NDSM’s Response to COVID-19/Coronavirus
Dear Friends of Notre Dame School of Milwaukee,
Over the last several weeks, I have received many messages and inquiries from our community about COVID-19/Coronavirus and its impact on our school. We have established this page to address some frequently asked questions and to share the good work that is being done by our dedicated staff members to ensure that our students and families are well supported during this unprecedented time.
Thank you for your love and care for our students and families today and every day.
Patrick Landry, President
Frequently Asked Questions: NDSM and COVID-19/Coronavirus
Q: Is NDSM closed and for how long?
A: The Governor and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services have mandated that all K-12 schools are closed indefinitely. We are constantly monitoring government and news sources in order to safeguard the health and well-being of our students, staff, families, and community.
Q: What is NDSM doing to support students and families while school is not in session?
A: School may be closed, but our teachers and staff are working hard behind the scenes to make sure our students and families have as many tools and resources as we are able to provide during this time, particularly with regard to food, e-learning, and community.
Food: Families are able to pick up meals three times a week at our Mother Caroline Campus on Layton Boulevard. We are grateful for our food partner and their willingness to work with us to provide what we can for our families. Along with breakfast and lunch, families are also able to pick up books to engage their children during social distancing and e-learning.
E-Learning: During this difficult time, our teachers’ dedication to NDSM students has not wavered. NDSM staff have been sharing a variety of digital resources for both teachers and families. Indeed, our families and staff are in constant communication via Class Dojo to assist in this new learning environment. Parents have been posting videos of students’ lessons at home, including first graders practicing how to count money!
Google Classroom is being leveraged in our middle schools to record attendance, turn in assignments, and facilitate group work. Teachers are also implementing Zoom to conduct class instruction and meetings. In this period of disruption, it is essential to foster strong bodies as well as minds. Our physical education teacher has sent daily physical activities students can complete with their families at home. Our school counselor has created a Virtual Counseling and Wellness Program for all students.
In sum, students are still being met, challenged, and supported on a daily basis. Parallel to all of these e-learning approaches for students, NDSM staff is working to share ideas, lesson plans, and online resources for parents. We understand that all parents are not magically teachers now. We appreciate everything they are doing to continue their students’ growth, and we are supporting them with all of the tools we believe can help. Within the first few days of teachers trying different online platforms, we’ve seen our staff rise to the occasion and become technology teachers for each other.
Community: As part of the school’s closure at this time, NDSM also cancelled our after school programs and school events. However, thanks to the creativity of our school leaders and staff, we are thinking of new ways to maintain social connections while observing social distancing. For example, March 21st’s Father-Daughter Dance took place virtually. Girls were invited to dance with their dads in their living rooms and tag NDSM in their Facebook and Instagram posts.
Q: How does e-learning work at NDSM during this time?
A: Our school leadership and teachers have adapted admirably to ensure student success at home by creating the following e-learning structure:
- Teachers and students follow a fairly regular school day schedule (8 am – 2 pm). Students “check in” with each teacher for each class period.
- Google Classroom and Google Meet are the primary platforms for hosting learning activities, allowing students to participate in class as well as upload papers and assignments.
- Each teacher is creating an outline, objectives, and schedule that are age-appropriate for their students. For example, middle school teachers are teaching students how to create an outline for a paper, while K4 teachers are using a camera to do read-alouds.
- Teachers are available for “office hours” at set times throughout the day for parents and children to ask questions and check in.
- Specials teachers are creating videos to ensure a holistic approach to the school day. For example, the physical education teacher is creating videos on exercises from home, yoga stretches, etc., and our school counselor is making videos to reinforce calm down strategies and mental breaks.
Q: How can I help?
A: The needs for our community during this time are many and varied, but after speaking with a number of our families as well as our school principals, we have compiled a list of some concrete ways that supporters can help our school:
Books: Our families have so few books at home, especially “board books” for younger children, that many families are worried their children will read all of the books in their house in the first week of being at home. As part of the social distancing food pick-up we started today, we are setting out books for parents to grab as well. We would welcome donations of new or gently used books for our families to read at home. High-quality children’s books and novels can be dropped off at the food table set up on the sidewalk on Orchard Street at our Mother Caroline Campus every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7 am to 9 am.
White boards, expo/dry erase markers, phone/tablet stands, and document cameras: Monday, March 23 will be our first official day of live, teacher-led online learning. In this new e-learning environment, teachers are planning and conducting lessons via video so white boards and expo markers are needed. As teachers prepare and record instructional videos that will be presented as part of the scheduled day starting Monday, teachers are also in need of phone/tablet stands and document cameras. The phone/tablet stands cost approximately $40. The document cameras are mounted cameras that project textbook and workbook pages, and are particularly useful for allowing our primary school teachers to conduct virtual read-alouds with students. These cameras cost approximately $200 and will continue to be utilized in classrooms once school has resumed.
Internet bill assistance: Finally, though 80% of our families have internet access and devices available at home, 20% of our families do not have the resources necessary for e-learning. Over 100 families came to school during staggered times on Tuesday and Wednesday to pick up a Chromebook to use at home. We have advised families to take advantage of Spectrum’s offer for free internet, but this requires having a $0 account balance, which disqualifies some of our families. Over 92% of our students come from economically disadvantaged families and with school indefinitely, it is essential that we get these balances cleared so families can access the materials and lessons we are creating for their children. The NDSM team is working to identify which families are in need, the amount of each outstanding balance, and how to most efficiently apply funds to their accounts.
At NDSM, supporting our students and families during this difficult time remains our top priority. We are extremely grateful for all the check-ins, prayers, and inquiries that we have received in the last few weeks regarding the situation at our school. If you know someone who would be interested in helping us with any of these needs, please feel free to share this page. If you are interested in helping, please know that we have added a new category to our online donation page labeled “COVID-19 E-Learning and Family Support.”
Questions? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org