Coronavirus Updates

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Saint Stanislaus has suspended classes and transitioned to distance learning as of Monday, March 16, 2020. As we continue to navigate uncharted waters, we ask that you do your best to abide by the CDC guidelines as well as the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America. The SSC Administration continues to work diligently to ensure best practices for not only your son’s education but preventative measures as well. In addition to social media updates and emails, please refer to this page for official announcements regarding our steps as we continue to monitor COVID-19 closely.

4/21/2020

Some of you may have seen an announcement from the Diocese today regarding graduation. I want to clarify that.  Of course we would love to have our graduation on the day it’s scheduled, however, that may not be possible dependent on the guidelines in place.  We want to celebrate our seniors in a manner befitting this wonderful class so we are exploring alternatives to timing and location and how many people can attend.  As the CDC, MEMA, and Governor Reeves start to allow gatherings, we will follow those recommendations.  I know you are worried.  Please trust that we want the event to be special, as close to our traditional ceremony as possible, and we will spend our time and effort to make sure that it is. 
Sincerely,
Gary L. Blackburn Principal 


4/5/2020

Happy Palm Sunday. My prayers are for all of you this holiest week of the year. As I write this newsletter, we have no major changes to our current distant learning procedures and cancellation of events. Our plan is to return to school on April 20.  I have heard some rumblings about schools being asked to stay out until April 30, but nothing official at this time. 
I do want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support throughout this very difficult time. I know it is not easy to maintain your households, ensure the boys are doing school work and other responsibilities, and then you have worries about your jobs. It must be overwhelming.  I can assure you our teachers are working harder than ever to keep things going with their students.  It is for all these reasons, we are keeping our Easter Break in place.  Unfortunately, you can’t take any real vacation, but we can all relax (a little) for eleven days.  Some of you may have camps, cabins,  or beach houses somewhere you can enjoy.   Beginning Holy Thursday, April 9 through Sunday, April 19, our teachers will cease all distance learning for the Easter Break. I hope you take the time to celebrate the Easter Triduum as a family; perhaps even view the Easter Vigil Mass online, a beautiful celebration in our church. The administrative team will meet during the Easter Break to discuss what happens after April 19th. 
I also want to remind you that Bishop Kihneman will be celebrating Mass for Saint Stanislaus families and staff on Tuesday, April 7 at 11:30 am.  It will be streamed live on Facebook Live – Diocese of Biloxi. The Chrism Mass, in which the holy oils are blessed, is also available for viewing Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. Each year on Holy Thursday, we do a special prayer service here at SSC.  Brother Bernie and Betsy Brennan have worked with some of our teachers and students to film this special service.  We will broadcast it via our social media platforms at 8:30 am on Holy Thursday, April 9.  I hope you are able to watch it then.  If not, it will remain posted for later viewing.   
Finally, there is a great deal of discussion in the cybersphere regarding whether these classes/grades/lessons really “count.” I want to assure you that they do. We understand completely that distance learning is not the optimal method of delivery and some students are struggling a little, while some are thriving.  We have asked teachers to take all individual issues into consideration.  Please have your son contact his teachers if he is missing work, needs extra help, or is struggling in any other way. Communication and partnership are the keys to success in this situation. I believe every teacher at SSC is willing to help your son. 

Service Hours  
Due to the mandatory shelter in place order from Governor Reeves and the anticipated extension of it, we are waiving all service hour requirements for the 2nd semester. It is not a decision we make lightly because we believe service hour completion is an important benchmark in our students’ growth as Men of Character. If your son turned in his service hours prior to the pandemic outage, we will discuss some considerations for him.  

Reminder for Amazon.com Shoppers      
Please forgive me for another shameless plug, but with a lot of shopping being done online during this time, please take advantage of supporting us on Amazon.com. Just log in to smile.Amazon.com and choose Saint Stanislaus as your “charity” to support. We appreciate it! 

From our Guiding Document, Partners in Mission 
“Because all of creation, history, and culture are means God has chosen to reveal truths about Himself, we believe in making efforts to motivate students to appreciate the value of learning as a good in itself.  What motivates all Catholic education is the belief that knowledge of the created world leads to knowledge of God and of human potential.  The ultimate goal regarding motivation is for each student to accept responsibility for lifelong learning and self-motivation.”  

Thanks for all you do to support Saint Stanislaus. Let us know how we can help you. 

