Re-Opening The Schools

Long Island’s Catholic elementary schools put students and families first

In the mist of the conflicting information and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic that was prevalent during this past summer, the leadership team from the Morning Star Initiative and the Department of Education had to make some serious decisions. Catholic Elementary School students from across the island had been learning remotely since mid-March, and even though the schools were well prepared to take learning online again in the fall, the leadership team understood the educational and social ‘costs’ associated with isolating children for extended periods of time.

Following a parent survey that indicated that a vast majority of the families of students across the diocese would support a return to classes, the team got to work. First, a consulting firm that specialized in risk mitigation and emergency operations planning was retained to help draw up a master re-opening plan. This plan, which is available at the DRVCSchools web site, provided the master plan that each school would follow.

Representatives from the emergency operations consulting firm subsequently visited each school to help each modify the elements of the plan to best suit each specific building layout and student population. One of the elements each plan included was the creation of cohorts of students who would learn together. In most cases, students stayed in a single location and teachers rotated between classes to minimize contacts. Halls and stairways were identified as single direction routes within the building; and classrooms, auditoriums, cafeterias and even bathrooms were reimagined to maintain the appropriate social distance. In the classroom, desks were separated, and clear Lexan dividers were placed on desks and tables where appropriate.

Principals worked to establish a range of new procedures at each school that helped to assure student safety. Masks of course were mandatory, and students had planned ‘mask breaks’ built into their day in safe, distanced, outdoor spaces. Some schools staggered start and end times. Many schools utilized different doors for different grades, and all schools test everyone entering the building to assure that they don’t have a fever. The range of activities in gym changed, and food began to be served in single-serving boxes or containers.

As the new school year started, parents were given the option of having their children attend in-person or attend school virtually. While the overwhelming majority of families chose to send their children back to school, virtual students participate daily at every school.

By utilizing a combination of physical changes to their facilities, and new policies and procedures to guide daily life, Long Island’s Catholic Elementary Schools opened in early September on schedule and have been operating as planned the entire academic year. The continuity of the children’s education has been maintained. The sanity and structure of students’ lives has been returned. Student-teacher relationships burn bright again, friends have been reunited and the children’s spiritual journeys continue.

—Submitted by the Diocese of Rockville Centre

Leave a Reply




Dropping Of The Roses Keeps The Memory Alive

Pearl Harbor Day given its due via longstanding memorial event When the Japanese Imperial Japanese Navy Service made a surprise military strike on the United...

Page-Turning Gifts

Nothing says the holiday season is upon us more than a slew of new releases in the world of books. And this year is...

When Service For MTA LIRR East Side Access To Grand Central Madison Begins There Will Still Be Outstanding Work To Be Completed

The MTA’s inability to provide a specific date for start of service to Grand Central Madison other than by the end of 2022 is...

Shimmering Solstice Returns To Old Westbury Gardens

Be prepared to be enchanted by magical light displays and seasonal soundtracks that are set along Old Westbury Gardens’ beautiful paths that will lead...

Patrick Simons Serves With Next Generation Of Warfighters

A Westbury native is serving in the U.S. Navy where naval aviators learn the skills they need to fly missions around the world. Lieutenant Junior...

Get Updates Via Email

Enter your email to be updated with all the latest news and special announcements.