Spring 2020 - Distance Learning
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop O'Connell transitioned to a distance learning model beginning March 19, 2020. We will always be grateful for the enthusiasm of our students, and for our dedicated faculty, who are accompanied our students during these unprecedented times.
- April 20, 2020 - A Message from O'Connell Students from Bishop Burbidge
- April 17, 2020 - Distance Learning - Updated Information (from M. Lonergan)
- April 8, 2020 - Distance Learning - Your feedback helps us improve! (M. Lonergan)
- April 3, 2020 - Calendar Information Update - From Sister Lorraine
- April 1, 2020 - Academic Calendar Information - From Sr. Catherine
- March 31, 2020 - Superintendent Letter to Parents
- March 26, 2020 - Checking In - One Week into Distance Learning
- March 25, 2020 - A Message from Bishop Burbidge
- March 24, 2020 - A Note to the Class of 2020 - from Mr. Patton
- March 23, 2020 - Monday's News - We Continue On! From Sister Lorraine
- March 19, 2020 - Here We Go! A Note from Sister Lorraine
- March 13, 2020 - A Note from Sister Catherine - Preparing for Distant Learning
- March 12, 2020 - Distance Learning Begins March 19
- March 6, 2020 - An Update from Sister Lorraine
- March 2, 2020 - A Note from Sister Lorraine
Good Morning, O'Connell Students,
As we return from Easter Break, we continue to pray for you and your families and hope that you are all well.
Bishop Burbidge was scheduled to visit us at Bishop O'Connell this week, but since we can't gather together with him at this time, he shares a very special message for our school community today.
View his message at THIS LINK.
We are grateful to be a part of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington now and always.
God Bless you and your families...and don't forget to share your #WeAreDJO spirit with all of us today!
Dear Students and Parents,
Happy Easter! We hope this email finds each of you and your families well. It is hard to believe that the end of our Easter Break is already here. In reviewing the survey results and verbal feedback received from students, parents and teachers, revisions have been made to the guidelines for distance learning. These updated guidelines will go into effect this Tuesday, April 21 when classes resume after the holiday.
As indicated before Easter, Bishop O'Connell has made the decision to continue with an asynchronous model for distance learning. While no formal required class meetings will be scheduled at specific times, teachers will be increasing the number of scheduled video conference opportunities to allow students to connect directly with teachers during the remaining weeks of school.
The changes below are designed to address feedback that indicates a need to provide more consistency in the distance learning experience for all students. Changes will also provide additional opportunities for students to dialog through video conferences with teachers.
NEW! Changes to Distance Learning Guidelines
Beginning Tuesday, April 21, 2020
- Teachers will post assignment due date information for each week every Monday by noon. Each week of posting will cover due dates through the next Monday. (For this week only, April 20, assignments will be posted by 5 p.m. to allow use of the teacher work day to facilitate a smooth start on Tuesday.)
- All assignments that have specific due dates will be posted on the MyDJO calendar regardless of the platform teachers are using to post additional information and provide assignment details.
- Links to additional information required for the class (pacing guide, Google sites, IXL, Supersite, etc.) will be clearly visible on the MyDJO class pages. If students or parents are unable to access needed information, please contact teachers directly to let them know there is an issue.
- Assignments are due by 9 p.m. on the due date.
- Expected daily work time for distance learning should not exceed five (5) hours throughout the day. Strategies to ensure that classes are appropriately paced have been discussed. Teachers that have not had the opportunity to do so, will be gathering feedback from students in their individual classes to determine if the student experience of daily work time is in line with this policy.
- During distance learning, teachers are checking email each school day at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. Teachers will respond to email within 24 hours. While teachers do their best to respond to emails as soon as possible, students should not expect an immediate response to email. Students who need an immediate response are encouraged to use office hours.
- In order to provide more connection in all classes, teachers will be using video conferencing for office hours at least one time per week or adding a video conferencing session on a designated day of the week determined by the administration.
- Video conference sessions remain optional for students but are highly encouraged as a way for students to structure their day and have questions answered. Video conference sessions are required to be recorded and will be posted for students who are unable to attend as appropriate.
Distance Learning Guidelines that Remain in Effect
- Students are expected to participate fully in distance learning as directed by teachers in individual classes.
