC
La Salle College High School
- What exactly will learning look like at home for students during an extended school closure?
- Are students required to be online and at their computer during the hours of the school day?
- What should a student do if he is unable to attend all or part of a given school day?
- Are school rules or expectations any different during this time of online class sessions?
- Is there a dress code for the synchronous online class sessions?
- How can a student access the synchronous online class sessions?
- What should a student do if he is experiencing technical difficulties that prevent him from attending the online synchronous class meetings?
All learning will be facilitated online, using our Learning Management System, Blackboard Classroom. Different than the school’s established “cyber day” protocol, the Cyber X Day Schedule has been established to afford students the opportunity to continue their learning remotely through the use of both “synchronous” and “asynchronous” learning opportunities. Synchronous learning can be defined as conducting class meetings online (with students attending class in real-time), where students will have opportunities to ask questions, get feedback and/or actively engage with classmates or their teacher. On the other hand, asynchronous learning is more akin to homework students may be used to, where they can complete work at their own pace, on their own time and do not have to engage in any interaction with each other or the teacher at a specific time.
Synchronous sessions will occur every day for students and will be conducted during the hours of a typical school day.
Classes will meet at their assigned times, according to a student’s respective class meeting schedule.
Students should select a background setting and work area that is private and free of background noises and/or distractions.
Asynchronous work such as written homework, readings for class, projects, etc. will be assigned to be completed in between class meetings.
All standard attendance policies are in effect. Outside of illness or family emergency, attendance and full participation in the “synchronous” class sessions is compulsory (just like attending class every day at school). All attendance matters are expected to be reported by a student’s parent/guardian to the Attendance Line at 215-233-4140 before 7:55AM. This includes full-day absences, late arrivals and early dismissals. All questions and requests regarding excused absences should be submitted to the Dean of Student Life’s Office. In the event of planned absences, students should be proactive with also informing their teachers ahead of time.
Students are expected to continue to conduct themselves as gentlemen. Their actions should at all times reflect the mission of the school and be in agreement with school policies and procedures. Students whose actions do not meet these expectations will be subject to intervention by school officials and disciplinary action.
All students are to adhere the same standards of behavior online as they would face-to-face. Be honest, respectful, and be polite. Everything that students post in the chat window (including “private” chats), is logged and can be viewed by the teacher.
Students are not permitted to take or post images, videos, or screenshots of classmates, instructors, or class content to the web or to Social Media.
Teasing, harassment, bullying & hazing will not be tolerated. All students are expected to support and assist in efforts which promote acceptance of others.
*Please refer to the Student Handbook for the full list of Community Rules, Student Regulations, Expectations, and other guidelines.
Have you ever...
- Been online using a phone, tablet, or computer?
- Read or sent an email or text?
- Typed a document, developed a slide deck, or created some other thing using an electronic application?
- Had a conversation with someone via Face Time, Google Hangout, SeeSaw, Skype or some other app?
- Recorded a video or taken a picture of something using a device of some sort?
- Shared a picture, document, video, website link, or anything else with someone using a technology tool?
- Watched a video or movie using a device?
- Learned anything or shared what you learned about something when doing any of the above activities?
- Used a technology device in any way and learned something from it?
If you can answer "Yes" to any one of the above questions, then chances are you have engaged in online learning -- especially if you created something that you shared with another person. The learning you did just wasn't designed and implemented by one of your current teachers or another educator.
Now, there are plenty of reasons blended or virtual learning might happen in La Salle. Here are examples of just a few reasons:
- Suppose a school building has to close for a while because of snow or some kind of problem that makes the school building uninhabitable (think: loss of electricity, no water, and so on), and there's no interest in extending the school year for the students in that school.
- Suppose a student has a medical condition that makes it hard for them to be in school , and they're really interested in and capable of keeping up with classwork.
- Suppose a student has to travel with their family for an extended period of time, and they really don't want to miss out on lessons or have to make up a ton of assignments.
Teachers at La Salle are starting to think about ways to help kids participate in learning beyond the classroom, in the cloud. Students in La Salle will have the chance to show what they know virtually. Imagine the possibilities!
