Plan to Guide Reopening of Elementary Schools

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A plan for the reopening of elementary schools across the archdiocese outlines from A to Z guidelines to assure students and their parents, as well as administrators, teachers and staff, that protocols are in place for when and how classes will be conducted for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“Archdiocese of New York Catholic Schools Opening: Moving Forward Together” is a comprehensive manual assembled by the Catholic Schools Reopening Advisory Council.

Contents include “Facility Requirements & Guidelines,” “Daily Protocol & Procedures,” “Food Services,” “Sick Child or Staff Member,” “Procedures for Cases of COVID-19,” “Sanitizing & Disinfecting,” “Instructional Guidelines,” “Mental Health/Social-Emotional Development,” “Additional Resources,” “Early Childhood Addendum” and “Facilities Layout Designs.”

The manual is based on an international and national review of standards and guidelines. As the CDC and NYS publish specific regulations, recommendations and guidance, additional information will be promulgated to ensure compliance with federal, state and local officials.

The Introduction states that various models of instruction will likely be necessary based upon CDC and governmental guidelines. The models will be determined in collaboration with the Health and Safety Task Force of the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, the regional superintendents and the school principals.

A letter to the Catholic School Community from Michael J. Deegan, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, acknowledges an appreciation for the resilience that students, teachers, staff and parents demonstrated throughout the past several months.

“While our buildings have been closed our schools were open; teaching and learning has been taking place,” Deegan said. “It is now time to return to our ‘homes’ and move forward together, reinvigorating our Catholic school buildings with the return of our students.”

Deegan underscored a commitment to opening schools for five days a week for in-school instruction for all students, ensuring social distancing can safely be maintained in buildings under the direct supervision of a teacher.

“We have encouraged principals to be creative with space, while ensuring that the health and safety are primary in their decision making,” he said. For some buildings or class sizes that cannot accommodate all students socially distant for a full five days, plans will be created by the principal using an alternating day/week cycle.

“As a Christ-centric system” rooted in over 200 years of serving families, the document stressed, “we remain faithful in setting the stage for a re-imagined reopening dedicated to the continuity of excellence and education, which are the hallmarks of the Archdiocese of New York.”

The manual is accessible online at https://catholicschoolsny.org/opening/?fbclid=IwAR02LaLQlSw5HeOLbYUCJRaauxcsS36A2tnjjdHaIN0QqD-Cgm4eM41RKZg

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