- If a student is unable to complete work for an extended period of time during distance learning, parents are asked to email the student's counselor. Counselors will be able to help students with an academic plan or provide additional assistance as needed.
- Academic work will be graded. Specific rubrics, methods of feedback and due dates will be determined by the teacher.
- Email communication must take place through Bishop O'Connell email accounts.
- Remind will be the only app that teachers will use if they plan to communicate with classes by text message.
- Teachers will continue to have "Office Hours" each day when they will be immediately available for students.
The calendar below contains a listing of the important dates related to the next six weeks of distance learning. You will also be able to find these dates on the school's main online calendar.
We Are Committed to Meeting Our Students' Needs
We know that distance learning challenges different families in different ways. We remain committed to meeting the needs of individual students to the best of our ability and to providing a quality Catholic education for all students. Students are encouraged to talk openly with teachers if they find workloads overwhelming. Counselors are also available every day to connect with students and assist with academic, social and emotional challenges. Both students and parents are encouraged to reach out to individual teachers, counselors, department chairs or administrators as needed.
Mr. Patton, Mr. Roque, and Mrs. Lonergan will be offering a weekly office hour for all students on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. A link to the meeting will be provided on the KnightTime page in the MyDJO portal.
We know that these continue to be challenging times for families in our community. We are grateful for the engagement of our students in the distance learning process and the hard work of our teachers. We are grateful as well for the hard work of parents and other family members who have needed to find a way to support your child's learning while navigating so many other challenges at home.
Monday is O'Connell Spirit Day! We encourage all students and families to join in the fun! Wear your blue, gray and white and share photos with us on social media or through email at communications@bishopoconnell.
As we resume distance learning next week, we invite everyone to join us at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for our daily Mass livestream from the student chapel. View it live or recorded via our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/oconnellhs.
Dean of Mission
Dear O'Connell Students and Parents,
To our families, a big "Thank You!" for the feedback we received on both the parent and student surveys. We had 508 parents and 510 students submit responses. This data will aid us in making improvements to our asynchronous distance learning model. The data revealed the need to improve:
- Communicating how students are being assessed/graded for assignments
- Coordinating teacher office hours for all courses
- Increase available tutorials and opportunity for students to connect directly with teachers
- Have MyDJO be the one source to post student course assignments
Positive survey notes include students being able to set their own schedule, getting more sleep, more family time, and the distance learning experience in general. The data also revealed that students are struggling with time management, isolation (missing friends, teachers, and daily routine), workload in some courses, and technology failures. We will be looking for ways we can assist students to mitigate these challenges.
Survey results indicate that parents would be agreeable to "multiple required online meetings," but in the free-response feedback, parents expressed challenges with available technology for multiple users, internet connectivity and creating a quiet work space. The results of the student and teacher surveys indicate that a synchronous schedule would be challenging for a significant percentage of our community. With this understanding, we will continue to refine our program to provide the best continuity of learning possible in an asynchronous format.
Lastly, many of you expressed your gratitude to our administration and faculty for quickly transitioning to distant learning for our students under challenging circumstances. We will be communicating with you updates to the distance learning program that will go into effect when students return to their learning from the Easter holiday on Tuesday, April 21.
Wishing your and your families a safe and Happy Easter holiday,
Mrs. Meghan Lonergan
Dean of Mission
Dear O'Connell Families,
Below is an updated calendar for the remainder of the school year, providing some clarification of learning days, upcoming events and more. We will be updating our web calendar with this information and more over the coming weeks, so please refer to our online calendar regularly.
