Onward Together in Faith: ADW Catholic Schools 2020-2021

Opening of Schools

A letter from the Secretary for Catholic Schools
and Superintendent

Kelly Branaman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Archdiocese of Washington Catholic schools are heading into a new school year – a year of great promise and potential for each of our students. New friendships to be formed, lessons to be learned, memories to make, and minds and bodies to grow. Each of our schools looks forward to the opportunity to work with your children to promote their academic and spiritual development. We anticipate another unique year for our Catholic schools as we balance the needs and interests of our families and continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic. Our schools have finalized their campus reopening plans and are currently in the process of communicating them to their communities. Today, we move onward together in faith, as a Catholic school community to begin the 2020-21 school year.

As an educator, my desire for our students at this time is two-fold: I value the need to bring our students back to campus as soon as reasonably possible, and I recognize the importance of a measured approach to campus reopening that considers all health and safety precautions. The localized governance structure and autonomy of our Catholic schools makes it possible for each school to meet the needs of their particular community. This is indeed a gift of Catholic education. As I have reviewed each of the campus reopening plans submitted by our schools, I am particularly moved and impressed by their thoroughness and all of the factors considered by our pastor and principals in making their reopening decisions. Each has recognized the unique characteristics of their community and sought the input of their stakeholders, as a whole, into consideration.

Maintaining a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty, and staff is at the forefront of each campus reopening plan. We are also mindful of the importance of creating a sense of normalcy for each of our students as we continue to navigate the pandemic crisis. I am grateful to the Reopening of Schools and Early Learning Centers Task Force for their diligence in providing the framework and continued guidance to support our schools with campus reopening planning. Plans and this document are representative of the most recent guidance from state and local jurisdictions, which is changing continually. As guidance changes, we will continue to keep you informed and school reopening plans will be updated accordingly.

Please read on to learn more about the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic school campus reopening planning process. We are committed to making the school year 2020-2021 successful and memorable as we move onward together in faith.

Sincerely in Christ,

Kelly Branaman

Framework for Reopening of Schools and Early Learning Centers

On July 15, 2020, the Catholic Schools Office (CSO) provided the Framework for Reopening of Schools and Early Learning Centers (ELCs) to school leaders to plan for operations during the 2020-2021 school year. Developed by the Reopening of Schools Task Force, the framework is designed to support schools/ELCs in planning, developing, and implementing prevention mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery measures to operate schools in a pandemic outbreak. The task force is composed of CSO staff, ADW officials, schools and ELCs collaborating with key stakeholders to conduct a thorough and ongoing planning process that follows local, state and federal guidelines. The framework provides guidelines, resources and a set of considerations for schools/ELCs to take into account in five primary focus areas: Program Operations and Facility Usage, Health and Safety, Catholic Identity, Academics, and Communications.

Schools and ELCs Reopening Planning

Schools/ELCs utilized the framework as a guiding document as they exercised local control and obtained support from their individual communities by engaging staff, students, families, and community partners in planning for the 2020-21 school year. All health and safety guidelines and procedures related to safe school operations were considered as part of campus reopening planning and must be followed in maintaining the daily operations of archdiocesan schools/ELCs. Schools/ELCs were required to submit reopening plans for review and obtain approval by the CSO. As part of the review process, the CSO verified that each school/ELC campus reopening plan complied with the health and safety guidelines and included procedures for maintaining daily operations as part of certifying approval.

School/ELC campus reopening plans have been created with the most current assumptions and information as of the date of this publication.

Campus Reopening Operating Models

Catholic Schools classroom remote learning

Distance Learning

All learning and formation will take place virtually, utilizing the online platforms approved by the ADW. There will be no in person gatherings for students; however, any essential exchanges of necessary materials will continue, as needed, with safety procedures in place.

Blended Learning

The Blended Learning model combines both in-person and distance learning/formation. Classroom setups will be modified to ensure safety through social distancing. Face coverings will be required. All staff and students will have a daily arrival screening before entering the building each day. Groups should remain cohesive with no mixing of other students throughout the day. Outdoor breaks are encouraged to occur multiple times throughout the day. Schedules should reflect the appropriate instructional time per subject during the blended learning model.

