New school year at Bishop Noll Institute combines onsite and virtual learning

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President Paul Mullaney welcomes the Bishop Noll Institute class of 2024 to its first day of school. (Photo provided)

100-year-old institution offers a re-entry plan that brings faculty and students back to school in new ways

Above: President Paul Mullaney welcomes the Bishop Noll Institute class of 2024 to its first day of school. (Photo provided)

by Jennifer Florek

HAMMOND, Ind. (August 13, 2020) – Bishop Noll Institute (BNI) officially began its 100th school year Wednesday, August 12, opening its doors with stringent pandemic precautions.

Freshmen arrived at 1519 Hoffman Street Wednesday ready to begin their first year as Bishop Noll Warriors. In the next few days, most sophomores, juniors, and seniors will also return, while more than 100 students will remain home, having opted to receive their BNI education virtually for the first quarter.

Time-tested history

It was a century ago when four Sisters of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ arrived in the Calumet Region of Northwest Indiana to open a Catholic high school. Today their legacy continues to be honored by re-imagining the school’s mission to educate students in mind, body and soul. 

“I find it pretty incredible that this legacy of academic success is entering its 100th year. No organization of any kind lasts 100 years if it’s not a successful operation,” said Bishop Noll President Paul Mullaney. “And I find it heart-warming to know that the 140-plus freshmen who began their high school careers this week at Bishop Noll are part of a faith-filled and time-tested history that has endured because BNI, and Catholic Central before it, has remained true to the mission, true to the tens of thousands of students who have graduated from our beloved institution.”

Re-entry

Two task forces of Bishop Noll administrators and teachers worked this summer to create a customized re-entry plan. One team looked at how to adjust the existing facilities to meet safety guidelines and the other looked at how to evolve the academic process to meet Bishop Noll’s standards and keep students and teachers safe. Using the Lake County Health Department, IN-Class Re-entry Plan, and the CDC guidelines as blueprints, here are highlights of Bishop Noll’s COVID-19 Re-entry Plan:

  • Each family received the option to attend class in the building or virtually
  • All teacher instruction will be livestreamed for students in the building and those students who are learning virtually at home
  • All staff and students will wear face coverings
  • School building will close Wednesdays and all students will do virtual learning those days to allow for mid-week deep cleaning
  • A social distance of 6 feet will be maintained in classrooms and hallways at all times
  • Families are asked to self screen for illness at home
  • Students and staff will be pre-screened and temperature checked before entering building each day
  • Grades will enter school at staggered start times and entry doors
  • Maintenance teams have added cleaning and disinfecting protocols
  • Lockers will not be used
Bishop Noll Principal Lorenza Jara Pastrick performs temperature checks on arriving freshmen August 12. (Photo provided)

Some of the more intricate parts of the plan include student cohorts, designed to keep students on similar academic tracks with the same classmates throughout the day, minimizing movement throughout classrooms and the building. Instead of students moving throughout the day, teachers will move to different cohorts.

“Every student who walks through our doors is extremely valuable to us. Please know it is our goal to hold ourselves to the highest standard of health and safety to ensure all students feel comfortable as they return to the classroom,” Principal Lorenza Jara Pastrick wrote in a letter to parents. 

Bishop Noll freshmen learn new routes and social distancing rules on their first day of school August 12. (Photo provided)

Extra-curricular

Bishop Noll fall sports and the marching band began to hold outdoor practices this summer following a set of criteria and county, state and diocesan guidelines.

“Athletics resumed July 6 with time limitations and guidelines provided by the IHSAA,” said Athletic Director Eric Roldan ’12. “With the health and safety of our students being our highest priority, we have only allowed our fall sports to return at this time. We have continued to prescreen, mandate face coverings, enforce social distancing, sanitize equipment and facilities daily, and limit physical contact to strictly drills when necessary. Every week we evaluate the situation and make any changes necessary to these protocols. Our coaches are leading the way in making sure these expectations are being met.”

Faith

The Bishop Noll community continues to pray together whether that prayer be virtual or socially distanced. On Tuesday, Father Kevin Scalf, C.PP.S, Bishop Noll’s chaplain, led faculty and staff in a traditional faculty Mass to begin the school year. Next Saturday, student and adult retreat leaders will lead the Class of 2024 through a virtual freshman retreat.

One thing that has remained the same throughout Bishop Noll’s 100-year history is a focus on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith.

More information

More information about Bishop Noll’s re-entry plan, is available at www.bishopnoll.org/covid19.

Information on how to enroll at Bishop Noll is available from Director of Admissions Jeff Stur: [email protected].