Today we begin a new school year with the hope, promise and enthusiasm that accompanies the start of the fall term. Last week we gathered together as faculty and staff to meet new faculty, center ourselves again on the mission of our school and the legacy of the Sacred Hearts Sisters that we carry forward with them today. There were school year overviews, discipline and grade level meetings, guest lectures and a start of the year retreat. These events happen at the start of every school year. They are the rituals that energize and prepare us to do the important work of teaching and developing Academy students in the year ahead.
As familiar as our work last week was, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was different as well. Many of our events during the week were held online rather than in person. As much as we were talking about curriculum issues and ways of teaching, we were focused on sharing how classrooms would be sanitized, how health checks would be conducted, and when the latest PPEs would be arriving on campus.
As our events of the week unfolded, we were also watching the news indicating the rising number of new COVID-19 cases on Oahu, doubling over the last two weeks and averaging well over 100 new cases per day. Both in the news and in our own case of COVID-19 on campus, we saw the challenges the State is facing with testing and contact tracing. And our health care system is nearing capacity as well.
We have worked over the spring and summer to ensure that Sacred Hearts Academy is prepared to provide families the option of on campus or online instruction this school year. We have put health and safety practices in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission for those who choose the option of on campus instruction.
We have an abiding concern for the well-being of all in the Academy community. It’s that concern that led us to go fully online for our first week of instruction following our on campus case of COVID-19. Sacred Hearts community concern extends beyond the Academy campus. It’s that legacy of the Sacred Hearts Sisters that has our graduates as well known for their community service as for their professional accomplishments.
We have carefully reviewed the trending COVID-19 prevalence on Oahu, as well as the steps taken and challenges faced by the State in seeking to reverse that trend. In service of both our Academy community and public health, we have decided to extend online instruction for students in grades 1 through 12 through August 28th. Students in the Early Learning Center (JK and SK) will have the option of on campus or online instruction beginning August 17th and extending through August 28th. We will evaluate the COVID-19 situation on Oahu the week of August 24th to determine if we are able to begin on campus instruction the following week for those choosing that format.
The feedback we received from families about online instruction in the spring was very positive. Our faculty continue to work diligently on their own and collaborate together to offer students as outstanding an education online as they do on campus.
The well-being of all at the Academy and on our island continues to be our priority. Let us pray that through our efforts together we will be able to lessen the presence and impact of COVID-19 and that we will have a blessed start to our school year.