CONCORD, CA—Three Concord parochial schools began instruction on their campuses this month after receiving waivers from state and county agencies to welcome students back to school.
Tabernacle School, Ygnacio Valley Christian School and Wood Rose Academy have all resumed instruction on their Concord campuses after each school agreed to strict health and safety regulations for students as well as how classes will be conducted and classrooms cleaned, process for parents dropping off and picking up children, and other aspects of school life.
They are among 10 private elementary schools in Contra Costa that received the initial waivers.
The Contra Costa County Office of Education issued a 28-page guide to schools reopening in light of COVID-19. State regulations call for an instructor to have a maximum of 12-14 students in a classroom.
All three local private schools have religious-based curriculum and both Tabernacle and Ygnacio Valley are on church sites. Wood Rose is a Catholic school that is not part of the Oakland Diocese school system, which includes Queen of All Saints, Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Agnes schools in Concord.
The three reopened private schools have tuition in the S6500-$7500 range, all offering discounts for families with multiple children in school. Parents at the schools were required to sign a waiver before their children could return to campus.
Wood Rose spokesperson Ana Alday explained that students through sixth grade (seventh and eighth graders are still doing distance learning) wear masks, as do all adults on campus. Faculty and staff were tested for the virus before school started back Sept. 4. Students were not required to be tested.
The school had about two dozen students who declined the opportunity to resume on-campus learning and have transferred to other Catholic schools or MDUSD schools which are continuing distance learning.
Wood Rose has also enrolled a handful of new students and their “phone is ringing with many families inquiring about enrolling,” Alday said.
Tabernacle School requires facemasks for students in third grade and up. Principal Vern Taylor reported that about two-thirds of elementary grade students returned to school last Wednesday when the campus reopened. The balance of the 450-member student body, including all seventh and eighth graders, continued with distance learning.
De La Salle president DeMarco stepping down next spring
De La Salle High School Board of Trustees announced this month that school President Mark DeMarco will be retiring at the end of this school year and a national search has commenced to find his successor. DeMarco has been in his position since 2007 when he was named the school’s first alumni president.
“I want to thank the parents, students, the countless volunteers and benefactors who have contributed to the success of the school and will continue to do so in the future”, said DeMarco. “I also would like to thank the faculty and staff for their commitment to the mission – the school is successful because we all work together and have a great partnership with parents as the primary educators of their sons.”
DeMarco graduated from the Concord school in 1978 and also has taught at his alma mater.
De La Salle Board chair Frank Wagner said, “We appreciate all of Mark’s excellent accomplishments, and cherish how he’s placed our students, the school, our community and our Lasallian Catholic mission above himself. He leaves the school in a strong financial position, with an excellent academic reputation and significant enhancements to the school’s facilities.”
The school completed a successful fundraising campaign that led to the building of a new Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Innovation Center, the Ladouceur Athletic Performance Center and a new Learning Center.
During the campaign, the school secured the largest individual gift to a high school in the country (at the time of the gift) $25 million from the late Concord homebuilder Ken Hofmann, which included a $15 million endowment for financial aid.
During his tenure, the school created the Bishop John Cummins Scholarship Program in 2007 to ensure students from diverse social, cultural and economic backgrounds have the opportunity to experience a De La Salle education. He transformed the school’s leadership model to one of a collegiate framework when he established the President’s Cabinet in 2016.
Carondelet’s new president takes reins
Carondelet High School alumna Annette Richardson Eros began her tenure as the school’s new president last March with a very brief glimpse of normal campus life before the school closed due to the shelter-in-place order that month.
The 1985 graduate of the Concord girls parochial school had to quickly adapt to handle the challenges presented to every school in the state. In partnership with Principal Kevin Cushing, faculty and staff the school pivoted to distance learning and transitioned all resources and in-person events online including introducing virtual Town Hall meetings and developing COVID-19 resources to help Carondelet’s 800 students and their families.
Eros was appointed after an extensive national search and brings to Carondelet experience in organizational and not-for-profit leadership. Most recently, Eros served as CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Bay Area.