Public Mass Resumes

What You Need to Know

All of us at the Diocese of Covington are very concerned about the outbreak of COVID-19. On this page you will find some of the communications that have gone out to the employees and priests of the Diocese of Covington, as well as links to official state and national resources that will provide the most detailed and recent information.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and we will provide updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance.

Communications from the Diocese

The communications are listed in chronological order with the latest and most current information at the top. Since not all information is repeated in the latest communication we are choosing to list all communications that have been sent. In the case of conflicting information, the information in the latest and most current communication would be the updated and prevailing response.

A PDF version is available here.

Dear Catholic School Leaders,

Thank you for your patience and prayers as we work together to begin the 2020–2021 school year. This certainly has been a difficult and challenging time.

After much consultation, including with the Kentucky bishops of Lexington, Louisville and Owensboro, and after hearing from our Catholic school communities, we have decided to begin in-person instruction the week of August 17. The schools have created various models for beginning the school year under the guidance of the Diocese of Covington’s Department of Catholic Schools “COVID-19 Return to School Requirements,” including an option for at-home learning if a parent decides that would be the best option for their student.

At each school implementation of the requirements will be monitored. During the week of Sept. 6, our experience to date will be evaluated and needed changes will be made at that time.

Many factors were considered in making this decision including:

  • Pastors, administrators, faculty and staff have been working diligently throughout the summer with their local COVID-19 task force to prepare schools for strict adherence to the COVID-19 requirements. Their commitment to the students is evidenced by the excitement, seriousness and creativity in creating environments that meet the educational and safety needs of their students.
  • A desire among the community — priests, principals, parents and students — to be given an opportunity to implement the plans that have been scrupulously developed; and their stated confidence in the plans.
  • The understanding that education includes formation of the entire student — mind, body and soul — and is preferably accomplished in a faith community. Our concern for the welfare of our students includes their educational, emotional, social and spiritual development.

As we move forward, we thank our parents for their support. The health of our schools will depend in large part on the health of each individual student. We are depending on our parents to monitor their child’s health every day and to keep their child home when they are sick. We expect parents to adhere to the “COVID-19 Return to School Requirements” (a complete copy is available here) — frequently washing hands, wearing a mask, maintaining proper social distancing and eliminating unnecessary travel — so that together we can mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in our communities and sustain in-person instruction in our schools.

We express our deepest gratitude to you, our faculty and staff and school community for their selfless commitment to Catholic education. Know that we pray every day for our students, their families, teachers, staff and administrators. Please pray for us.

Devotedly in the Lord,

Most Reverend Roger J. Foys
Bishop of Covington

Michael Clines
Superintendent of Schools

A PDF version of the letter may be found here.

Dear Governor Beshear,

Thank you again for your leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we have worked together these past several months to keep Kentuckians safe, we have appreciated your leadership and the regular communication you have provided to the public and to civic and community leaders.

Reopening schools for the new academic year in a responsible way involves many difficult decisions and a great deal of consultation and work, as you well know. We appreciate the diversity of situations in which individual schools find themselves and the challenge of balancing all of the risks involved. We write to inform you of the diligent work that has been done by the administrators, teachers, parents, and others throughout our Catholic school community, and our plans for safely reopening Kentucky’s Catholic schools.

We plan to begin reopening our schools for the fall semester next week, with some schools having start dates later in the month. All of our schools have developed models to begin the school year.

We have considered several factors in making this decision. First, our school leaders have been working diligently to ensure a safe environment for all of our students, teachers, and other personnel. We are confident we can provide a safe environment and be ready to respond when there are positive cases of COVID-19 among our students, faculty, or staff.

Second, we are concerned for the welfare of our students and their spiritual, social, emotional, and academic progress. We are mindful of the challenges parents face as they strive to balance family life, work, and the need to support their families with the needs of children who are trying to participate in non-traditional instruction.

Third, our school leaders have developed excellent working relationships with public health officials, particularly our local health departments, and this will enable us to respond effectively to problems as they arise.

Finally, we understand the pandemic is very much a fluid situation and things can change very quickly. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments, either system-wide or at individual schools, as needed. In addition, during the week of September 6, all four dioceses of the Commonwealth will conduct an evaluation of our experience to date and will make any needed changes.

We look forward to continuing communication with yourself and your office in the weeks and months ahead as we continue to navigate this crisis. Please be assured of our constant prayers for yourself, your staff, and all of our public health officials.

Sincerely,

Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville

Most Reverend Roger J. Foys, Bishop of Covington

Most Reverend William F. Medley, Bishop of Owensboro

Most Reverend John Stowe, OFM Conv., Bishop of Lexington

July 28, 2020

Dear Catholic School Families,

Due to increasing cases of COVID-19, Governor Andy Beshear recommended, July 27, that all Kentucky schools delay the start of in-person instruction until on or after August 17.

We respect Governor Beshear’s recommendation and are postponing the Diocese of Covington’s schools start dates from the week of August 10 to the week of August 17. The calendar adjustment for each school will be made and communicated to parents by the school principal.

Our principals, faculty and staff have been working diligently and are prepared to welcome students back to the school campus. Without a doubt, it will take a community effort to safely begin and sustain in-person instruction this school year.

