It’s that time of year again.
Students, principals, teachers and families everywhere are gearing up for the start of a new academic year, and Catholic schools of the archdiocese are ready to go.
We wish all of them, students and staff, much success as they begin yet another educational journey in unusual times.
We’re confident, too, that the archdiocesan school system under the direction of Superintendent Michael J. Deegan will do just fine.
Yes, the specter of Covid-19 and its variants still looms large in the region, but the Catholic schools did an excellent job in the 2020-2021 session, maintaining rigorous safety protocols that allowed schools to fully reopen for in-person learning at a time when other districts and schools were operating remotely or on hybrid schedules.
It’s a credit to Superintendent Deegan and his team at the archdiocesan Department of Education that there wasn’t a single case of Covid infection that originated in a school.
It’s no wonder the superintendent describes the carefully wrought plan for the upcoming year, modeled on last year’s success, as a “battle-tried process.”
Face masks, social distancing, sanitizing and daily temperature checks are still part of the mix. As they did in the last school year, students will stay in the same classroom for as much of the full day as possible, starting with breakfast, with teachers going from room to room to teach their specialty subjects while the students remain in place.
This minimizes the students’ exposure to someone potentially infected with Covid.
Refining that further is a system that groups students into consistent pods each day—an inspired touch that we especially like.
For now, the Education Department strongly encourages vaccinations for eligible children and adults but they are not mandated. And, as before, students and staff who are feeling sick are directed to stay home, even if Covid is not suspected.
We all know that children adapt well to changing circumstances, and it’s been a delight to observe them adapting to what must have been a set of strange new rules last year.
It’s a bittersweet truism that many of them likely have adapted so well, both in school and out, that they now accept as a normal part of life the masks, the restrictions on gatherings and the myriad other pandemic-related rules everyone has had to accept during the last year-and-a-half.
The adults among us recognize that the restrictions and protocols will end, and we hope and pray they’ll end sooner rather than later and that we’ll all be able to get back to life as we remember it. And we should also recognize that our own commitment to adhering to safe practices is likely the quickest route to that goal.
Until we get there, parents can confidently entrust their children to the Catholic schools of the archdiocese for a high-quality education and a solid grounding in their faith in a safe and nurturing environment.
Again, we wish the best to all as the new school year begins.