3/27/2020

Dear Parents,As we end our first full week of distance learning and canceled activities at SSC, there is no change in our current plan.  We are very hopeful and prayerful that we return to school on Monday, April 20.  Here are some items for you:  

  • Bishop Kihneman will be saying daily Mass at 11:30 am and dedicating it to each school in the diocese.  Our day at SSC will be April 7.  Here is a short video message from the bishop: Bishop Kihneman
  • It is with profound sadness we inform you of the passing of Brother Lee Barker, SC.   I worked with Brother Lee for nine years at McGill-Toolen in Mobile and up until last semester, he worked with our boys at SSC in the Magic Club.  Brother Ronald Hingle, Provincial had these words to say about Brother Lee: RIP Brother Lee
  • We have heard from several of you regarding spotty or poor internet services at your home (or neighborhood).  I would urge you to call your internet provider.   I have learned through viewing some webinars that cable companies are willing to improve/install service at no charge during this time when they understand how vital the internet is for students to succeed in their academic work from home.   Mrs. Artigues and I are happy to call on your behalf if you’d like. 
  • As much as possible we are trying to keep things on a regular schedule.  The third week of the quarter brings about Academic Status Reports, so next week (by Thursday) we are asking teachers to have all grades entered for the quarter thus far.  This would be a good time to check your son’s grades…if you’re not already.   
  • This message is for parents of Seniors and Juniors from Mrs. Pigott and me –   As we navigate through these difficult times and start to make decisions on what types of events we can and cannot have for the rest of the school year, we have put some thought into a couple of things. If we are able to have the prom (big if) it likely will be moved from April 25 and we will have the prom for the senior class only.  While these have been tough times for all of us, we think it’s been especially tough for the seniors…so this would be to honor their leadership. Secondly, to be cautious and reduce the crowd size in a venue as small as BWYC, it’s best to limit attendance. Seniors may still invite younger students as dates.
    Secondly, we are planning now to have graduation as normal.  Those plans could change as this situation progresses. We hope you join us in praying for containment and a quick end to this pandemic.  Thank you for your continued support and kindness.   
  • Today, the Holy Father has invited all to participate in a special prayer with him at 12 noon. During the Statio Orbis, which will be streamed from the Vatican website at www.vaticannews.va, Pope Francis will grant to all participants the Plenary Indulgence before imparting the Urbi et Orbi Blessing. This will be a historic moment for the Catholic Church.

I hope that as these days continue, you and your families can find some silver linings in these difficult times.  As I’ve said before, we have overcome many crises in our 166 years and we will get through this one.   We are learning a lot about distance learning, realizing how much we miss the students when they’re not here with us. the value of family together-time,  how much people are willing to share their time and talent, and the many acts of kindness that I’ve witnessed in the last two weeks and I’m sure you have also.  Father Coindre once said, “recognize the simplest good deeds so that they may be valued and loved.  There is more good being done than you imagine.”   

God bless you all.   

Sincerely,
Gary L. Blackburn | Principal 

3/23/2020

Dear Parents,
We have reached the second week of our canceled classes and activities and there doesn’t seem to be any slowdown, unfortunately, in the spread of the coronavirus. But, I am glad to say, there doesn’t seem to be any slow down in your sons doing their work and our teacher’s dedication to helping them. There isn’t much news to give you here on this Monday morning, however, there are a few tweaks we are making in our program of distance learning for your sons.

  • We will continue to have teachers post lessons, assignments, and other activities by 10 a.m. each weekday. The change, however, is we would like for assignments to be due by 6 p.m. the same day they are assigned. This gives an eight-hour window, similar to a school day, for students to finish their schoolwork. I realize there will be exceptions to this with study time or maybe bigger assignments teachers may give over an extended period of time. Our goal is to give the guys a little more structure during the day to check-in and do their work.  Their commitment as individuals to the learning process is crucial.  
  • We asked our teachers the first week, particularly this past Wednesday through Friday, to mainly do review work and lighter assignments to get students back in the groove of learning. I certainly know that all of you are having stressful situations at home with either your jobs, loved ones, and any other issues in addition to the coronavirus…and your time may be limited to help your sons.  This week, however, we’ve asked teachers to ramp up the assignments and be more creative in their instructional delivery because new learning and new lessons have to be taught. As I’ve said before, our teachers are on various levels of their own technology and experience and this could come at the students many different ways. Our departments stay in contact and our more tech-savvy colleagues are helping the less-experienced teachers daily. Trust me that we are doing the best we can with the tools at our disposal.  
  • I want to reiterate that we are limiting the staff who will be present in the school building, but we are available by email or you can certainly leave us a voicemail at the school number (228) 467-9057. The office hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you do need to come to school or your son needs to come to school to get anything please call us first and let us know.  
  • Our plan, at this time, is to re-open on April 20.  We have not canceled any activities, thus far, after that date.   We miss having the guys at school and I don’t know if they’d ever say it, but I think they miss being here too.   We will keep you updated if anything changes. 
  • Lastly, I cannot thank you all enough for your support and kindness throughout this crisis and I hope you continue to pray for us at school and for a worldwide end soon to the virus. I know this isn’t easy and I don’t think it’s going to get any easier very soon but I do believe if we all work together, we will accomplish great things and we will all be better for it. God bless you all.

