Miscellaneous » Corona Virus Awareness and School Update » Coronavirus Awareness and School Updates

Coronavirus Awareness and School Updates

St. Monica is tracking news and information about the spread
of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Please check this page regularly for school updates
Join us for our weekly Town Hall Zoom Meetings
Contact neil.quinly@stmonicaelem.com for sign-in information
Next meeting is Wednesday, August 12 at 5:30pm

July 17, 2020
Dear Families of St. Monica Catholic Schools,

     In the reading from Isaiah for mass on Tuesday this week, the Lord tells his people
     “Unless your faith is firm, you will not be firm.” Our faith is firm. We pray that your
     faith, too, is firm.

Our letter of early summer indicated that our hope for August was to bring back to campus as many students as possible who wish to return to campus on as regular a basis as possible. We have been hard at work making that hope a reality. While the details vary between the High School and the Elementary School, we were on target to meet that hope. We intended to bring students back to campus in several cohorts through the first weeks of school. Accomodations would be made for those parents who chose to continue their student’s education with remote learning. (Not all parents are ready to send their children back to campus.) With his message of today, the Governor has delayed that hope. Unless conditions in Los Angeles County change dramatically for the better in the next two weeks, we will be forced to reopen schools remotely. While the Governor’s order changes the date of implementation of our plan to bring students back, it does not change the nature of that plan.

You have probably heard that both Los Angeles Unified and Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School Districts opted to open school remotely even before the Governor’s mandate. The difficulties they would face in bringing students back to their campuses dwarf the planning that we need to do. On Monday of this week, the LA County Department of Public Health published guidelines for the reopening of K-12 schools. There are over 200 check points to be addressed; we are well on our way to addressing them. A blank version of the guidelines are attached so you can see the sort of issues we will be addressing. Once we have addressed all of the checkpoints, the finished document will be shared with you.

Each school has a task force or set of committees looking at various aspects of planning, and we have a community wide task force as well. The schools are not solving their problems in isolation, but coordinated with each other and with the parish. The community wide task force is chaired by Daniela Girbal-Shilvarjo, HS Guidance Counselor and former parish facilities manager. In addition to the three of us, the other members are Felipe Sanchez, Parish Director of Administration, Valerie Vespe, ES VP, Maribeth Gonzalez, Kindergarten Instructional Aide and HS parent, and Miguel Arizmendi, HS Dean of Students and teacher.

Classrooms are being reconfigured so students are six feet apart. Every space on the campus, including parish space, is being considered for possible usage to allow distancing. We have ordered extra handwashing stations to be placed throughout the yard, touch-free thermometers to record temperatures of students and staff as they arrive, special cleaning tools to disinfect classrooms, masks and gloves, and plexiglass barriers to provide separation in staff offices when six feet is not possible. Devices are being purchased to allow for hybrid models of instruction: some students in the classroom with the teacher and some students either in a separate room or at home. You, too, have a part to play.

Returning to campus is a privilege. Strict adherence to the safety policies will be enforced. Students at all grade levels and all staff must be in masks at all times other than at lunch. (Face shields are not an acceptable substitute.) Each person will need to register and have their temperature taken on arrival. Procedures for dropoff and pickup and for lunch are still being worked out. If your child is exhibiting symptoms or has been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, your child will need to quarantine at home for 14 days and participate in remote learning. Procedures will be in place if a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19.

We will remain in remote learning until the conditions in LA County improve enough that it falls off the state’s monitoring list and stays off that list for 14 consecutive days. Inclusion on the state monitoring list is triggered by a variety of infection measures, such as number of active cases per capita and rate at which tests come back positive. We will alert you at the first positive sign.

It is easy to get mired in the details of what we are doing and planning, but we never lose sight of our ultimate responsibility: the safe, effective, and loving education of your children in a school centered on the tenets of our Catholic faith. We also do not lose sight of the cause for all of this planning: the devastating toll that COVID-19 is having globally and locally, with over 4000 deaths in LA County alone. Our prayers go out to those who have been directly impacted by the death of a loved one. Moving ahead, it will take the active and willing participation of every one of us, of every member of our community to keep our students and staff as safe as possible. We are counting on you as much as you are counting on us.

