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March 31, 2020 2:00p.m. – Weekly Family Update from Principal Christopher Smart, Ed.D

Dear Students and Families,

This past Friday, Pope Francis delivered an “Urbi et Orbi,” or “To the City and To the World” blessing, reserved only for very special occasions. In his blessing, he shared a meditation on the story of Jesus calming the storm, reflecting on how we are all in fact “in the same boat,” facing coronavirus. Beyond the significant discomfort of having our routines abruptly changed and our usual sense of control diminished, Pope Francis shared a greater invitation with all: “The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering.” You can read or view the Pope’s full blessing here.

We have just two more teaching days left before Easter Break. Our O’Dowd community’s solidarity and hope, and our ability to remain connected with one another amid this challenge, has been a true blessing for all. We have heard how challenging this time has been for families as both parents and students work from home. It is now more important than ever for all of us–adults and students alike–to be finding ways to show up and be our best selves. We encourage students to continue to speak with their teachers for help with their classes and counselors as needed for support. And we want to remind parents and guardians that if their students are experiencing significant emotional distress, they may contact our Director of Health & Wellness Mark Lederer for a virtual appointment.

Listening and Learning We have been listening to our students, teachers, and families during these first weeks of remote learning, collecting formal (survey) and informal feedback and taking a deep dive into best practices for remote learning and our peer schools’ experiences. From this input and data, we are adapting our plans for learning upon return from Easter Break. We are just putting the finishing touches on plans and look forward to sharing these with you all later this week. Our goal is to enhance our remote learning through a structure and schedule that provides teachers and students with substantive teaching and learning as well as the essential support and meaningful connection that strengthens our community bonds.

Celebrating the Class of 2020 All of us–families, teachers, and seniors–are justifiably concerned about our senior traditions and end of year celebrations of our soon-to-be graduates, the Class of 2020. Seniors and senior families, while we are still planning on returning May 4 at this point, rest assured that your administrators are also creating contingency plans should they be needed. Having watched all of you grow over the past four years, both as individuals and as a class, your teachers, counselors, and administrators are committed to celebrating your work and accomplishments. As the future becomes clearer to us all, we will share any necessary changes. We ask for and greatly appreciate your patience just a bit longer as we try to balance our great hope of our planned May 4 return with contingency planning that will honor our students’ remarkable time and memories at O’Dowd.

Student Emergency Fund for O’Dowd Families Many of you have asked how you might support O’Dowd families who have been impacted financially by the COVID-19 crisis. In service to our community, we will be sharing a way you can support affected families later this week.

My Catholic faith reminds me that hope is a virtue that must be lived out daily. As we move forward through this very particular Lenten trial, let us move into Easter as one, with our eyes set firmly on the common good, uplifting and sustaining one another.

Be well, be rested, and enjoy the Easter holiday, O’Dowd families,

Chris Smart, Ed.D. Principal

Weekly Highlights

<img class="aligncenter wp-image-36021 size-medium lazyload" src="" alt="Marsalis Roberson dunking" width="300" height="300" srcset=" 300w, 150w, 45w, 400w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Get inspired today! This story of determination and resilience about O’Dowd scholar and athlete Marsalis Roberson ’21 appeared on the front of the Sports Section of the Mercury News. Read about Marsalis’ remarkable journey

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Remote Learning Resources

  1. O’Dowd COVID-19 webpage – Here you can find all communications that have been sent as well as other supportive resource links for families

  2. Student Expectations for Remote Learning

  3. Student Support Guide: Counseling (Academic, Personal, College) and Services (Academic Support, Health and Wellness, Library)

  4. Remote Learning Resources for Parents and Guardians

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