Diocesan Catholic Schools Planning to Open on Time
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
July 9, 2020
DIOCESE—Just as the country was preparing to celebrate Independence Day, the Rockford Diocese Catholic Education Office was preparing to open Catholic schools on time this fall.
A plan for reopening was sent to all principals in the diocese before the July 4 holiday. 
Even though there are still many uncertainties related to the coronavirus and its recent upsurge in more than 30 states in the U.S., Michael Kagan, diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools said, “We are planning to open our schools, on-site and on time this fall.”
That plan, of course, comes with a few caveats, the first being that the State of Illinois stays in a relatively flat mode of virus transmission. “Our prayer too, is that the coronavirus stays flat in our state and there is no second, more virulent wave of infection this fall,” Kagan said.
The letter to principals said that even though there is still much uncertainty about how the pandemic might affect education in the coming months, the diocesan Education Office has “studied guidelines provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and prevention), the IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health), the ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) as well as several county health departments to formulate a plan that will allow our elementary and high schools to re-open on time. 
“We obviously cannot see into the future and predict what the COVID-19 situation may look like in late August,” he continued. “Still, we are confident that by taking necessary health precautions, our Catholic schools will once again be open and be able to provide the same high-quality education it has for over 100 years.”
Kagan said the diocesan education office will update the plans as needed according to advice and guidelines from local and national health officials to ensure “that our students receive the best Catholic education possible in as safe and secure an environment as possible.”
The office and the Catholic schools in the diocese, “look forward to the return to on-site education,” Kagan added. “The school environment may look somewhat different, but the quality and commitment will not change.”
Kagan said that while specific instructions will be made available to parents and students in early August, each family should prepare for school to begin according to the regular calendar for that school. In the meantime the reopening teams at each school will make preparations for the presence of children in the school and on the playgrounds. 
The preparation documents for pastors and principals covers most all aspects of elementary education including lunch and recess time, playground and restroom usage, social interaction among classes, and extended care offered by some schools. 
The cornerstones of the preparations are health and safety, physical distance and spacing, returning to the school building and scheduling. 
Guidelines for athletic activities will be forthcoming.
“While some of the look and procedures inside our schools may be different, the one thing that has not changed is the excellence of our educators and the quality of the Catholic education they are ready to impart to our students,” Kagan said.


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