Diocesan News

New York Archdiocese Schools Plan to End Remote Learning Next Year

Diocese of Brooklyn schools available for in-person or fully online instruction

WINDSOR TERRACE — Students at Catholic schools in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx will no longer need to log in for remote learning this fall as the Archdiocese of New York plans to fully reopen for in-person instruction.

A prekindergarten teacher helps a student with an assignment Sept. 17, 2020, at Maria Regina School. Since September, the 60,000 students across the Archdiocese of New York’s schools have been attending through a hybrid model. The Diocese of Brooklyn Catholic academies and schools have also been open since last fall. (Photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Since September, the 60,000 students across the archdiocese’s schools have been attending through a hybrid model.

“We listened to people, we listened to the health care experts who said: ‘you can do this.’ Our teachers said we want to teach, we want to be back, we want to be in person, and our parents said please let the kids come back,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan said back in March. “So we listened to all of them and we stayed open.”

Cardinal Dolan also said that since schools reopened last fall, enrollment has been up.

“Now, the good news is that since we reopened in September, our enrollment is up and next year looks even better,” he said.

The Diocese of Brooklyn announced on April 27 that it will fully reopen its 69 academies and schools again this fall for in-person learning. The diocese will also give parents the option of enrolling their children in online-only instruction for the entire school year through its distance learning program, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Online Academy. 

“Returning to normal doesn’t have to be the same for everybody,” said Diocese of Brooklyn Director of Enrollment Ted Havelka. “Some people enjoyed the remote work and some students really succeeded, not everyone, but a lot of students really succeeded in this online learning world. For families that were forced into it by COVID, some found a good pattern. We’re committed to continuing that for the families that want it.”

“We’ve learned a tremendous amount of the power and potential of online learning,” said Stephen Haessler, principal of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Online Academy. “What is optimal is a single sign-on experience for both students and parents instead of multiple sign-ons and that’s what we have. We have a partnership with an accredited agency called Catholic Virtual which has an integrated learning management system with all of the instructional resources.”

Haessler said families who opt-in to the STA Online Academy will be “imbued in the Catholic perspective” while not “overburdening” students with too many Zoom meetings and screen time.

“We believe in formulating young learners in the Roman Catholic faith and we want to be good partners and allies with parents who want that as well,” Haessler added.