By Msgr. David Cassato
Since the end of June, we have been preparing for school openings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our dedicated teachers, principals, and staff have worked tirelessly in a ceaseless effort to get our schools in order to safely open. With an abundance of caution and the implementation of disinfecting, cleaning, social distancing, and the strict wearing of masks we can proudly say that our Catholic Schools have been operating extremely well.
Yesterday, abruptly and without consultation, we received some troubling news from the Governor’s Office; an Executive Order would close our schools immediately.
The health and safety of our students and staff is our first priority and the precautionary measures taken for the last four weeks without any incidents to date are testaments to their efficacy.
Without any dialogue, nor an estimated return date, our schooling ceased after a phone call citing a “spike” in our ZIP code leaving 360 students at Saint Athanasius and 1,000 other students in other Catholic Schools precipitously displaced.
Besides resulting in frustration for students, teachers and parents alike, the current situation poses several serious challenges including the necessity for parents to find help at home and their children to grow accustomed to and focus on the demands of distance learning.
Parents want school, children need school and it is imperative that we continue to safely operate as we have been for the benefit and continued success of all those in our Catholic Schools.
It is deeply troubling how this decision was made and it is my hope that a solution will come forward quickly to return our children to their much-needed social learning environments in the safe classrooms that we ensure. I pray that we will be open on Monday! (Send petitions to Governor Cuomo.)
To contact the governor’s office call 518-474-8390.
Msgr. David Cassato is the Vicar for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn and pastor of the Parish of St. Athanasius-St. Dominic Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.