Posted

This post will be updated regularly as the local COVID-19 situation develops.


Click here for the 3/20/20 8 p.m. update

Today, the College Board released a statement that, as a response to the COVID 19-related school closures, the Advanced Placement (AP) exams will be migrated to 45-minute online exams that students will be able to take at home. The College Board has educators working on preparing information on what those exams will look like, i.e. what type(s) of question they will include.

Teachers have also been advised that the content will be pared down in light of the early-March school closures. For many subjects, this means eliminating the last unit or two. Information about the exam format, exam date(s), and content-reduction is due to be posted on the AP Central website by April 3, 2020.

Additionally, the College Board will be offering free, live AP review sessions daily for students beginning on March 25. This schedule will also be posted on the AP Central website.

Schools and teachers have just received this information as of today, March 20, 2020. Please know that our teachers will reflect on how these changes will impact our classes and students and create a way to move forward. There is still much to be figured out and we will continue to update our community as we are updated by the College Board. For now, rest assured that our AP teachers will continue with their distance-learning plans and will continue to provide the best support possible for our students.


Click here for the 3/16/20 7 p.m. update

Dear Mount St. Mary Academy Students and their families:

As we prepare to move to remote learning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17th, we would like to provide you with some specific supports we have put in place to support your daughter in this new academic learning environment.

Daily Check-In Reminders

  • All students are reminded that they ​must​ fill out the daily Google Form sent via email by Ms. Ferby at​ 8:00 am​, turning it in no later than 8:30 am. This is our daily attendance for the entire building. If a student is sick, the parents/ guardian needs to call the main office per usual school policy. Please consult with previous correspondence for more detail.
  • As a reminder, all students need to check email daily and complete coursework within set deadlines as outlined by their teachers.

Guidance Department

The Guidance/Counseling Department is committed to continuing to provide social, emotional and personal counseling to our students.

Availability During Building Closure

Our school counselors, Mrs. Karen Reisch (students A- L; ​kreisch@msmsacademy.org​) and Mrs. Maroshick (students M-Z; ​smaroshick@msmacademy.org​) will be available to speak with any student or parent via email or Zoom digital conference during regular school hours: 7:45 am-3:00 pm. Students or parents should email their counselor when they would like to set up a meeting time.

Ms. Cannon, our school social worker, will be available on Mondays from 7:30 am-12:00 pm and Tuesdays 7:45 am-3:00 pm through Zoom digital conference. Please email Ms. Cannon (ccannon@msmacademy.org​) if you would like to set up a Zoom time to meet.

If there is a crisis situation that occurs outside of these hours, you should contact Spectrum Cares at (716) 882-4357 where there are trained counselors available 24 hours per day/ 7 days a week to assist with crisis situations.

Supporting Students in These Unprecedented Times

This change in our school routine and anxiety around COVID-19 can cause stress for students and parents. We encourage you to reach out to our support team during this time of transition where we will continue to be a support to families or are able to refer you to community resources for additional assistance.

Throughout this public health crisis, we will continue to send articles and information pieces that address the mental health needs of students and communities during an infectious disease outbreak. These can be good conversation starters for your family:

Course Scheduling for 2020-2021

Counselors are currently meeting with the Class of 2022 (current sophomores) to do course selections for next school year (2020-2021). Sophomores may screenshot their requested courses to their counselor this week (March 17- 20) and counselors will be in touch with them via email to discuss.

The Class of 2023 (current freshmen) will be notified via email when they can start to submit their course requests.

Academic Learning Support

Ms. Catherine Suchan will be available online every weekday between the hours of 8:00 am and 2:00pm. She is encouraging students to communicate with her over Google Hangouts (​https://hangouts.google.com/​) for direct help with assignments. This platform allows for group or individual discussion and can be archived for later reference.

If necessary, Ms. Suchan is available for video tutoring sessions on an as-needed basis. Students can schedule these sessions over messaging via Google Hangouts. Google Meet will be utilized for video communication.

Ms. Suchan and Ms. McGrath will be working in collaboration with all teachers to support students with specific academic needs.

Additional resources will be available for students on Google Classroom.

