SCRANTON – With the end of August quickly approaching, the Diocese of Scranton Catholic Schools Office is diligently working on a plan to reopen its school buildings in a safe and prudent manner.
The Diocese says its goal is to reopen for in-person instruction this fall in a way that, above all else, prioritizes the best interest, safety and health of all students, faculty, staff and school families.
The Diocese has developed a Diocesan Health and Safety planning committee which is comprised of diocesan and local school administration and clergy along with medical professionals with expertise in pediatrics and quality assurance.
“The overarching goal of our Diocesan Health and Safety committee is to minimize the risk of the spread of coronavirus, while also promoting healthy habits for our students and school families,” Jason Morrison, Chief Executive Officer and Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education, said.
At the same time, the reopening strategy will also include planning for the ever-changing dynamic of the virus. A subcommittee has been developed which is focused on enhancing distance learning should there be a statewide closure again. Additionally, the Diocese is looking into the logistics of a virtual offering if there is a desire or need for families to have this option.
“Understanding the fluid nature of this disease, we are charged with making decisions now based on the most recent scientific evidence available through our local, state and national agencies and associations,” Kristen Donohue, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said. “Our commitment is to keep students, families and staff informed and assured that each decision will only be made with the best interest, health and safety of all.”
While COVID-19 has taken a lot away from people, and this year students will not be sharing items like normal, the Catholic School System says there is one thing it wants students to share – good health.
As a result, the Diocese will be producing a series of videos entitled, “Sharing Good Health,” which will help lay out the reopening plan.
The first video was released this week and featured five fundamentals that will be commonplace at all 19 Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese. They include daily temperature checks, promoting proper handwashing and good hygiene, physical distancing measures, wearing face masks and additional cleaning and disinfection.
“Classroom spacing is being developed to ensure physical distancing. That will also apply to hallways, cafeterias and even recess for our youngsters,” Donohue said in the video. “Access by visitors and volunteers will be limited and only considered when absolutely necessary.”
In an effort to promote good hygiene and a healthy environment, students will also be permitted to wear “summer uniforms” throughout the school year. Each school will provide further details of the summer uniform policy. The goal of that change is to make sure clothing items worn by students are properly washed and don’t become a carrier for any type of virus or disease.
During the first “Sharing Good Health” video, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera also thanked families for their commitment to Catholic education.
“This coming year will require the best of each one of us – and I know that by working together – we will be able to conquer any challenge that we face,” Bishop Bambera said.
To view the “Sharing Good Health” video, visit www.dioceseofscranton.org/Catholic-Schools.