We started our plans to switch our live, face-to-face classroom instruction to a distance learning platform in mid-March when we heard of other private schools in the area considering the move. Some members of their school communities had family members that were possibly positive with the virus. In the midst of hearing this news, we simultaneously had many parents calling nervously about their concerns and our plans.

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This led to us to formulating an Infectious Disease Policy and instructing our teaching staff to prepare. By the grace of God, the teachers were ready for the transition within a five day period, a day or two just before the State of Hawaii called for all public and private schools to close.

For the majority of our teachers, the transition has been quite easy. All of our classes are accomplished through distance learning - Core (Mathematics, Science, English, History, Latin, and Bible), Electives (Drama, Coding, Culinary Arts, etc.), and even Taekwondo. We utilize Google Classroom to post and receive the assignments as well as a video conferencing venue (Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Google Chat, and Discord). Our teachers were required to submit their teaching plans to me to review and to have on record. It was emphasized that we needed to maintain consistent and regular interaction with the students. Teachers could not be in the place of just sending home a pile of books and a packet of school materials, and then expecting the parents to serve as the surrogate teacher. Doing this would only open ourselves up to discussions with the parents to the reason why they were to continue to pay the monthly tuition. I must say that our teachers, parents, and students from the Preschool to the 12th grade are very pleased with what we are providing and are doing.

As we have been conducting this form of education for almost a month, I have come to realize that teaching remotely is a lot of hard work. In a face-to-face class situation, we have the ability to teach some of the coursework extemporaneously since we are very versed in the subject matter. This is vastly different online as everything needs to be written in detail for the students to understand and follow. As remote teaching is challenging, the teacher needs to be well-disciplined in their daily devotion times with the Lord, and requires them to be flexible, creative, and excellent time managers. Teachers also have to be reminded to maintain the discipleship aspect of their responsibility by providing the time to tutor students in the coursework as well as being available for prayer and guidance through God’s Word. As an administrator, the majority of my time has been spent reminding students to be diligent, caring for the teachers, and handling situations with the parents.

This endeavor, although a stretch in our faith and an interesting venture, has caused our school leadership to investigate the contingencies in obtaining accreditation for remote learning with the possibility of offering it when things return to “normal”.

This COVID-19 situation has served as a reminder that Christ Jesus our Lord is to be the focus of our school ministry and our individual lives. Historically, this time of the school year has been reserved for thinking about year-end issues such as assessments, graduation, staffing needs as well as enrollment for the next year. Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough trouble of its own.” It’s best to spend my time praying for a revival to occur within my life, the lives of my staff, students, and parents. As God causes all things to work together for His good, this pandemic is meant for the ultimate purpose of people examining their lives before Jesus.

Pastor Ed Arcalas