School families at Parish and Regional Elementary Schools and Archdiocesan High Schools previously received detailed plans for the safe reopening of school in the fall. Those plans are outlined in digest format below.
Senior administrators from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office of Catholic Education have worked in conjunction with various partners over the past several months to develop plans for the safe re-opening of school on time in September. This critical work was accomplished through dedicated task forces focused on the unique educational, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of students and school families in elementary and secondary schools as well as schools of special education throughout the five-county region.
Maintaining the health and safety of students, faculty, administrators, and staff while providing a continued high-quality Catholic education were the principles guiding this work. As such, the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education were central to Archdiocesan planning for the coming academic year.
The plans that were ultimately developed have a strong structural framework that seeks to provide the maximum educational experience for students. Key differences among the plans allow for best practices of meeting the needs of students who represent a broad range of physical, emotional, and intellectual growth within the Pre-K-12 spectrum.
In addition, flexibility is a hallmark of the reopening plan with two factors in mind. First, the Archdiocese recognizes that students and families in its school communities may face a host of health concerns as well as general anxiety regarding the potential for the spread of COVID-19. As such, virtual and other distance learning options are available at most schools for any family that feels uncomfortable sending their children to school for in-person instruction. Second, the Archdiocese has recognized the essential need to be nimble in the face of the ever-evolving pandemic landscape. Developments will be constantly evaluated and plans adjusted accordingly. We have the capacity and are prepared to provide a virtual learning environment to the greatest extent possible if necessary.
Parish and Regional Elementary Schools
The parish and regional elementary schools plan Catholic Schools Onward: Best Practices and New Opportunities as We Move Forward outlines the foundational premises that the plan is built upon. Andrew M. McLaughlin, Ed.D., Secretary for Elementary Education for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia shared in a recent letter to school families, “The plan is based on several key principles, cohorting – students remain with the same classmates throughout the day, social distancing, strategic use of masks, enhanced cleaning, a modified attendance policy, situational virtual learning, and an enhanced partnership with parents.” The full plan for parish and regional elementary schools can be found here.
Archdiocesan High Schools
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia high schools’ document Catholic High Schools Compass: Continuing Excellence in Catholic Education provides detailed information on their plan. In a join introduction letter accompanying the plan, Sister Maureen Lawrence McDermott, I.H.M. Ph.D., Superintendent for Secondary Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Irene Horstmann Hannan, Chief Executive Officer of Father in the Future Foundation said, “The document outlines the key components of our plan….like the four points of a compass, [the plan] is firmly grounded in directional principles: safety, academic excellence, technology, and faith formation.” The full plan can be found here.
Outlined below are some of the key highlights of the plans developed for the respective divisions with the Office of Catholic Education. It is important to note that differences allow for the distinct educational and physical needs of the various student groups based on best practices.
Parish and Regional Elementary Schools:
Archdiocesan High Schools:
Archdiocesan Schools of Special Education:
The Office of Catholic Education is steadfast in their promiseto keep school families informed and to remain in dialogue with them. A dedicated point of contact where parents and guardians can share questions is available. Messages can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also an established point of contact for families seeking spiritual support. Messages can be sent to email@example.com. In the coming weeks additional information will be made available through the website aopcatholicschools.org/covid-19-information/.