By Libby Rosequist
Since the initial closure of schools on March 13, St. Gregory School has worked with the many challenges of the pandemic from closing, going to remote learning and now being back open to its students.
“Through team planning, professional development, guidance from the CDC, the Catholic Schools Office and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, all of our decisions have been made with the student’s safety and education as our top priority,” Principal Nancy Pierce said.
With that in mind, the school has made many changes to its daily operation schedule including new cleaning, sanitizing, social distancing and student transition routines.
All classroom seating is socially distanced, class sizes have been capped, students and staff must wear masks or shields and daily sanitizing protocols are implemented.
During morning student arrival, students enter the building through an assigned doorway. There are three different entrances and temperature checks take place for all students and staff before entering the building.
Other changes include adding an additional lunchtime period, spacing out seating during lunchtime, using the outside school property as a learning space and assigning specific materials to students to eliminate the sharing of materials.
St. Gregory School has a different theme for every school year and this year is “Celebrating Life in a World of Opportunities.”
“This theme was developed in effort to focus the students and staff on what could be done and learned during this pandemic,” Pierce said. “We want them to explore and think outside the box during such a confining time.”
Some of the projects completed have included:
• Level four students repurposing old school chairs with fresh paint and original designs.
• Level three and four students painting rocks for a “Rock Hunt” for students in preschool through second grade.
• Preschool/kindergarten students monitored the metamorphosis of Paint Lady Butterflies. Each child had his or her own caterpillar and then released adult butterflies.
• All students in the school painted over 250 pink ribbons to assist in the annual Painting the town Pink breast cancer awareness campaign.
Saint Gregory School also celebrated Halloween. Each class picked a theme and students created their own costumes and had a costume parade outside for the parents.
“Our students are very resilient,” Pierce said. “They have accepted the safety practice of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing has been something new that the students and staff are constantly reminded to do. But I am constantly impressed by how everyone works together.”
Although there is much uncertainty for the future with this pandemic, St. Gregory School has continued to evolve and remain hopeful for the students and staff members.
“We want to lead and guide students to explore new opportunities to learn and serve,” Pierce said. “It is the hope of school administration and staff that students will persevere in helping others, being open to new ways of learning, respect the health and safety of others and continue to grow in faith, knowledge and love of others.”
In the future, Saint Gregory School hopes to resume interactive service projects, participate in field trips and learning experiences not available during the pandemic.
For any questions, the school can be contacted at 814-75-4571.