Neil Quinly, James Spellman, Kevin McCardle

July 17, 2020
Below are the Los Angeles Department of Public Health Orders for reopening K - 12 Schools.


June 15, 2020
Dear St. Monica Catholic Schools Families,

In the immortal words of Alice Cooper: “School’s out for summer!” The last official event for either school was the SMCES closing mass on Friday, June 12.

Before we briefly outline our planning for the upcoming summer and the 20‐21 school year, it is, we think, worth reflecting on this past year. The 2019‐2020 school year was shaped by global and national crises in ways not experienced in our lifetimes. COVID‐19 forced a fundamental shift of education overnight, and St. Monica Catholic Schools were ready. A fully on‐line education is not something we would have chosen to deliver, but deliver it we did. Our curriculum and its delivery will never be the same. Your participation in that effort was key, and we are most grateful. Another defining event that will reshape our curriculum was the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing public outcry, bringing racial inequality to our immediate attention. Both schools have addressed the issue of racism over the past few weeks, and will continue to train faculty and students: racism has no place at St. Monica.

Over the past two weeks we held a series of celebratory end‐of‐year events: Baccalaureate masses were live‐streamed, but the graduation ceremonies were in‐person drive‐thrus with Pomp and Circumstance, confetti flying, and horns honking. Be sure to check out the videos that are available on the school websites. Our heartiest congratulations to the classes of 2020!

Looking ahead there will be minimal summer school this year for the high school, and all of it will be online. Unfortunately, there is no summer school for the elementary grades. This summer will be devoted to planning and professional development.

Our planning for next school year is driven by several principles, the well‐being of the students being primary. Our plans will be guided by instructions from the LA Dept of Public Health, which derive from the CA Dept of Public Health and the CDC, and the ADLA Dept of Catholic Schools. To give a sense of the planning that is entailed, the CA DPH guidelines for reopening schools are enlightening: https://covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance

Expect to receive regularly scheduled letters such as this, providing you with current updates. All communications will be stored on the school websites under the COVID‐19 button. You will be surveyed as plans unfold. The school administrations will hold separate, regular virtual meetings with parents to take questions and gather input. When school reopens in mid‐August, we will strive to have as many students back on campus as possible, as frequently as possible. Students in the lower grades will receive priority, though it will not be exclusive. Undoubtedly, remote learning will be part of the mix. Our plans will be coordinated between the two schools. As of now, we have more questions than answers:

      - What will carpool be like?
      - What is the daily schedule?
      - Will there be fall sports?
      - How will recess work?
      - Lunch?

We invite your questions, but please understand we are unliekly to have immediate, satisfactory answers. Your questions, however, will help to ensure that we do not overlook any planning issues. Please email one of us with your questions. One thing we do know: masks will be required at all times for all grade levels, so stock up now and get your student used to wearing them for extended periods.

Both schools continue to enroll new students for the fall. If you have not yet re‐registered, please do so as soon as possible. There is financial aid for those in need; application details are on the school websites.
In the second reading for yesterday’s Sunday mass, St. Paul reminds us that we are each and all part of the body of Christ. We begin this summer attuned to the practical reality of that truth.
Neil Quinly, James Spellman, Kevin McCardle

May 11, 2020
Dear St. Monica Catholic Schools Families,

As we enter week 8 of remote learning, we hope this finds you well.

In our letter of early April, we held out hope for a return to in-school learning before the end of the school year in June. We are now saddened to announce that we will be continuing with distance learning for the rest of this school year.

The health and well-being of our students and their families, and of our faculty and staff, is paramount. Our action is directed by guidance from local health and government officials, and by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Catholic Schools.

