Q: What is Catholic Schools Week?
A: Catholic Schools Week is an annual event, celebrated across the country that begins the last Sunday in January. This year, Catholic Schools Week will be celebrated from Sunday, Jan. 31, through Saturday, Feb. 6. The week is set aside to celebrate the unique nature of the Catholic schools in each community. In addition to the internal events (teacher and parent recognition events, school ‘spirit’ days, special assemblies, etc.) it is also a week where the schools invite prospective families of the parish/parishes they serve, and of the broader local community, to consider the benefits of a Catholic education.
Q: How will COVID affect Catholic Schools Week?
A: Like the changes we’ve seen in most everything else, the pandemic will re-shape Catholic Schools Week somewhat as it pertains to open houses and large gatherings. Most schools will offer 45-minute virtual open houses and one-on-one opportunities to schedule an individual meeting with the principal. You are advised to check your school’s web site for details of their events. Find a school at www.licatholicelementaryschools.org/find-a-school.
Q: As a current school family, how do I participate?
A: Catholic Schools Week is a celebration of all that is great about Catholic school. A combination of internal and external activities, Catholic Schools Week celebrates the parish, the community, the students, the nation, vocations and teachers and staff. Externally, the schools also offer opportunities for new families to visit and learn about the advantages each Catholic community offers. Out of an abundance of caution, most live events in 2021 will be celebrated exclusively by students and staff to minimize the students’ and the building’s exposure to outsiders. Most external events will be offered virtually.
Q: As a family considering a Catholic education, how do I learn more?
A: Your local Catholic school will host predominately online events where parents and students can virtually visit the school(s) they think they might be interested in to view the facility, be introduced to the teachers, and learn about the academic, spiritual, social and physical development programs.
Q: How have the Catholic elementary schools addressed the pandemic?
A: Catholic elementary schools have been remarkably successful in their implementation of mitigation techniques to limit each student’s exposure and risk. The schools have maintained a COVID infection rate of less than two percent, quarantining students and staff when necessary, but maintaining the continuity of student instruction and the daily structure and normalcy in student’s lives:
- Each school has safely returned all students for full, five-day-a-week learning
- Remote learning was a success in the spring, and is offered to students who choose to continue their classes online
- Each school has embraced extensive mitigation policies and procedures that digitally scan each student each day for fever, create spaces where social distancing is observed, require mandatory mask wearing, keep students in cohorts to limit exposure and pay special attention to ventilation and frequent sterilization of high-touch surfaces.
Q: As a prospective family, do I have an ‘assigned school’?
A: One of the first differences you will notice about Catholic school is that you get to select the school that you believe your children will be most successful in. There is no direct ‘assignment’ based on where you live and most school districts provide busing to the school of your choice within a 15-mile radius.
Q: What are the tuition rates and is there a difference in tuition to attend a different school?
A: Long Island’s Catholic elementary schools set their own tuitions, so they vary slightly, but average is around $5,500 per year with multiple child discounts that lower that cost for most. If your parish has a school, we encourage you to become a member of that community, but there is no penalty for choosing a school outside of your parish or town. The system of schools is an asset here on Long Island for all of the families of the Diocese and for all of the families of Long Island.
Q: Are non-Catholics welcome in the schools?
A: The schools are welcoming places to everyone without regard to race, religion or national origin. A religion class is a requirement, students participate in Liturgies, and faith is an integrated part of daily activities, but many schools have a significant population of non-Catholic students who attend because of the quality of the education.
Q: When parents select Catholic elementary school, what are the most frequently cited reasons?
A: The reasons that are most frequently mentioned are; academic excellence, the reinforcement of the values lived at home, learning of the Catholic faith, attending school in a safe, nurturing environment and the individualized attention that each student’s learning needs receive.
Q: Will attending a Catholic elementary school help my child get into a prestigious Catholic high school?
A: Attending a Catholic elementary school isn’t the only way to get into a Catholic high school, but it is still the best way. The Catholic high schools are open to all students and typically have a very significant number of students from a public school. Students qualify for Catholic high school through a test for eighth graders that is administered in October of each year. Typically, the students from Catholic elementary schools are best prepared for the academic rigor, the integrated program of faith and values, and the service orientation of the high schools. Virtually all of the students from Catholic elementary school (90+ percent) are admitted to a Catholic high school with the vast majority getting into the high school that is their first choice.
Q: How can I learn more or choose the school(s) I would like to visit?
A: There is a resource for families on the Internet that provides a very complete picture of the Catholic elementary school experience. It features an interactive map that’s your guide to each of Long Island’s distinctive Catholic schools, and lets you view geographic options at www.licatholicelementaryschools.org.
—Submitted by the Diocese of Rockville Centre