School UPDATE: Sunday, March 15

St. Mary's Families,  

Blinding statement of the obvious:  We are living in interesting times...  

School Campus Off Limits.  Effective immediately, students and parents should avoid St. Mary's academic campus unless they have a specific appointment with a teacher or staff.  Effective Wednesday, March 18, the St. Mary's academic campus is off limits to anyone who is not St. Mary's staff or faculty.  Our original plan, in accordance with public health guidance, was to allow teachers to meet with individual students and/or very small groups of students if the teacher felt it was necessary for student learning and as long as the teachers and students maintained safe contact protocol.  As of now, student access to the school will only with the explicit permission of the principal and/or president of the school, and will only be allowed on a case-by-case basis.  This is much more restrictive than public health guidance regarding group gatherings (CDC guidance on March 12 was to cancel gatherings with more than 250 people), and we are very sorry for the inconvenience, but at this point "abundance of caution" seems to be our most common expression.  

Spring Break.  Re-emphasis.  I am again encouraging everyone to consider carefully their spring break plans if those plans include travel.  In addition to the Department of Defense banning travel for all DoD personnel and their families, Governor Polis has now ordered the closing of all Colorado ski areas.  

Effects of Isolation.  Parents, please OVER-COMMUNICATE with your children.  High school is a very social experience, and suddenly our COVID-19 coronavirus measures are making the high school experience vastly less social.  Let's make sure we're checking in with each other, and let's remember that when we ask how our kids are doing, if they say "fine," that is an invitation to dig a little deeper.  A great way to over-communicate is to ask them AT LEAST once per day to give you an update on their coursework for school.  Again, we're going to need your help in keeping them focused, particularly in this first week of distance learning as they establish a new routine.  

Break the Isolation with Prayer.  If you aren't praying together as a family, if you haven't been sure how to start that, NOW is the PERFECT time to begin.  I've heard from some in our community who are now praying a family Rosary every day.  Some are coming together once per day to say an Our Father.  Some are reading a short passage from the Bible together.  It doesn't have to be complicated, just pick something and give it a try.  With public Masses being canceled, this is a great time to read the daily Mass readings as a family (today's Mass readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/031520.cfm are very interesting).  

Why?  Perhaps a topic during that prayer time is, "Why is this happening?"  When I spoke to the faculty on Friday, I pointed to the daily Mass readings for that day.  The first reading for Friday was from chapter 37 of Genesis.  That is the story of Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery because Israel, their father, loved Joseph so deeply.  I think its safe to say that being sold into slavery by your brothers would be an incredibly evil experience.  But later in Genesis we see God's plan.  Because the brothers did this horrible thing, Joseph ultimately ended up in a position to save them many years later.  Our children would be right to ask us "Why does God allow evil in the world?"  The answer is, as it always has been, "To draw out the greater good from His people."  This current situation in our country and world is bad, and it could get worse.  But when we emerge from these difficult times, there will be some good that we drew out.  

Take Care of Yourselves.  Pay attention to your diet, rest and general health.  My own family is taking the physical contact protocols very seriously.  One of our children has type 1 diabetes (often referred to as "juvenile diabetes").  Diabetics are not at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, but if they do contract it the repercussions are generally much more severe than they are for someone without diabetes.  Pay attention to your health, and pay attention to the health of those around you.   

As Always, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!  Here is your daily reminder to join us in praying The Memorare:  

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.
Amen.  

Respectfully,
Rob Rysavy
President
St. Mary's High School