By Jill Kruse-Domeyer
Witness Editorial Assistant
DYERSVILLE — The doors of Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville may be closed due to the COVID-19 health emergency, but the school’s administrators and teachers are making sure that students continue to have opportunities for learning while they are at home.
All Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, including Beckman Catholic High School, have been closed since Monday, March 16. Beckman Principal Marcel Kielkucki said he received guidance from Iowa’s Department of Education and the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools to not proceed with regular courses during this temporary school closure.
“There are a number of concerns about equity, as some schools have access to technology to do remote/online learning, while others do not,” Kielkucki explained. “Even if a student has access to the technology, say a laptop, they may not have internet access or reliable internet access to access coursework.” Therefore, with the exception of college-credit courses that some students are enrolled in, the recommendation, Kielkucki said, is that all learning opportunities at this time be optional in nature.
In response to these recommendations, school administrators at Beckman quickly implemented the concept of “C-Term” courses, which are now being taught online by the school’s teachers.
“When we proposed this idea, we asked staff to think of things they don’t have time to teach in the regular curriculum or to think of things they would like to teach but maybe it doesn’t fit with a traditional course,” Kielkucki said.
Teachers then worked on course descriptions for the classes, and those descriptions were sent out to students, who were encouraged to sign up for the classes that interested them.
“They are completely optional, and students can take as many or as few as they would like. Right now, they are ungraded and won’t get credit based on the guidelines. We have some students taking just one course while others are taking more than five,” the principal said. “Overall, we have over 60 percent of our students participating in these C-Term courses or with their college-credit courses.”
The C-Term courses being offered to Beckman’s students cover a variety of topics. There is a book study on “Frankenstein,” a virtual choir, and classes on subject matters as diverse as money management, dog training, computer science, physiology, drawing, creative writing, and evidence for the existence of God, as examples.
These C-Term courses are scheduled to last until Easter weekend, after which time, school is currently scheduled to reopen.
In the meantime, while school remains closed, Kielkucki encourages members of the Beckman community and everyone to pray while they are at home for those struggling during this difficult time. The school offers a community rosary weekly via YouTube and Facebook.
“This is uncharted territory for all of us,” Kielkucki said, “and if we stick together, we’ll make it through!”
Cover photo: Beckman Catholic High School theology teacher Tony Digmann leads a Religions of the World dual credit college class with Saint Louis University. The course meets Monday, Wednesday and Thursday through live Zoom meetings (as pictured). Students are doing additional work from home via software from Edmodo, an educational company. (contributed photo)