Saint Paul's Choir School Update

May 25, 2020

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Dear Saint Paul's Community:

Today we celebrate Memorial Day and pay our respects to all those souls who died in efforts to preserve our freedom. We also ask also for prayers for all who are on the front lines battling this pandemic and risking their health, and in some cases, their lives. On behalf of the Archdiocese of Boston, Bishop Reed will be celebrating a Memorial Mass for those who have died of COVID-19 on Friday, May 29. People are invited to submit the name of a loved one to be placed on the altar during Mass. Names of loved ones who have passed on, regardless of whether it was due to COVID-19, may also be offered. Click here to submit a name.

Tomorrow we will head into our final week of instruction of the 2019-20 academic year, truly a year of extraordinary memories that will remain with us forever. While we wrap up, I would be remiss if I did not once again share our pride in all that our boys have accomplished this past year, not only with their incredible voices, but also with their resilience and capacity to adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances brought on by the pandemic. As proud as we are of the boys, we also know that they have to remain focused so that they finish the year well as they look forward to a future of similar challenges and opportunities to demonstrate the skills they mastered during this time of unprecedented upheaval.

Update on various implications of Governor Baker’s May 18 message

Last week, Governor Baker outlined various phases of reopening sectors of the Massachusetts’ economy and thankfully there were provisions for opening Churches and educational and recreational facilities. Fr. Kelly and the staff at St. Paul’s are working around the clock to ensure that they meet all of the guidance from federal, state, and municipal authorities as well as the provisions provided by the Archdiocese to be able to commence public Masses on May 31. Here is the schedule of services:

· On Sunday, May 31, Masses will be at 7:30 am, 9:30 am and 11:00 am, in the main church.

· Beginning the weekend of June 6-7: Saturday Vigil Mass at 5:00 pm, Sunday at 7:30 am, 9:30 am and 11:00 am, all in the main church.

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

· Beginning June 6, Saturday Masses will be at 9:00 am in DiGi Hall, opening at 8:30 am.

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

· Confessions are available on Tuesday, May 26 from 1:30 - 2:30 and again from 7 pm to 9 pm and also by appointment.

The specific guidance for schools and gatherings of educators is still preliminary. Nevertheless, as outlined in previous updates, we are already starting the planning process for opening school in September on time and for in person instruction. We remain hopeful that conditions will allow us to open in late August for our Summer Music Program (see registration here), and also hold a Chorister Camp prior at the very end of August. However the specific restrictions for locations 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. That said, it would be imprudent to plan for any single eventuality and so our planning team will develop several alternate plans to address various future scenarios.

Currently 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. We anticipate that even under the best scenarios, there will be some students who are not able to be present for in person instruction and will require some hybrid modification of home-based learning. In our planning, we will remain flexible knowing that as the year progresses, conditions will change and require that we adopt and adapt to the changes. Our small school allows for us to be nimble and pull from our various plans as the circumstances dictate. In all our planning, the health and safety of our students and staff remain paramount as will be our continued excellence in music and academic instruction.

Now is also a time to reflect on our practice, to learn from our experiences this spring, and to build on our strong foundation. We know that the one-on-one time with teachers and advisors, office hours and extra help have been enormously beneficial during distance learning. We also know that any future remote learning must include more structure and synchronous classes. We 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. The survey will be administered after the school year closes. As we consider all our programs and offerings, we are especially concerned that we are able to 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.

Let us be sure we take time in the coming days to honor and celebrate all of the achievements, especially those of our graduating eighth graders. We will host a Zoom Class Night on June 4th at 7:30 pm and invite everyone to join us. On June 5th we will host an Awards Ceremony for grades three to seven, which is our annual tradition for the last day of school. These accolades and milestones of the 2019-20 school year are an important way that we acknowledge the achievements of a year of hard work and dedication. I hope that all will attend. Watch for updates from Mrs. Flaherty for more details.

We know we have much work to do; this summer will test us all in new and demanding ways, but I assure you that St. Paul’s Choir School is up to that challenge. I will provide frequent communications 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, but as I paraphrase from Abraham Lincoln as he meditated on the Divine Will during the upheaval of the Civil War, there are many things that we cannot control, but we can control our response. Thank you in advance for your loyalty and support of St. Paul’s Choir School during our Day of Giving on June 5th.

Thomas Haferd

Head of School