Remote Learning Academic Plan

All teachers have finalized their distance learning plans. Most faculty are relying on the tools included in Google Suite such as email, Google Classroom, Drive, Meet (Hangouts), and Chat to communicate and conduct class remotely. Teachers will reach out to individual classes as their work becomes available and will include the ways that students can reach out if individual assistance is needed.

It is critical that students understand that learning continues even if we are not in the physical school building. It is expected that they are active participants in their coursework. At this time, our plan is to have our third quarter grades still close on March 31st and therefore this quarter will be a hybrid of in-person and remote learning.

Our School Life leadership team will be working with our teachers to troubleshoot any issues that arise. Students should reach out to their teachers and school counselors with any specific academic concerns as a starting place.

Advanced Placement Exams

The College Board recognizes that many schools throughout the nation are affected by building closure and is establishing parameters for pushing back original testing dates. Mrs. Reisch, as our school AP Coordinator, will be receiving announcements soon from the College Board regarding these measures and will communicate with our community any new updates. In the meantime, our AP students are urged to keep up with coursework set out by faculty and certainly will provide as many resources as possible to prepare for the upcoming exams.

An uncommon quiet fell on our school this afternoon as we turned off student Fobs, teachers carried out stacks of textbooks and resources, and we all moved fully into building closure. Together we will get through this and please know that in this time of uncertainty, our continuity of care of our young women continues.

Wishing you a peaceful night,

Katherine Spillman, Principal


Click here for the 3/15/20 7:30 p.m. update

Dear Mount St. Mary Academy students and their families:

I have a brief update to share tonight regarding our school’s continued response to COVID-19. Mount St. Mary Academy has extended building closure from Monday, March 16th to an intended school return on Monday, April 20th.

As we have throughout the unfolding of this public crisis, we have relied on the counsel of public health officials and our partners in education. This evening, the Kenmore-Tonawanda school district announced that, in accordance with the Erie County Executive’s recommendation, people avoid large gatherings of more than fifty people, and in light of the declaration of multiple States of Emergency, all Erie County school districts have closed schools until April 20, 2020.

New updates:

  • Remote learning begins on Tuesday, March 17th and will run every weekday through Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.
  • This Friday, March 20th is now a required remote learning school day for students. Previously this was a professional day for faculty (now moved to tomorrow – Monday,
    March 16th).
  • Easter vacation will run as planned: Thursday, April 9 – Sunday, April 19, 2020. No daily new remote learning will happen during this time.
  • Unfortunately with the extension of the building closure, the following community events have been added to our previous list of events postponed:
    *Serve Club day of service at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy – Friday, March 27 *The ACT prep course – March 17, 19, and 26, 2020
    *National Honor Society Induction- Tuesday, April 7, 2020 evening
    *Spring athletics – suspended until Monday, April 20th for now.

As a reminder from previous correspondence:

  • Tomorrow, Monday, March 16th, there will be no school for students. If a student needs to pick up materials that she will need for remote learning, she may enter the building only between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm on Monday March 16th. When a student arrives, she must sign in outside of the Main Office as well as sign out when she is finished gathering her things. Teachers are not available to students during this time, as they are finalizing their remote learning plans.
  • Remote learning officially begins on Tuesday, March 17th. Students are expected to be active participants in their remote learning classes and complete work as assigned by their teachers.
  • Daily attendance will be taken online, as per the directions shared with students and parents, beginning on Tuesday, March 17 at 8:00 a.m.

Important Reminders:

  • With building closure: only essential school personnel are allowed in the building. The main office will not be physically open. Phone messages and email correspondence are the best way to get in touch with school representatives (school leadership, faculty, and staff)
  • All co-curriculars now cease (field trips, sports practices, clubs, etc) both on- and offsite until our building closure ends.

We will be sending correspondence tomorrow to all students and families to share important guidance information both for academic and counseling support as we navigate these challenging times. We will also outline additional community support resources. ​Students​: please continue to check Google Classroom and email for updates and reach out to your teachers with any questions.

In times of uncertainty, may we trust in Jesus’ frequent reminder: ​Be not afraid​. May the Blessed Mother enfold us with her protection and keep us all safe.

