On Monday we will begin our celebration of Catholic Schools Week and the theme couldn’t be more fitting: “Blessed to be Here”. Over the past six months, this simple phrase has been stated countless times and the “knowing” of it can be observed in the actions of our administration, faculty, staff, and students, daily. Knowing the attributes of our school community and the challenges we faced, allowed us to devise a plan for reopening and with confidence state that we could safely educate our children in-person.READ MORE
Friday marked the 100th day of school – in “dog days” that would be 700 days! For many, this was the week that brought the current pandemic too close for comfort. For the first time, since reopening in August, we encountered situations where persons who tested positive for COVID may have been on campus during what could be an infectious period. Thus, in accordance with our policy of community notification, we began and ended the week sending out notifications of two separate, unrelated, COVID positive cases. This is unsettling for the entire community and particularly troubling for those who were identified as “close contacts”.READ MORE
Friday afternoon, following the release of our students into the beautiful Arizona sunshine, many teachers headed to a regional “POD” (point of distribution) to receive their first dose of the COVID vaccine! Among the greatest medical advances of the past 100 years, vaccines to prevent viral illnesses have had a profound impact on the health of the world’s population. Very early in this pandemic, it was recognized by those in the scientific and medical communities that any return to “normal” would likely involve some type of widespread immunization. To this end, in March 2020, the Federal government embarked on a mission (Operation Warp Speed) to expedite the development of a COVID vaccine.READ MORE
Waking up Monday morning, after my “long winter’s nap”, I found myself experiencing feelings of anxiety and trepidation. It is difficult to comprehend how at the very same time we are witnessing the deployment of our best defense against COVID (the vaccine) the number of cases continues to climb, reaching levels not seen before. We must not forget that each one of these “cases” is a person. Some of those people are connected to our school community. This means that some members of our community, who were identified as close contacts of a COVID positive person, could not return to in-person school on Monday. The need to quarantine, no doubt, fills one with anxiety and trepidation. As I spoke to parents, staff and students on Monday, many relayed feelings of anxiety and trepidation.READ MORE
Happy New Year! The new year always brings an opportunity to start over, change behaviors and do things better than we did the year before--out with old and in with the new!
This year, as much as we desire to put 2020 behind us, we must not discard the infection control measures which were instituted at the beginning of our school year. Since Thanksgiving, we have seen increased community spread of the coronavirus and currently Maricopa County is reporting the highest number of cases since the onset of the Pandemic. Additionally, a mutation, or a change in the virus, first noted in the United Kingdom, has been found in people sick with COVID in Colorado, California and Florida. (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-emerging-variant.html)READ MORE
The Mission Statement for OLMC School reads: “The role of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School is to provide a holistic Catholic Christian environment that serves the soul, mind and body of each child.” Notice it has no qualifiers. No, “if everything is perfect”. No, “when things are normal”. No, “except when challenges arise”. The year 2020 has been anything but perfect, not even close to normal and filled with unique challenges. Yet, because of a strong “Home & School” partnership, our shared commitment to serve our children, and the hard work and sacrifices of so many, we are finishing out the year with our students having had the greatest number of in-person school days for all of 2020!READ MORE
Throughout the day Tuesday, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Church bells rang out, bringing pause to the usual flurry of activity and joy to the face of all within earshot. Each peal of the bell reminded me that it is indeed a blessing to be HERE to HEAR and filled me with gratitude for this community!
Here are few updates as we enter the week before break:READ MORE
Many of us will recall playing the game “Telephone” growing up. A message was whispered in the ear of a person and they in turn whispered to the next person, and so on, down the line. It was usually a great laugh when the last person revealed what they heard. More often than not, it sounded nothing like what the first person said! Though the world has experienced four pandemics in the past 100 years, given the explosion of social media in the past decade, this is the first time in history that the global population has, at the same time, had access to so much information. It is not only the volume of information that is mind boggling, but the speed with which information can be spread can only be called “viral”.READ MORE
In medical terms, having ‘20/20 vision’ means a person sees with optimum acuity and clarity. In popular culture, the phrase ‘20/20 vision’ means a person has a clear view of a situation. In the year 2020, one needs far more than perfect vision to see clearly through the cloudy atmosphere of the coronavirus pandemic! So much of what we hear seems confusing, conflicting, or inconsistent such that the effects of the “infodemic” may leave us angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed. Late last Wednesday, as we headed into our Thanksgiving Break, the CDC indicated that it is considering shortening the quarantine period for those persons who have close contact with someone who is COVID positive, but remain free of symptoms. For those who have had to endure a 14-day quarantine, this news probably has them seeing red. Why the change, especially now with an increase in coronavirus cases nationwide? The answer is “evidence”.READ MORE
In August, we certainly thought the coronavirus pandemic would be much better by the time Thanksgiving arrived. But, instead we find ourselves, once again, trying to balance the essentials of life with protecting ourselves from infection. This week, with evidence of increased community spread over the past month, some schools have decided to send their students back home. Many have asked, “Will OLMC remain open?” The answer to that question is, “We have planned to remain open”. The reality is that this is the first test of how effective our strategies are. Though we have been operating with extreme caution since opening school on August 17th, this is the first time that students have been in school when community spread has been on the rise. Recall that schools were closed in March and were not open in June when Arizona recorded the highest numbers for infection. (Confirmed COVID Cases by Day)READ MORE
The word “stewardship” probably brings to mind things like “time, talent and treasure” and is often thought of only in terms of church. But, in the broadest sense, stewardship refers to “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” (www.merriam-webster.com).
When plans were carefully developed for the reopening of school, they were developed with the goal of establishing a safe environment, in the midst of a pandemic, that would allow our children to be served physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally for the entirety of the school year. We give thanks to God, and all in our community, for what has been accomplished thus far.READ MORE
There are currently six potential COVID-19 vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials--the last phase of testing before the potential vaccine can be submitted for FDA approval. Phase 3 clinical trials aim to study the effectiveness and safety of the injection of an active substance, meant to develop a protective response in the body’s immune system, versus a non-active substance (a placebo). Though it is not known for certain when a COVID vaccine will become available, plans for quick distribution and administration are already being made. Public health experts agree, a safe and effective vaccine will play a vital role in reducing transmission of this virus and help to bring the current pandemic under control. Each November, the Arizona Department of Health Services requires schools to submit an Immunization Data Report.READ MORE