- Following "Nettiquette"
- Staying Informed with Office 365
- Establishing Your Learning Routine and Preparing Your Learning Space
- Building a Daily Schedule
- Being an Active Learner and Advocating for Your Learning Needs
- Sharing Your Learning
First off, let's just be clear: when anyone engages online, it's essential that everyone behaves appropriately. La Salle students must follow the Acceptable Use Policy that everyone gets at the beginning of the year. And it's not just students who have to follow those procedures, the adults do as well. As a quick reminder, when you're online, be sure to:
- Use respectful behavior and language.
- Stick to appropriate topic discussions.
- Send only appropriate video transmissions.
- Use only appropriate icon, emoji, and avatar submissions.
- Wear school appropriate clothing if you are attending meetings via video.
- Be honest and do not plagiarizing or copying others’ work -- in other words, use academic integrity.
- Not falsify information about yourself or impersonate others online.
When everyone remembers to act kindly, show consideration for others, and treat one another online as you wish to be treated in person, we'll all be able to focus on learning.
If you want to read through the actual policies and expectations, the Student Policy Handbook can be found our website.
La Salle students all have Office 365 accounts. Really. You've got one. These accounts are managed and monitored by school employees who work in the Office of Information Technology.
When you learn in the cloud, you will need to check your school email account every day for information from your teachers and other adults about coursework, lessons, and/or content. Your school email is going to be an important tool for getting the information you need to successfully learn in the cloud. And if you need help using email, La Salle teachers can support you.
As a reminder, here's how you can access your school email account:
- Use any browser to access your email. You can go to Chrome and type webmail.lschs.org.
- Log in using the following information:
- Your school email will be your first name, last name, and class year @lschs.org (example: email@example.com)
- Your password should be your school login password.
Checking your school email account and Blackboard Classroom LMS every day is one thing. Following through on all that you'll need to do at home when you're engaging in virtual learning is another. If you've already set yourself up with good study habits, those habits will support learning in the cloud. Here are some things to think about when you engage in online learning:
- Have a daily routine. Stick to it. Ask your parent or another important adult to help you develop your schedule if you need assistance. Be sure your routine includes breaks, time to be active, and time to eat lunch.
- Have a learning space. Use this space when it's time to learn.
Be sure your learning space includes what you need to learn. You'll need a computer. You'll need paper, pencils and/or pens. You'll need tools to help you with math like a calculator, ruler, compass, and possibly manipulatives like counters. You'll need your textbooks, trade books, composition notebooks, or any other curriculum materials that your teacher provides.
Don't be surprised when your parent or guardian asks you to make your learning space in a shared area of your home like at the kitchen table, a large kitchen counter, or a desk in a living room or family room. The reality is that when your learning space is separate from your bedroom and distanced from the television, it triggers your brain that the space is for work and not play. You really will be more productive. And, like it or not, an online learning space in a shared area allows the adult(s) in your home to readily support your learning while also monitoring your online activity. (Yes, they get to see what you do.)
If you're wondering about the idea of a daily routine, keep reading...
More and more adults are able to work remotely. In fact, some adults have jobs that are done entirely through virtual means. These adults all have daily schedules or routines they use to help them stay focused and on task. When you learn in the cloud, you're going to need to think about this too. To develop your daily schedule, think about what it's like during a typical school day. Think about how teachers post schedules in the classroom or how bells remind students and staff when class is over. Think about your ability to stay focused and how long you know you can reasonably devote your full attention to a task.
Learning in the cloud is just as challenging and rigorous as a day of learning in the classroom. Learning just happens in a different place. Like in school, your daily schedule might be a bit different on each day of the week. There will be certain things such as your stretch and nutrition breaks as well as your lunchtime that you'll probably want to keep consistent. What might change are the times you hop online for video sessions or online chats. The more time you spend learning virtually, the more you'll know about what works best for you in terms of keeping focused and on task.
Getting used to an online learning environment and participating in virtual learning might take a little while. Some people will love it right away. Others might need some time to get used to how to participate in live video sessions or use a chat room. If you're an "early adopter," be patient and remain kind to those who will take longer to adjust to a virtual learning environment. If you're one of the people who isn't as comfortable with technology or online learning as your peers, it's okay. Stay positive. Be persistent.