I encourage everyone to continue making the health of our students, administrators, faculty and staff a priority by following the best practices that have been identified to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

As we begin this school year, please join me in praying that Christ will continue to lead and protect us.

Sincerely yours in Catholic education,

Mike Clines
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Diocese of Covington

For a downloadable PDF copy click here

DIOCESE OF COVINGTON

Addendum to COVID-19 Protocols

Effective Friday, 10 July 2020

  1. MASKS: In light of Governor Beshear’s order of Friday, 10 July 2020 regarding the wearing of masks in public, masks must be worn at all liturgical services in any church, chapel or oratory in the Diocese of Covington until further notice. The only exceptions are for children under 5 years of age or someone who has a serious breathing problem. The celebrant at Mass must wear a mask except in the ambo and at the altar.
  2. CONGREGATIONAL SINGING: Congregational singing continues to be discouraged at any religious services in any church, chapel or oratory in the Diocese of Covington. If there is congregational singing it should be severely restricted.
  3. Instrumental music is allowed.
  4. A soloist may sing.
  5. Choirs are not allowed to gather and sing.
  6. The celebrant of Mass may not sing at the altar under any circumstances.
  7. HOSTS FOR DISTRIBUTION TO THE FAITHFUL: Hosts for distribution to the faithful must be put into separate ciboria (when using the word ciboria, it includes any vessel used for hosts for distribution to the faithful) prior to Mass. These ciboria must be placed to the side of the altar and covered either with a lid or, especially in the case of plates or bowls, by a corporal, pall or purificator. They must be covered until the time for distribution to the faithful. Priests are not to use one large container for the hosts to be distributed to the faithful under any circumstances.
  8. PARISH FACILITIES: Parish and/or school facilities, including parish or school grounds, may not be used for gatherings or receptions of any sort until further notice.
  9. OPENING OF SCHOOLS: We continue to work on plans to open our schools safely. As these plans develop we will present them to our school principals as well as to our priests.

13 May 2020

My dear Friends,

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Since mid-March our lives and the way we live them have changed dramatically in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. So many people across the world have been making sacrifices they could not have imagined a mere eight weeks ago.

There are people in the medical profession who have literally been risking their lives to save the lives of others. There are those who have lost their employment or seen their hours cut to the bone. There are teachers at all levels of the educational spectrum who have had to adapt to teaching in a new way. There are graduates at all levels who will not see the graduation day that they had anticipated.

There are young couples who have looked forward to sharing their wedding day and professing their love for each other with their families and friends who, have found themselves with ten people or fewer attending their wedding because of the safe distancing restrictions placed upon us all for our own good. Priest and deacons who would ordinarily be ordained in the Cathedral with a full church are being ordained with only one or two of their family members present because of the limited number of people who can gather during the pandemic.

There are people who have lost loved ones who, falling prey to the coronavirus, have passed away long before their time. There are those who have died alone without the comfort of their loved ones at their side. These are just a few examples of how so many are continuing to sacrifice during this time. Each has made this sacrifice in order to protect their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

People of faith have also been sacrificing in not being able to worship as a community of faith and, in our case, have not been able to partake of the Eucharist and the other sacraments. I have received many impassioned letters from our faithful expressing their deep desire to participate once again especially in the Holy Mass and receive the Eucharist which is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” (Lumen Gentium, #36) These letters, always respectful, have at one and the same time made me both sad and happy. Sad, because I know how earnestly our people have desired to attend Holy Mass and were not able to do so. And, happy because I realize how important the Eucharist is to our faithful and their desire to receive the Eucharist demonstrates their belief in the Real Presence.

It gives me great pleasure to announce to you that beginning on 20 May we will be able to resume daily and Sunday public Masses. Now, we must realize that we are simply not able to go back to the way things were in mid March. This pandemic is real. Its effects are real. Over 1.3 million people in our country have contracted the virus and over 80,000 people have died because of it. So, we must take the necessary precautions to resume our public worship responsibly.

To that end we have issued and will implement protocols for the public celebration of the Eucharist. These protocols can be found on our diocesan website. These protocols are the result of consultation with a broad scope of people and experts including our own priests. I thank our priests who have continued to minister to our faithful even in the midst of such difficulty and who have been such a support to me in these difficult times. I ask that you cooperate with your parish priests and assist them in any way you can with the implementation.

Although we will begin opening our churches for public worship, I am extending the dispensation from the obligation of Sunday Mass and Holy Days. I do this to accommodate those who, for whatever reason, are not yet comfortable or able to attend public worship.

I pray that the Lord will look kindly on us and that an end to the pandemic will soon be in sight. I ask also that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, intercede on our behalf.

Be assured of my prayers for you daily. Please, pray for me.

For a downloadable PDF copy click here

Diocese of Covington

Protocols for Celebrating the Liturgy amid COVID–19

12 May 2020

  1. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for all the faithful of the Diocese of Covington is extended until further notice. Additionally, those who are sick should refrain from coming to church for fourteen (14) days from when they first began to experience symptoms.
  2. Eucharist
    1. Beginning 20 May, 2020, public celebration of the Eucharist will resume. The firstweekend Mass will be 23/24 May, 2020.
    2. At this time, no additional Masses are to be added.
    3. The following precautions are to be observed:Before Mass
      • Parishioners are to sit six feet apart, with an exception made for members ofthe same household.
        • Seating in the churches will be limited to allow for this social distancing.Every other pew will be blocked off to ensure six feet distancing in

          every direction.