Sincerely,
The SSC Administrative Team Gary Blackburn, Nancy Artigues, D.P. Daigle, Freddy West, Tyler Harris, Stace McRaney, and Jennifer Taylor 

3/19/2020

Dear Parents,
 If you listened to the governor’s press conference this morning, he has asked that all schools be closed through Friday, April 17. We will abide by the Governor’s order and join our fellow Catholic Schools. As you are well aware, things can change rapidly and we will alert you whenever we get a major change. 
Here is our plan for now: 

  • We will continue distance learning through Wednesday, April 8.
  • Mrs. Artigues and I will schedule periodic (remote) faculty meetings via Zoom, Google Hangout, etc. to get a feel for where our teachers are with their distance learning and instruction. Your input is also vitally important. 
  • Administrators will be meeting tomorrow to discuss a more consistent time frame for assignments to be turned in. 
  • We will have our Easter Break beginning Holy Thursday, April 9 through Sunday, April 19 as normal (well…as normal as possible). There will be no lessons, assignments, schoolwork, etc.  during this time.
  • We are hopeful to return to our regular school schedule on Monday, April 20, but that will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.  When students do return, their teachers will certainly review, re-teach, and monitor progress carefully and deliberately.
  •  All extracurricular, athletic, service, and religious activities at school are canceled until at least April 20. 
  • Beginning next week (March 23 – 27), we will seriously cut back staffing in the school building.  We will be keeping the building open from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. with only two staff members upstairs and 2 staff members downstairs. We are all available by phone or email.
  • I cannot stress enough to you and your sons to keep up the great work you all have done this week. We know that nerves may begin to get a little frayed, teenage boys will start to get frustrated, and even we adults may become a little impatient.  As I’ve said before, this is a paradigm shift for us all, but your vigilance, dedication, and support are crucial during this time and we are very grateful.
  • If you have any pictures, anecdotes, or other things to share with us to lift spirits and encourage our community, please send them to me. 

The most important part of this plan is our continuation of distance learning.  Our obligation to you and your sons is to deliver the best education we can for the next three weeks.  As I’ve said before, I know this is not optimal and calls for an almost inordinate amount of hard work, patience, courage, and trust to get through. Our founder, Father Coindre once wrote, “…be courageous in the midst of your trials…endure all things, that is one of your primary responsibilities…Courage and trust, that is my motto.”  His words, written over 198 years ago echo through our halls today and live through you, your sons, and the faculty and staff of Saint Stanislaus.   

God bless you.  Let us all continue to keep each other and those we love in our prayers. 

Sincerely,
Gary Blackburn | Principal 

3/17/2020

SCHOOL CLOSURE UPDATE

In conjunction with the Diocese of Biloxi and local public school systems, Saint Stanislaus will continue with distance learning and cancel all classes, extracurricular activities, athletic practices and contests for the week of March 22 – 29.  Our teachers will continue their distance-learning plans and will begin to explore even more creative methods to engage your sons. I am grateful to those of you who have reached out to volunteer help and offered your support.  I am hopeful you try to keep the guys in (somewhat of) a routine of waking up reasonably early, logging in to do schoolwork, physical activity and any family time together.  When we return to regular classes, we want the transition to be as smooth as possible.   As we continue down this somewhat unknown path, your support, cooperation, and kindness are valuable assets for us at SSC and for your sons.  Please reach out to us if you are experiencing any difficulties with the current plan.  God bless you. 

