Catholic Schools Onward
Best Practices and New Opportunities as We Move Forward
(Please note that as current information becomes available this page will be updated – 08.25.2021.)
Introduction | Philosophy | Process | Checklist
It is integral for our schools to provide a CARES program especially during the current circumstances. For many of our students, this will be their first re-entry into the school setting. CARES is an offshoot of the regular school day; thus, all procedures in place for the school should be adhered to during the CARES program. CARES programs are considered by the state of PA to be child care programs and should have, or be in the process of obtaining, a child care license from DHS.
It is paramount that we provide a safe, healthy and sanitized environment for those students entrusted to our care before and after regular school hours. It is important to engage these students in a social setting which they have not experienced in months and to provide a pleasant atmosphere for them. We are the protectors and providers for these students during the hours they are entrusted to us.
- Social and safe-distancing practices are to be observed as much as possible. When able, the cohort model should be kept within the CARES program. Students should be kept with the same adult monitor in the program.
- Outside visitors should not be allowed to enter the area where the CARES program is being held. Children should be met at the school door both entering and leaving the building.
- Students are responsible for providing their own snack and beverage during their time in CARES. There will be no snack sharing.
- All employees and volunteers (including teens) should follow the same health checklist practices as school employees.
- All operational guidelines put into place in the school (e.g. movement through the building, recess, etc.) are to be practiced during CARES sessions.
- Establish a procedure for dismissal at the end of the school day that limits CARES students to vulnerability. (e.g. Call CARES students to the CARES room after all other lines are dismissed.)
- If the CARES room is a room used during the school day, it must be sanitized prior to student entry for the CARES program.
- Materials used by CARES students on a regular basis need to be sanitized daily.
- Monitored hand washing and sanitizing will be done on a regular basis.
- Follow the Playbook recommendations for any suspected illness.
- The CARES program will comply with any emergency actions and resulting decisions that occur during the school day.
- A mobile phone needs to be available to CARES personnel for communications purposes in the event a situation arises during the CARES session.
- Communicate exactly what your plan is so that parents know what to expect. Be sure to include in school handbook the obligation of the parent to take daily health checks.
- Maintain accurate records, including attendance records, for CARES students with easy access to the program director.
- Establish a schedule and routine limiting the crossover of cohorts during CARES sessions.
- In keeping with Catholic Identity practices, every CARES session should begin with a prayer.
- Establish a safe place for the students’ materials and personal belongings such as schoolbags, hats, gloves, lunch boxes and jackets that provides safe distancing from other student belongings.
- Insure that students are not sharing materials. (e.g. crayons, pencils, markers).
- Provide opportunities for planned activities for student engagement.
- All employees need to be apprised of:
- Diocesan Standards for CARES identified in the CARES Handbook
- Standards put in place by the CSO task force
- Standards for Ministerial Behavior
- Childcare standards regulated by the Department of Human Services
- Any person serving as a substitute for a CARES employee needs to be apprised of the standards identified above and agree to adhering to them.
- Proper notification to a CARES designee of students who will be missing (e.g. left school early) or who have a special circumstance (e.g. crutches) during a CARES session would be beneficial.
- All CARES programs should have a designated person acting as director, liaison or guide for the program.
- Keep in focus the Standards for Ministerial Behavior.
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