MOUNT CARMEL — The COVID-19 crisis might take away the final two months of their 2019-20 school year, but students at Mount Carmel Elementary can still participate in one of the school’s most time honored traditions: leading the daily Pledge of Allegiance.
Every week MCES Principal Amy Glass reaches out to a handful of students whose parents make a video them leading the Pledge, as well as the morning announcements.
It’s an injection of normalcy in otherwise abnormal times for the Pre-K through fourth grade students.
On Tuesday, MCES third grade teacher Kim McCann answered a few questions for the Times News about how teachers and students are continuing lessons and maintaining contact with students as the COVID-19 school shutdown enters its second month.
KTN: How are students able to see the daily Pledge videos?
“It’s posted on the Mount Carmel Elementary Facebook page at 8 each morning. The individual teachers are also posting it within their Google classrooms. We do a roll call with our students in the morning through Google. We don’t expect them to be on it then, but some are anyway, and we do a roll call just like on a regular school day, followed by the Pledge and morning announcements.”
KTN: Is the video Pledge similar to the regular morning announcements?
“It’s pretty much the same. On a regular school day, a student goes to the office in the morning, leads the Pledge, and then does the announcements. We still do the Pledge of Allegiance, and then we do our Mount Carmel Elementary motto. ‘M’ is make good choices. ‘C’ is cooperate. ‘E’ is normally encourage others, but right now we’ve changed it to excel. And then ‘S” is normally show respect, but during this time we’ve changed it to stay focused. We changed the last two letters during this crisis to fit with what we’re doing now, with all this homeschooling.
KTN: Are there more announcements after the motto?
After that we do a moment of silence. And then we do a quote of the week. They wish happy birthday if we have kids or school employee having a birthday, and then any other school announcement such as a special event. The kids do all of that, and that’s what we’re continuing to do every morning.
KTN: What’s the advantage of this online morning Pledge?
“Being able to do it like this allows the school to continue to be in contact with the community and to provide some kind of normalcy for our students during this time. We’ve got different student leadership committees within our school, and doing this gives them a sense that they’re still being active within their school. From Pre-K up through fourth grade, all the students are able to hear this and feel a connection to their school and their classmates.”
KTN: Do you feel like students are getting enough material and lessons to get them ready to advance to the next grade next year?
“From our school, yes. The teachers and Mrs. Glass and all of the staff — everybody is going above and beyond right now to ensure we’re putting out every packet and resource we can, that we feel is most beneficial to our kids. At Mount Carmel, we have started touching base again with parents to make sure they have enough technology within their home where their kids can get online and do what they need to do.”
KTN: What about homes without computers?
“We’ve been distributing Chromebooks to different homes that need them, and I know the parents have been very appreciative of that. We’re giving out packets. Every two weeks we pass out paper packets. Some parents prefer paper and pencil instead of the online stuff, and that’s perfectly fine, so we’re meeting again this week to distribute a packet for the next two weeks. We’re making phone calls to their homes, we’re Face Timing with our kids, we’re using the Classroom ZOOM.”
KTN: Why is it important to maintain contact with students like this?
“More than academic work, we’re touching base with our parents as a family and as a community. We’re asking, what can we do to assist you, even outside of academics? We have great parent and school communication in a positive way. We’re just doing everything we can to keep the kids up to date with all the information that’s coming in and give them everything we can to keep them where they need to be academically.”