Any other year, students at Saints Peter & Paul would have ended the school year Friday.
This school year, however, students are having to adapt to the times through some form of social media.
The school has 180 students in preschool through eighth grade. Teachers now are interacting with students in many ways, including phone calls, email and video conferencing, Principal Alan Lammers said.
The school has a 95% participation rate through online learning, he said. School staff and students had to adapt rapidly since the school closed March 17 out of concern over COVID-19.
“Like everybody else, we are just having to adjust on the fly, which everybody has been having to do,” Lammers said. “That’s probably the most difficult. You are really hoping for the best but at the same time planning for the worst case scenario just in case.”
Teachers are working diligently with their students, he said. While the participation rate is high, teachers reach out to families from time to time if there is an issue.
“We just try to do the best we can at figuring out the situation,” Lammers said. “I have reached out to some families and spoken to them as well and try to make some accommodations because these families are stressed. They’re trying to teach, work and bring in an income.”
Lammers also is trying to balance the last day of school with eighth grade graduation, which is scheduled June 5. He said that was one of the commitments that the school made to that class.
Twenty-four students will receive their eighth-grade diploma. The celebration will start with mass at 7 p.m. at the Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church, followed by graduation and an awards ceremony.
“There will be a graduation of some kind hopefully sooner rather than later,” Lammers said. “Once we saw how the guidelines were starting to loosen up a little bit, we then turned to the diocese for direction and got the OK from them to go ahead with the graduation.”
The ceremony is limited to immediate family for now. The maximum the church can handle is 150 people.
“I know this isn’t until June so that may change, but that is what we are operating at right now,” Lammers said.
School maintenance; The 2020-21 school year
School maintenance project timelines were moved up. They originally were scheduled for the summer as the school does not have a summer school program.
The school has proceeded with a window replacement project.
“Once the governor said schools were going to remain closed, you saw a lot of schools swing into action,” Lammer said.
School leaders plan to follow issued guidelines for the start of the 2020-21 school year. They also are looking at different scenarios which may have to be dealt with.
“We will probably go with limited people within the building,” Lammers said. “We may also have to change some of our practices as far as assemblies.”
The entire school community normally gathers each morning. Staff are working on plans if they have to discontinue the school-wide assembly. Classroom plans also will have to be assessed.
If social distancing rules are still in place in August, the school will have to look at how that affects attendance, Lammers said. The school will have to structure things differently so that it works better for families.
The school may look at staggering attendance. While the school is OK financially due to parishioner generosity and other contributions, the school still is watching its budget closely. The school is tuition-free for Catholic families, while there is a tuition fee for non-Catholic families. If it comes to staggering attendance, the mostly likely way to do it would be by family, Lammers said.
“I look at the numbers almost daily,” he said. "Our parishioners have continued to support the work of the parish, which has interestingly gotten busier because there is a lot more outreach.”
Continued assistance; Community art tour
More people are seeking assistance and the school and parish are able to help through the continued generosity of the community, Lammers said.
“Honestly, everybody around here has been very reasonable through these tough times,” he said “The whole community has responded. Everybody is following the guidelines and do what they need to do for the sake of each other.”
The church continues to offer meals every Tuesday evening at church hall to those in need. The free meal is drive-thru only.
Lammers encourages students that need meals to participate in the program through Boonville Public Schools.
Students in fifth through eighth grade still are displaying their art work in businesses downtown. Art teacher Sharon Wooldridge has had students do different projects that were completed over the course of the year. Their work is displayed in windows for a walking art tour.