Your teacher(s) are going to want to know whether you are learning what they intend for you to learn. So you're going to need to figure out how to share your learning with them. By checking in on Blackboard Classroom continuously throughout the day, you will find out how your teacher will want you to demonstrate your learning. Be prepared to be asked to:
- Complete an online quiz;
- Submit a document an assignment;
- Take a picture of your work and upload an assignment or email it to your teacher;
- Record a video in Blackboard that shows how you are able to do something;
- Email a message summarizing your learning;
- Engage in a Chat session; or
- Engage in an online video "Office Hour" though a 'Collaborate' Session.
There might be other ways your teacher(s) will want to check on your progress. If you have an idea, let them know!
Parent Responsibility for Meaningful Engagement through Virtual Means
When lessons are scheduled to be delivered through virtual means (in the cloud), attendance is still required. Teachers track virtual attendance in a variety of ways, and technology tools facilitate the confirmation of a student's participation in virtual learning. It is possible for teachers to identify who is in attendance during a live video session, whether a student has signed into their Blackboard Classroom LMS and completed assignments, who has sent or received an email, which students participated in an online chat, or who has uploaded an image or video documenting a student's learning activity. When learning occurs in the cloud, educators will clearly identify the method they will use to verify attendance so this can be inputted into La Salle's Student Information System (SIS). The role of parents and guardians when learning occurs in the cloud is to ensure they and their student(s) are aware of the way in which attendance will be noted on any given day and for any given class.
Online learning requires that parents and caregivers also consider other factors. Specifically, parents and guardians have the responsibility to support their student's meaningful engagement in learning through virtual means. The tips and tools offered here identify specific actions that can be taken in support of the endeavor to promote continuous learning outside the four walls of a classroom.
- Create a Learning Schedule and Space
- Daily Schedule
- Provide Learning Materials and Tools
- Share Learning with Teachers
- Check Progress
Sustained periods of virtual education are successful when students have a routine to follow and a space in which to work and learn. As you consider how to support your child's online learning, be clear about the time of day any online video sessions will be held as well as the extent of the assignments your student will be asked to complete. If you're not sure, ask your child's teacher(s). Once you have an idea about daily time commitments, plan a schedule for your child to follow. Stick to as predictable a daily routine as possible. Don't forget to include times for breaks and lunch. In addition developing a daily learning schedule, it is important to identify an at-home learning space. Ideally, this space should have:
- A computer
- Good lighting
- Ready access to learning materials and tools
A dedicated learning space for virtual learning should ideally be located in a shared area of your home such as at the kitchen table, a large kitchen counter, or a desk in a living room or family room. When your student's learning space is separate from their bedroom and distanced from the television, it sets the expectation and tone that the space is for work and not play. Additionally, an online learning space in a shared area allows parents and guardians to readily support learning while also monitoring online activity.
More and more adults are able to work remotely and most have daily schedules or routines they use to help them stay focused and on task. When your student learns in the cloud, they're going to need parent support to think about how to establish a regular routine. To develop your child's daily schedule, ask them about a typical school day. Consider their ability to stay focused and how long they can reasonably devote their full attention to a task.
Learning in the cloud is just as challenging and rigorous as a day of learning in the classroom. Teaching and learning just happens in a different place. Like in the schoolhouse, your student's schedule might be a bit different on each day of the week. There will be certain things such as stretch and nutrition breaks as well as lunchtime that should probably be kept consistent. What might change are the times your child hops online for video sessions or online chats. The more time your student spends learning virtually, the more you and your student will know about what works best in terms of keeping focused, on task, and engaged in meaningful academic endeavors.
Nothing disrupts a person's ability to do planned tasks than having to stop and find the materials and tools that are needed for the task. Virtual learning experiences don't just require a device. Students who are learning virtually should also have the following materials and tools available to them:
- Paper, pencils, and pens
- Calculator, ruler, compass, or other items to support math
- Textbooks, trade books, composition notebooks, and other necessary curriculum resources provided by your student's teacher
- Phone, iPad, or computer with camera for taking pictures of work and/or recording videos of learning demonstrations
The above list is not exhaustive. As La Salle teachers get smarter together about providing online learning as an option for students, this list will grow and guidance will be provided to parents and caregivers about how to access such materials and tools.
