September 2021

Story of a School's Success

Good Shepherd School's Survival During the Pandemic

By April A. Muzzio

While public schools in the area were forced to close, our Good Shepherd School thrived based on 5 key factors:

1. Pivot
The lockdown was mandated on March 13, 2020 and we were ready for full distance learning the following Monday, March 16, 2020. The 13th was a scheduled professional development day and we used that day and the weekend to prepare for distance learning. Our school didn’t miss a beat! Due to the small class sizes, we had a ThinkPad and/or Chromebook for every student!
For the 2020-2021 school year, we were able to pivot to hybrid learning. We had students in-person and others for whatever reason, (ie. High risk family member living at home) distance learning.

2. Safety Protocols and Guidelines
Did Good Shepherd have an outbreak of positive COVID cases? No. Because we took all the necessary precautions, and then some, set forth by the Santa Cruz County Board of Education, we had zero outbreaks. We had to think outside of the box and be proactive in implementing our drop-off procedures, our first line of defense. Like local restaurants providing curbside options, faculty and staff with the Principal greeted our students with a temperature check and health screening questionnaire every morning with a curbside drop-off and pick-up on our track.

3. Local Principal Collaboration
Weekly calls with the County of Office of Education, Superintendent, Faris Sabbah kept us informed of the latest news and updates from local and state public health and collaborating with other local principals to see what worked and what didn’t. This brought about camaraderie among colleagues.

4. Kids “in and out of the classroom”
The first students on campus for the 2020-2021 school year were our preschool back in August. Then we progressively brought back students per grade in weekly stages. Middle school was on campus by the end of September. By the end of the school year, we were 99% in-person with no outbreaks. Morning assemblies were virtual ensuring participation school-wide. However, we took advantage of our 10-acre campus to maximize the social distancing by having classes outdoors with pop-ups and also using the life lab. Physical education was twice a week for K-8 but they had the ability to engage in reading and art outdoors. In April, students in grade 5-8 were able to participate in golf.

5. Service to the Community
The pandemic didn’t stop by us from serving our community. We held jog-a-thon to raise funds for our parish food pantries. Each grade ran together as a cohort and successfully raised over $5,000. We continued to serve with a canned food drive as well.

The relative normalcy of being on campus has been healthy for all of our students especially improving their mental health. Our preschool earned the Sentinel Reader’s Choice Award for Best Children’s Daycare & runner up for Best Preschool in Santa Cruz County. Word got out about our overall successes and waitlists formed. For more information, please visit our website at or contact our office at 831-476-4000.

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