Principal's Message

August 19, 2022

Dear Mater Dolorosa Catholic School Families,

Welcome Back! The summer has gone by quickly, and I hope you are well rested and refreshed and ready for another wonderful school year.

We want to welcome all families, both new and old, to the Mater Dolorosa Catholic School Community for the 2022-2023 School Year. We are so happy and humbled you have chosen Mater Dolorosa for your child's education! It is our prayer you will enjoy being an active member of the MD Community and have a wonderful experience this year, both academically and spiritually.

At Mater Dolorosa Catholic School, we are committed to providing students with spiritual and academic excellence. We firmly believe in the mission and philosophy of Catholic Education, the education and well-being of the whole child, compassion towards others, and the uniqueness and integrity of each human being. We are dedicated to the exemplary education of your children whom you have entrusted to our care.

We are excited to begin this new school year returning to our normal routines, catching up with old friends and families, and offering our warmest of welcomes to new ones. Welcoming families back into the building is one of our greatest joys. We missed seeing parents and your participation in all the other things you do to help our school run smoothly. We will still be following best practices when it comes to COVID prevention.

COVID-19 Protocols/Procedures: We, along with the Diocesan Schools Office and Bishop's Office, are constantly monitoring the situation; therefore, we will continue with last year's best practices such as cleaning, sanitizing, and hand washing. We would like to restate that these protocols and/or procedures can change, if needed, for the health of our school community.

     Masks will continue to be optional for all students, faculty, and staff. If a family, student, or employee feels more comfortable wearing a mask, we of course welcome it and encourage it.

     We will be following our local health department regarding quarantines and contact tracing.  We will continue to follow best practices regarding cleaning of classrooms and buildings, especially high-touch surfaces.

     We will continue best practices regarding hand-sanitizing, and hand washing throughout the day.

     The nurse or office staff will continue to check temperatures if a child feels unwell. We reserve the right to check a student's temperature if a fever is suspected. We will continue to as for your assistance in keeping children home when they are sick, and to follow our health protocols in our handbook.

     Field trips will be permitted and encouraged, if it is still safe to do so.

     Students will be allowed to eat in the cafeteria again and not be required to sit feet apart.

     We will continue to attend School Liturgy together monthly.

     Students will go directly to their classroom upon entering in the morning.

The first day of school for K-8 students will be Monday, August 29th . Families were notified in early August via parent email about a change in the first week of school schedule. School will be closed on Friday, September 2nd , to lengthen the Labor Day weekend and shorten the first week of school, in order to ease students (and parents) back into the school routine. Preschool students will start on Tuesday, September 6th .

Mater Dolorosa School Back-to-School Events:

     Our Preschool Meet & Greet for students and parents will be on Tuesday, August 30th from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Parents and students will start with a brief meeting in the social center and then transition to the classrooms to drop off supplies. see the classroom and ask the teacher specific questions related to that classroom. Please enter through the Social Center doors.

     Our new School Board is sponsoring a Back-To-School Tailgate Event on September 7th from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. This event will be held in the school parking lot and is a fun and new way for families to mingle and get to know each other at the start of the new school year. This will also be an opportunity to drop off classroom supplies (paper towels, wipes, etc.). More information via an event flyer will be forthcoming. We thank our School Board for working over the summer on this new event.

     Open House will be in October, date TBD. More details to follow.

Arrival and Dismissal

     Kindergarten through 8th grade will continue to drop-off from 7:30 to 7:50 a.m. at the front door (park side of the school). Parents will drive down Maple St. And do a QUICK drop-off at the sidewalk leading to the school. If you need to park, to assist your child getting out of the car, please pull up further to do this. It holds up others if you stop and get out of the car. The loop is for drop and go traffic only. If you want to walk your child to the door, or into school, we ask that you park in the social center parking lot and come down the sidewalk along Maple St. Thank you for your understanding!

     Dismissal begins at 2:15 for Preschool and 2:30 for K-8 students. Parents will park in the parking lot off Lyman St. K-8 Teachers will walk students out and across the street. Parents must come to the yellow painted box to gather their student. Children will not be allowed to walk through the parking lot, down the sidewalk or cross the street without a parent with them.

     Preschool students can be dropped off between 7:30-7:50 at the Social Center door. Parents will park in that lot and walk their student to the door. Teachers will greet you and students will be handed off in the social center lobby.

Bus: If you reside in Holyoke, and your child will ride the bus for the new school year, please make sure you have informed Bonnie. The bus routes and stops will be posted on the website when we receive them. Please check the bus routes and stops and contact Bonnie if your child's name is missing from the list as soon as possible.

