Diocesan schools look forward to welcoming students back to campus in August

Laura Keener, Editor.

The news teachers, parents and students have been waiting for has been announced. The second week of August is the week when Catholic schools in the Diocese of Covington will begin in-person instruction for the 2020–2021 school year.

Since mid-May, Michael Clines, superintendent of Schools, and Kendra McGuire, associate superintendent, have been meeting weekly with elementary and high school principals to discuss the opening of the school year and the return to in-classroom instruction.

“It has been clear from our discussions that what we all want — teachers, parents and administrators — is to have in-person instruction,” Mr. Clines said. “Our Catholic school community has been working together to find a safe way to bring our students back into the classrooms, and we are excited about getting them back on our campuses.”

Due to construction, two schools — St. Thomas School, Ft. Thomas and St. Joseph Academy, Walton — will delay the start of the school year until the end of August. All the other 26 elementary and nine high schools will begin August 10–14.

“We are looking into how things may be scheduled, but our students will be back in school,” said Mrs. McGuire.

Principals from all of the schools together with Mr. Clines and Mrs. McGuire make up the diocesan schools task force. They meet weekly to discuss the Northern Kentucky Health Department and CDC guidelines on remaining Healthy at School during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started with two questions. Can you logistically have in-person instruction while meeting health department guidelines? And if there are interruptions with busing, will parents be able to provide private transportation,” said Mr. Clines. “Having answered those questions, we are now ready to move on to alternate learning design strategies and other topics. That’s where we are now.”

Since each school has similar but unique needs and resources, each school has its own task force that is working on how best to implement the guidelines — social distancing, scheduling, lunches, and the myriad of other details that will need to be managed.

“Our schools and their task force are working on measuring rooms and looking at how to fit students in and various schedules. Once they’ve collected all the information, they’ll begin with problem solving and decision making. Many are in the very early stages, just meeting for the first time last week,” said Mrs. McGuire.
Schools are also working on ways to provide synchronous alternative instruction for parents who feel their child should remain Healthy at Home.

“We are working to make that a possibility for them,” said Mrs. McGuire. “There will probably be some parents who might need that option.”

Parents will begin to receive information from their school about the 2020–2021 school year and are encouraged to register early as accommodations are being developed.