Matthew Fischer, Conwell-Egan Catholic (CEC) High School principal, looked relieved on camera. As part of a virtual roundtable discussion on the 2020-2021 school year across Philadelphia and its suburbs, he appeared glad it was over. Fischer recapped his experience for WHYY.
COVID-19 drove CEC to hybrid learning early. Room capacities were halved. Facilities staff installed cameras quickly and beefed up classroom air conditioning.
“We were fortunate to have the resources to make our building safe,” Fischer noted.
The return to in-person learning this past September, however, was more measured.
There were mixed emotions from students and teachers. But trepidation never meaningfully impacted attendance, he reported.
Fischer and his staff meticulously monitored COVID-19 cases on campus. Through most of the fall, there were only two. In the post-Thanksgiving holiday, however, 12 or so cases presented. But Fischer said the outbreak never reached levels that would cause a shift to all-virtual learning.
He felt parental support with CEC’s health-safety measures. Parents appreciated the flexibility to have their children choose a hybrid or in-person approach.
Fischer listed a few takeaways from a 16-month school year like no other,
The CEC administration will be watchful for any lingering mental health issues among students.
And the creative marketing techniques the school devised during lockdown will likely stay. Fischer said the migration away from traditional campus visits instilled a sense of freedom and a dash of creativity in its messaging to potential students.
More on CEC’s navigation of the past school year is at WHYY.