Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools Announces Reopening Plans for 2020/21 School Year
The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Schools today released its plans to safely reopen school buildings in the fall. The COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark on education in Illinois, but our Catholic schools were praised by families for our ingenuity and creativity in responded to the challenge of providing virtual instruction to our more than 70,000 students.
“We live in extraordinary times and it is our intent to reopen our school buildings safely to all families this fall,” Dr. Jim Rigg, superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools. “Such a reopening has required careful and diligent planning on the part of our school employees, along with consultation from medical professionals, state and local officials, educators, parents, and others. We believe that in-person instruction is the best way to benefit our students and are committed to providing that instruction in a safe manner.”
Schools will completely revamp their approach to providing daily instruction and follow four guiding principles:
- The safety and well-being of students and school employees is our primary concern and we will do what we must so everyone in our schools feels safe and undeterred.
- Everything possible is being done to reopen school buildings and provide a faith-filled education in a safe and timely manner.
- The progress of the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois remains unpredictable and there is still potential that school buildings must be closed again if a significant rise in cases were to occur.
- Faithful citizenship is key – we expect our families to take personal responsibility for the common good as well as their own safety.
Last month, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, announced our intent to reopen school buildings for face-to-face classes this fall. Since that announcement, the Office of Catholic Schools has been working diligently to develop a specific plan for reopening through consultation with several groups, including the Archdiocesan COVID-19 Task Force, a panel of medical experts, state and local officials, priests, principals and school parents. Among the plan elements and rules are these:
- All students over the age of 2 and school employees will be required to wear masks while indoors. Masks may only be removed during designated activities (such as lunch and recess) and only then if students remain physically distant.
- Students will be assigned to a “cohort”, which will correspond to their homeroom class and will remain with those same classmates throughout the day. Students within a cohort will remain physically as far apart as possible to prevent the spread of illness.
- Schools will provide new pick-up and drop-off procedures, walking routes within the buildings and other measures to limit the physical interaction of students.
- Parents will be asked to take their children’s temperatures daily. Temperature checks will also occur as students enter the school building every day.
- Schools will adhere to infection protocols, requiring any student who presents symptoms of COVID-19 and/or tests positive for the virus to quarantine and seek medical attention before returning to class.
- Finally, families who are not ready for their children to return to classrooms will still have the option for online learning.