Cardinal Mooney Bulletin for August 30, 2020
The beginning of any new academic year brings both excitement and apprehension. Last week we welcomed back to campus members of the Class of ‘21, ‘22, ‘23, and ‘24. There was plenty of excitement at being back in person and unique apprehension due to the global pandemic.
From student surveys, two of their concerns stood out: The first, our students are concerned for the health and well-being of their immediate families. Secondly, they’re concerned about any potential for a return to “remote learning”. They want to be back in-person and are willing to do their part to protect each other, their families, and in-person teaching and learning. They are willing to shoulder some of the inconveniences that are imposed on them by the global pandemic. They are willing and able to ensure our social compact (to wear masks, socially distance, wash our hands, and restrict large gatherings) will see us through this school year.
They are also keenly aware that it has been five months since Mooney closed campus due to COVID. They remember not having athletic seasons, missing out on spring traditions, Mass together, and especially graduation ceremonies. Five months physically apart from their teachers, coaches, and each other.
We are happy to return life to Cardinal Mooney by welcoming students back to the 2020 –2021 academic year tomorrow. I am grateful for the support many of you gave for efforts to open school in person. Your feedback helped to shape our plans for beginning classes tomorrow. Our purpose in reopening in person remains grounded in our mission to foster growth that comes from student-teacher relationships. There will be last-minute adjustments to be made yet we’re ready to begin.
As I’ve written throughout the summer, key to remaining open will be predicated on adhering to simple requirements. Adherence isn’t the same thing as liking the requirements or agreeing with them; adherence is making a personal commitment to a social compact. That compact is formed in the hopes that will assist school in remaining open, to provide students with as many traditional experiences as possible, and to keep others in our community safe and healthy.
Constructing an environment that allows us to open comes at a steep price. I am not referring to our expenses, although they will be high. I’m referring to the price we must all pay, for a time, in inconvenience and in forgoing and/or restricting many of the activities that we associate with the start of school, with learning, and with the social life of a high school. Many of these we might provide to students, yet not to a broader community of supporters.
The impositions have already begun. As each student arrived last week, they were handed a Mooney mask, they walked the halls under physical distancing signs, they grabbed boxed lunches, and were reminded by signs in restrooms to wash their hands.
Social distancing includes new rules by the State of Ohio which are restricting the number of people who can attend athletic contests, avoidance of large crowds, and the suspension of some activities.
During my three decades in secondary education, I have seen how important these years are to you as parents. You want to support your student in all their endeavors, especially witnessing extra-curricular events. You want them to enjoy many of the customs and traditions you enjoyed. You’re investing in them and their futures by sending them to a private school. You’re committed to their faith lives by sending them to Cardinal Mooney. Naturally you want to be a part of their lives.
No one can know whether all our efforts and precautions will suffice. All I know is that we have to try and do all we can to keep our students in school, with their instructors and each other, to keep them growing in their faith, and learning toward their diplomas as well as successful and happy lives beyond Mooney.
That is the right thing to do.
In my address to each class last week I said that the decision to open IS difficult. I intentionally use the present indicative “is” versus the past “was” because every day we have to make a difficult decision to remain open. Every day, we must calculate what a 1% infection rate in school would mean exponentially to the entire school community. Every day we must calculate what one positive case from outside of school could bring inside.
I also told students that many doubt they can remain in school. I have confidence in them to see us through, but only they can prove their detractors wrong. I’m confident they will see us through because they want — and need — to be together in school.
Parents, if I limit your access to school, contests, or activities it is not because I don’t understand how important your participation is. It is because we share in the belief that the best way to educate and form your child is in-person, all day, every day. Please understand then, that some restrictions may be necessary.
Thank you for your understanding and support.