DL = Distance Learning
April 8 – No DL Classes – Professional Development and Stations of the Cross
April 9-19 – Easter Break
April 20 – No DL Classes – Professional Development
April 21 – DL classes continue
May 8 – Last day of DL classes for seniors
May 11-15 – Senior Turn-In Days (Seniors continue to submit assignments)
May 11 & 12 – Farewell meetings for all senior courses
May 14 – Senior College Shirt Day and Senior Seminar
May 17 – Baccalaureate Mass at 11 AM, followed by senior award announcements
May 18 – Senior grades close
May 22 – No DL Classes – Professional Development
May 25 – No DL Classes – Memorial Day
May 27 – Last day of DL classes for grades 9-11 (Turn-in Days through June 5)
May 28 – Virtual Graduation Day for the Class of 2020 (see notes below)
May 29 – Professional Development
June 1 & 2 – Farewell Meetings for all courses (Grades 9-11)
June 3 - #OneDayAllKnights
June 1-5 – Grades 9-11 Turn-In Days (Student may submit outstanding assignments)
June 8 – Grades close for grades 9-11
June 9-12 – Faculty workdays
Important Notes for the Class of 2020
Our seniors have worked so hard to reach this point and we want them to be able to participate in all of the traditions they have anticipated. Unfortunately, world events have made our original plans impossible. The activities office and the administration is working with student leadership to incorporate as many traditions as feasible into our plans for this May. While many of these virtual events may not be ideal, we still want to help our students make these memories. Along the way, we hope to create new—and perhaps unexpectedly happy—memories, too. Please know that if we are able to gather together later in the summer, we will make new plans to do so.
Baccalaureate Mass – Father Thompson will celebrate and livestream the Baccalaureate Mass on Sunday, May 17 at 11 AM, and the entire community is invited to tune in. After the Mass we will have several other traditional end-of-school elements, including the announcement of the Class of 2020 valedictorian, salutatorian and praetor. The Senior Class President will address the senior class, as they would have at the Baccalaureate Breakfast. In addition, senior awards in academics, activities and the arts will be announced.
Prom - The May Prom on the Spirit of Washington had to be cancelled. Given current uncertainties, we are unable to reschedule at this time. We hope to have a meaningful class gathering later in the summer if public safety allows.
Graduation - We are planning a virtual Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020 on the original graduation date: May 28. We are working closely with our supplier of regalia, diplomas, awards and honor chords to have everything we need to create the best virtual graduation ceremony possible for our school community. At this time, our vendors believe they will be able to get everything to us on time, and we are a people of Hope. Please know that we are planning to also schedule a time for seniors, their families and their teachers to gather in-person when we can safely be together.
Events Rescheduled for the Fall
Several school events have been rescheduled for the Fall. A few of note, include the following:
- Student Council Elections
- Junior Ring Mass
- Honor Societies – Please note that seniors who were to be recognized this spring will be inducted virtually before graduation.
We will continue to keep our community informed of any calendar or event changes as conditions unfold.
May God bless you and your families,
Sister Lorraine McGrew, IHM
Head of School
Dear Students and Families,
Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Joseph E. Vorbach III, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Arlington, sent out a communication for us to share with our school community.
In his letter, he reiterates a commitment to "the continuity of learning, without losing sight of what makes our schools different and special - our opportunity to focus on the formation of students in the Catholic faith." He also provides guidelines for the school calendar moving forward.
Our Academic Calendar
With these guidelines in mind, we would like to share with our families a clarification of the timeline for the remainder of the school year. We have selected the model often used by universities for summer classes--instructional time followed by an additional week allowed for submitting required assignments. The calendar specifics for the end of the school year will look like this:
For Seniors: The last day of distance learning for seniors will be Friday, May 8. Seniors will then have until Friday, May 15 to continue to submit assignments for the fourth quarter.
For Grades 9-11: The last day of distance learning for these students will be Wednesday, May 27. They will then have until Friday, June 5 to continue to submit fourth quarter assignments. There will be no final exams or semester assessments.
Further details on topics such as AP testing will be provided in the coming week.
Upcoming School Events
Please know that although no in-person school events will be able to take place between now and June, the activities office and the administration are working with student leaders to develop alternatives for many of the senior events and all-school activities that are most important to our students.
A more detailed calendar of dates and events for the remainder of the school year will be published later this week.
We once again thank all of you for your efforts in handling the challenges of distance learning.
God bless you.