May God bless you,

Katherine Spillman, Principal


Click here for the 3/14/20 6 p.m. update

Dear MSM Families:

I am writing to notify you that there will be no classes for students on Monday, March 16. As of 2 p.m. that day and through Sunday, March 29th, our building will be closed in response to health experts’ recommendations on how we can help lessen the spread of COVID-19. Let me be clear: no member of the MSM community has tested positive for the virus, but out of an abundance of caution and based on guidance from health care experts, we have decided this is the best course of action. 

As I’ve described in messages to you over the past week, MSM faculty members have been preparing for this possibility, and I believe we are well-prepared to begin remote learning.

Here are the specifics:

  • On Monday, March 16th, there will be no school for students. Co-curriculars (clubs, sports practices, etc.) will not meet. Faculty will have professional time to finalize learning plans. Teachers will not be available to students during this planning time.
  • If a student needs to pick up materials that she will need for remote learning, she may enter the building only between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm on Monday, March 16th. Remote learning officially begins on Tuesday, March 17th.
  • As of 2:00 p.m. on Monday, March 16, the building will be closed to everyone other than essential building personnel.
  • We move to official building closure on Tuesday, March 17th. Online learning will begin for students on this day and students are expected to be active participants in their remote learning classes and complete work as assigned by their teachers.
  • With building closure:  all co-curriculars cease (field trips, sports practices, clubs, etc) both on- and offsite until our building closure ends.
  • Daily attendance will be taken online, as per the directions shared with students and parents, beginning on Tuesday, March 17 at 8:00 a.m.
  • We will reevaluate the situation and communicate with families as the March 29th date approaches. An extension of building closure (and therefore remote learning) is possible.

We realize that our building closure necessitates postponing and potentially cancelling many of our favorite MSM traditions, such as Father/Daughter Dance, Mother/Daughter Mass and Brunch, and fine arts performances. We recognize how disappointing this is to many, especially our seniors and their families, and we are doing our best to figure out how to reschedule if possible.

Regarding our academic plan:

Our teachers briefed our students on their individual plans for remote academic learning on this past Friday, March 13th, and remote learning will commence on Tuesday, March 17th. Our Google Apps for Education suite provides a wonderful set of tools for learning: teachers will be utilizing Classroom and supplementing with additional online tools to guide instruction. Students have brought hardcover textbooks home this past Friday for classes that require usage and also will utilize the online textbooks for other classes. Our teachers regularly adjust and update their teaching plans based on student feedback and interest. We know they will continue this practice in our new online environment. Our school life team will be supporting our teachers in this new endeavor, ensuring that all of us — students and teachers alike — are getting the academic support needed. We believe in seeking innovative ways to educate, and this will happen even when we are physically unable to be in the building together. 

Attached to this message is a list of additional resources our families may wish to access if necessary. Please know that our school leadership team will be available to answer your questions via email and that we will do our very best to respond to you in a timely manner.

This situation is, of course, unique to our school community, and at times like this it’s important that we act thoughtfully, with kindness, and with the understanding that we are all doing the best we can for one another. We recognize that these changes are stressful for our students, and we want you to know that their well-being continues to be a top priority for us. We thank our parents, our students, and our dedicated faculty for working together to make the best of a very difficult situation. Let’s all hold each other in prayer and look forward to a return to face-to-face learning and the vibrant MSM community we all know and love.

May God bless you,

Katherine Spillman

Principal

 

Resources about COVID-19 for Mount St. Mary students and families:

Information about COVID-19:

If your home does not have wifi:

Please contact Spectrum 1-844-488-8395 for possible temporary assistance.


Click here for the 3/13/20 3:30 p.m. update

In the event of a building closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Mount St. Mary will be engaging in online coursework to ensure student learning continues. Your daughter’s teachers have talked with her today about how this different modality will look for her specific classes. We’ve encouraged students to bring home textbooks, school-issued devices, chargers, and anything else needed to do schoolwork.

One of the requirements New York State has is that we continue to collect and monitor student attendance daily. To that end, we have developed a plan to gather this information electronically, should we face a building closure.

Included is the policy we will ask students to follow if our building does close and we are forced to move to an online learning environment. We have explained this process to your daughter, but if you or your daughter has any questions, please contact me.