        • All open pews will have markers every six feet to assist parishioners inspacing themselves within the pews.
        • Once pastors determine the seating capacity, efforts should be madeto inform the parishioners of the new restrictions in order to limit the

          number attending a single liturgy.

      • Parishioners should be encouraged to wear face coverings.
      • Pews, ambos, door handles, railings (indoor and outdoor), and bathrooms areto be wiped down after every Mass. Pastors should consider recruiting volunteers to help with this process. Only one person at a time should be allowed in the bathroom.

• Everything is to be removed from the pews including but not limited to hymnals, missalettes, response cards, guest envelopes, etc. Parishes might consider using disposable worship aids.

  • Ministers:
    • Only one lector is to be used at each Mass.
    • If servers are to be utilized they are required to wear white gloves andface masks. All server vesture (including gloves) is to be washed weekly.
    • Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are limited to two (2) onlyfor each Mass.
    • Sacristans should wash/sanitize their hands before and after setting upfor Mass and should also wear face coverings during that time.
    • Ushers/Greeters are to wear face coverings.
  • Musicians
    • Organist/pianist are to sanitize their instrument after every liturgy.
    • All microphones should also be sanitized after each Mass.
    • A single cantor is permitted in addition to the organist/pianist.
    • Choirs are not to gather and sing together.
    • Singing during Mass creates a higher risk of spreading infectiousparticles. Alternatives to congregational singing such as instrumental

      music or antiphonal singing should be considered.

  • Consider having volunteers hold the doors open for parishioners or proppingdoors as parishioners enter the church to reduce the touching of door

    handles.

  • Holy water fonts are not to be used and baptismal fonts are to be covered.During Mass
  • Processions should be avoided to maintain safe, social distancing. If possible,the ministers should enter the sanctuary via the sacristy.
  • Consider other methods for the collection if you pass a basket from oneperson to another. Note: maintain all security protocols as it relates to the

    collection.

  • There is to be no procession of the gifts (offertory procession).
  • The Sign of Peace is to be omitted.
  • Distribution of Holy CommunionOnly the priest(s), vested deacon(s) and two Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion may distribute Holy Communion.

III.

  • They must wear face masks and sanitize their hands before and after the distribution of Holy Communion.
  • When there is more than one minister of communion, bread is to be separated into separate ciboria prior to Mass.
  • Distribution of the Precious Blood to the faithful is to be omitted. Note: When concelebration occurs, priests and deacons should receive via intinction.
  • Place markers in aisles six feet apart to facilitate safe, social distancing in the communion procession.
  • One way communion lines should be utilized; for example, distribution could occur in side aisles rather than the center aisle.
  • Communion is to be received by the faithful in the hand and standing.
  • It is the decision of the pastor whether or not to allow reception ofCommunion on the tongue. If this practice is allowed the person distributing Holy Communion must sanitize his/her hands after distributing to each individual communicant.
  • Those with gluten intolerance should make arrangements with the pastor.After Mass
  • Consider having volunteers hold the doors open for parishioners or proppingdoors as parishioners leave the church to reduce the touching of door handles
  • The priest and deacon should not greet the people for the safety andwellbeing of both the clergy and the people.
  • Until Further Notice, ancillary gatherings connected to Mass are suspended;for example, Children’s Liturgy of the Word or coffee and donuts following Mass.

    Weddings, Funerals, and Baptisms

  1. Beginning on 20 May, 2020, public weddings, funerals, and baptisms arepermitted.
  2. The above guidelines must be followed.

Reception of Catechumens and Candidates Into the Church

    1. Depending on the number of candidates, pastors should receive the candidatesand catechumens at a Mass distinct from the scheduled liturgies in order to

      reduce the number of people in the church.

    2. The above guidelines must be followed.
  1. Anointing of the Sick
    1. Priests are to follow current guidelines as it relates to the Anointing of the Sick.
    2. As a reminder, priests are permitted to use an instrument, such as a cotton ball ora cotton-swab, for the actual anointing.
  2. Sacrament of Reconciliation
    1. Regularly scheduled confessions can resume.
    2. Lines for confessionals should have markers on the ground every six feet toencourage safe, social distancing.
    3. Both the penitent and the confessor should wear masks.
    4. Pastors are to take every possible precaution to ensure that the sacrament iscelebrated safely, for example, removing kneelers and offering a chair without arms, offering a means for the penitent to sanitize the kneeler before and after confession, or offering sanitizer for those entering and exiting the confessional.
  3. Other liturgies and devotions are permitted but are required to follow the above guidelines.

    ###

March 20, 2020

Dear Catholic School Families,

As we continue to deal with COVID-19, our grit and spirit are being put to the test daily. As superintendent and as a parent, it has been inspiring and humbling to witness the planning, efforts and communication of the administrators, faculty and staff, students, parents and grandparents and the entire learning community. I want to express my deepest appreciation for your commitment to our parish and school communities.