Sister Catherine Hill, IHM
Dean of Academics
March 31, 2020
Dear Diocese of Arlington Catholic School Families,
We are in unprecedented times that became more unique on March 23rd when Governor Northam announced the closure of all in-person K-12 schooling, public and private, for the remainder of the school year because of the COVID-19 virus. Over the past few weeks, you have worked closely with our schools to transition your children to the eLearning model we are currently employing. While we made this transition in the hope that it would be possible to reopen by mid-April, the Governor’s mandate made it clear that we will bring the year to a close without returning to the school buildings. For students in all grades, as well as for teachers and parents, this difficult news hits at practical, social and emotional levels and compels us to dig deeper spiritually as individuals and communities.
As the prospect of school closure began to loom on the horizon, our administrators, teachers, counselors and support teams elevated their collective effort in preparation for the use of the eLearning model that began to roll out during the week of March 16th. Since then, with your support, they have been ensuring continuity of learning with a focus on essential standards needed to advance to the next grade level. They have done this without losing sight of what makes our schools different and special - our opportunity to focus on the formation of students in the Catholic faith. With your help and that of our Pastors and Chaplains, this is being done very creatively across the Diocese.
We will continue with the eLearning model per the following guidance:
- We will continue to follow the existing 2019-2020 academic year calendar.
- Students will be learning new material and grades will be recorded to capture individual student progress
- Emphasis will be on learning essential concepts
- The following guidance applies:
- We will follow the Easter break from Holy Thursday through Divine Mercy Sunday (April 10-19), and observe the Memorial Day holiday (May 25)
- Schools may use up to five additional Teacher Professional Development days between now and the end of the year. These will be scheduled locally, and you will be informed by your school of the dates. These days can be used to provide space in the remainder of the calendar for reflection and refinement to the benefit of students.
- We will not be administering the Spring Performance Series Testing or the Assessment of Children/Youth Religious Education (ACRE) this year.
- The closure of schools means all school related activities, sports, dances, ceremonies, and events are also canceled.
- It is out hope that our schools will be able to hold graduation ceremonies when circumstances permit!
This challenging moment we are in has heightened our collective appreciation of the parent-teacher partnership in Catholic education. To be sure, the shift to eLearning has asked much of parents, students and teachers. I thank you for working with us as the adjustment to the new model has unfolded. Know that the Office of Catholic Schools and all involved in Catholic education in the Diocese are focused on supporting your children and maintaining the strong Catholic communities you have helped to form. We are committed to making the remaining days of the school year a time during which students feel supported and productive.
My prayers are with you and your families.
Sincerely in Christ,
Joseph E. Vorbach III
Superintendent of Schools
Congratulations on the efforts that so many of you have made to change your whole style of learning and class participation during this past week. Let me update you on some long and short range items related to your classes.
We will not be having final exams this year for any classes. Your second semester average will be calculated from Q3 and Q4. This makes the quality of your distance learning work very important for the strength of your end of year transcript this year.
Report cards for third quarter will be posted on April 6. You still have today and tomorrow to submit any work still missing from Q3.
We will have a break from distance learning from Holy Thursday, April 9 (Thank you Superdance committees) through Sunday, April 19. Both students and teachers will be free from assignments, meetings, emails, etc. during that time. So, plan to have completed work for current units so that you can enjoy that break without the pressure of doing make up work.
Now that you have had a few days to see the challenges of distance learning, take time to figure out what type of schedule is best for you. Some students prefer working for a longer time on one subject; others like moving from one subject to another. The system we set up lets you have the freedom to plan each day. Of course, we miss the routine and the security of being told where to be and what to do...now each of you has to set your own structure and timelines for accomplishing your goals. Parents, teachers and counselors can help you, but you know your own strengths and challenges...you can make this work, you can do well.
Tomorrow you will be receiving an invitation to complete a student survey about your distance learning experience to this point. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey in order to help us learn what we can do to make this experience more effective for everyone.
AP students and their families will receive separate emails from me regarding AP testing. The AP tests are being modified for testing at home. We encourage you to take the AP tests for a number of reasons; but students who do not take tests will not lose their AP credit this year, as long as they have successfully completed all of the coursework required for their class. AP students should also expect direct emails from the College Board.
Seniors, I have heard suggestions that we let seniors stop now and discontinue their distance learning or that we have the fourth quarter be a pass/fail for seniors. That would be a great disservice to each of you and all the work that you have put into these past four years. As the counselors told you in their message yesterday, your commitment to distance learning through the end of the year will provide you with a strong transcript for sending to colleges this summer and for future reference when you want to promote your skills within the university setting. We are so proud of what the class of 2020 has accomplished in their time at O'Connell. Your academic success has been--and continues to be--a big part of that. And so we challenge you to support one another and to finish strong.
