Catholic Education During a Pandemic

We welcomed our children back to school this week. Young people bring us joy and great life! Seeing them we understand why our Lord said, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14).

Catholic schools have always been a vital part of the Church’s evangelizing mission—our young people don’t only need to be well educated in secular matters, but they also need to get to know the person and teachings of Jesus Christ so they can make a free, informed decision about their life.

We thank Cardinal Cupich for taking the lead in reopening our schools, making safe, in-person learning a top priority for the Archdiocese. To develop a strong, health-and-safety-plan to ensure our children, their families, and our teachers’ safety, he formed an impressive team that included medical experts—epidemiologists, pediatricians, infectious disease experts—guided by Illinois, Chicago, Cook County health departments, as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We will continue in constant contact with these experts throughout the school year to protect the well being of everyone in our schools as conditions change and new information comes to light.

To implement this plan, St. Mary of the Angels had to form its own team who would assure that the school buildings welcoming and safe for in-person learning. The team also reviewed schedule and curriculum changes to foster a safe learning environment. Each day there will be a Wellness Check (including a temperature check) as each student enters the building. Students will wear masks in doors, except while eating. Out door activities such as recess—including outdoor classes—will allow students time to remove masks while maintaining social distancing.

Our cohort model is designed to limit cross contamination should one of the students becomes Covid-19 positive: only the smaller class-cohort involved will have to quarantine while the rest of the school can remain in session.

Our approach differs from Chicago Public Schools. Having a smaller school gives us greater flexibility to adapt our spaces quicker and safely. We have parents who are highly engaged in their children’s formation and who support the safety procedures we are employing. Without their help this plan would be impossible. For families not ready to return, an e-learning option is available.

Let us thank and support our principal, teachers, and staff who are ready to do what’s best for our students and families. Like our doctors and nurses, Catholic School educators are essential workers making sacrifices for our families and parish during this pandemic. For this we are incredibly grateful.

We will keep you informed of the progress of our school reopening efforts. As God’s family, we ask for your prayers. As God the Father counted on St. Joseph to keep the child Jesus and his Blessed Mother safe from Herod’s deadly designs, we count on our Father and Lord to keep our school children, families, teachers, staff, and principal all safe during this time of trial.

St. Joseph Our Father and Lord, Pray for us!

Yours In Christ,

Fr. John Waiss