What Online Learning Looks Like at a Diocese of Brooklyn Catholic School Forced to Close by NY State

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Crux, Cuomo, Faith, Family, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Pandemic, Queens, NY

By Emily Drooby

“Good morning everyone” Stephanie Campanella exclaims to her first class of the day as she greets them over Zoom.

For about a month, students were in class with her. That changed after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that schools in what are being called COVID red zones would have to close.

Stephanie’s school, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy in Gravesend, Brooklyn was one of them. They had to switch to remote learning with less than twenty-four hours’ notice.

Stephanie says the new school day looks very similar to the old, especially since they still have live classes.

It’s “honestly as if we were still in the building,” she told Currents News. ‘There is a lot more work that goes with it.  Because you have to make sure that you find all the different videos, extra videos on top of it,” she added.

“We try to keep our enthusiasm level as much as we can, as if the students were in class. We play different games with them on Zoom. And we make sure they’re engaged with us, and not falling asleep,’ she said.

On Oct. 8 that included an “escape the room”-themed game: problem solving made fun.

“We got to do teams, so it was really fun, we were competing,” explained Stephanie’s student, Anastasia Chabanov. “It makes it more interactive than just sitting and doing assignments.”

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy is one of 10 schools in the red and orange zone forced to close with the new COVID restrictions. The other schools are Good Shepherd Catholic Academy, Midwood Catholic Academy, St. Athanasius Catholic Academy, Edmund Elementary School, St. Edmund Preparatory High School, Brooklyn Jesuit, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Academy of Brooklyn, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Academy and St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Academy.

Over 2,700 students affected have had to switch to an online learning model.

It’s a lot of extra work, but Stephanie says she’s happy to do it. She added that the only real challenge has been seeing her students sad to be home.

She also felt bad for parents that had less than a day to find childcare.

Parents are still paying tuition during this time. It’s not yet clear how long the school will have to remain closed, but we do know that it will be 14 days minimum.