Modified Classroom

With this model, school/ELC campuses are allowed to open with preventative safety measures in place. Instruction is delivered in-person. Classroom set-ups will be modified to ensure social distancing and face coverings will be required. All staff and students will have a daily arrival screening before entering the building each day. Groups should remain cohesive with no mixing of other students throughout the day. Outdoor breaks are encouraged to occur multiple times throughout the day.

Please review your school campus reopening plan for specific details about the health and safety guidelines to be administered at the school-level.

Our Faculty and Staff

One of the greatest strengths of our archdiocesan schools are the dedicated men and women who have answered the call to serve, educate and nurture our children not only academically, but spiritually, physically, and emotionally. The Archdiocese of Washington is grateful for our teachers and staff as they carry on the great commission of Jesus to “teach all nations” and daily witness the Good News to our children.

Operational Policies and Procedures

Each school/ELC has updated its handbook policies to consider the COVID-19 pandemic and campus reopening model. Each school has developed operational policies and procedures to consider arrival and dismissal plans, building entry, daily arrival screening for employees and students, parent and essential visitor policies and procedures, etc., that are relevant to the selected operating model. Task force guidelines for social distancing and the use of face coverings inside and outside of the classrooms, hallways, additional spaces such as the gym, library, bathrooms, and other common areas have been considered as a part of planning, where appropriate.

Health and Safety

Each school/ELC has utilized information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics and National Association of School Nurses as a part of planning to develop protocols for students and staff to promote good health and safety. Local school/ELC campus reopening plans clarify how students and staff will participate in a daily health screening, practice social distancing, approach to face coverings, hydration, and how they will protect students at higher risk. The plan and protocols for managing a safe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors is included in each school/ELC campus reopening plan.

Mental Health Awareness and Practices

The virus, the shutdowns, and the changes in school/ELC procedures have had and will continue to have an impact. In order to calm fears and nurture our students’ and our communities’ mental well-being, our schools and ELCs will intentionally foster a sense of connectedness, provide clear directions and communication, use playfulness and positivity whenever possible, maintain access to counseling services, and integrate social and emotional skills into learning activities.

Catholic Identity and Faith Formation

Catholic identity and the spiritual formation of our students is foundational to the mission of Catholic schools. Community building and prayer is an integral component to all school/ELC plans regardless of how a particular school starts the year. Celebration of the Eucharist is an important aspect of school prayer and care will be taken to provide access to the celebration whether in person or virtually. Every school will have a call to prayer each day and Religion classes will have the opportunity to experience prayer services.

Academics

The CSO, in partnership with our school community, principals, and pastors, continues our commitment to bring meaningful learning to students and support to schools as students are welcomed back to campus or continue to be supported through distance or blended instruction. Schools/ELCs have included in their campus reopening plan how quality academic instruction will take place during various possible scenarios.

Partnership with Families

Partnership with parents and guardians in the education of their children is the purpose of the Catholic education ministry and each of our schools. Our schools/ELCs plan for clear and consistent communication with parents during the academic year. Schools will establish a routine for school-level and classroom-level communication to keep parents informed about school operations and the academic program. Our schools will depend on parents and guardians to strictly adhere to all health and safety guidelines provided by their school as, together, we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

Temporary Transfer Program

The Archdiocese of Washington is committed to providing parents and guardians with options in the education of their children. For families that prefer for their child(ren) to receive instruction and faith formation utilizing distance learning, archdiocesan schools will support families with a temporary transfer. The purpose of the temporary transfer program is to provide the family with a seamless transition to a different archdiocesan school on a temporary basis. Interested parents and guardians should contact their school principal for additional information or email [email protected] to request information and assistance.

Please learn more about your school campus reopening plan by contacting your school directly, visiting your school website, and following your school on social media.

For more information, visit the ADW Catholic Schools website.