Maintaining “Koinonia” During COVID-19

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Koi·no·ni·a – Christian fellowship or communion with God, or, more commonly, with fellow Christians. This is our Chapel theme for the 2020-2021 year. The current conditions have brought many changes to our daily life at school. While COVID-19 keeps us socially distanced and apart, Casady has been able to stay together spiritually due to the new Chapel system.

The Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor has existed since the beginning of Casady history. Spirituality has always played a large role in our School’s mission. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit this past summer, the Casady administration found safe and effective ways to return to school in August. Safety measures included socially distanced seating arrangements, plexiglass podium barriers, and an end to student singing. After the plan was developed, the Chapel system faced a pressing question: How many people should be in the Chapel at the same time? Originally, the idea was to have two grades in chapel at once, while the other two would watch a livestream. This was back when we were still in ‘yellow’ status. However, changes had to be made to accommodate Casady’s transition into ‘orange.’ It was decided that one grade would participate in person, and the rest would watch livestreams from classrooms.

“We already had it, but we rarely used it.” Father Youmans explained that Casady had already established a “tri-caster streaming system.” This system allows us to have live video of chapel broadcasted to classrooms. In the past, it was only used for funerals and occasional graduations, but now it is used at least three times a day. Father Youmans said that speaking to a camera for chapel was initially difficult to adjust to, but he has started to enjoy it. He even joked that he’s become somewhat of a “TV Preacher.” Recently, audio has been an issue with the streaming system. Sometimes the audio cuts out, and other times the volume is too loud. Father Youmans encourages students to pay close attention and really listen to hymns being sung, even though the sound problems may make it difficult.

Speakers who routinely visit Casady have been a major part of our chapels. In the past, speakers would often come to Casady without hassle. However, COVID-19 has made the process for visitors very tedious. Coming to a high school where several positive cases have already been recorded could put speakers at risk. One speaker told Father Youmans that they would not be willing to talk at chapel unless all students were properly masked. All visitors must fill out a Google form, get their temperatures checked, and take all required safety measures. Great lengths are being taken to ensure the safety of students and visitors.

Casady’s priority during chapel time in COVID-19 has been to be safe and together. The year may be totally different, but we can still find ways to be together and engaged. While social distancing and wearing masks, students are encouraged to find ways to create and maintain “Koinonia” with each other and the greater community.