All La Salle students have access to Blackboard Classroom. Students should check their Blackboard Classroom continuously through the day for messages and updates from their teacher(s) about the daily learning expectations. Educators will also communicate with students about how to share their learning through each students school email account. Students may be asked to:
Complete an online Quiz;
Submit a document to an Assignment;
Take a picture of their work and upload it to an assignment or email it to their teacher;
Record a video that shows how they are able to do something; email a message summarizing their learning;
Engage in a Chat session; or
Engage in an online video "Office Hour" through a 'Collaborate' Session.
There are are many possibilities for how teachers might invite students to share their learning. Parents and caregivers should be sure they know what their children's teacher(s) expect and then support their student as needed.
Meaningful learning engagement in the cloud will not require a big shift in the ways teachers share student progress or in the ways parents and caregivers can check on their child's progress. Email, assignments and grades posted in Blackboard Classroom, or other practices already used by teachers and parents will remain available.
Teacher Role in Designing Meaningful Engagement through Virtual Means
Teachers at La Salle are responsible for designing coherent instruction related to a specific content area, utilizing curriculum and materials to build student knowledge for that content area, selecting appropriate resources to support the instructional design, and then implementing the instructional lesson plans. Planning for in-person or virtual educational experience also takes into consideration different methods of student engagement, as well as the ways students will be expected to demonstrate their learning.
When considering meaningful engagement in learning through virtual means, additional considerations to be made by educators include 1) the identification of the online tools that will best support their students' needs and the chosen instructional design, and 2) promising practices in online pedagogy. The tips and tools for La Salle's teachers provided here are intended to support the ways in which teachers and other instructional staff are thinking about planning for the meaningful engagement of students in the learning process through virtual means.
- Planning Meaningful Engagement
- Resources from Global Online Academy
- Resources from International Schools Services - Online Pedagogy
- Tools for Educating Students through Virtual Means
Blended and virtual learning models rely on the use of traditional curriculum materials and resources delivered through the technology tools that are chosen to facilitate or enhance the learning process. At La Salle, when we consider meaningful student engagement through virtual means, we must think about how to design learning experiences that effectively support the introduction of and interaction with our standard curriculum materials when students are not present in the classroom.
Meaningful engagement through virtual means requires that promising practices in online pedagogy are utilized. Online pedagogy first and foremost requires thoughtful consideration of the communication process: When and through what method will students and their significant adults be informed of online class time, lesson content, lesson activities, and expectations for the demonstration of student demonstration? Once the communication methods are identified and information is shared, then students will be better equipped to engage in live video sessions, chat rooms, and/or independent learning that they document and share in some way.
The Global Online Academy's mission is to reimagine learning to empower students and educators to thrive in a globally networked society. This organization has a wealth of resources, including online learning for educators. The resources from the Global Online Academy are very informative. La Salle teachers who would like to learn lessons from educators around the globe are encouraged to check out what's available. The GOA list of 15 Strategies for Online Learning When Schools are Closed is a blog post that provides excellent ideas for educators to consider when shifting learning to a blended or fully online model.
The International Schools Services supports the global education community. Their website has comprehensive information designed to support teachers who work in international schools. Often, these educators work with students remotely simply because of the nature of the mobility and travel of the parents. International Schools Services has done well is develop a comprehensive set of guidance for schools and school systems to use when they shift to an online approach to teaching and learning. Northshore educators are encouraged to review the information about online pedagogy to learn lessons from the ISS teachers that can support students in our school district. The International Schools Services Online Pedagogies are especially helpful for all educators; the information also includes suggestions targeted to teachers of the Arts, Early Learning students, or Health and Fitness.
Teachers at La Salle are familiar with and use a variety of online tools. These include, but are not limited to:
- Blackboard Classroom
- Blackboard Collaborate
All educators received training on Monday, March 9, about these tools so that everyone would have common knowledge about the features of these online resources. Additionally, teachers had the opportunity to think about which of the available tools will work best for students and their families.
It is up to each individual classroom teacher, in consultation with their grade or department teammates when appropriate, to make the decisions about which virtual platform will best serve the needs of their students. Having the tools available is one thing. Choosing which tool(s) to use is another and is dependent upon what the educators in each school, grade level, and/or department know will match what their students already know and can do with online technology.