May God bless our efforts. May our time apart strengthen the bonds which unite us. Help others in your family in any way you can. Let us know if we can help in any way.
Sister Catherine Hill, IHM
Dean of Academics
Dear Members of the Class of 2020,
As you are now aware, Governor Northam announced yesterday that all schools in Virginia would remain closed for the rest of the school year; it was such disappointing news. As I listened to the announcement, my thoughts turned immediately to you, the senior class. It is a heartbreaking way to conclude the year, which has been a difficult year for your class on so many fronts, including the loss of one of our beloved teachers, Frau Stabile, in December; the inconveniences brought about by the construction and building issues; the cancellation of Superdance, spring athletics seasons and many fine arts activities; and now the new reality that prevents your class from completing the school year physically together. Your class has gone through all of this, along with the normal stresses of a senior year, with grace and leadership that is admirable. I want you to know that we as a school understand that this decision brings with it a tremendous amount of anxiety and disappointment for you.
Our hope is that we do not have to cancel the end-of-year events that are highlights of your senior year. In fact, we are actively seeking ways to have Baccalaureate, graduation, prom and even senior shirt signature day. How this happens is dependent on many factors, but we are not ruling anything out, including possible postponements or changes to how these events looked in the past. Over the next few weeks, Mr. Buckreis, Mr. Britt and others will be in conversations with student leadership to stay connected on the issues of most importance to all of you.
I want to thank the whole class for your resiliency and your patience during these challenging times. I want to also point out that the character that you have shown in responding to these challenges, bodes well for you as you tackle the challenges that you are sure to face in future years. So be assured of our prayers and our efforts to find ways to make these important events happen. I also ask for your prayers for those directly affected by the virus and the quarantine, for all those who care for them, and for our school community.
I have great confidence in you as a class and ask that you finish this academic year, under the distance learning models that your teachers have created for you, with the same resilience that you have demonstrated throughout this challenging school year.
Mr. Carl Patton
Dear O'Connell Family,
Governor Northam announced this afternoon that all schools in Virginia would remain closed for the rest of the school year. This has raised many questions throughout our own school community.
At this time, we want to reiterate our desire to continue with our distance learning initiatives here at Bishop O'Connell. We are committed to providing our students with an exceptional Catholic education, even during these very unsettling times.
Please know that more information will be coming soon on the many details relating to the student experience for the rest of this year. For right now, our teachers are focused on helping our students finish out the 3rd quarter, and allowing everyone the opportunity for some restful time during Easter Break.
Also, don't forget that Father Thompson is continuing to livestream Tuesday and Friday Masses at 11 AM on www.youtube.com/oconnellhs. This week he is adding in an additional Mass on Wednesday to celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Please join us online!
God Bless All Our Families,
Sister Lorraine McGrew, IHM
Head of School
Dear O'Connell Community,
We are sending this communication to all of you: students, parents and guardians, current and former faculty and staff, alumni, benefactors and friends of Bishop O'Connell because today's launch of school-wide distance learning is really an all-hands event for O'Connell.
This response to the coronavirus requires something from all of us. Students will need to bring energy to their lessons, treating the first days of distance learning like learning to master a new video game—how do I get to the next level? Follow directions, use good intuition and of course, there will be trial and error. After that, students will need perseverance, remaining determined to do their best even when distance learning is no longer new and exciting.
Parents, of course, will need patience. But, even more, they will need the power of persuasion—acting acting much like a personal trainer—encouraging that little extra time, little extra effort that makes the difference between the mediocre and the excellent.
Teachers will need the creativity to transform topics comfortably taught in a classroom setting into clear, engaging lessons transmitted electronically. They accept the responsibility of planning and of availability to provide daily opportunities for student questions and other interactions.
