Gonzaga Preparatory School took a big step toward full-time learning this week.
Beginning this week, all students who choose to do so will be in full-day, in-person learning every other day.
The move follows steadily decreasing COVID-19 metrics, state guidance to bring students back to class and an absence of in-school transmission at Gonzaga Prep.
“The recommendation by local and state health officials to bring students more fully back on campus was consistent with our experience of the low risk of transmission of COVID at schools that closely follow health guidance,” said Derek Duchesne, Gonzaga Prep’s vice principal of academics.
The move to full days addresses one of the most difficult aspects of distance learning for secondary during the pandemic: The loss of relationship and connection with teachers and classmates, school officials said.
“When you ask a student what they have missed most in the last year, the answer is often ‘community,’ ” Peg Haun-McEwen, dean of students, said Wednesday.
“By having community time each day, we are striving to support the whole person and bring life back into student life,” Haun-McEwen said.
After starting the fall with four cohorts attending one day per week, the private Jesuit school moved its 832 students into two cohorts attending every other day, from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
That model, which stood until this week, amounted to about 11 hours per week – better than most public districts but far from ideal, Principal Cindy Reopelle said.
“What we have all learned during this time of digital learning is that no amount of technology or expert pedagogy will replace the relationship between the student and the teacher,” Reopelle said.
“Our teachers have deeply missed their daily interactions with their students, and our students miss the relationships they enjoy with their teachers,” Reopelle said.
The move to full-day instruction will allow students to enjoy a wider school experience, including clubs and other activities, officials said.
“We are excited to have intentional time for students to learn more about mental health and wellness, attend Mass, and have conversations about racial justice,” Haun-McEwen said.
All students had and still have the option to learn remotely in real time.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.