Attendance policy during building closure:

  • A Google Attendance Form will be sent out daily at 8:00am by Ms. Cassandra Ferby (Your daughter must fill this out daily.)

  • The form will have Last Name, First Name, Grade number. 

  • There is an expectation that students must complete the Google Attendance form by  8:30am daily. 

  • If a student is ill, please call our Main office line and leave a detailed message of her symptoms at 716-877-1358 ext.160


Click here for the 3/13/20 9 a.m. update

Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and based upon recommendations made by the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District, Mount St. Mary will be canceling all school-sponsored travel outside of the eight counties of Western New York. This will affect all student travel and field trips effective immediately. What this now means: the school-sponsored softball trip to Pigeon Forge, TN over April break is therefore cancelled. Please reach out to our Athletic Director, Jim Pernick as the coaches are determining next steps. Our school had previously announced that the Academy Scholars trips to California (March) and New York City (April) would not run as planned. Additionally the international trip to France over April Break will also not run as scheduled.

In addition, Ken-Ton has suspended all public gatherings that include more than 50 people. With this new health guideline, the following events will not take place as planned. Event coordinators and club moderators are looking at next steps and any updates will be sent as soon as possible.

  • Father-Daughter dance (Thursday, March 19)
  • Mother-Daughter mass and brunch (Sunday, March 22)
  • Spring Drama sleepover (March 20-21)
  • Spring Drama Production (March 27-28)
  • Sweets and Treats concert (Sunday, March 29)

We have postponed our signature fundraising event, Chrysalis, that was scheduled for Saturday, March 14. This event is being rescheduled for a date in June 2020.

Spring athletics guidelines will be forthcoming as our athletic director is working with Monsignor Martin league for their guidance. Please be on the lookout for future communication. Per health guidelines, spectators are currently not able to attend sport competitions for now.

Regarding our academic plan should we face a building closure: Students will be speaking with their teachers today about how remote learning will continue. Students have been asked to bring their iPad home with a charger today (Friday, March 13, 2020). Also students will be bringing home textbooks if possible today per individual teacher direction. Our dedicated faculty are crafting innovative ways to allow learning to continue to happen even if we are unable to be physically in the building together. More will be communicated as our plans develop.


Click here for the 3/12/20 11:30 a.m. update

Dear MSM Families:

Our school community continues to monitor the situation unfolding with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We receive regular updates and briefings from the NYS Department of Health, the NYS Department of Education, and the Erie County Health Department and are in communication with our sister and brother schools in the Diocese. I’m emailing to provide you with an update on how Mount St. Mary is preparing for the possibility of the spread of this virus and information on how you can partner with us in our efforts to ensure the safety of our MSM community.

The first and most important thing our families can do is to keep their daughters home if they are sick, especially if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms (fever or chills, body aches, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, feeling very tired, shortness of breath, or cough). For specifics about the coronavirus and how to prepare, the Eric County Health Department provides this helpful link. If your daughter does become ill with flu-like symptoms, we ask you to stay in contact with us.

The health and safety of all in our school community is a top concern for us. We want you to know that we will follow NYS protocols and communicate with you if we become aware that a member of our school community is infected with COVID-19. Similar to our snow day protocol, an email and text message will be sent out notifying families of any building closure with more information to follow. We honor all Mount community members’ privacy.

With student safety in mind and the recent travel restrictions from the federal government, we are rescheduling the international, school-sponsored travel that had been planned for over the Easter break. Families affected will be receiving specific updates as we work with the travel company. At this point, domestic, school sponsored travel is being decided on a trip-by-trip basis. We have made the difficult decision to postpone our California trip that was scheduled for this weekend. With such a fluid situation, we are deciding about upcoming domestic travel.

As for our academic plan going forward, the entire faculty are proactively working on teaching plans that allow for continued learning if we need to follow health guidelines and close our school building for an undetermined length of time. We recognize that, if needed, remote learning will present challenges, but our team is committed to adapting and educating our students in this different modality.

We know that the situation with COVID-19 is changing constantly. I encourage you to reach out to me directly or to our School Nurse, Ms. Mary Elsaesser, RN, directly with any questions or concerns you may have.

Best wishes,

Katherine Spillman, Principal

Click here for more information about community resources available for families during this time.

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