Our Catholic schools will continue with Non-Traditional Instruction through April 17 except for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Spring Break.

All school student-related (extracurricular) activities will continue to be suspended beginning Monday, through April 17.

With your trust and support, our Catholic schools will carry on excelling in all phases of a Christ-centered holistic education.

Please continue to pray for guidance and direction for the thoughts and actions of all during this time.

Yours in Catholic education,

Michael Clines
Superintendent of Schools

IMPORTANT MESSAGE ABOUT COVID-19 FROM PRESIDENT CHILLO (3.19.2020)

Dear Members of the University community,

I understand how stressful and concerning the past couple weeks have been for everyone.  As COVID-19 continues to evolve, many recommendations have been made that we are implementing at the University to ensure the continuity of the academic experience for students and the well-being of our community.  As I mentioned last week, it was our hope to return to some normality within the next month.  Based on the recommendations of the CDC and local officials, we know now that returning to this normality by early April is no longer realistic.  The University will or has taken the following actions: 

  • For the remainder of the spring semester, all courses will continue through remote learning using Canvas.  Faculty will work to ensure that all learning objectives are met by the end of the spring semester and that instructional meeting requirements, as defined by SACSCOC, have also been fulfilled.  Currently, we do not anticipate any changes to the spring calendar.  The University is working closely with SACSCOC and the U.S. Department of Education.
  • For students receiving federal work-study funds, they will continue to be paid through the end of the spring semester.
  • The University will close all residence halls as of Monday, March 30.  Any student requesting the option to remain on campus until April 30 may request an exception by contacting the Dean of Students.  The Dean of Students will send all resident students an email with further instructions.  The University is reviewing several options regarding the unused portion of room and board for the spring semester.  Additional details will be available by April 17.
  • The University will remain open and students may access computer labs for their studies.  Please note that the Library will be closed but can be accessed virtually.
  • In accordance with the Mid-South Athletic Conference, all spring sports have been canceled.
  • All University events have been canceled through Sunday, May 10.  A decision regarding Commencement will be announced by April 10.
  • Bishop Foys issued a letter this week directing the suspension of all public celebrations of the Mass and other Sacraments until further notice.  Persons who wish to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation privately are welcome to request it.
  • For faculty and staff, the University will adhere to the recommendations of the CDC as it pertains to potential illness for the individual and/or family member.  The University will continue to allow employees to complete their work remotely during this period of time.  Supervisors have informed certain members of their teams if they are essential to ensure the continuity of the business enterprise.
  • All University communications will be sent to your Thomas More University email account.  We encourage you to check your email daily and to visit thomasmore.edu/covid-19 for updates.

I ask that you continue to keep yourself and your family safe.  The University will continue to keep you informed of any changes that could impact you here at Thomas More.

 

Sincerely,

Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D.

President

18 March 2020

My dear Friends,

Praised be Jesus Christ!

We find ourselves in what for most of us will be a once-in-a-lifetime situation with the Coronavirus pandemic. Our lives have been and are being altered dramatically. It is as though every aspect of our lives is being affected and the situation seems to change almost hourly. This is also affecting our faith life, at least in terms of our worship.

We have been following very closely the information that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been providing for us. I have also spoken to fellow bishops, have established a Coronavirus task force to study the situation and make recommendations in how we should address it locally, have met this morning with our Deans and Vicars, have asked for and received from almost every pastor their experience and that of their parishioners from this past weekend Masses. Taking all this into consideration and especially having taken it to prayer, the following is our response.

  1. Public weekday and Sunday Masses in every parish church, in every chapel and oratory, in every religious house, in any of our institutions are suspended effective Friday, 20 March 2020. Since the situation is so fluid, this suspension will be in effect until further notice. There are no exceptions to this suspension.
  2. Public celebration of the Sacraments and other public forms of worship are suspended indefinitely. This includes Lenten Penance Services, other Lenten devotions, celebrations of First Holy Communion, Communion Services, etc. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list.
  3. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) and Anointing of the Sick are permitted on a private basis upon request.
  4. Funerals, burial services, and already scheduled weddings are permitted but attendance must be limited to a maximum of 10 participants. This includes the celebrant.
  5. Parish priests are advised to provide the faithful with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for a brief period each day. Attendees are directed to practice social distancing.
  6. All parish office activity is to be suspended for a period of two weeks beginning on Friday, 20 After that date, parish office activity should be limited to a few days a week at most with a minimum number of staff.
  7. All parish meetings of any kind are likewise to be canceled.
  8. All parish socials of any sort are to be canceled. This includes, but is not limited to, fish frys (eat-in or carry-out) and bingo.

All previously published diocesan protocols addressing the COVID-19 remain in force. 

The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the Blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely, Christ himself, our Pasch. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324)

To suspend the public celebration of the Eucharist and other sacraments is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my 47 years as a priest and 18 years as a bishop. I make it with a heavy heart and with profound sadness. I encourage all our faithful to continue to pray at home and to make a Spiritual Communion often. I know many of the faithful will be disappointed and perhaps even angry, at being denied access to the most Holy Eucharist. I don’t blame you. I’ve received numerous messages from people who are distraught that we might have to take this action as well as messages from people who feel we are being negligent in not cancelling everything. This is not an easy time and does not have an easy solution. Decisions must be made on fact and in faith taking into account all of God’s people. Human respect cannot play a part in such weighty decisions.

