Grace M. Urbanski
Christ King Parish School
Grace M. Urbanski, Principal
This year’s return to in-person school, five days a week, is a miracle. So many generous folks have contributed to our reopening, in so many ways, that I can’t help but think of 1 Corinthians 12:12: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” Inspired by that verse, I will describe the school year thus far in terms of the many parts of the one body we share.
Oddly enough, our respiratory system takes priority this year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school looks very different! A group of tireless volunteers formed a COVID-19 Task Force. This task force researched a wide range of approaches to safe schooling and concluded that in-person school is important for children and possible to plan for. The task force then established health protocols to which most students have adapted brilliantly. Frequent handwashing, masking, physical distancing, and cohorting are all a natural part of each school day. Some of our most clever classes find ways to turn necessity into fun: “zombie arms,” “crocodile walk,” and swimming noodles have all contributed to hallway happiness. The experience of bravely accepting the pandemic’s challenges will surely build long-lasting resilience in our students.
Even as they manage new procedures, Christ King teachers keep their classrooms lively. This year, students spend more time seated safely in their desks (spaced six feet apart), which is a change for many teachers whose classrooms ordinarily involve movement, learning stations, and collaborative work. With innovative thinking, our teachers keep students engaged in their lessons: the seventh grade “joke of the day” is usually a crime against comedy, but keeps the students smiling; one first grade classroom has turned their desks into fabulous cars; and many classrooms promote peacefulness and sustained attentiveness by lowering the lights and turning on soft music while students dive into their independent reading time. It is truly inspiring to see the ways teachers manage the protocols and deliver high quality in-person instruction, five days a week.
Many hands have dug into wallets or spent long hours at work to allow our school to open in person. Despite occasional glitches, the robust wireless network throughout the school enables each classroom to benefit from technology for teaching and safety purposes. Teachers have fast new laptops, and all the SmartBoards and Chromebooks provide a variety of learning opportunities. In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, a crew of miracle workers tore up old carpet from a dozen classrooms, repaired the concrete floors, and installed thousands of square feet of beautiful, clean laminate flooring. The cleaning and maintenance crews continually wage–and win–epic battles over repairs, germs, and disorder.
The Heart of Christ King School is its volunteers. Every single day, twenty-four parent volunteers report for shifts of outdoor recess duty, ensuring that our students have plenty of time to enjoy the fresh air. Because teachers eat lunch in their classrooms with their students this year, recess volunteers offer brief breaks for teachers to refresh and refocus before welcoming their students back from recess. An entirely different set of volunteers staffs the Comfort Care room. The Comfort Care room is a secondary, isolated health room where students with possible COVID-19 symptoms are tended. Our local Health Department is impressed with the professionalism of our system!
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