The Diocese of Brooklyn will fully reopen its Catholic academies and parish schools for in-person learning again this fall. The diocese will also provide parents the option of enrolling their children in online-only instruction for the 2021-22 school year through the new St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Online Academy.
On Nov. 18, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City public school buildings would temporarily close and move to remote learning the following day. The percentage of citywide positive tests exactly hit three percent that morning, using a seven-day rolling average.
On Nov. 15, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Chadzutko reassured families, faculty, and staff that all 69 Catholic schools and academies across Brooklyn and Queens will remain open and continue to provide in-person learning — irrespective of any impending decision pertaining to the status of city public schools.
On Oct. 30, Governor Andrew Cuomo released new guidelines for schools in red and orange zones that would allow them to reopen for in-person learning. The guidelines state that mandatory mass testing in schools must be conducted before they can reopen, followed by daily symptom and exposure screenings.
After completing the 2019-2020 academic year remotely in June, a majority of Catholic school students, faculty, and staff in Brooklyn and Queens finally experienced a semblance of normalcy. They returned to school for in-person learning on Sept. 9, ready to start a new school year in a new fashion.
Good Shepherd Catholic Academy’s Home School Association President Kathleen Tomassetti has had a lot on her plate while raising six children amidst a pandemic. She currently has five kids enrolled in GSCA’s universal pre-k and Grades 2, 3, 6, and 7, and a freshman at Xaverian High School.
The Diocese of Brooklyn remains confident in its reopening plan as it gets ready to begin the new school year Sept. 9. As it stands, Catholic schools that share services from the Department of Education (DOE) — like nurses, transportation, meals, and special education and related services — will not be affected by the City’s delayed opening.
Sixty-five seminarians at St. Joseph Seminary and College have officially completed their first week back to school. The seminarians are living on-campus and attending classes in a traditional, in-person format while adhering to health and safety guidelines.
In a few weeks, a majority of the 66 Catholic schools and academies in Brooklyn and Queens plan to physically reopen under Plan A (100% in-person instruction), with the flexibility to adopt Plan B (hybrid instruction) or Plan C (100% distance learning through the new St. Thomas Aquinas Distance Learning Catholic Program) quickly if COVID-19 cases arise.
The three local Catholic colleges and universities have released their respective Fall 2020 reopening plans adhered to the safety guidelines provided by the State’s Department of Health and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the number of days until the first day of classes dwindle, students have mixed feelings about the new semester during the age of COVID-19.