By Emily Drooby
Salve Regina Catholic Academy student Brennan Elder has been experiencing a very unique kind of school day. He’s been learning, completing assignments and even taking part in a gym class, all from home.
“We’ll be assigned work, and then we either have to take a picture of it and send it to her or we have to do it on the Google Drive and that’s how we send it to them,” he explained of his new classroom routine.
Brennan is one of 18,000 students across the Brooklyn Diocese schools who are learning virtually during the Covid-19 crisis. They’re using Google Classroom to receive assignments and upload them to teachers when they’re completed.
The diocese’s elementary Catholic academies and parish schools are closed until at least April 20 for safety.
“We want to continue to keep the kids learning, continue with the curriculum to the best of our ability,” explained Susan Walsh, principal of St. Saviour Catholic Academy. “And we think it’s important to continue learning, and we don’t just want busy work. We want kids to be going right through the curriculum”
St. Saviour Catholic Academy is one of the schools relying on distance learning – they’ve been preparing for weeks.
Over the past two days, teachers like Caitlin Carroll and Sophia Sgro have been uploading work, giving mini-lessons through video chat and making sure they’re around to answer questions.
“We’re trying to keep ourselves available so our kids know we are there for them,” said Caitlin.
The system is necessary, but it isn’t always easy. The teachers explained that there have been some growing pains.
“Relaying all information to both kids and parents, there’s’ just a lot of constant communication that needs to be happening,” explained Sophia.
“There’s a lot of questions,” Caitlin added. “Trying to figure out how to get onto Zoom, how do they do this, what do they need for this?”
This was especially true for younger students, who were not already using the platform before the outbreak.
But still, tough times call for extraordinary measures.
“It’s something we have to learn how to do,” said Sophia. “It’s inevitable, and we are smart and capable of adjusting to whatever we need to.”