Dear Alumni and Past Parents,
Over the past week or so, it seems I have often been in communication with our faculty, staff, and current parents to explain the arrangements La Salle College High School was putting into place to deal with the spread of COVID-19. Then, as often as not, we had to revise those arrangements because the situation had changed. Now that the situation has gotten a bit quieter and more stable (if admittedly starker and more dire), I am pleased to have a few minutes to be in touch with you about where we are and the road that lies ahead.
La Salle has begun delivering cyber lessons to all our students. Our faculty had been preparing carefully over the past couple of weeks for this eventuality, so when we suspended classes at the end of the day on Wednesday 11 March, we were able to take an organizational day and resume classes on Friday 13 March. This week is our scheduled spring break, so cyber classes will resume on Monday 23 March for at least one week more, according to the Governor of Pennsylvania’s orders. It is difficult to be optimistic that we will return to face-to-face instruction on the 30th as originally planned, but if not, hopefully sometime shortly after Easter.
How did it go? Principal Mike O’Toole and his team report it went quite well for a first attempt. The technology integration group of our IT department was kept quite busy, but most fixes were quite easily diagnosed and communicated. The students were quite excited to be in touch with each other again in a medium that is so familiar and natural to them.
In some ways, the academic life of the school has been the easiest for which to achieve continuity. See the link “Plans for Educational Continuity in Light of COVID-19” on the masthead of our website if you wish to learn more. It is the athletic, extracurricular, and social dimensions of La Salle life, though, that have ground to a halt. While we were able to win the PIAA State AAA Swimming Boys’ Championship last week for the sixth time in a tournament that was only slightly abbreviated, the opening of all spring sports has been forestalled by the relevant authorities. We have also had to postpone the last Kairos retreat and the spring musical A Chorus Line. Grandparents’ Day will not go on until the fall. The length of the closure will determine whether we are able to host the Alumni Grand Reunion this semester. This campus which usually hums on a spring afternoon with the energy of 750 young men engaged in activities which won’t end until after dark is now still, a few administrators, office and maintenance personnel going about the necessary tasks in relative isolation.
But stillness isn’t always a bad thing. It gives us a chance this year to experience a different kind of Lent, one involving sacrifice and self-denial we might not have signed on for voluntarily. We are forced to move away from the ongoing quest to be connected, hopefully exploring the opportunity to be recollected, to take stock and to appreciate both the relationships at home we can often take for granted and those in the wider community we may be missing. Somewhat paradoxically, we have the chance to become “Explorers of the inner life,” forced to seek better answers to the questions of what we value in life and how we pursue these things.
Our friends at the university (or college for those of a certain vintage) tell us, “Explorers are never lost.” Reassuring, but not always true, at least if we hope to make new discoveries. I think it might be more appropriate to contend, “Explorers are never alone,” even in this age of social distancing. Lewis had Clark, Jolliet had Marquette, and Captain Cook had Furneaux (a little obscure, I know). Likewise, we are all connected in this wonderful school family with stretches to every state and across the globe. Hoping to keep this connection vibrant in these stressful times, we have opened a new email address firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or a relative falls ill in this time of community spread, if you are worried about someone you care about who is experiencing stress, anxiety, or loneliness at this uncertain time, please send us an email with their names. We will place the names in the Brothers’ chapel where they will benefit from the prayers of the Brothers’ community and the La Salle community. Please remember these intentions in your own prayers each day. Periodically, a tee shirt will reappear around here boasting the tag line, “Tradition never graduates.” True enough, and neither do compassion, brotherhood, and the ability to answer that call made many times each day throughout your sons’ teenaged years or your own: the invitation to remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God….And, therefore, never really alone.
St. John Baptist de La Salle. Pray for us.
Live Jesus in our Hearts. Forever!
Brother James L. Butler, FSC
La Salle College High School
- [HOSTED ONLINE] Classes on March 13, 2020
- [POSTPONED] Spring Musical
- [CANCELLED] Grandparents Day
- [CANCELLED] Classes on March 12, 2020
- [CANCELLED] Baseball Spring Break Trip
- [CANCELLED] Rugby Spring Break Trip
- [POSTPONED] Freshmen Welcome Mass and Orientation for the Class of 2024