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Dear Parents, Guardians, Administrators, Faculty, and Staff,

The coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on families, Catholic schools, parishes, and the diocese. Besides the obvious challenges to life, health, and financial sustainability, it has also impacted our ability to be in community with one another, our reception of the sacraments, and the way that we teach and serve.

So many of our teachers embody what St. Mother Theodore Guerin told her religious sisters, “love the children first, then teach them.” For months, our Catholic schools have been eagerly preparing for the 2020-21 school year, and we know that our teachers and staff long for the opportunity to be with the children again.

It is important to note, however, that our diocese covers fourteen counties. In forty-three schools, we serve over 13,000 children. The number of Covid-19 cases varies in each county and, no doubt, the faculty, staff, and parents. Across the diocese have been watching the news regarding school reopening plans.

On the subject of reopening schools, there is no shortage of opinion, and rightly so, because we all care so deeply for the health and safety, growth in holiness, and, ultimately, the salvation of the children entrusted to our care and for the faculty and staff that have answered God’s call for a vocation in Catholic education.

Our pastors and principals know best the needs of their specific community, can work according to their county’s health department recommendations, understand the nuances of their buildings, and have the details of the reopening plans they have developed over the last several months. For these reasons, pastors, in collaboration with their principals, will decide how best to begin the school year, whether that is in-person classes, a hybrid model, or virtual learning.

Our faith is relational, incarnational, and sacramental. We learn best about accompaniment, abiding with Our Lord, and the importance of personal witness when we are in-person. While some Catholic schools may be able to open with in-person classes due to the space in their building that allows for social distancing, other Catholic schools may need to begin with a hybrid or virtual model, and then move to in-person learning later.

For the reopening of our Catholic schools, it is important to know the factors that have gone into the decision-making process. We have taken each of the following into full consideration:

  • First, the family is the domestic Church. It is in the context of the family that we first learn who God is and to seek His will for us prayerfully. [1]
  • Second, parents are the primary educators [2] in the faith, and the Church works with parents to catechize children through the ministries of the par