August 3, 2020 // Local

Catholic schools: Pastors and principals will ­­decide how to best begin their school year

Diocesan Catholic schools’ reopening plans to be adjusted on school-by-school basis

FORT WAYNE — In light of the continued adjustments needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has altered the emphasis of previously announced plans for reopening Catholic schools of the diocese. In a press released issued Aug. 3, Superintendent Dr. Joseph Brettnacher stated that in order to respond to variances in the spread of COVID-19 within the diocese, as well as the tools available to parish schools for in-person and remote learning, that pastors and principals will work together to implement reopening decisions that best to serve the needs of their individual schools.

“The coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on families, Catholic schools, parishes and the diocese,” the release states. “Besides the obvious challenges to life, health, and financial well-being, 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.

“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 14 counties. In 43 schools, we serve over 13,000 children. Some areas of our diocese have seen an increase in the coronavirus, and no doubt, parents, teachers and staff across the diocese have been watching the news regarding schools and their reopening plans.

“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.

“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.

“We care deeply for the health and safety, growth in holiness, and, ultimately, the salvation of the children entrusted in our care. Concerning the reopening of our Catholic schools, it is important to note that Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades has worked closely with pastors to issue directives and give them the flexibility to make decisions best suited for their parishes. We also continue to seek the advice of state and local health experts, as well as the advice of our peers in public and nonpublic schools.

“May the Lord who has called us to the vocations of a parent, teacher, or religious continue to guide us and may His Blessed Mother and all the patron saints of our schools and parishes intercede for us and all of the children of our diocese.

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