St. Bernard Prep School affirms commitment to in-person instruction

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(Photo courtesy of Joyce Nix/St. Bernard Prep School)

CULLMAN, Ala. – St. Bernard Prep School this week affirmed its commitment to continuing in-person instruction as long as possible while remaining mindful of issues related to COVID-19 and in compliance with state mandates. The school has a strict mask policy for students in classrooms and buildings, and for faculty and staff working in close proximity to students. Classrooms are cleaned and sanitized each evening, and students and faculty have access to hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes throughout the day.

So far, the measures seem to be working; while several students and teachers have been quarantined after exposures that occurred outside of school, no one at the school has yet been diagnosed with COVID.

St. Bernard Headmaster Fr. Joel Martin, who discussed continuation of in-person classes with faculty on Wednesday, told The Tribune in a message, “St. Bernard Prep School is committed to the well-being of each of its students, and that includes on-campus education, for which there is no substitute. Education happens best when a teacher and a student interact in person. During this time of COVID-19 concerns, we at St. Bernard heed all the professionally recommended precautions such as facemasks and distance between persons. We have been blessed by having no student or staff member test positive for the virus, though a few have been in quarantine for the recommended two-week period after having been in significant contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus.”

Even while students and faculty members have been in quarantine, their respective opportunities to learn and teach have continued through the use of classroom technology and Google Classroom, by which quarantined teachers have lectured to classes of students, and students at home have been able to join their classmates at school virtually. 

Said Fr. Martin, “Our faculty have been trained for distance learning for students in such conditions and are conducting and videoing regular classes online for them, including student-teacher interaction.  To keep their online skills sharp, teachers conduct their classes in that fashion even when no student is absent.”

Before the start of school this year, Fr. Martin said, “Times are a bit challenging, but St. Bernard has been in Cullman since 1891, living through two world wars, an influenza pandemic in the early 20th century and many national and local upsets, but we’re here, and will be, carrying out our mission of offering the best and fullest education possible: something that is found in Catholic schools – and nowhere else on earth.”

St. Bernard Preparatory in Cullman is a co-ed college prep school, grades 7-12 for day and boarding students, operated by the monks of St. Bernard Abbey since 1891, and open to people of any creed, nation or race. For more information, visit https://stbernardprep.com or call 256-739-6682.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com