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Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

Prep prepares for Open House amid pandemic


With the hybrid school year off to a successful start, the next challenge the Cathedral Prep community faces turns out to be the school’s open house event.

Every October, the open house is used to show incoming freshman what Prep has to offer. It is also a great opportunity for the parents to meet the teachers and to get to know the building and what the school offers as well. Issues arising with the safety of an in-person open house and altering it to fit guidelines will prove to be a feat.

The idea for Open House during a pandemic had been a topic of interest in some meetings, Mr. Dougherty, Vice President of Enrollment Management, has said.

“Over the summer, open house is something we were discussing, but starting the year off successfully was definitely the priority,” Mr. Dougherty said. 

After the school year had started successfully, the next task was making sure Open House could be as safe as possible. 

They had been brainstorming on whether they would want the 2020 Open House in-person, or virtual. Mr. Pituch, Vice President of Academics and Student Affairs, has explained that with an all-virtual Open House, kids and families aren’t able to get in the building and create connections. 

Mr. Dougherty also explains how he hoped for an in-person event but knew that it may not be possible with an unknown future. He had said that they had thoughts of no Open House this year. It tends to be a big factor on why students attend Prep and is that is why they decided to make Open House happen

“We did consider how we would do a digital open house,” Mr. Dougherty said. “We were fully prepared to do a virtual open house.”  

Once it was agreed upon to keep the Open House in-person, the next hurdle was to ensure safety not just for the families but also for the students, staff, coaches, and everyone else in the building. 

Mr. Dougherty explained that Prep has taken all the necessary measures to keep everyone safe. Spacing stickers, increased sanitation stations, and prepackaged lunches have all already been accounted for. Also, having the building sanitized before the families start coming in are plans for Prep.

However, one thing that does suffer are activities that are often found during the open house. Previous years have had science experiments or tests, and some hands-on fun such as video game club allowing kids to play. Mr. Pituch says due to safety precautions, some activities will change completely.

“Some of the cool stuff is going to be a little less cool,” Mr. Pituch said.

Mr. Dougherty also shares in this as he says that students, in some way, will not be able to see everything and experience everything the open house usually has to offer. 

“Preparing for the open house during the pandemic, and having to make changes to mitigate the spread of COVID results in us not being able to provide a more interactive social experience,” Mr. Dougherty said.

Another thing that suffers is the usual assembly after the Open House is completed. They have eliminated it to put health and safety first, though other aspects remain intact.

“We are still going to do the scholarship drawings and stuff like that,” Mr. Pituch said. “We are just going to communicate it over social media.”

There are also common fears amongst the faculty, primarily a potential outbreak happening due to the Open House. Mr. Dougherty says that no one would feel good if they found out someone got COVID at the event. Mr. Pituch had a bit of a different view on the matter. While he does have the fear of someone who is COVID positive entering the building, he is a bit more scared of potential hostility. 

“The biggest concern I have is if we have a family or individual that comes in the day of and they get belligerent about not wearing a mask, something along those lines.” Mr. Pituch said.

However, through all the stress and the planning, Prep and Villa seem to be prepared for the open house.

“I’m still very confident we are going to have a great product that we are rolling out to families,” Mr. Pituch said.

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