Catholic schools taking every precaution

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Peggy Schoenfuss,
Superintendent of Schools

Preparing for the unknown is a challenge for everyone in today’s world. From one moment to the next, we never know what to expect. In such circumstances, there is one virtue that we especially need to be striving and praying for: hope. If we have hope in our Lord, we can overcome the most challenging obstacles, not simply surviving them, but even thriving.

Since March, our Catholic school administrators, teachers and staff have been working with and planning for these unknown circumstances. Every day they have put a lot of effort into making plans for the start of school this fall. Many news outlets, individuals and professionals have given advice on what is best for fall, but in reality it all comes down to the circumstances of each school’s local community.

Every one of the diocese’s 14 Catholic schools has been working closely with local county health departments and public school districts to establish the most effective opening for schools. All of our schools will have a face-to-face option for students, but most will also have some form of virtual or at-home options for students who are unable to attend in person.

Some parents ask why we would allow face-to-face during this time. There are many factors that play into this decision. Some come from research of past pandemics and what our schools have done in reaction to them, but most importantly, our schools have taken seriously the needs of our students.

As the American Academy of Pediatrics points out, “Schools provide more than just academics to children and adolescents. In addition to reading, writing and math, children learn social and emotional skills, get exercise and access to mental health support and other things that cannot be provided with online learning. For many families, school is where kids get healthy meals, access to the internet, and other vital services.”

While opening face-to-face, our schools are taking all the recommended precautions to keep teachers and students safe. Face masks, social distancing, personal hygiene and sanitizing are key to this safety. As we open face-to-face, and utilize these precautions and others, we will continue to monitor the local school pandemic situation with the close partnership of county health departments.

As we prepare to take this step, we know the pandemic has only heightened the deeply divisive nature of our society. It is clear there is a diversity of opinion on many of these choices. Please join us at the diocese in praying for unity, charity and, above all, hope.

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