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August 2020

Thursday, August 13, 2020




August 6, 2020

Dear Parents,

Please find below, the reopening plan for Hoboken Catholic Academy.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey we sent out two weeks ago.  Your comments were informative and quite helpful in guiding our reopening plan.  As was previously indicated, we will open with a hybrid plan that combines in-school and remote learning.  The option selected by a majority of parents was the alternating day plan.  Just under 10% of our parents opted to have their children remain at home and learn remotely every day.  Having each student in school for a portion of each week will insure that they have direct contact with their teachers each week and teachers will have the ability to better meet students’ needs. 

There were several comments that were made by multiple parents.  The most referenced comment came from parents with more than one child with the need to have them all in school on the same days.  We have been able to insure that all siblings will be in school on the same days and home on the same days.  To make that possible, again through the suggestions of several parents, each class will be divided into two pods, with one pod (Pod) A coming to school on Monday and Tuesday and every other Wednesday and the other pod (Pod B) coming to school on Thursday and Friday and every other Wednesday.   Students will learn at home on the days they are not in school.  It will not be necessary for any classes to meet in the gym so small group PE classes will take place.  We are working on the class lists to make sure to accommodate the placement of siblings on the same pod and the class and pod assignments will be sent out with the welcome back letter during the third week in August.

The next most referenced question was “What will remote learning look like?”  Remote learning will be different this time around because teachers will teach their lessons to the students in school and will simultaneously live-stream those lessons to the children at home.  They will build in various times to clarify points and answer questions from the students at home using Zoom or Google Meet.  Students in grades K-8 who will learn remotely each day will hand in work through Google Classroom.  Teachers will meet with the remote learners via Zoom or Google Meet at the end of each day to answer questions.  On the transition days, teachers will provide students the workbook pages, learning sheets and any other materials they will need to work along with the class while they are at home.  Please note that for kindergarten and Pre-K, in addition to the teacher, the aide will be with the students when they are in school.  The teachers will teach the lessons, read the stories and provide instructions for activities, etc. to the entire class or to the in-class or remote pod students and the aide will work with which ever group is not working with the teacher.  As they do in the classroom, the teacher and aide will work as a team to meet the needs of each student. 

In the event we are forced to shut down, teachers will, if they are permitted to do so, live stream their lessons from their classrooms.  If not, they will live stream their lessons from home.  All teachers will use Zoom.  In addition, teachers in grades K-8  will utilize Google Classroom.  Lower grades will utilize a variety of programs including See Saw and Brain Pop.

All students will follow the schedule, which will be provided by their teacher.

A number of parents asked about the safety protocols that will be in place.  To that end, please note the following:

Per a directive from the Archdiocesan Schools Office, all staff and students above age 2 must wear masks.  Parents should supply masks for their children, however, we will have a supply on hand for anyone needing one.  It is understood that particularly young children will have difficulty keeping the mask on at all times.  Teachers and aides will assist students as needed.  In addition to masks, teachers will wear face shields.

Students will eat lunch that they bring from home at their desks.  Students must bring lunch with them when they come to school.  We ask that parents refrain from dropping off student lunches once the day begins.

Dividers will be installed between the sinks in the hallway lavatories.

Lavatories will be monitored and no more than two students at a time will be permitted in each room.

Regular hand washing times will be scheduled.

Each classroom and the gym will have hand sanitizer dispensers.

Children must have their own pencil boxes and cannot share any supplies.

PreK and K Teachers will put together a plan to have individual toys for students to limit toy sharing.  Toys will be cleaned daily.

The rooms and all surfaces will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized each night using a spray that kills the Covid-19 virus.  The custodian will utilize a backpack sprayer.  The custodian will clean all common surfaces, railings, door handles and hallway bathrooms throughout the day.  Additional custodial help will be added as needed.

Disinfectant mats will be placed at the entry doors.

Students will only be permitted to use the automatic bottle fill function of the water fountains, so each student must have his/her own water bottle.

All grade 1-8 classrooms  have been arranged with desks facing forward, four to six feet apart.  Tables will be used in Pre-K and K, with two seats per table.    

Desk shields have been purchased for each student.  Clips will be affixed to each student desk and table and students will place their shield onto their desk or table upon return to school.  Students will remove their shields when they leave for remote learning.  The shields will be cleaned daily and on transition days, stored in the students’ “belongings box,” until they return to school.

Each student will have a copy paper sized box to house their in-school items that they will keep in a designated place in their assigned class space.  Teachers will designate places in their classrooms to store student belongings.

Lockers will not be used.

HCA does not have an air circulation system.   We do have air conditioners in each classroom which have all been serviced and whose filters have been cleaned.  There are powerful exhaust fans in the gym, which draw air through the building and out through the gym roof.  In addition to running the air conditioners in each classroom, windows and doors will be left open and the exhaust fans will run throughout the day to allow air to circulate freely throughout the building.  The air conditioning system in the gym is being replaced and should be completed before the start of school.  It will be used intermittently to allow for cooling as well as air to be exhausted from the building.

Arrival and departure times will be staggered and multiple entry and exit doors will be utilized.  Places, six feet apart, will be marked on the side of the building near the entrances and on the blacktop in the courtyard.  Markers at six foot intervals will be placed on the hallway floors .