Some people will feel we have not gone far enough, and others will feel that we have gone too far. But given the current situation and with the facts that have been provided to us, it is as though there is no alternative. And if we are going to suspend the celebration of the Eucharist, we cannot then go on in other areas of our pastoral ministry as if there is no change and everything is fine. Everything we do and who we are flows from the Eucharist.

These are difficult and trying times but, with deep faith and sure hope, we will get through them and hopefully better appreciate all the good things the Lord has given us for our journey, the most important of which is His Body and Blood.

Let us keep each other in prayer.

Yours devotedly in the Lord,

Most Rev. Roger J. Foys, D.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Covington

Click here to go to the St. Elizabeth Healthcare website

NEW: Visitor Restrictions During COVID-19

In an abundance of caution and until further notice, St. Elizabeth Healthcare has activated new visitor restrictions to protect the health of our patients, associates, physicians and community.

Effective at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020, we are restricting visitors to all St. Elizabeth Healthcare hospitals. NO VISITORS will be admitted into any clinical setting, unless:

  • A single designated partner or primary caretaker for mothers delivering babies.
    • No visitors under age 14, which includes siblings of a newborn.
  • End-of-life situations.
    • Patients are limited to one visitor at a time.
    • No visitors under age 14.
    • Visitors are not permitted to see patients if they exhibit any respiratory illness symptoms (coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fever, etc.)
    • Visitors are not permitted if they have traveled internationally within the past 14 days.
  • A single individual responsible for transporting a patient coming for a procedure or being discharged from the hospital.

In addition, individuals coming to one of our ambulatory outpatient centers or physician offices will be restricted to a single visitor responsible for transportation, or visitors at the discretion of the healthcare provider.

We recognize that these restrictions can be disappointing to our patients and visitors, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you or your family. The health and safety of you, our patients and care team are our top priority during this heightened time of illness.

We encourage you to use FaceTime, Skype and phone calls to visit with loved ones in the hospital. Should you need assistance with this, please let a staff member know.

Entry Point Changes and Valet

In an abundance of caution and until further notice, in addition to the updated visitor restrictions, we have also reduced the number of available entry points for patients/visitors to enter each hospital location. Click the button below for a list of available entry points. If an entry point is not listed, then it is closed. Signage is also posted and visible throughout each location.

Valet services have also been suspended.

VIEW OPEN HOSPITAL ENTRY POINTS


Dear valued patients and visitors,

We at St. Elizabeth Healthcare want to ensure our patients, visitors and staff remain healthy as the COVID 19 virus spreads in the United States.  While most cases result in a mild illness, certain populations are at higher risk for complications including elderly patients and those with chronic health conditions such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes.  Much like the flu all patients should take precautions to reduce the spread of COVID 19.

  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face
  • Keep space between yourself and others and stay away from those who may be sick
  • Avoid unnecessary time in public places, travel (especially air travel  or cruises)
  • Stay at home as much as possible if there are cases reported in your area

If you develop symptoms we recommend staying at home and contacting your primary care physician to determine next steps unless you need emergency care. This reduces the spread of disease to other patients and the staff in our offices.

If cases of COVID 19 are reported in the Northern Kentucky Area and you have a chronic illness we recommend you consider rescheduling any routine appointments.  Check with your primary care physician or specialist to see if Video Visits are an option until cases of the virus subside.  We will extend prescriptions for 30 days to ensure you do not run out of medication.

For more information visit Coronavirus.gov

For a PDF copy of this announcement click here.

Update — Effective Immediately

In the interest of the health and safety of our faithful and to help prevent the spread of the
COVID-19 virus, any nonessential meetings, events or gatherings scheduled to be held
from now through April 3 at any of our parishes, Catholic schools, diocesan offices, religious houses and other diocesan institutions are to be postponed or cancelled.

Preventative Measures

  1. Practice Proper Hygiene
  • Frequent washing of hands with soap, under warm/hot water.
  • Use hand sanitizer products, if available, after contact with foreign objects.
  • Avoid direct hand to eye, hand to nose, or hand to mouth contact.
  • Cover the mouth and nose with the bend of the arm when sneezing or coughing when a tissue is not readily available.
  • Frequent cleaning and sterilization of surfaces like desktops, keyboards, phone receivers, doorknobs etc.
  1. Acknowledgement and adherence to recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services specific to a viral or bacterial outbreak.

Operational Responses

Should we enter a state of emergency whereby our diocesan entities are impacted by a health risk as determined by local, state or federal governments, the following will serve as the diocesan response procedure.

