Students adjust well to new school year filled with changes

Students in Heidi Pflum’s class at Notre Dame Elementary in Burlington wait for class to start.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Administrators of Catholic schools that have opened in the Diocese of Davenport say they are pleased with students’ acceptance of wearing face coverings, observing social distancing and other pandemic safety protocols. Some diocesan schools will open after Labor Day.

Rebecca Clarahan, principal of St. James Catholic School in Washington said, “We are very fortunate that our Return to Learn Committee thought through so many scenarios and spent a lot of time thinking and working on how we could best keep our students healthy, safe and learning. Our students have done an excellent job of wearing face coverings which speaks volumes about our families who have worked with their children at home.”

Clarahan also appreciates the school’s “dedicated staff, who are working hard to ensure student and staff safety and quality instruction.” The few adaptations made to the plan for in-school learning dealt mainly with arrival and dismissal, she said. School began Aug. 24 for the 71 students in grades K-5 and the preschool’s 33 students will begin classes Sept. 8.


St. James does not offer a hybrid or online option. Students attend in person, for full days.

“We continue to pivot and work on adjusting as needed. We continue to develop our plan (in case of) a quarantined class or a school closure. We have a variety of platforms such as Seesaw and Google Classroom to continue to educate students remotely,” Clarahan said.

Bill Maupin, principal of Notre Dame Catholic Schools in Burlington, said school began Aug. 10. Area public schools delayed their start to Aug. 31. Because Notre Dame is air conditioned, school has continued full days without the need for early dismissals due to heat and humidity.

“The students and staff have done an amazing job. We really didn’t have any prob­lems. Students have done a great job keeping on the masks and we are using the elementary gym as a second lunch room.”

No changes have been required for the plan to return to school in the midst of a pandemic. Enrollment is 430 students; 35 students opted to do their education online, Maupin said.

At Holy Trinity Catholic Schools in Fort Madison and West Point, school began Aug. 24.
All the classrooms have air conditioning; however, the public school district provides transportation so early dismissals have occurred due to heat and humidity, said

Brenda Graham, marketing and admissions director. When the weather cools, classes will resume full days in person. No challenges popped up in the first week of school.

“Thankfully, our administration and staff did a tremendous job of preparing,” Graham said. “Teachers, students and parents are truly being respectful and patient with our new protocols.” Enrollment is 297 students in grades K-12. Two students chose the online learning option and one student is participating in the hybrid program, she said.

“HTC has seized the opportunity to recognize the Christian values of putting others first and making sacrifices for others. We are blessed by being together. ‘Together’ is the theme of this school year at our elementary school. We certainly cannot take this time together for granted. HTC is dedicated to the safety and values of our students, teachers and our entire school community. We are doing all that is necessary to stay together in the classroom.”

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