Saint Paul's Choir School Update

June 6,2020

Dear Saint Paul's Community,

Yesterday we held our Day of Giving and it was an extraordinary success. We not only raised almost $80,000, we also more than doubled our goal of participation. Our parents and faculty are to be congratulated on their efforts to reach out to friends and family as we have never done before. I would personally like to thank the team that coordinated the event, board member Maureen Lapus, Parent Guild representative Howard Ying and our dedicated staff members Mr. Moran, Mrs. Flaherty and Ms. Wade. The Parent Guild was truly spectacular with an enormous push during the Parent Power Hour. We also received wonderful support from our Board of Advisors, Alumni, Alumni Parents, Parishioners, Harvard Catholic Center affiliates and our Friends who demonstrated how much they so love our choir. What a wonderful way to finish our year with such a resounding show of support and love from everyone. Thanks to all who donated so generously.


2020 Graduates: On Thursday evening we celebrated our three eighth grade graduates, Mateo Cachimuel, Jasiu Kotecki and Michael Thekaekara during Class Nite. They were treated to a wonderful shower of praise and congratulations for their demonstrated excellence, character and perseverance through a really difficult end to their time at St. Paul’s. The evening provided us an opportunity to share memories from their cumulative years at the school and also to send them off to Xaverian, where Michael will matriculate and Catholic Memorial , where Mateo and Jasiu will go. With the encouragement from our faculty and staff to use their talents wisely, we know that they will greet each new opportunity with dedicated hard work so that they experience the same results as they did here.


MAP Testing: Our students took the Math and Reading NWEA/MAP tests on the final week of school and the results are impressive. As expected, some students rushed through the exam as it was the last remote learning experience they needed to complete before being free for summer vacation. Nevertheless, many students, despite the time away from school, demonstrated significant growth since the testing in January. You will receive the report along with report cards in the mail soon. Remember that this test will not be reported as a reliable data point in future growth measures, but it will give you some indication of where your boy stands in these two subject areas.


Re-Entry Planning: As reported in our last update, various phases of reopening sectors of the Massachusetts’ economy and other essential services, including Churches and soon educational and recreational facilities is ongoing. We were very pleased to see that St. Paul’s has now opened and held the first public services last Sunday, May 31. Services for the remainder of the summer will follow this schedule:


· Saturday Vigil Mass at 5:00pm, and Sunday at 7:30am, 9:30am and 11:00am, all in the main church.

· Daily Mass (Monday-Friday) will be at 12:10pm only (no 8:00am Mass) IN DIGIOVANNI HALL, which will open at 11:30am.

· Saturday Masses will be at 9:00 am in DiGi Hall, opening at 8:30am.

· The Church will be closed Monday-Friday for construction work but will open at 4:00pm on Saturdays.


Re-entry guidance for Schools:


The specific guidance for schools and opening schools in September is still preliminary; however, we are now receiving updates regarding summer camps and other recreational activities for children that will begin to open up in July. We are well underway in developing our planning process for opening school in September on time and for in person instruction. We remain hopeful that conditions will allow us to hold a day camp during the week of August 16 for our Summer Music Program (see registration here). We also remain hopeful that we can hold a Chorister Camp prior as the very end of August.


That said, the specific restrictions for locations and purpose will be determined by many factors that may be out of our control. With focused attention, careful planning and prayers, our intentions are to open in the fall with students back at 29 Mount Auburn Street, within the constraints that make our facilities and instructional practices safe for students and employees and adhere to regulatory restrictions. It would be imprudent to plan for any single eventuality and so our planning team is developing several alternate plans to address various future scenarios.


Our initial review of the conditions that must be met for camps and Early Education Centers (EEC) to open this summer provide some hints as to what we might encounter in terms of restrictions in the fall. Of course, most of the considerations are related to risk mitigation should the pandemic not be under control and the risk of exposure is still significant. The hierarch of controls that we will address are related to several key concepts:


· Screening, tracking, and monitoring health

· Minimizing social integration and maintaining social distancing (cohort sizes of 10 students)

· Personal protective equipment (masks, etc.) and attention to hygiene

· Ventilation and filtration of the educational facility

· Minimizing the touch points of materials and facilities

· Deep, frequent cleansing


As mentioned in our last update, we are preparing for multiple instructional methodologies that will allow us to capture the best of our remote learning approaches, while integrating them into direct classroom instruction. In collaboration with the Catholic School Office, we are pioneering classroom technology outfits that will allow us to conduct hybrid lessons allowing students who are required to remain at home to access the instruction. During the month of June, we will set up model classrooms at St. Paul’s to explore and develop best practices in delivering lessons that our teachers use to maximize engagement and minimize disruption. We will conduct teacher training in the use of these technologies during the remainder of the summer in collaboration with other schools in the Archdiocese.


Mrs. Flaherty is working with the Catholic Schools Office to order supplies for all our needs well in advance anticipating that later in the summer we will experience shortages. We expect to receive funds from the Federal Government through our local school district to equip a nursing station that we will locate in Room 101 for intake purposes. The room will serve as the entry screening station for all students entering the building and a waiting room for anyone who may become ill during their time in the school.


As part of our planning process, I will be conducting a survey with all families to further understand from your perspective what worked well and not so well during our time in remote learning as well as your ideas and concerns for re-opening in the fall. The survey will be administered after the school year closes. As we consider all our programs and offerings, we are especially concerned that we can return to a more connected community that allows our boys to sing together. We have begun to explore alternate methods for making this happen and will do all that we can to preserve the unique quality that makes our school so special.

As I said in my last update, we have much work to do; this summer will test us all in new and demanding ways, but I assure you that if the Day of Giving is an example of our resilience, St. Paul’s Choir School is up to that challenge. I will provide ongoing communications throughout the summer as our planning continues. As you can imagine, the scenario by which we start next year will be influenced significantly by decisions made by local, state and federal agencies. Thank you again for your outstanding support of St. Paul’s Choir School during yesterday’s Day of Giving.


Thomas Haferd

Head of School