As for the rest of us, in this time of social distancing and separation, it is up to us to help maintain connectivity. Each of us has an O'Connell connection. Nurture it. Strengthen it. Expand it in these weeks ahead. That might mean contacting classmates, friends, neighbors, or family members. Social media gives us so many avenues for reaching out to one another—let's use them so that this new generation of O'Connell Knights can see the power of DJO spirit in action in a way far broader than the traditional sense of adolescent school spirit.
Asking God to bless these efforts, we invite everyone to join together this Friday morning at 11 a.m. (Eastern TIme) when our chaplain Father Gregory Thompson will live stream his private Mass for the sisters so that the entire O'Connell community can pray together—not just for the success of our distance learning, but even more so for the needs of our country and others around the world during this coronavirus health crisis. You can find the live link on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/oconnellhs.
Thank you and may God bless us all,
Sister Lorraine McGrew, IHM
Head of School
Dear O'Connell Students and Parents/Guardians,
As we prepare to initiate our distance learning model on Thursday, March 19, there are a few important things that we need you to do now to ensure a smooth transition:
Students should do the following by early next week:
- Check that you can access MyDJO for each of your class sections.
- Bring laptops, books, and other study materials home from school. If you didn't have a chance to do this today, the building will be open on Monday and Tuesday from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. to provide access to lockers and to the Center Office.
- Use the days before Thursday to complete previous assignments and current work connected to the third quarter. The quarter will close on Friday, March 27 as previously scheduled.
Parents and students should work together to set up a personal schedule for their distance learning, allowing for 4 to 5 hours per week for each subject.
Detailed guidelines for distance learning for students and families will be sent out to our community via email on Tuesday, Mar. 17.
Please communicate any IT needs and issues to our Walsh Center support office (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible. Our staff will be working on these requests through the early part of next week.
In all of our preparations for this unexpected change to our class days, we might overlook the opportunity that distance learning will provide for O'Connell students to become familiar with a style and process of learning they will need at the college level and as adults working in our global society.
May God inspire our efforts to become and remain strongly engaged in the important task of learning the content, skills and creative thought processes which high school education provides. These form a solid foundation for all that follows in both learning and life. If we commit the time and effort, God will bless the results.
Sister Catherine Hill, IHM
Dean of Academics
In anticipation of wide-scale school closures in the area, Bishop O'Connell High School has been working with its teachers since early last week to develop distance learning plans in their subject matter covering two to three weeks of materials. In addition, the counseling team has been developing distance models for their engagement with students and families. The school has made plans to transition to a distance learning model beginning Thursday, March 19.
Tomorrow our students will have a regular school day, with a 9:40 a.m. opening. Students are encouraged to take books and other resources home tomorrow in preparation for distance learning next week.
As a reminder, next Monday, Mar. 16 is a previously scheduled professional development day for our faculty and staff. Our teachers will be collaborating on best practices and tweaking their lesson plans. In preparation for the move to distance learning, students should use this time to complete third quarter assignments that have already been assigned.
Tuesday is an important regular school day as teachers will communicate with students on the ways that they will be able to stay connected beginning March 19. They will be taking time to ensure that students are comfortable with how instruction will be implemented during the distance learning period. Wednesday is a freshman standardized testing day, and AP teachers are offering optional in-school review sessions.
Please note: If school is canceled by Fairfax or Arlington Counties on any of the days leading up to Mar. 19, these days will be treated as a snow day for students.
Beginning March 19 the school will officially be operating in a distance learning model. The current plan is for this to continue through April 8. During the April 9 - 19 Easter break, the school will reevaluate the situation using the latest information.
Also of note are our extracurriculars, which are an essential part of our Catholic mission and an important aspect to the lives of many of our students. We will evaluate these activities on a case-by-case basis during the distance learning implementation period.
Students and families will be getting more information on the distance learning model in the next few days. Until that time, we would ask that any student or family who does not have a reliable computer (beyond a smartphone or mobile device) and/or internet connectivity at home contact our IT staff at email@example.com.
Please look for school emails with updated information over the next few days. We appreciate your support and flexibility as we diligently work to continue providing all our students an exceptional Catholic education.
Dear O'Connell Family,
We are writing to update our community regarding the school's efforts to monitor the ongoing situation related to the novel (new) coronavirus. The Diocese of Arlington sent out additional information to schools this week regarding our efforts to ensure the safety of students and staff in our community. In addition, there was a conference call with all diocesan school principals and health care staff regarding the diocesan safety plans and response. We want to communicate this information to you.
