Diocese of Covington releases requirements, guidelines for opening of schools

Messenger Staff Report

After months of intense discernment and discussion the Diocese of Covington Department of Catholic Schools has released information on how the nine Catholic high schools and 30 elementary schools and pre-schools will open next month. The 13-page document entitled “COVID-19 Return to School Requirements” was e-mailed to all priests and principals July 23 and is available online here.

The document contains requirements that must be implemented and guidelines that share best practices on ways to implement the requirements. Requirements include a daily health self-assessment of each employee, teacher and student prior to coming to school, temperature checks upon arrival, the wearing of face coverings in common areas, marking safe social distance of six feet in hallways and classrooms and increased hygiene and sanitization. Guidelines include staggering lunches and recesses to accommodate social distancing and extending dismissal to avoid students and parents congregating at the end of the day.

“We share the common value of educating our students in a safe and faith-filled community,” said Mike Clines, superintendent of schools. “I am confident that by working together we will be able to achieve that goal even during this health crisis. Discipline and cooperation are hallmarks of a Catholic school community. With the grace of God, I am confident that our school communities will come together to be committed guardians of each other by implementing these requirements in an atmosphere of discipline, cooperation and Christian love.”

A sub-committee led by Mr. Clines and Kendra McGuire, associate superintendent of Catholic Schools, and made up of priests, Curia members, principals, medical doctors and attorneys helped to create the COVID-19 Return to School Requirements document. The document is based on the most up-to-date information from various sources including, but not limited to, the Kentucky Department of Health, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Centers for Disease Control, along with the guidance of the Diocesan Coronavirus Taskforce.

“I thank everyone who has helped develop the COVID-19 Return to School Requirements,” said Mrs. McGuire. “As an administrator and parent I share the concerns of many of our families. I am grateful that our school families have chosen to entrust their child’s academic and spiritual education to our Catholic school system and look forward to a safe and blessed school year.”

As new information is received from health and government officials, there may be updates to these regulations that will be communicated following a review from the task force.

Start of schools delayed until August 17

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Covington are postponing the start of in-person instruction by one week. Due to increasing cases of COVID-19, Governor Andy Beshear requested, July 27, that all Kentucky schools delay the start of in-person instruction until, on or after August 17. Catholic schools in the diocese were scheduled to open the week of August 10.

“We are going to honor Governor Beshear’s recommendation and are postponing the school start dates by one week,” said Mike Clines, superintendent of Catholic schools. “Our number one priority is the health and education of our students. Our principals, faculties and staffs have been working hard and are prepared to welcome students back in the classroom. I invite everyone to join us in making the health and education of our children a priority by following the best practices that have been identified to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.”