Holy Rosary School students may be out of their building due to the coronavirus, but they aren't missing any learning opportunities. Teachers at Holy Rosary School — and at all the elementary and high schools throughout the Diocese of Scranton — are sending home daily assignments as well as engaging their students in online learning and physical activities. Programs such as Google Classroom, Discovery Education, Nearpod, and Zoom help teachers and students view lessons and correspond with one another during this difficult time.
Holy Rosary Principal Melissa Skutack continues to communicate with students, parents and faculty, and creates daily fun activities in order to ensure a sense of "normalcy" for her school community during this time.
"I am proud of how my teachers continue to educate their students daily," Skutack said. "Distance learning is new to us and they are doing an amazing job."
Even the youngest students are continuing to learn and keeping up some of their normal routines. Preschool teacher Lisa Simkulak videos herself reading stories to her students.
"The children love their story time and I miss reading to them," she said.
The effort is appreciated by parents and students alike.
"This really brought a giant smile to my daughter Giavanna's face," said preschool parent Jessica Lamark.
While the teachers are reaching out to students, members of the first-grade class are reaching out to one another through a pen pal program, where students email letters, pictures or drawings to their classmates. Pen pals are alternated every two days so that all the children receive an email from the buddies they miss.
"The little ones don't have social media accounts which allow them to talk to their friends," explained Lauren Gedrich, first-grade teacher. "The pen pal program is perfect for the first graders to keep in touch with their buddies."
The fourth graders are becoming at-home inventors. While learning about inventors and inventions, the students are each creating their own invention and developing a commercial and advertising campaign to promote it. Students will use the Zoom conferencing online video program to demonstrate their product to their classmates.
"It will be fourth grade's version of HRS Jr. Shark Tank," said teacher Tammy Dixon.
"It challenges all of us to think out of the box and brings learning to a whole new level," she said of the current situation.
Seventh graders are participating in a Fantastic Friday Journaling Program where students correspond back and forth with their teacher about what they are doing at home.
"It's keeping us connected with each other ... I miss the conversations with the kids," said teacher Jennifer Snyder.
Eighth-grade teacher Debbie Brady and her students are getting the whole family involved in their studies. Each student is putting together a video about working together as a family. Students will then record themselves doing a project at home using step-by-step instructions. The videos will then be shared with the entire class.
"I feel that everyone is working together and putting in a great deal of effort to keep our students moving forward," Brady said.
The school acted quickly to help students continue their education at home, but learning from home requires commitment from the teachers, students and parents. The teachers stay in constant communication with their students to offer immediate feedback to students and parents and the students and parents do their part as well.
"When we heard our school would close for a short time, we were very prepared with prior professional development in online learning and lesson planning," sixth-grade teacher Mariah Mattioli said.
"I was inspired by how families rose to the occasion and made things happen for the good of their children," added Joan Down, second-grade teacher.
Along with their regular classes, the Holy Rosary students also are continuing classes like computers, art and even gym, with teachers sending students assignments, like physical education teacher Ann Levandoski encouraging students to stay fit and keep moving during their time at home with games such as P.E. Bingo.
"I would like to thank all the teachers and staff of Holy Rosary School," said parent Eileen Lyons. "In these unprecedented times we are all trying to navigate our new normal. I appreciate that you are doing your best to keep our children learning and engaged,"
"Other students could only be as lucky as our children," expressed parent Quiana Lehman. "They hit the ground running and are doing well in a bad situation."