We remind our staff and families that the CDC states that the promotion of healthy personal habits is the most effective way to decrease the spread of viral disease. We will continue to emphasize hand washing and basic hygiene with our students and staff. In addition, it is very important that students and staff do not come to school when they are sick. This cannot be stressed enough. We want you to err on the side of caution and keep students who are sick at home - especially those with a fever and/or respiratory illness. Current CDC recommendations also state to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing your hands frequently with running water, and to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. School maintenance staff are performing thorough cleaning of the cafeteria, restrooms, and clinic using appropriate antiviral cleaners in those areas per CDC instructions. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have been added to areas of the school where it is not easy for students and staff to wash their hands.
There are rumors going around in the community that the school is closing or going to close. As of today, there are no plans to close Bishop O'Connell. We have, however, asked our teachers to create lesson plans and activities that can be communicated, completed and submitted remotely in case we do have to close the school for any extended period of time.
Please note that Bishop O'Connell's closing policy due to health concerns differs from our stated weather-related policy. Classes and extracurricular activities will be canceled if one of the following circumstances occurs:
- Fairfax County Public Schools close.
- Arlington County Public Schools or Government close.
- The Diocese of Arlington announces school closing.
Regarding travel plans, the diocese has communicated this to all schools:
"The safety of our students is our priority and travel abroad carries potential risks. Be aware that even a country not currently experiencing an outbreak could suddenly be declared a high-risk area, posing risks of exposure, difficulty with travel, or barriers upon return to the U.S. We are asking for parents/guardians, faculty and staff to please notify schools of travel plans in an effort to continue to keep communities healthy [at O'Connell, please contact Mr. Roque at firstname.lastname@example.org]. The countries of concern change daily and allowing us to know your plans will help us to work with you upon your return."
The CDC maintains a travel information website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html. It is strongly recommended to avoid non-essential travel to locations with CDC or State Department Level 3 alerts.
As of today, the following Bishop O'Connell events are scheduled to take place as planned:
- Superdance, March 14
- Fine Arts Trip to Chicago, March 18-22
- Kairos XI, April 2-5
- Alice in Wonderland theater production, April 3-5
If changes to any school event are to happen, we will communicate to the community as soon as we are aware. Please know that the health and safety of our students is our top priority. Thank you for your continued support and cooperation in staying home if you are sick, keeping students who are sick at home, and taking other recommended steps to stay healthy.
God Bless You,
Sister Lorraine McGrew, IHM
Head of School
Dear O'Connell Family,
We are writing to communicate with our community regarding the school's efforts to monitor the ongoing situation related to the novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan City, China, and is now referred to as COVID-19. Although at this time there are no reports of cases in our area, we want to assure you that Bishop O'Connell High School is monitoring the latest guidance from Arlington County Public Health Department (ACPHD) as well as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and we are working closely with the Diocese of Arlington's Office of Catholic Schools to protect our families.
Our school maintenance staff will continue to have a focused effort on disinfecting hard surfaces around the school with CDC/EPA approved chemicals, and also on increasing the frequency of deep-cleaning weekends. We have added fresh hand-sanitizers to all areas of the school.
We remind our staff and families that the CDC states that the promotion of healthy personal habits is the most effective way to decrease the spread of viral disease. This includes getting your flu shot each year, staying home when you are sick - especially with a fever and/or respiratory illness - covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing your hands frequently with running water, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Existing clinic protocol monitors students who become unwell during the school day until their parents can arrive to take them home. Trends in absenteeism due to illness are also evaluated on an ongoing basis. Bishop O'Connell will continue to monitor and evaluate school activities and processes to mitigate the spread of any disease. In addition, the school will review all trips and out-of-school plans to make sure we are not putting our students at risk.
Please know that the health and safety of our students is our top priority, and we will communicate with our families with updated information as needed. Thank you for your continued support and cooperation in staying home if you are sick, keeping students who are sick at home, and taking other recommended steps to stay healthy.
God Bless You,
Sister Lorraine McGrew, IHM
Head of School