While life has changed dramatically over the last few months because of the Coronavirus pandemic, St. Francis Xavier School has been able to tap into technology it was already using to serve students.

Everly Johnson, a first-grade student at St. Francis Xavier School, engages in a video conference call with her class (photo by Allison Johnson).

The school was ready to implement its “Distance Learning Protocol” when campuses around the Valley were closed in March during the COVID-19 outbreak. Principal Ryan Watson said the school had the distance learning plan in place in case any situation arose in which the campus would have to be closed for an extended period.

Teachers for preschool through second-grade students emailed parents with daily instructions on how to implement the instruction online and have used video conference calls to see their students. The younger students have missed seeing their teachers so it was beneficial for them to see their teachers’ faces.

St. Francis Xavier School third through eighth-graders have been using Google Classroom, a digital learning platform with which they were already familiar. Sixth-grade science teacher Laura Ray found a fun way to bring science to life despite the physical classroom being closed. She asked students to take photos of the spring full “pink” moon as part of their study of the solar system She then held a photo contest, compiling the photos into a slide show, and had the students vote on their favorite one.