By Alexandra Moyen
ROSEDALE — After updating its COVID-19 reopening plan on August 10, Bay Ridge Catholic Academy is ready to accept students to their all-new STEAM-oriented building.
St. Anselm Catholic Academy and Holy Angels Catholic Academy set plans to join together to create Bay Ridge Catholic Academy on October 19, 2019, after Holy Angels was faced with a rapid decline in enrollments. The school’s reopening plan has been approved by the state and is set to open September 9, with a new curriculum that will focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) and an expected enrollment of 325-350 students.
Now back and preparing for an eventful new year, BRCA Principal Kevin Flanagan said the halls look the same but the school is completely different.
“We have temperature readings being done when students and teachers enter the building so there’s a camera system that will measure everyone’s body temperature,” Flanagan said.
The students, upon entering the school, will walk past a thermal imaging camera every day which will read their temperature. If it registers as too high, the camera will give the vocal alert — “caution, abnormal” — and the student will then be quarantined and not allowed to attend.
Additionally, the school will be giving daily screening questionnaires to both students and staff, mandate the use of masks, ensure students are trained on how to follow COVID-19 protocols, and require students to bring their own lunch to avoid cross-contamination.
“We’ve invested a tremendous amount of resources in the health and safety of our students so that when parents send their kids here I can give them my assurance that it’s as safe as humanly possible,” Flanagan said.
Opening during a pandemic has resulted in drastic changes and caused the school to cancel some of its plans.
“Every student who came to school here was going to learn to play an instrument, unfortunately, we can’t operate in a model where kids would be able to change classrooms that frequently, have their instruments with them, and get adequate spacing,” said Flanagan.
Students can still expect to have recess outside, even during inclement weather as long as student safety is not compromised, according to the reopening plan. If parents choose not to allow their kids to go outside, they will be able to stay in the auditorium while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
The curriculum will be focused on STEAM but will be modified to also keep the school focused on the safety of its staff and students. Flanagan says the school’s goal is to simply be the best in Brooklyn. The way the school will make this a reality is by merging their STEAM courses with their Catholic values.
Flanagan said his message to kids is that the school wants to “instill the values of the Catholic religion and help you to be a well-shaped member of the community who is able to extend those values out into the world.”