The annual Education Law Symposium, co-sponsored by LMU’s Center for Catholic Education and the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA), was held July 8-9, 2020, as a free, virtual event over Zoom. In its regular format, the symposium attendees gather in Kentucky over four days, but given the pandemic the switch to digital was necessary.
The number of attendees for the two-day event rose to 499, all of whom engaged with pre-recorded video presentations on the issues facing Catholic education during COVID-19 and a live panel discussion on the “Lessons Learned and Moving Forward.”
“I had the unique opportunity to be a part of the live panel at the symposium, and was able to provide the perspectives of both a principal and a parent,” said Nicole Johnson, principal of St. Aloysius School in Los Angeles.
Johnson, an alumna of LMU’s School of Education, where she earned her teaching credential, master’s degree in education, master’s degree in administration, and administrative credential, is parent to three children: a 7-year-old and 12-year-old twins, all of whom attend her school.
Of the live panel discussion, Johnson said: “I got a lot of valuable information on methods for keeping our students safe when they return to school, such as procuring PPE material and carrying out tracing.” Other topics included scheduling and curricular programs for keeping students engaged, information regarding schools’ liability should someone become infected with COVID-19, and the validity of waivers.
Participating as a parent allowed Johnson to share her experience with distance learning “as a mom who sat beside my 7-year-old as she attended numerous Zoom meetings, did virtual activities and assessments, and struggled to maintain focus.”
Johnson has been at St. Aloysius for 18 years, five as a teacher and 13 as principal. “The advice I gave to the symposium and to my principal counterparts is to be patient with teachers, parents, and students. We have to take care of and support the people who make our schools what they are. Once the needs of our teachers, parents, and students are met, they will be able to thrive whether learning in a synchronous or asynchronous environment.”
St. Aloysius is an LMU iDeal Institute Blended Learning School. It will reopen on Sept. 2 with distance learning, utilizing a blended-learning model with live instruction and small-group remediation for students.