Our planning now is twofold. In the short term, the elementary and high school will each provide separate details on the ending of the school year, the return of electronic devices and other school materials, and the pick-up of any personal items that remain at school. For the eighth graders and seniors, additional information will be provided regarding Baccalaureates and graduations. Our hope is to provide a memorable set of experiences, working within the constraints of public health and government directives.

In the middle to longer term, we have begun planning for return to school in the late summer. We will prepare for a possible return to campus, with all of the safety precautions that that will entail, but with the understanding that if conditions dictate, school will begin next year as it is ending this year – remotely.

Neil Quinly, James Spellman, Kevin McCardle
April 2, 2020
Dear  St. Monica Catholic Schools Families,

In our ongoing efforts to protect the health and wellbeing of our schools community, we are announcing a change to our expected return-to-campus date. The date that we announced two weeks ago for the students to return to campus was April 20, the Monday after Easter break. Realistically, April 20 is no longer a viable return date. To better match conditions in Los Angeles with regard to COVID-19, our new policy is that we will be running school via distance learning until further notice. This is the distancing policy directed by the Governor, and it is the return-to-school policy adpoted by Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District. It allows us and it allows you to begin planning for after April 20, and it allows us the flexibility to return to campus as soon as conditions warrant. This decision was reached in consultation with Monsignor and with the Schools Board; it has their full support.

We are not ready to throw in the towel on this school year and cancel it completely (as most universities have done). At some point we may be forced to that, but our hope is that students will return to campus in time for both the 8th grade and the seniors to have graduation on the currently scheduled dates. We are committed to returning as soon as it is safe and practicable. You can expect to hear from us regularly as plans develop.

Yesterday at mass, Dr. McCardle spoke about hope, and finding hope in a future that we have a difficult time discerning. We have hope in a loving God, and we have faith in the capacity of your families to get through this. It is our fervent belief that St. Monica Catholic Schools will be stronger educationally because of this experience. We greatly appreciate your forbearance.

Neil Quinly, James Spellman and Kevin McCardle
March 20, 2020:
Dear St. Monica Catholic Schools Familes,
As we come to the end of this first week of education delivered via distance learning, we are grateful for the incredible efforts put in by our faculty and staff, we are grateful that your children have responded to this difficult and unprecendented situation with poise and a positive attitude, and we are grateful for your expressions of support. There are still kinks to be worked out, but by and large, the system seems to be working.


We want to inform you that based on the most recent order of the Health Officer of the LA County Department of Public Health ("Safer at Home Order for Control of COVID-19" issued March 19, 2020), St. Monica Catholic Schools will not reopen to on-site learning on April 1 as previously planned. The Health Officer's order mandates that we continue online distance learning until April 20, the Monday after our planned Easter break. We will continue to provide you with updates to that plan as we receive them.


There is a line in Psalm 51, "Lord, in the secret of my heart, teach me wisdom." That is our prayer for ourselves and our administrative teams. Please, pray for us to receive wisdom's guidance. 


Our prayers go out to you and your families, and to all those affected by this viral pandemic.



Kevin McCardle, James Spellman and Neil Quinly

March 13, 2020:
Dear St. Monica Catholic Schools Familes,
We were advised this morning by the Department of Catholic Schools that as of Tuesday, March 17, all Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of LA will be moving to remote learning until at least March 31. Campuses will be closed to students; our campus will be closed to students. All sporting and other events are cancelled.
Our teachers have been in professional development in preparation for this eventuality, so we believe we will be able to continue to deliver a St. Monica education to your children. There is much we do not know at this point, many questions we do not have an immediate answer to, questions we have not even conceived of. Please be patient with us as we work through this.

We will send another letter later in the day with more details, but we wanted to get this information to you so you can begin your planning. We appreciate the enormous disruption this will have on your family life, and will do our best to mitigate as much as the disruption as possible.

Please continue to pray.
Kevin McCardle, James Spellman and Neil Quinly
Event Cancellations:
All events are cancelled until further notice. This includes all athletics and extracurricular events.
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