Catholic Schools — Directives

  1. Operations of Catholic schools will follow the practice of the school district where the Catholic school is located.
  2. The Diocesan Department of Catholic Schools will announce the decision to close Catholic schools. The decision to close will not be made by individual Catholic schools.
  3. Catholic schools will follow all recommendations made by local or state Health Departments that apply to schools.
  4. In the instances where a Catholic school closure occurs on the basis of disease prevention:
  • Salaried employees will continue to be compensated at their current rate.
  • Hourly employees will be compensated at their hourly rate calculated on the stated hours for the position.
  • Custodial staff will be provided all necessary safety wears and cleaning materials to
    conduct a disinfecting/deep clean of the premises prior to the reopening of the school.
  • All Catholic schools should be prepared for immediate implementation of “at home” instruction.

– Per state regulations, educational institutions are allotted (up to) 10 electronic based learning days for remote instruction.

Parish Offices — Recommendations

Parish offices are often located outside of the school building and operate independently of the school. Additionally, parish offices are typically staffed with only a handful of employees.

  1. Parish offices in parishes with a Catholic school may choose to follow the operational schedule of the school. Decisions to close parish offices will be made at the parish.
  2. Parish offices in parishes without a Catholic school may choose to follow the response procedure of their county’s public school system. Decisions to close parish offices will be made at the parish.
  3. In the instances where a parish office closure occurs on the basis of disease prevention:
  • Salaried employees will continue to be compensated at their current rate.
  • Hourly employees will be compensated at their hourly rate calculated on the stated hours for the position.
  • Custodial staff will be provided all necessary safety wears and cleaning materials to conduct a disinfecting/deep clean of the premises prior to the reopening of the parish.

Curia — Directives

  1. The Curia will remain operational as the Emergency Management Headquarters
    of the diocese.
  2. Decisions to close the Curia will be made by the Bishop in collaboration with
    the Episcopal Council.
  3. In the event the Curia closes for disease prevention:
  • Essential personnel will be available onsite.
  • Salaried employees will continue to be compensated at their current rate.
  • Hourly employees will be compensated at their hourly rate calculated on the stated hours for the position.

Travel Restrictions

  1. In instances where diocesan entities are on alert, but have not yet closed as a preventative measure, it is recommended that professional travel be limited. Professional travel to national- level events and to areas more severely impacted by the viral/bacterial outbreak is highly discouraged.
  2. In instances where a diocesan school is closed as a preventative measure, professional travel by staff at that school is prohibited.
  3. In instances where a parish or other diocesan location is closed as a preventative measure, professional travel by staff at that parish or location is strongly discouraged.

Liturgical Recommendations

The Bishop in collaboration with his pastoral staff and the diocesan Worship Office have issued the following guidelines in reference to the celebration of the Mass and other liturgical celebrations:

  1. All priests, deacons, altar servers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must use an alcohol-based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.
  • Discern how best to do this while maintaining the reverence of the Mass.
  • Ensure all vessels used at Mass, once purified, are thoroughly washed with soap and hot water after each use.
  1. During all Masses and other liturgies:
  • Refrain from physical contact during the Sign of Peace. (N.B. The sign of peace can be exchanged without physical contact, for example, by a bow/nod of the head and the words “Peace be with you.”)
  • Refrain from the distribution of Holy Communion via the chalice. (Please consider options for any parishioners with celiac disease or sensitivity.)
  • Given the frequency of direct contact with saliva in the distribution of Holy Communion on the tongue, every consideration should be given by each individual to receive Holy Communion in open hands for the time being.
  • Refrain from using Holy Water fonts. Where possible, fonts should be emptied. Where not possible to empty, fonts should be covered.
  1. The faithful who are sick or who are experiencing symptoms are not obliged
    to attend Mass.
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church #2181 allows for serious reasons such as illness.

Note

This is a very fluid health event and diocesan staff are continually monitoring and discussing how best to respond. All of these policies and procedures will be evaluated and updated as circumstances evolve.

Any questions or concerns may be directed to Jamie Schroeder, chancellor, at [email protected] or (859) 392-1500, and she will forward all questions to the appropriate Curia staff member.

Hello Everyone,

Due to the growing concerns of the COVID-19 virus, there are to be no meetings/gathering (or hanging out) in the Newman Center per Diocesan and NKU mandates for at least the next two weeks.

Blessings come from obedience! Absence makes the heart grow fonder and hopefully resolves the coronavirus quickly! We will post updates as we receive them. At this point there are still local week day and Sunday Masses at parishes where people can gather for liturgy.

Hope you make the best of this Lenten sacrifice!

Christ’s peace,

Donna Heim – NKU Newman Club Campus Minister

Click here to go to the St. Anne Retreat Center website

St. Anne Retreat Center Closed Until April 15th

Since issues surrounding the virus are still largely unknown, the Diocesan Task Force on the Corona Virus has agreed that it is in the best interest of our people who come here to close the Retreat Center until April 15th. If you have a scheduled event during that time frame, we will work with to reschedule your event or we will gladly refund your deposit. This was not a hard decision to make given the current environment. We regret any inconvenience this may cause but the safety of our guests is our first concern.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact Deacon Dave or Karen Little at (859) 441-2003. Please pray for those who are battling this virus and let’s all pray for a quick resolution to this pandemic. We trust in God’s mercy.

