As New York state plans for the upcoming academic year, Catholic schools in the archdiocese are preparing for schools to be fully open and in-person for the fall with no remote or hybrid learning.
On Aug. 12, the superintendent of schools for the archdiocese released “Catholic Schools Open: We Continue to Soar,” a guide which details the archdiocese’s plan to ensure the maximum health, safety and care for children and staff in September.
“We are excited for all of our schools to be open five days a week for in-person instruction for all students, ensuring social distancing can safely be maintained in our buildings under the direct supervision of a teacher,” said Michael J. Deegan, superintendent of schools.
“Our number one focus continues to be offering an excellent academic program in a safe and nurturing environment.”
He shared his gratitude for the Catholic Schools Reopening Advisory Council “for their work in updating the manual and to the principals and teachers who will implement it so we may maintain the same bubble of protection for our students and staff that we created over 18 months ago.”
The updated manual, distributed to parents, principals, school staff and faculty, is based on an international and national review of standards and guidelines, and was created by the Catholic Schools Reopening Advisory Council, in coordination with the Health and Safety Task Force of the Office of the Superintendent of Schools.
The manual outlines how schools will operate in the fall, including face covering guidelines, social distancing, facility requirements, daily protocols and procedures, sanitizing and disinfecting measures, and resources for families.
Students will be grouped into consistent pods each day, which reduces the number of students potentially exposed to someone infected with Covid-19. The students will remain together throughout the day in the same classroom or other designated areas of the building as much as possible, and teachers will change locations instead of students.
Students will eat breakfast in the classroom, and all special subjects—art, music, physical education, language, computers—will be taught in the classroom.
Among protocols in place will be socially distant classrooms with hand sanitizer stations, mandatory temperature checks, a daily questionnaire for parents and masks for anyone who will enter the building.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and New York state, publish additional regulations, recommendations and guidance, the schools will adapt their plans to ensure compliance with federal, state and local officials.
The archdiocese has also updated its video for school staff and families to watch so they may see firsthand how schools will be operating in the fall. The video can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CoABrSWqow
In announcing the reopening plan, the superintendent’s office said Catholic schools in the archdiocese “remain committed to providing a first-rate education” as this year they will collaborate with global brands such as the Discovery Channel and Google “to enhance their stellar programs in science, technology, robotics, engineering, math and the arts.”
Catholic schools in the archdiocese serve nearly 55,000 students from pre-k through 12th grade across 172 schools in 10 counties.