In His Heart,   
Gary L. Blackburn | Principal 

ACADEMIC UPDATE

Dear Parents, 
As you can continue to watch, listen, and take in so much information about the coronavirus,  you may be hearing lots of things about extended closure for schools.  At this writing, there is nothing new; however, that could change very quickly and we will let you know. 
Mr. Blackburn let you know that our teachers were meeting yesterday (Monday) morning to make some plans for the week (and possibly beyond).  Here are a few details:   

  • All classroom teachers in all subjects are now set up in Google Classroom or in other methods of instructional delivery for distance learning.
  • Teachers will be sending assignments by tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at the latest.  Their deadline is 10 am.  A number of them have posted already. 
  • The expectation is that each teacher in each class will give a 30-minute assignment per day. In some special cases with assessments, projects, essays, etc., it may take longer than 30 minutes.  As your son has 7 classes with 7 different teachers, the transition to distance learning and each teacher’s method/style of instruction might be frustrating.  We understand that and have asked teachers to mainly give review-type assignments to get into a groove for this week. 
  • Teachers will be available from 9 a.m. to noon beginning Wednesday for questions, issues, concerns via email or other electronic responses.  They will communicate with the students to let them know the best method. 
  • We do have the offices open at school and will allow students to pick up any materials for the next two days if their teachers have instructed them to get something. However, our teachers have been directed to work from home, so they will not be on campus for face-to-face meetings.   
  • Some of you and some of our students have inquired about the course selection process for next year.  The administration is working right now to find the best way to handle that.  
  • Some of you and some of our students have also inquired about the service hour requirement for the current semester.  Mr. Blackburn, Mr. Roberts, and the administrative team will meet to discuss this.  Our focus, at this time, is academic progress. 
  • Just another reminder that all extra-curricular activities are canceled until further notice.  The Mississippi High School Activities Association sent a document to all schools yesterday that all athletic practices, conditioning, games, etc. are canceled at least through March 29th.   

As we’ve mentioned several times, this is a whole new world for us. If you do have any questions or concerns, please call or email Mr. Blackburn, Mr. Daigle, or me.  Thank you so much for your patience. Stay safe and remember your social-distancing. 

An Irish Blessing for you on St. Patrick’s Day
May God give you…
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

 Sincerely, 
Nancy G. Artigues | Academic Assistant Principal 

3/16/2020

Dear SSC Parents & Families, 
First and foremost, regarding our cancellation of all activities for the coming week, nothing has changed. I do, however, want to give you a few details and expectations for the coming week.  
As I’ve said several times in our previous emails regarding the virus, our best weapons are good judgment and common sense. According to all sources to prevent the spread of the disease, it is necessary to practice safe social distancing.  We are asking you to please keep this in mind while your sons are away from the school.  We know they are teenagers and, sometimes, they believe they are invincible.   However, the spread of the virus can only be abated by limiting close contact.  If our canceling of classes, athletics and extracurriculars become simply an opportunity for social gatherings, sleepovers, parties, and the like, then we will have accomplished little by keeping students away from school. I certainly say these things with all due respect to you as parents.  You all are hard-working and are facing many obstacles such as continuing at your jobs, making sure the household is kept up, and in some cases, trying to find adequate childcare in these tremendously difficult times.  I do not want to fear-monger, but here is a link to illustrate the importance of quarantining / social – distancing: Covid19 simulator.   Our teachers will meet tomorrow to make final plans to switch to distance learning the best way they each know how.  It is certainly not going to be a perfect system as I’m sure you realize, but like any day at SSC, quality instruction is a partnership.  Our teachers will be sending lessons, projects, assignments and some assessments via Google classroom or other methods of electronic delivery.  It is absolutely essential that your sons start checking their email NOW for sign-in codes for Google classroom and for directions from their teachers daily. We have great kids, but I’ve learned through personal experience, they don’t always check their Rock-a-Chaw email in a timely fashion.  We expect teachers to start sending out instructional materials no later than Wednesday morning; some have posted information already.   If the boys are only out for a week, then this becomes good practice.  At this juncture, that decision will come on a week-to-week basis.  
I want to stress that the school, itself, is not closed. The administration, advancement team, and office staff will be working throughout the week from 8 am – 4 pm, so please stay in contact with us as you need.  We have some students who will remain with us in the dorm.  We will take this week with our maintenance staff to continue our thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the school and all the facilities. Teachers will be in contact with their classes and may schedule times when they are at school or online for specific questions.  As I said, instruction is a partnership and we will also stress with the teachers the vital importance of their roles. They will be communicating with your sons and your sons need to be communicating with them. 
If your son has any belongings at school, he may pick them up tomorrow from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Please send him only if necessary.  I’m asking that you do not drop off your son and leave him for any period of time. There will be no proper supervision for him here at school. 
I woke up this morning hoping that this was all a bad dream (as I’m sure many of you did). I hope, as people of faith, you join me in praying for a hasty end to this crisis and that good judgment, calmness, and civility will prevail.  I consider myself fortunate and blessed to be part of this SSC Community and I am grateful for your support and kindness. God bless you and your families.  
Most sincerely, 
Gary L. Blackburn | Principal 

