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Returning to Sacred Hearts School in the shadow of COVID-19

By Staff | Aug 13, 2020

Students have a wellness check in the morning, and throughout the day they are reminded to wear their masks, give virtual hugs and wash their hands. PHOTO BY J. ANTHONY MARTINEZ PHOTOGRAPHY.

LAHAINA – On Monday, Aug. 3, the children returned to Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina. “Who would have known this would be our new reality?” commented Principal Tonata Lolesio.

“I feel confident with the protocols that we have set in place and that reopening has been the right decision for our school.”

Today (Aug. 6) marks day four of returning to school, and every morning, welcoming procedures become more seamless.

School Board Members Amy Sharp, Nick Ware, Alton DeGama and Jorge Pedroza have been arriving at school at 7 a.m. to support staff with the new morning rituals.

Health Aide Paigely Neu-Molina, who receives fifth grade through high school students, shared that part of the protocol includes asking if students have experienced a list of symptoms. After that, a temperature check is done, then kids are given a squirt of sanitizer.

“It is a quick process, and for the most part, the kids are at ease with the flow of the morning. At this point, the kids approach me and know exactly what to do,” she added.

Next, they get their clearance card and are guided safely to their classes.

Lead Health Aide Crysta Kosianowski, in charge of checking in Early Learning Center through fourth grade students, and the principal take it a step further and make their way around campus for a second temperature check halfway through the school day.

Everyone who comes on campus, including staff, goes through a wellness check in the morning. In addition, students are reminded throughout the day to wear their masks, practice giving virtual hugs – especially with the little ones – and most importantly, wash your hands, wash your hands and wash your hands!

Eighth-graders Brayden, Preston and Santos shared how happy they are to be back at school. “I like the in-person interaction. Zoom can be hard for me sometimes,” shared Preston.

Santos said that “it is boring at home. This has been great to be with my friends again.”

The faculty of SHS collectively feel that it has been a blessing to be able to provide a sense of normalcy for these kids – or as normal as possible during this pandemic.

Just this morning, staff in the office smiled warmly as they could hear the third-graders singing the school alma mater, “Good Old Sacred Hearts.”

The song that is sung regularly during monthly mass is always a tear-jerker – and during COVID-19, with emotions running high, even more so.

As far as academics go, everything is running smoothly. Students are back on track, easing slowly into the routine.

“It was very traumatic for parents, teachers and students alike when we left for Spring Break and never returned,” added Principal Lolesio. “However, we had a rigorous distance learning program in place that kept our students on track.”

Angela LoMonaco, the new fifth grade teacher and curriculum director, is working hard to continue to develop the Distance Learning Program in the event we are forced to shut down.

“If we are forced to close our doors, our students are well-equipped. That feeling of trauma will be lessened because we have had this time together, and a nice educational foundation has been established. Our little school has been here since 1862, and we will continue to provide excellence in education way past the days of COVID-19,” Principal Lolesio concluded.