Students and Faculty Navigate Successful First Week of Remote Learning

In response to the spread of COVID-19, Regis High School transitioned to remote instruction beginning on Monday, March 16. Despite the inherent challenges of not meeting in person, the first four days of remote learning — Regis was previously scheduled to be closed for St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, March 17 — went quite well, with students and faculty rallying together to continue their important work from their homes.

“I am incredibly grateful to our dedicated faculty for their flexibility, generosity, and resilience as they continue to educate, care for, and form the young men of Regis High School,” Regis Principal Fr. Anthony D. Andreassi, CO, said at the conclusion of the week. “I am equally thankful for our wonderful students who inspire us with their perseverance and their commitment to learning and to one another during these historically challenging times.”

The Regis faculty, aided by the expertise and tireless work of the school’s Information Technology Office, had participated in thorough training sessions and prepared extensively in advance for this shift. Beginning on Monday, Regis classes continued to meet at their scheduled times through the use of Zoom, a video conferencing service, and other remote learning tools identified by the IT staff.

“I felt prepared — prepared knowing I was going to work together with our entire community,” said Dr. Stefano Cascapera of the Regis Science Department. “We all did try to do our best, using our experience, talking to our colleagues, following the recommendations of the IT department and the administration. The most important factor that gives me that positive feeling, though, is the knowledge of our phenomenal students — their emotions, their drive, and their great ability to be independent and to work together, and ultimately to overcome difficulties.”

Mr. David Bonagura ’99, the chair of the Regis Language Department, said his classes in Zoom went smoothly, allowing him to teach new material and review homework assignments with relative ease. He agreed with Dr. Cascapera’s assessment that the excellent cooperation from students was crucial.

“Remote learning has been successful thus far due, mostly, to the resilience of Regis students and their determination to excel no matter the challenges presented to them,” Mr. Bonagura said.

The first week of remote instruction has, of course, required significant adjustments for Regians. While many miss being in the building with their classmates, friends, and teachers, some also have embraced new opportunities presented by the need to remain home.

“I can now sleep in 2 hours later than usual, and I can completely cut my long commute out of the picture,” Timmy Lake ’21 said. “I’ve found time to read, exercise much more, go for walks during free periods, make myself a homemade lunch each day, do yoga, and hang out more with my family. It’s so nice to spend more time taking care of myself than I usually do.”

Lake also praised the Regis faculty for the adaptability they’ve shown in the face of this new learning environment, especially in focusing on the students’ well-being. “It’s nice that teachers have been taking into consideration the students’ attention span,” he said. “It’s not natural to stare at a screen for a whole hour.”

In addition to participating in classes via Zoom, Regis students also have leveraged technology to stay connected with one another. While unable to eat together in the Regis cafeteria, some groups of friends met for lunch each day via FaceTime. It’s clear that the communal aspects of Regis — in addition to the academic work — will march on during this unique chapter in the school’s history.

“The one thing that has really become clear is that we care about each other,” Liam McGraw ’21 said. “In virtually every class, we have discussed the ‘situation,’ checking in on each other, and offering tips for escaping the monotony of this experience. To be clear, most have not been successful, but that’s not the point. What matters is that we do it at all.”

Regis faculty and students know that this is just the beginning. Regis President Fr. Daniel K. Lahart, SJ, announced Wednesday that the school building will not reopen before April 20, meaning that several more weeks of remote instruction lie ahead. But if the first week is any indication, Regis will continue to thrive while navigating the unsure roadways ahead.

“We are part of a community that is committed to academic excellence, and this experience has shown us that space and time has no bearing on our ability to do superb academic work,” Jake Lang ’21 said. “Although students, faculty, and staff are not physically present to each other during this time, the last week has shown me that we all remain committed to both the individual success of our peers and the Regis community as a whole.”

Mr. David Bonagura '99 teaches a class of Regians via Zoom.

Dr. Stefano Cascapera shares slides with students during a remote class.

Timmy Lake '21 hard at work at his desk at home.

Jake Lang '21 studies at home after a day of remote learning.

A group of staff members holds a digital meeting during the first week of remote instruction.

Posted: 3/22/20