As Catholic schools across the archdiocese adjust to new distance learning and homeschool dynamics in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty and staff at ArchSTL’s high schools are taking steps to ensure that Catholic spirituality, daily prayer, and community support are among the elements shipped along airwaves to students’ emails along with learning material.
Among these is St. Mary’s High School in South City. In addition to continuing to email school prayer at the normal morning, lunch, and afternoon times, the school’s campus ministry team has started an Instagram feed @dragonministry to boost morale and promote the school’s livestreamed rosary and Masses. Faculty and staff are also surveying students to check in on how they are doing from quarantine, and students and teachers alike have the option to submit prayer requests to an online form. Other morale-improvement efforts include an e-newsletter for school announcements and events, as well as encouraging students and faculty to share photos of their pets. On top of its prayer efforts, the school has even continued to host club meetings via Zoom, and the online video platform is also being employed to continue faculty prayer circles.
Duchesne High School has also picked up similar initiatives. The school has emailed daily prayer to all of their students as well as families and asked for “study buddy” photos of students with their pets. The school’s social media accounts have also posed sports challenges to students, encouraging them to remain active in the midst of shutdown.
— Duchesne High School (@DuchesneHS) April 1, 2020
At Cardinal Ritter College Prep, students have been charged with the initiative to lead school prayer as Student Council has sent each day’s prayer and announcements. President Tamiko Armstead and principal Dr. Shante’ Lyons have sent video messages to the whole school community. The counseling department has undertaken daily student check-ins, bolstered by the additional support of members of the administration who have personally contacted students of concern. In addition to daily Student Council prayer, the Theology department and President Armstead have collaborated to send the school weekly messages of prayer and encouragement.
Rosati-Kain High School has transplanted one specific tradition to digital formats: a biweekly “Tea Time” hosted by campus minister Erin Brennan. Brennan normally has students visit her office and use her mugs, kettle, and hot chocolate or tea leaves. Since social distancing began, Brennan has transitioned this online, hosting virtual tea sessions on Zoom and Instagram on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Brennan has also coordinated efforts for the school to join in praying the Stations of the Cross on remaining Fridays in Lent, as well as promoted materials about spiritual communion and acts of peace, service, and solidarity. The school also joined in Pope Francis’ worldwide rosary for an end to the pandemic using Instagram’s story feature to broadcast a live rosary to students.
Schools across the area are taking unique initiatives in the wake of the unprecedented pandemic environment. Many are documenting their efforts on social media. School social media profiles can be accessed from institution websites, and a directory of school websites can be found here.
On March 15, the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced the closure of all school buildings in its system until April 16. At that time distance learning plans started coming together. On March 22, the building closures were extended until April 23, but the learning continued. On April 9, the closures were extended through the end of the school year, but learning never stopped.
The latest updates to archdiocesan schools and operations can be found at http://archstl.org/coronavirus.