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Gonzaga Prep Moves to Full-Day Classes
Success of first semester half-days allows school to lengthen class periods, add lunch, activities.
Building on the successes of a first semester of daily in-person and synchronous at-home, half-day instruction, Gonzaga Prep moved to full-day, in-person classes Feb. 1. The classes are split between two cohorts to allow for COVID-19 safety and mitigation.
“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, vice principal of academics.
The move to full days addresses one of the most difficult aspects of educating students through a pandemic and in a hybrid learning model: The loss of relationship and connection that grows through simply being together.
Built into the new schedule is community time within each school day that provides the enrichment of mind, body, and spirit that make a Gonzaga Prep education unique: Time for participation in activities, clubs, and faith formation—all following current COVID-19 protocols. There’s also extra time for students to connect with teachers and school counselors.
“Seeing our students reconnect and have time for fun interactions is uplifting for our whole community,” said Peg Haun-McEwen, dean of students. “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. Club time is also built in so that we can nurture the wide variety of student interests. When you ask a student what they have missed most in the last year, the answer is often ‘community.’ By having community time each day, we are striving to support the whole person and bring life back into student life.”
In the fall, Prep students were among the first in the area to return to in-person instruction through a phased approach. Teachers innovated the classroom experience to simultaneously engage students in the room and at home, while pushing the functionalities of technology for the benefit of students. For most of the first semester, students were split into two cohorts that were on campus every other day from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., with the other half learning remotely in real time. All students had and still have the option to learn in a fully remote, synchronous environment.
“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,” said Principal Cindy Reopelle “Our teachers have deeply missed their daily interactions with their students, and our students miss the relationships they enjoy with their teachers. Without a doubt, relationship is the heart of our Jesuit education.”
Reprinted with the permission of Gonzaga Preparatory School.