Subject: Important Message about COVID-19 from President Chillo

Dear Members of the University community,

Since the news of the coronavirus outbreak, University administration has been meeting regularly to develop responses to a rapidly changing situation. As we address how best to handle this situation, our main priority is to protect the well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the community. Thomas More University is committed to finishing the spring semester and providing our students the academic instruction necessary to fulfill their degree requirements.

The University is implementing its emergency preparedness plan following the declaration of a state of emergency by Governor Beshear and in consultation with local, regional, and national health officials. Though there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Thomas More’s campus, the University is taking immediate action to protect the health and safety of our community. The University will be extending spring break for most students through Sunday, March 22nd. We will be shifting to remote learning using Canvass for all classes beginning Monday, March 23rd. Classes that are already online and for graduate 8-week courses that begin on Monday, March 16th, we will continue as scheduled but those courses will be exclusively online – faculty members will be in touch with additional details. 

The extension of spring break will allow for the University and the faculty to make the necessary transitions. Courses will remain in a remote learning format until further notice, though we expect to resume in-person classes by early- to mid-April.

On an interim basis, to ensure the safety of our students and the entire University community:

  1. Thomas More University will remain open as usual during this timeframe though classes will be transitioned to a remote learning format. Faculty and staff should continue to report to work as usual. We will be working with faculty to address challenges that may arise within academic coursework due to this extension. Information regarding changes in specialized instruction such as laboratory, art, or music instruction will be provided by faculty assigned to those courses before March 23rd.
  1. All offices and on-campus resources will be available to students during this time, but the University may limit the number of students in a designated area.
  1. Following the extension of spring break, the residence halls will remain closed until further notice, and students may gather their personal belongings to take home on Sunday, March 15, Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Students involved in in-season spring sports and international students may return to their residence halls during this time, however, we strongly urge those able to travel home to do so. Current resident students who require housing are encouraged to contact [email protected] to request an exception to this policy. The dining hall will be open during this period, but hours may be adjusted.
  1. All University sponsored events are canceled immediately through April 13. Events after this date will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks. No off-campus groups will be permitted on campus until further notice. University admissions and alumni events with fewer than 100 outside guests will be reviewed and approved by the appropriate vice president. Events of this size must be held in Steigerwald Hall. Mass will continue as scheduled but will be limited to no more than 75 guests.
  1. Our student-athletes competing in in-season or post-season activities will continue as scheduled. We will continue to follow the guidance of the Mid-South Athletic Conference and the NAIA. Student-athletes, coaches, and athletics staff may use commercial travel for post-season play only and must be approved by the director of athletics. All non-season athletics team practices are suspended immediately and may resume in April. The director of athletics will inform coaches as to when practice may resume for non-season athletic teams. Student-athletes are encouraged to contact their coaches for any clarifications. The University will restrict all indoor athletic competitions from spectator participation. Outdoor sporting events may still have spectators until further notice.
  1. If students, faculty, and staff plan on traveling internationally and returning to campus, they must self-quarantine for 14 days off-campus and report all travel to the dean of students (students only) and to the director of human resources (faculty and staff only). If someone has traveled internationally over the last 14-days, they must report this travel to the appropriate person listed above, and they must self-quarantine for 14-days off-campus.
  1. All University sponsored commercial travel for faculty and staff is restricted to essential University travel only for the remainder of the spring semester. All travel must be approved by the area vice president.
  1. Registration will take place as scheduled, so that students can complete the registration process for the fall semester. Later in the spring semester, advisors will be available to assist with any additional questions.
  1. We are hopeful that these precautions will allow the University to conduct its Commencement exercises on May 18th. However, the University will need to assess the potential risk and safety requirements before any final determination is made.
  1. The health and safety of our employees will be balanced with the need to provide essential services to the University. Employees should work with their supervisors if adjusted work hours are required. We understand that some of our employees may fall into populations that are considered high risk for the illness and encourage anyone experiencing symptoms or potential exposure to COVID-19 to remain at home. The University will remain flexible with planning and options for employees who may be exposed or affected by the virus. The ability to work remotely for non-essential personnel will require approval from the area vice president.

The University will continue to work closely with public health officials to monitor and evaluate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We will continue to keep the community informed of any additional interim measures as decisions are made. Students are encouraged to regularly check their Thomas More email, as well as their Canvas courses, for updates and additional announcements.

I fully understand that this a very different way for the University to operate over the next several weeks. I truly appreciate your understanding and willingness to ensure that our students continue to receive their education. I expect that there will be many additional questions regarding teaching and learning, future events including senior week and Commencement (about which no decisions have yet been made), and the ability to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. The University will continue to keep its community informed through periodic emails and information available on our website.

I want to thank our faculty and staff who have been working tirelessly over the past two months to protect the safety and health of our community. The commitment to our students has always been at the forefront of their work. While the next couple of weeks will remain full of uncertainty, I know that our community will continue to work together to support and care for one another. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we work through this together.

Sincerely,

Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D.
President
Thomas More University

March 13, 2020

Dear Principals,

Our Catholic schools will cease in-person instruction beginning Monday, March 16 through March 27.

Each school will handle at-home instruction that best meets the needs and resources of its community.

At this time, there is no need to ban faculty or staff from working in the school building. However, school buildings should not be open to children, parents and community members during this time.

