DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Xavier community stays strong in wake of virus

Footprints on the moon.

They were not seen until since July 20, 1969, and new ones have not been seen since.

This is uncharted territory.

The world has not experienced anything of a similar nature until 2020, when the COVID-19 virus has descended upon us.

Life goes on, but not in the way to which we have become accustomed.

To do their part and limit the spread of this health adversary, schools across the nation are closing at least temporarily.

That includes Xavier College Prep, Brophy Prep and other schools in the Valley operated by the Diocese of Phoenix.

On Thursday (March 19), Xavier will be practicing “distance learning,’’ through programs such as Canvas, a learning management system and online course platform that provides a digital learning environment.

Students will experience a similar school day as before, except not on campus. It will be on their laptops, and even a daily roll call will be a part of the process through at least March 27.

Thursday was a busy day for Xavier teachers and students with "distance learning.''  Students are away from campus. From top, Shelly Cahill, student government, Lou Iavoco, statistics, and Stella Ollersaba, algebra 2/trigonometry. (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).

Girls were able to come on campus through Wednesday to pick up books and other learning materials.

“I even saw a few walking down the hall today. We are getting ready to do this thing, and we want to be able to do it the right way,’’ said Sr. Lynn Winsor, XCP Vice-Principal for Activities and the school’s long-time Athletic Director.

“We are making sure we communicate with everyone on all of the issues. The girls told me they are checking their e-mails (XCP group e-mails) every day to keep up with what is happening.’’

Perhaps it is safe to say that athletics are the most near and dear to Sr. Lynn’s heart.

Games will not resume until March 30 at the earliest, according to a decision made by the Arizona Interscholastic Association. And no team activities or practices for Xavier until that time.

The AIA is hoping that there still will be enough time to hold state tournaments in the spring sports (for girls: beach volleyball, softball, tennis and track and field), in late April and early May. The AIA is due to meet again on Monday (March 23) for an update, according to Sr. Lynn.

Athletes have been in communication with their coaches, but it bears repeating that no team practices will be held. If an athlete wants to maintain their edge on their own, that is permitted, but nothing in groups.

“We will continue to evaluate our next steps from the Governor’s (Doug Ducey) office, the CDC (Center for Disease Control), and of course, the Diocese,’’ Sr. Lynn said.

The school’s maintenance staff has done a great job making certain that all the places around campus receive a thorough cleaning, including buses.

“You want to make sure that everything is perfectly safe,’’ Sr. Lynn said.

Some school activities over these few weeks have been canceled or postponed, and Sr. Lynn said she feels bad for the seniors.

On March 16, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted suspended all weekday and Sunday masses, effective immediately, until further notice.

That doesn’t mean that people can’t slip inside the church and pray, Sr. Lynn said.

“There are a lot of prayers going on. There are a lot of victims, whether they are ill or have passed away,’’ she said.  “The Xavier community has always been good about praying. It is what we do. You always want to be positive and upbeat.’’

During this last week, Sr. Lynn has experienced another rare occurrence in the wake of these life-changing times.

“Just about every day, I don’t get home until at least 8 (p.m.) because all of the activities,’’ she said. “This week, I have been getting home by 3. That just doesn’t happen, certainly not for a full week.

“The bottom line is, I miss being out there with the kids.’’

Hopefully, we all will return to normal sooner rather than later.

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