Fall Reopening at Chicago Jesuit Academy
On September 8th, we welcomed a third of our students back to our school building. These students are participating in “proctored eLearning,” which allows them to access their online lessons at CJA with in-person support from our teachers, social workers, nurse and other staff. The balance of our students are continuing to learn remotely.
The preferences of our parents drove this decision. While our parents expressed great trust and confidence in CJA’s efforts to create a safe, in-person learning environment, most of our parents still asked for their children to continue with eLearning this fall because of the pandemic.
The percentage of our parents who requested eLearning is consistent with broader national trends. It is also consistent with what we’re seeing throughout Chicago and the Midwest. Black and Latinx families in under-resourced neighborhoods have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic. Most public and private schools in these neighborhoods lack the resources to safely resume any in-person instruction.
Thanks to your generosity, we have been able to respond much more creatively in the face of this pandemic at CJA. In the sections that follow, you’ll read about how we’ve been able to ensure that our students, faculty and staff remain safe and healthy.
On a more personal note, I want to thank each of you for helping us build a school community with sufficient resources to respond so thoughtfully and creatively to the challenges of this pandemic. Resources matter profoundly in moments like this, and we have decidedly more resources than the public elementary schools closest to CJA, which have had to remain closed. Our faculty and staff continue to use our resources to do excellent work with our students, alumni and families.
Thank you for believing in the great promise of each of our students and alumni.
We were only able to open our doors because of the hard work of our faculty, social workers, school nurse and facilities personnel and the help we received from some incredibly generous friends of the school.
Michael and Suzanne Nelson helped us acquire a generous donation of acrylic from Plaskolite. Gerry Geyer, our amazing Director of Facilities, then worked with our College-Persistence Office to create summer jobs for a group of our alumni who worked with him to build transparent dividers for all of our classroom tables. These dividers allow our students to safely do their work in our classrooms. Mr. Geyer and our alumni also constructed acrylic dividers in common work spaces and at our front desk to protect faculty and staff as well.
We also collaborated with Purafil to install PuraShield™ portable filtration systems throughout the school. Each unit uses multi-stage patented filtration solutions that quickly and effectively remove 99.99% of aerosols carrying many viruses and bacteria. These units, combined with the MERV-13 filters we installed on our rooftops units, mean that our students, faculty and staff have the peace of mind that comes with cleaner air each day.
We have also increased the number of hand-sanitizer stations throughout the building and replaced all drinking fountains with water-bottle refill stations. Each student has their own water bottle that is collected and washed at the end of each school day.
Each morning students are greeted by a faculty member who asks how they are feeling and if they have been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. After answering each question, they are greeted by another staff member who collects the mask they went home in the day before, they sanitize their hands, and are given a new, clean mask for the day. Their parents wait while our school nurse takes their temperature and once they are cleared, they are welcomed into their classrooms for proctored eLearning.
While we were preparing the building for our students, our IT Department was busy ensuring that all students learning remotely had the tools they needed to learn from home. This meant securing more Chromebooks and hot spots to send home with families.
We are also incredibly thankful to our food provider, Gourmet Gorilla, for delivering food directly to our students who are learning remotely. In addition to these food deliveries, Gourmet Gorilla and CJA partnered with the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program to run a weekly food distribution program from CJA for our families and our neighbors. Through an incredibly generous grant from Albertsons and Jewel Osco’s Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief Fund, we have also been able to distribute Jewel Osco gift cards to our current students’ and alumni’s families. In a time when resources are more scarce than usual, we are grateful to be able to provide our community with some relief.
While all of these preparations were being made and food and technology was being distributed, our teachers and social workers were coming up with creative ways to ensure that no matter where our students are doing their learning, they are engaged, connected and feeling loved.
We are very mindful of the fact that none of this would have been possible without the generous and unwavering support of our many friends. Thank you for helping to make CJA a safe and loving place for our young men.
- Professional Development Day, No Classes – 9/28
- CJA Closed for Indigenous Peoples Day – 10/12
- Professional Development Day, No Classes – 10/15-10/16
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