All school extracurricular activities will also be suspended through March 27.

Any cafeteria plans will be address by the School Lunch Program.

Payment of employees, specifically hourly employees, will be addressed in an overall diocesan communication. That communication will be e-mailed to you tomorrow.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Yours in Catholic education,

Michael Clines

Superintendent of Schools

For a PDF copy of this letter click here.

March 12, 2020

Dear Catholic School Families,

As we continue to deal with COVID-19 for our 39 schools that reside in six counties, we understand the concerns, demographics and various communities involved with school decisions.

Our schools have been forwarding to their community information received from the Northern Kentucky Health Department, focusing on disinfecting facilities and putting safety measures in place, which is normal protocol. I want to commend our administrators, faculty and staff, students and you for all that is accomplished on a daily basis to create a healthy and safe learning environment.

Public school districts have been charged to be prepared to close as early as Monday, March 16. At this time, it is not mandated that public school districts be closed.

Our Catholic schools are preparing like the public schools to close as early as Monday, March 16 and to adhere to future recommendations driven by medical experts statewide and nationwide.

Our administrators, faculty and staff are working diligently to plan for continued “at-home” instruction during any possible extended absence. The instruction will be directed at the school level. Bishop Foys has approved that the instruction provided by the schools while the students are absent will count as regular school days.

Catholic schools not previously scheduled to be closed will be open on Friday, March 13, and no decision to close has been made for Monday, March 16, or the following days.

Our Catholic schools are such wonderful places to grow spiritually, educationally, emotionally, physically and socially; it is at times like this that the foundation of our Catholic faith, parish and school communities will provide us with the wisdom and courage to meet any challenge.

Please pray for guidance and direction for the thoughts and actions of all during this time.

Yours in Catholic education,

Michael Clines
Superintendent of Schools

For a PDF copy of this announcement click here.

Dear Pastor/Pastoral Administrator:

All of us at the Diocese of Covington are very concerned about the health and safety of our parishioners and the broader community in light of the outbreak of COVID19 in the Commonwealth. As you know, I have communicated with pastors and those who assist them about our liturgical practices, including options for the sign of peace, hygiene issues for those who serve at Mass, and the suspension of the distribution of Holy Communion from the chalice to the faithful and the reception of Holy Communion in open hands instead of on the tongue.

The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is at the center of the life of the Church. Perhaps especially in difficult times, liturgical gatherings are a source of comfort and hope for the faithful, as well as an opportunity to offer our prayers to God for those who are suffering or who cannot be with us.

With the information I have now, I will not be calling for a diocesan-wide cancellation of daily or weekend Masses. I will be sending messages to you by the end of the day Friday about communicating the risks of large gatherings and how to mitigate those risks.

I ask you to encourage those who are ill or have symptoms to stay home as an act of Christian charity for their fellow parishioners. Individuals who are ill or have symptoms or those with underlying health conditions are not obligated to attend Sunday Mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2181 allows for serious reasons such as illness.

I also am asking that you publicize viewing times for the recorded weekly Mass from the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, which is available through a variety of platforms.

It is important to note that this is a rapidly changing situation, and I will continue to provide updates. I will communicate with you by e-mail and ask that you monitor your e-mails in the days ahead.

Below are viewing times for the recorded weekly Mass from the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption:

  • Sunday, 5–6 p.m., on station MeTV WLWT;
  • Antenna television, channel 5 or 2;
  • Spectrum, channel 188 in Kentucky;
  • Cincinnati Bell, channels 23 or 291.

Based on guidance from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Divine Worship, the United States Center for Disease Control, our own St. Elizabeth Healthcare, and the practice in a growing number of dioceses in our country, the following guidelines are to be implemented in all parishes, schools, diocesan institutions and houses of religious:

  1. All priests, deacons, altar servers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must use an alcohol-based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing
    Holy Communion.
  • Discern how best to do this while maintaining the reverence of the Mass.
  • Ensure all vessels used at Mass, once purified, are thoroughly washed with soap and hot water after each use.
  1. During all Masses and other liturgies:
  • Refrain from physical contact during the Sign of Peace. (N.B. The sign of peace can be exchanged without physical contact, for example, by a bow/nod of the head and the words “Peace be with you.”)
  • Refrain from the distribution of Holy Communion via the chalice. (Please consider options for any parishioners with celiac disease or sensitivity.)
  • Given the frequency of direct contact with saliva in the distribution of Holy Communion on the tongue, every consideration should be given by each individual to receive Holy Communion in open hands for the time being.
  • Refrain from using Holy Water fonts. Where possible, fonts should be emptied. Where not possible to empty, fonts should be covered.
  1. The faithful who are sick or who are experiencing symptoms are not obliged to
    attend Mass.
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church #2181 allows for serious reasons such
    as illness.

These guidelines, effective immediately, will be in effect until revoked. While we do not want to panic, neither do we want to be derelict in our duty to provide for the health and welfare of all those we serve.

Helpful Links

Here are some links to governmental agencies and health departments. They are the experts and are in the best position to know about to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and are the best source for factual information.

Cabinet for Health and Human Services

Northern Kentucky Health Department

Center for Disease Control (CDC)