Quarantine taught me the value of an in-person Catholic school

My children’s parochial school is about as low-tech as it is presently possible for an institution to be.

That has actually been a good thing in an era of “distance learning.”

It was obvious from the start of the coronavirus pandemic that the students could not be expected to attend a battery of Zoom classes or watch online lectures for hours.

Some families probably have more students than internet devices in their homes, so our school kept things simple.

  • Materials have been provided, but deadlines have been few and lenient.
  • Teachers have been available but not nagging.
  • Parents have been trusted to make decisions about what their children most need.

The new routine is stressful for me, but my kids seem fine.

They miss their friends, but they are not despondent or wracked with anxiety.

I am especially grateful at this time to have five sons who can keep one another company as they fish, build models and play backyard baseball.

Things could be so much worse and for many, they are.

Having said that, I will be thrilled when the school reopens.

It’s not that the boys’ education is running aground.

We are keeping up, more or less, with the curricula. What we miss are the people.

There is an energy, optimism and sense of purpose to our school community that seems to keep life moving forward.

In the mid-afternoon, I glance at the clock and feel sad that it is not necessary to drive over and pick up the boys.

The school is our village, and we are incomplete without it.

Distance learning is kind of a drag for me, especially because it forces me to push important tasks to evenings and weekends, when I would like to be enjoying my kids.

Our time together goes to grammar and spelling instead of hikes and board games. That’s a bad trade, but at least I can teach them to diagram sentences.

I cannot single-handedly create a Christian community where my sons receive personal attention from many different adults, each with their own strengths and insights.

I cannot supply dozens of playmates from a range of different backgrounds.

I can tell them that they are members of the body of Christ, but I can’t help them to experience this in the way that they do in Catholic school. Continue reading

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