Uniforms: In good condition, uniforms are available to be swapped. Parents were informed in early August of days and times that "Our Lady's Uniform Closet" was open for business. We still have quite a collection of uniform items available. All students from Kindergarten to 8th Grade must wear a school uniform outlined in the student handbook, posted on the website. Shirts will need to have the MD embroidered on them. We have some volunteers who have been embroidering throughout the summer. We have tried to at least get two shirts per family's order embroidered to start the school year off. Please be patient as we make every effort to complete orders. School uniform shorts may be worn from the start of the school year throughout the month of October, as we recognize that warm temperatures fluctuate throughout the fall. Uniform pants must be worn beginning November 1 st . Our female students may wear school uniform pants in addition to skirts and jumpers throughout the year. On PE days, students will wear their PE attire to school and must wear athletic shoes. This is a safety and a health issue.

Water Bottles: Our water fountains are still fitted for water bottles only, so don't forget to send your child to school with a water bottle with their name on it! The school office does not supply students witn water bottles.

Communication is very important to us. A few important ways we share information are my Principal Newsletters and FACTS Parent Alerts and the Parent Portal. Please make sure we have a correct email and phone numbers for you on file. Teachers also post to their individual webpage on the school website and/or use a classroom communication tool like Bloomz or Class Dojo. Your child's teacher will let you know what they do in their class. We also like to use Facebook so make sure you "friend" us!

Faculty Changes: This summer has been very busy with posting positions, interviewing, and contract negotiations. The application process is very lengthy, and I apologize for the lack of updated information as quickly as you would have liked, but we had some unforeseen changes in staff last week that required immediate attention. Please be assured of my commitment to you and your children first and foremost. With that being said, we would like to announce faculty changes/additions to our Mater Dolorosa School Community.

     Ms. Gayle Pula will be our 3rd grade teacher this year.

     Grade 2 — Mrs. Marie Schlosstein had been moved to second grade for the new school year, but has left to accept another position, We thank Mrs. Schlosstein for her year of service and wish her well in her new adventure. We are in the process of searching for qualified candidates for Grade 2. We have a plan in place to begin the school year with experienced substitute teachers to help guide your children until the position can be filled. Additionally, I will be closely monitoring the classroom (and maybe even teaching a bit) during this transition time. Thank you for your understanding and support.

     Grade 1 — Ms. Stephanie Jarvis has left to accept another position. We thank Ms. Jarvis for her year of service and wish her well in her new adventure. Mrs. Catherine Peters will be our new Grade 1 teacher. Mrs. Sara Cubi will be the full-time aide in Grade 1.  Grade 5— Mr. Matthew Masse will be our new Grade 5 HR and Religion teacher and will teach 5-8 El-A.

     Grade 6 — Mr. Eric Wood is our new Grade 6 HR and Religion teacher and will teach 5-8 Social Studies/History.

     Mrs. Andrea James is our new Spanish teacher.

     Ms. Jen Marion is our new PE teacher.

     Mr. Paul Meara is our new Technology teacher and IT Support person.

Please join us in welcoming them to our school family.

IPad & Chromebook Program: We have a I-to-I Computer Device Program in K-8. Ali kindergarten students will receive iPads and students in grades 1-8 will receive a Chromebook.

All students and parents must sign the Acceptable Use Policy in order to be assigned a device. Students will be using their device in the classroom and will be able to take the device home during the school year.

Breakfast and Lunch: We have a federal USDA lunch program, and offer delicious, healthy meals. ALL lunch and breakfast meals are still FREE to all students. We will post the monthly breakfast and lunch menus to our website. Students may arrive at 7:30 a.m. to eat breakfast. Breakfast will continue to be "grab & go" style and eaten in the classrooms. We will continue to have two lunch periods in order to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one time.

FACTS SIS: We use an online web-based school gradebook program called FACTS, where you can access your child's grades. If you are a new family, log-in information will be sent to you during the first two weeks of school. If you are a returning student, please remember to keep your student(s) FACTS Username and Password from the 2021/2022 school year. These FACTS Usernames and Passwords will be enabled for the 2022/2023 school year in September. This is a very important tool in monitoring your child's progress.

Our PTO: We would like to welcome you and ask for your participation in our wonderful PTO. Families are encouraged to get involved and attending PTO meetings is one of the best ways to do so! The PTO will meet monthly in the evenings in the school cafeteria. During the Preschool Meet & Greet, Back To School Tailgate Event, and Open House, members of the PTO Board will be around to answer questions and introduce themselves. The PTO also has a Facebook page and website. We are looking forward to the activities of our fabulous PTO this year!

Student/Parent Handbook: The updated handbook will soon be posted to the school website. We ask that you review it with your child and return the signature page.

Our hope is that you are all enjoying the beautiful summer weather and time with family and friends. The anticipation of seeing all your smiling faces and hearing your voices in the hallways again is building and we are looking forward to seeing you soon for the 2022/2023 School Year. We are blessed with a dedicated and faith-filled faculty and staff, and equally outstanding and faith-filled students and families at Mater Dolorosa Catholic School. My heart is filled with gratitude for your continuous support, and I am humbled to serve our school com munity as your principal. If you have any questions, or if I can be of any additional service, please do not hesitate to call the school at 413-532-2831. Together, we will have a blessed and successful year.

Peace and blessings,

Mrs. Mary Fedora, Principal