Teachers and staff will be assigned to each entry door to take student temperatures as they arrive.  Teachers will record the name and temperature of any student with a temp 100 degrees or higher and the nurse will be notified.  She will contact the parent if they are not with the child or send the child home with the parent if they are present.

Strict adherence to our sick child procedures noted in our handbook will be followed.

Teachers will check their own temperature daily upon arrival to school and share the results with the office staff.

All visitors to the school will have their temperatures taken. 

Please note that students will be permitted to wear gym uniforms at all times. As was indicated by one of our physician parents, ties cannot be worn in hospitals because of their potential to carry germs.  As a result, no student, boy or girl, or any adult will be permitted to wear a tie in school. 

As was mentioned earlier, the welcome back letter, with the school calendar, class and pod assignments, arrival and dismissal times and doors, staffing changes and other important information will be sent home during the third week in August. 

I will host grade level Zoom meetings on the following days and times to review the plan and answer questions.  The Zoom link will be emailed to parents after the welcome back letter is mailed out.

Tuesday, August 25              6:00 PM          Grades 6-7-8

                                            7:00 PM          Grades 4-5

Wednesday, August 26        6:00 PM          Grade 3

                                           7:00 PM          Grade 1-2

The teachers and I will host virtual Pre-K and Kindergarten orientations on Thursday, August 27th at the times indicated.  The teachers will provide an overview of their programs, give a virtual tour of their respective classrooms and we will answer questions.  The Zoom link for each session will be emailed to the parents after the welcome back letter is sent home.

9:00 AM         PK3

10:00AM        PK4

11:00AM        Kindergarten

The first day of school for all students assigned to Pod A will be Thursday, September 10th.  The first day of school for all students assigned to Pod B will be Friday, September 11th.  There will be no remote learning on the first two days of school.  Teachers will use those days to acclimate their students to the schedule, hand out books, iPads and materials and the personal belongings boxes.  Details about the calendar will be provided in the welcome back letter.

Finally, thank you again for your patience during this stressful time.  The teachers and I want to put all of this behind us and resume to our Pre-Covid routines.  We miss the children and know that they miss school.  We know that you have been placed in a horrible position, having to balance work and child care on the days the children are at home, the whole while praying that our children and teachers are safe.  Please know that we will do everything we can to make our students successful while keeping them safe.  They will know that they are loved.

God bless you all.


Matthew McGrath




March 5, 2020

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Dear Parents,

International Night was amazing!  Thank you to Grainne Malloy and Katherine Leung for organizing such a wonderful event.  Thanks to all of our families who celebrated the heritage of the twenty two countries represented with such pride and joy.  The food was incredible, the native dress was wonderful and the cultural learning that took place was indeed special.  Each year, International Night at HCA has been great and this years’ event was our best one yet!  Thanks to everyone who joined us that night and helped in the set-up before and the clean-up, after the event.

Once again, the generosity of the HCA family was evident in the Campus Ministry hat, gloves and socks drive for Hoboken’s underserved community.  The bags of winter clothing were donated to St. Matthew’s Lunch Mission and Hoboken Community Center.  Both organizations were overwhelmed by your generosity.

Currently, Campus Ministry is collecting Teddy Bears for a very special event.  Nurse De Trizio works with a wonderful organization called “Butterflies Pediatric Hospice Program,” and each year they sponsor a dinner for the families impacted by a serious illness or the loss of a child.  The Teddy Bears are given to the siblings and family members and because of your generosity, our students are able to bring a little joy to children who really need it.   The response has been  overwhelming.  In addition to the dozens of bears of all sizes, fourteen Build a Bear kits have been donated!  Thank you all, as usual,  for your generous response.

We said thank you and good bye to one of our teachers last week, well, sort of.  Mr. Alves, an HCA parent, has served as our Spanish teacher since the beginning of November.  He filled in when we had difficulty finding a Spanish teacher and did so in very fine fashion. Mr. Alves  will re-join the business world, but will continue to coach two of our basketball teams.  Please join me in wishing him well in his new position. 

We are fortunate that Mrs. Michelle Alfano, who subbed in the position prior to Mr. Alves coming on board, is now available to work for us through the end of the school year.  With some minor revisions to the master schedule, we are able to accommodate her schedule and continue our Spanish program without interruption.  Mrs. Alfano began her teaching assignment on Monday.

Our eighth graders will take the next step on their journey toward graduation when we will celebrate their ring ceremony during mass on Friday.  Please join me in wishing our eighth graders and their families well as they enjoy this important milestone.

The chicks are coming!  Actually, the chicken eggs and incubators have arrived and our two kindergarten classes met farmer Tom from Quiver farm in Pennsylvania and leaned about how chickens brood and chicks emerge from their eggs.  The students will have the opportunity to watch as the baby chicks emerge from their eggs and enjoy their company for several days before they return to the farm.  Students from the other classes will have an opportunity to visit the kindergarten classes to see the new arrival as well.

We have concluded the winter administration of the MAP Growth Assessment and are reviewing the results.  The home reports will be sent out on Friday.

Lastly, we have entered the Holy season of Lent, we will turn our clocks ahead next weekend, St. Patrick’s Day Parades have begun and spring training is in full swing.  Though we have enjoyed a mild winter, it is nice to know that the arrival of spring is just weeks away!

May you enjoy the blessings of God’s love during this holy Lenten season.  As always, thank you for your support.


Matthew McGrath