3/14/2020

Dear Parents,
In conjunction with the Diocese of Biloxi and local public school systems, Saint Stanislaus will be canceling all classes, extracurricular activities, athletic practices and contests for the week of March 16 – 20.  Our teachers will be meeting Monday morning to finalize distance-learning plans and other academic concerns. If your son needs to pick up any supplies/books he may have left at school, he (or you) can pick them up Monday morning.  I will send out another email tomorrow with more details regarding the week and/or any other details/issues that arise.   Just as I’ve said in previous emails, this situation can change rapidly.  As of this writing, time away from school will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. Again, I am grateful for your patience and cooperation during these very trying times.  Please continue to pray for those suffering from this illness and a rapid end to this crisis.
Thank you so much.  
Gary L. Blackburn | Principal 

3/13/2020

Dear Parents,
I know that we are bombarding you with information but things change rapidly.   As our neighbors in Louisiana are shutting down schools and stopping large gatherings, I know your questions and concerns are increasing.  I have been in contact with the diocese, state health department and our local emergency management for most of the day. As of this writing, we are planning to have school next week. However, this is a fluid situation, and as you have no doubt learned, it changes literally by the minute.   Here are some changes we have made: 
1) We will not have Mass at OLG on the 17th.  We are abiding by health department guidelines not to have crowds of 250+ in a closed, fairly tight, space as the church would be.   With students, faculty, staff and guests, there would be well over 400 in the church. 
2) We have postponed the Hall of Fame Mass and Reception scheduled for March 21.  Our plan is to reschedule it for another time. 
3) We have postponed the Booster Club Drawdown scheduled for March 28. We will reschedule this event.  Please hold on to any tickets you’ve purchased, they will most certainly be honored for the new date and time. 
4) Athletic events for this evening and the weekend are still taking place as normal.  Again, this will be evaluated on day to day basis with guidance from the state and the MHSAA. This could also change quite rapidly. 
5) The Band Trip for the first week of April has been canceled. I believe Mr. Shuffitt has sent specific information to all band parents.  

All other activities are being evaluated on a day to day basis.  There are some parents who do not open this email; please check with your friends to make sure they have gotten and read it.  We will also post on social media.  Should we close the school for any reason, I will send out an emergency message on School Messenger, send this type of email, and post on our social media platforms. Once again, thank you for your patience and support in these unusual times. 
God bless us all, 
Gary L. Blackburn | Principal 

3/12/2020

Dear Parents,
Now that COVID-19 is present in Mississippi, the leadership at Saint Stanislaus has begun intentional and thoughtful preparation if there is a chance we need to close the school. We will weigh many factors in making the decision to either operate remotely or simply shut down for a prescribed amount of time. We are consulting with medical experts and government officials, and we will communicate that decision directly to you if and when we would reach such a conclusion. We do not anticipate having to close the school; however, we will be prepared for such an event. We are carefully and meticulously following all CDC, Mississippi Health Department, and diocesan guidelines. We are also monitoring the situation and consulting with appropriate agencies with regard to all events in which we participate, athletic and extra-curricular.  We will make any decision to postpone school-sponsored events and trips on a case-by-case basis, and we will update you as soon as possible through email or the school website and social media.   With regard to continuing our instruction, our teachers have been trained in the complete Google classroom suite of instructional delivery but it may not be standard practice for some. Mrs. Artigues and I are working to provide them with critical instruction should the need arise for distance learning of any type. BUT, please keep in mind, given any prolonged closure of school it may be necessary for the school to continue operations outside of the established 2019-2020 School Calendar.  It may affect scheduled breaks; we may have to schedule weekend classes, and we may have to extend the school year beyond the scheduled last day.  No decisions have been made, and we will do our best not to alter the remainder of the school calendar.  
The educational tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart provides the personal attention that promotes each individual student’s academic potential. So while remote learning and virtual instruction are not optimal, it could become a reality as our world continues to change before our eyes.   As partners in mission, I am confident that with courage and trust we will make the best of whatever circumstances we might face – just as we have in the past. Saint Stanislaus has survived major hurricanes, the Civil War, yellow fever outbreaks and a number of other setbacks but we continue to thrive.  Your support and good judgment are our best assets as we combat this disease.   

The safety of our school community is our number one priority, and we will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure that goal is achieved. Thank you so much for everything you do for Saint Stanislaus and for trusting us with your sons.   
God bless, 
Gary L. Blackburn | Principal